May 2008


So this periodically happens, I am minding my own business and I get bothered by strange (i’m assuming) young Afghan men. It used to happen more often but not so much anymore. Someone will get my email address, deduce that I am not that creative and my ‘chat’ name is the same. I get messages from that someone who thinks it would be possible that I would like to chat with a stranger. If it’s obvious that it’s not someone that I know, I automatically delete it. But the following was a longer exchange because of his incredibly feminine name – so I thought, maybe it is one of my female cousins? And wouldn’t it be nice if they found me online? Alas, no. Out of the kindness of my heart, I am hiding his identity.

I also think I this may be from a job applicant and wouldn’t that be funny, if I ran across his resume later?

Behold:

tulips_roses*: hello and good morning
Oh so polite HiK: Hello. Who is this please?
tulips_roses: this ‘so not a girl
Sighing deeply but still so polite HiK: I’m sorry, I don’t think I know you, have we met?
tulips_roses: why
Irritated HiK but don’t you think she’s still so polite?: I’m sorry, I don’t chat with strangers. Goodbye
tulips_roses: what do you think am i stranger
tulips_roses: sorry to say befor know some one you can jage him’
tulips_roses: if you want to know me ask me any question i will ans it
Concerned HiK because did I mention that someone sent me poetry in Dari via text this morning (and no, not Mr. Namzad, he knows I can’t read that well. Though he has just very sweetly assured me that it’s quite good): Where did you get my contact information?
tulips_roses: go ahead
Irritated HiK: Where did you get my contact information?
HiK wanted to say something about his sister chatting with strange men but refrained: As I said before, I don’t chat with strangers and only want to know where you got my information so I can remove it in the future.
HiK SHALL block you: Anyway, since you won’t answer that. I will block you. Goodbye

*Sure, I changed his tag name but seriously, it was way more feminine than this. Wouldn’t you think that’s a girl too?

Not that I will make a habit of mocking myself, but it just have to share this exchange between myself and “sarcastic man.” It was discovered that I actually attend a single class at Uni (outside of research) for language learnin’ and I mentioned some of the people that are in the class:

Me: “And then there is actually an Afghan girl in my class who grew up here speaking only English.

Him: “I might know her. What’s her name?”

Me: “I don’t know. I didn’t catch her name on the first day.”

Him: “What does she look like?”

Me: “Uh… black hair and… pretty… and uh…”

Him: “Oh! Black hair and pretty? Yeah, that’s so rare for an Afghan girl. You’ve really narrowed it down.”

I used the occasion to claim that there are some Afghan brunettes in existence (and even a rare blond). I convinced none present of this. But here I submit evidence for the defense:

Ha!

And yes, she is from Afghanistan.

I recently weaseled my way into an Afghan governance capacity building junket. There was absolutely no good reason for myself to be there. But there I was butchering not one, but two languages of Afghanistan while sitting in on seminars, roundtables, chit-chats and whatnot. Oh, and I also did logistics, transportation and trouble-shooting for about 12 Afghans for 5 days in a foreign city that I have never visited. I will accept my Nobel Prize for awesomeness later this year.

At the end of one meeting at some bankers’ bank the group was given some gift packet. On the way out of the high security premises we opened up what looked like the most interesting (expensive) thing in the packet; a small cardboard box with the bank logo on it. I opened it and determined that it was….what the heck is this? It looked like a small jack knife. It had a small leather click strap that seemed to hold down a metallic cylinder top. My hands were full of city street maps and our itinerary so I couldn’t open the device.

Of course, one of the Afghans started to ask me, the “knowledgeable” person, about the mystery device:

Him: “It’s very nice!”

Me: “Uh, yeah.”

Him: ” How many is it?”

Me: “Oh, I don’t know much it costs.”

Him: “No, how many megabytes?”

Me: “Mekabeats?”

Him: “No. M-Bs. Megabytes.”

Me [Totally confused]: “Oooh! Megabytes. Namebinam. I don’t know.”

Back at the hotel I opened it up and figured out what it was when I saw what the cylinder top revealed. It was one of those computer memory stick things. I’ve seen it on the television. They may have another more technical name. I don’t know. I don’t know technology. I just got my first computer last Christmas. I wrote my grad school papers with a pencil and paper before writing the final copy on a computer at the university library. Somebody asked me for a “hard copy” once and I didn’t know what it was. I tried to buy one of those computer disks a couple of years back that hadn’t existed for quite a while. I gave up on trying to save files and just started emailing myself my word documents and whatnot. I didn’t know what email was until about 1999. So yeah, I’m sorta tech-backwards.

Later, on my [new!] laptop I showed some of the guys pictures of my hometown: Lots of mountains, farm animals, trees, village of 800 people, etc… Apparently life in my stone-age village did not prepare me well enough to interact with cosmopolitan Afghan technocrats. But they were a patient bunch and forgave me my rural eccentricities. On the last night I attempted to transfer the photos that I had taken on my brand-new, first-ever digital camera from my computer to theirs. Things did not go smoothly. I was invited, after some total lack of success, to sit in a chair and drink some tea while they would do the work “for me.”

Luckily, they did not see this pic of me at the old homestead down the hill from the family house.

Poor, poor ignorant khareji.

One the plus side, I think all my rural mountain ways will serve me well when I do my fieldwork in the villages of a certain region of Afghanistan. I’m one of those kharejis who is capable of watching an animal being butchered and then eating it two hours later.