Friday, January 27, 2012

Kabul Conference


Winter has definitely settled over Kandahar.  It's been cold, windy, sometimes rainy, and occasionally snowy.  The other day, soldiers were taking pictures of each other over at the Boardwalk, which had a light dusting of very slippery snow.  I may regret saying this in about six months, when the temperatures are well over 100, but I could do with some warmer weather.

I was getting a bit too shaggy last week, so I headed over to the Boardwalk to get a haircut.  I was hoping to get the sexy blonde Russian girl, but instead got the chubby Uzbek guy.  Oh, well, with my glasses off, I can't see, anyway, and the guy gave me a better haircut than the girl did, so I'm happy.  

There was a dance tune that came out about 1990, that had a woman hollering "everybody DANCE now" ... remember that one?  Yeah.  Well, this barbershop is staffed by Russians, so they were playing Russian music, and one of the tunes was a remake of "everybody dance now".  Only it sounded like it was cut by a platoon of Russian soldiers, who had all the rhythm and soul of a rhinoceros on vodka.  Heavily-accented Russian guys would chant "everybody dance now" with a beat like stamping around in the snow in heavy boots.  Then one of 'em would go into a drugged-out Russian rap.  Like a nightmare that wouldn't end.  I could hardly keep myself from laughing the whole time it was playing.

A couple of days ago, two of us went up to Kabul for a conference, along with several military staff guys.  We'd asked for a flight in the afternoon, so we could get some work done here, then fly up, settle in, and attend the conference the next day.  Nope.  Military Air is a logic unto themselves.  Instead of an afternoon flight, we had to show up at 4:30 am for a 6:30 am flight.  Ugh!  I like my beauty rest, but ya gotta do what ya gotta do.  Let me tell you, a flight line at 6 am on a cold winter morning, with a stiff wind blowing across the field, is no fun.  But our flight left more or less on time and the plane warmed up quickly.  We flew in a C-27, which is a new addition to our inventory and a nice little cargo plane.  Unlike the bigger C-130, there's plenty of room for passengers to stretch their legs.  

We arrived in Kabul in mid-morning and quickly got settled into our plush 5-star accommodations at the NATO base at the airport.  This turned out to be a tent with a dozen bunk beds built out of 2x4's and old wooden pallets, with the heater set on "fry" and the bathroom in a converted container about 50 yards away.  A couple of us then went exploring, which didn't take long, and we found ways to keep ourselves sorta busy and entertained for the rest of the day.  That evening, our whole group got together and went over to what turned out to be a really good Thai restaurant on the base.  Yes, I said "really good".  Definitely the surprise of the trip.

The conference went pretty well.  We made some good contacts, especially with the Marines from Helmand Province next door, and swapped a lot of ideas.  The Marines are doing some things that we could/should do, and we're doing some things that they should be doing, so we had some good discussions.  As usual in a conference, there were a couple of speakers that I just wanted to hit the "Delete" button on, but that's to be expected.

Coming home worked out pretty well.  Military Air told us to be at the terminal at 7 pm for an 8:30 flight and the plane showed up an hour early.  I was back in my own little room in Kandahar by 10 pm. 

So now it's back to the office so I can catch up on emails, write a trip report, and find out what has hit the fan.  I've been out of the office for two days, so I know something did!

1 comment:

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