Two Notes to Self

November 16, 2010

Note to self: Don’t use the dry cleaner next to the butcher.  I was very excited to see my button down shirts coming back so clean and nicely pressed.  This is particularly pleasing after the cloths cleaner at the house tore the collar off one of my favorite shirts and rubbed the color out of another.  They scrub the cloths until neither stain nor cloth remains.  Most of my undies, not the newest items I admit, are now holey rags.  My black jeans have turned gray.  And I look this morning again like a monkey as I am constantly scratching.  When I put on fresh undies and t-shirts I itch and itch as the soap, not fully rinsed, abrades my skin.

The dry cleaner did a wonderful job. And what a price.  5 shirts for $5.50.  I hung my shirts up in the closet, took a bucket bath, came back and noticed a strange odor in the closet corner.  I thought, it being near the window, that the smell must be coming from the street.  Today, the first of the Eid festival, it is a tradition to slaughter sheep and cows.  The stench must be filling the air and permeating my room.  Then, I pulled a shirt out of the closet and noticed that the smell emanated from there.  Stuck my face in a shirt for a sniff and had a real laugh.  The smell of raw meet hanging in the sun, sheep’s wool and smoky street side barbequing all mixed together.  I now bring a meat shop with me where ever I go.

Second note to self:  In the winter in Kabul, make sure you have a room facing south.  On the north side of the house the coldness cuts through to the bone.  There seems no way to escape its chill.   In my room however, I have to open and close curtains through the day, as the sun moves from east to west, to mitigate the flood of light and warmth.  The temperature outdoors shifts from below freezing at night to the seventies in the midday sun.

During the day the warmth of the sun makes the curtains feel like they cover a furnace.  And, now that they have covered all the windows with large sheets of dirty plastic – nailing them to the outside of the window frames with beautiful strips of decorated wood, the ‘oven’ effect is even more intense.  Can’t open the windows for fresh air or to clear the stench of bodies from the room.  Can’t see outside except to identify the fuzzy forms of trees, houses and hills that I know from before.  But as winter sets in this south side room is a real blessing.  I haven’t turned my room heater on yet.  At night I have a real smile when I crawl under my two thick blankets.  That always brings a chuckle and a childhood memory of having stacks of blankets piled on me and my cats – all curled up underneath.

My Afghan crew, when they are working here, always want to turn the heater on.  I open the door to cool the room off they slide over and close it.  They don’t seem to dress for winter, still in short sleeves or a single button down shirt with a jacket or wool shawl on top.  I, like when I am at home, have my long undies on, thick socks and, when needed, my hat.  I love love, love that sensation of not burning fuel.

In the summer however, I wouldn’t be such an fuel saint.  This same room would be an unbearable stove as the temperatures outside quickly rise from the 60s at night to 105.  There’s no AC here, if there was I’d have it on. Without it, I’d be begging to move to the ever so nice and cool north side of the house.

Related Posts:

Against the Wall – An Afghan Evacuation Story – Part 1

Against the Wall – An Afghan Evacuation Story – Part 1

On Aug 15th, the day Kabul fell to the Taliban, Basir and his family made their first attempt to get into the airport and onto a plane. It would be nearly a month before they escaped into Pakistan. Over the next weeks they would be beaten at Taliban checkpoints, endure crushing crowds and be threatened and sworn at by soldiers from around the world.

CSFilm Benefit Screening – Brattle Theater, Cambridge MA – Oct 18th

CSFilm Benefit Screening – Brattle Theater, Cambridge MA – Oct 18th

A Special Benefit Screening for Community Supported Film’s Fund for Afghan Evacuation and Resettlement:

Far from Afghanistan (2012), dirs. John Gianvito, Soon-Mi Yoo, Jon Jost, Minda Martin, Travis Wilkerson

Monday, October 18, 7PM at the Brattle Theatre, 40 Brattle St, Cambridge, MA 02138

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