Thursday, December 28, 2006

Snowman in Kabul

I saw this snowman down the street from my office and felt that I had to go visit the new public art. My colleague, Musadeq, and I admired the snowman's pearl necklace, his green scarf, his red plate of delights, and as we walked away, the artist himself came out to greet us. The security guard gave his gun to the snowman to rest his arms and told us that at 10 p.m. on Christmas night, he came out to build his friend. He finished his oeuvre at 3 a.m., five hours later.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Meeting Karzai in Kandahar

I was among a small group of foreign journalists who interviewed Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Dec. 12 in the southern city of Kandahar. The interview took place in the governor's guesthouse palace; security was tight. Earlier in the day as a press conference began, Karzai looked directly at me and, seeing a new face, said, "Oh! Who are you working with? Where are you from? Thailand? Nice place." Friendly guy.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Seafood Crap

My driver, Sher, and I decided that our 10-minute daily commute from home to work would be time for our lessons in English for him and Dari, one of Afghanistan's main languages, for me. "Yak - Doo - Say"... "One - Two - Three." We pass a herd of goats on the dusty, traffic-jammed Kabul roads. The goats, "buz," graze on piles of trash on the side of the road. Tomato is "banjana," which I remember because it sounds kind of like Italy's hello. On my way to work, we pass the kitsch Golden Key seafood restaurant, which has a big sign with pictures of crabs, fish, shrimp and three golden keys. He's learning the names for the seafood in the picture, but he doesn't have the pronunciation down yet. Each time we pass the restaurant, Sher points at the sign and says, "This is crap."

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Rookie Misstep

I walked through the old city of Kabul to interview a former opium addict and her children. The slippery, snow-covered path was precipitous, so I inched along, following in my guides' footsteps, but at one point, I accidentally strayed from the path. I stepped into what I thought was snow, and my leg plunged knee deep into the ground. Not a big deal, I thought, just deep snow. I pried my leg out, only to find that I had fallen into a sewage drain full of human excrement. Thankfully I had knee-high boots on, which was covered in stinky poo. I promptly had my clothes laundered by the housekeeper at work. The neighborhood shoeshine boy cleaned my boots the next day. I pray that I never stray from the path again.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Bundled in the Snow

Alisa stands on the slippery, slushy patio in front of the yard of our fenced-in housing compound in Kabul.

Don't Use This Door

As winter set in, my colleagues decided it was time to keep the patio door closed so that the office would stay warm. This sign was promptly taped to the door. That's me behind the glass door in the office.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Afghan Officials Uncover Alisa's Secret

Afghan consular officials kindly granted me a visa to stay here, but I guess the long hair in my passport photo was not enough to convince them that I am a woman. I thought those surgeons in Bangkok did a pretty darn good job! This photo courtesy of my colleague Musadeq Sadeq.

Seeing Snow Again

Last night, Landry and I had saw our first up-close snowfall in years -- five years for me. I've seen snow on mountains in Nepal and in Afghanistan recently, but it's not the same as having a white lawn before you, only a few paces away, freshly dusted. It all melted into the city's muddy roads under the day's sun, making my commute to work less dusty than usual.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Life in Kabul

Landry and I arrived at our new home in Kabul on Nov. 9. We have been forced to make minor adjustments to our lives -- making sure to brush our teeth and shower during the few hours each day when there is electricity, and sleeping nestled under heavy blankets in the winter chill that settled on this city the day we arrived. We've since had a wood-burning stove installed in our bedroom, which keeps us warm for a few hours when we go to bed.

Work has been interesting for both of us. Landry spends his days creating graphic designs, such as a new logo for the Ministry of Women's Affairs. Meanwhile, I interviewed the minister herself, and have done other stories, including one about a 16-year-old woman, Gulsum, who set herself on fire to escape her abusive, 40-year-old husband.

Today, my workplace office manager's 2-month-old daughter died. She had a bad cough yesterday, and then at midnight, she died, I was told. Afghanistan has one of the world's highest rates of infant mortality.

Kabul from Atop: Brownville

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Sunday, October 15, 2006