You know you’ve been in Afghanistan too long when…

(I got sent this. I don’t usually post other people’s stuff, but enough of these rang true that I thought it worth repeating. Don’t be offended people…)

From the girls:

  1. You can drive kph, next to a tank, overtaking a donkey, in a head on collision with a Russian taxi and a Pakistani truck and not bat an eyelid.
  2. You can eat a local kebab, drink a glass of tap water and put ice in your cocktail and not poo like a fire hydrant for the next month
  3. You can weave through the back streets of Kabul, on a route designed simply to avoid bomb holes in the road.
  4. A male colleague says “That head veil looks great on you. Very Greta Garbo”. (Actually that’s a sign he’s been here too long)
  5. Afghan men start stoning you and instead of running away, you heave rocks back and let out a stream of vitriolic expletives
  6. You drive over the Hindu Kush and don’t even take any photos
  7. You realize, in fact, you haven’t taken any photos for five months
  8. The food at L’Atmosphere starts tasting good
  9. You haven’t shaved your legs for months and don’t care
  10. You start partying with the French for lack of anything else to do
  11. You notice a male friend getting turned on at the sight of a woman’s finely turned ankle peeking out from under her trousers (Again, that’s a sign he’s been here too long)
  12. You actually remember to do radio check
  13. Being stopped at road blocks with AK47  s pointing at your head is considered mildly annoying
  14. You’ve neglected your bikini line so long you need a weed whacker to get through it.
  15. It takes you three weeks to get out of the post-R&R blues; then you spend the next three weeks planning your next R&R, avoiding work the whole time because you are a) too depressed or b) too excited.
  16. You light your own wood hearter by pouring 4 litres of diesel on some wood and throwing in a match
  17. You don’t even need to see the menu at the Elbow Room but can recite it in its entirety in manner of Koran
  18. You go home on R&R and describe your location to a taxi driver as the rd lane off th street of the north road, through the roundabout, past the tree, look for the school, and it’s the nd green gate on the right. Beware of the dog.
  19. You have seen every DVD available on Chicken Street
  20. “I married my first cousin” is not longer shocking, but in fact, seems kinda nice.
  21. You go shopping and think, “oooh, that head veil’s nice.”
  22. You’ve referred to every male friend you know as your husband at least twice
  23. Seeing a shotgun under your boyfriend’s bed seems comforting rather than disturbing
  24. Finishing your contract and going home to walk into the bowels of middle class mediocrity doesn’t seem that bad anymore.
  25. You automatically get in the back seat of every vehicle because that’s where women belong
  26. You see five women in burqas walking towards you and you can tell which one is your cleaning lady

 

From the boys

  1. You no longer bother removing the prehistoric insects from the bath before you shower.
  2. The bottle of whiskey you kept under your pillow starts to travel to work with you.
  3. You no longer flinch when thirteen Afghan men line up to kiss you on the cheek in the morning (for men only).
  4. You begin to contemplate whether or not you like women with downy upper lips.
  5. You use farting as a tactic to keep people out of your office.
  6. Your homepage is reliefweb.org/jobs
  7. You know that you are spending the prime of your life in hell, yet you don’t remember what prime means, or life.
  8. The pentagonal Chinese women at Supreme wink at you, and you wink back.
  9. The first thing you think when you wake up every morning is: ‘Damn! I’m in Afghanistan.’
  10. You no longer take showers even on the rare occasion there is hot water.
  11. The black phlegm you hack up all morning, every day, doesn’t scare you.
  12. Your phone directory is full of people who have left.
  13. Various parts of you twitch and you don’t even notice.
  14. You begin making regular trips to Baghram bazaar for contraband, and start taking orders for friends.
  15. For a good time, you get in your car, with your flatmate to go find the scene of a rocket impact, holding a shotgun in the backseat in case it all goes wrong.
  16. You eat MREs to stay regular.
  17. MREs don’t keep you regular.
  18. You mistake other people’s gas for body odor and visa versa.
  19. You can’t remember why you ever came here.
  20. Yu start speling licke the Afghans in yer afice.
  21. You notice you are walking everywhere as though you carried a concealed weapon.
  22. You start carrying a concealed weapon.
  23. You step into a sewer and don’t even wash your foot.
  24. You’re leaving tomorrow and aren’t even sure if you should pack everything or go at all.
  25. You don’t mind when the barber smears lamb fat on your face to smoothen the shave
  26. You think your driver isn’t using his horn enough
  27. You don’t wonder why that guy is pointing his gun at you
  28. Instead of daydreaming about women, you daydream about heroically battling your way free of would-be kidnappers
  29. You start using bastardized Afghan-English words like “fillanger” (a car part) because you don’t know, or can’t remember, the proper English term. Ex: “The fillanger is broken AGAIN? How much does a new fillanger cost? Buy two.”

 

(With thanks to Tear Fund UK…)

8 thoughts on “You know you’ve been in Afghanistan too long when…

  1. Hahaha. I wrote this list in 2005 and it has gone on in cyberspace ever since. Glad to see it’s still being circulated today. I left in 2006 but those things seem just as real now as they did then. Classic!

    • hi Emma. Wow! all credit to you. I have spent more than 6 years now in Afghanistan, and more and more of that list is true! What are you doing these days then?
      Phil.

  2. We say Wow to hearing you’re on your way back there. We love your photos. S & I are early CARADers and continuing with GNFA as well. Sadly, we are off to Europe the day before your get-together, otherwise you’d have had to make us the cuppa. May God go with you as you return and keep you guys strong!

  3. Pingback: You know you’ve been in Afghanistan too long without R&R when… | Absurdities & Atrocities

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