Well, after four months in India I am finally back in Kabul. The last week in Delhi was fun if also a bit hectic. I stayed with my friend Kaushik in Mayur Vihar and ran around doing errands. On top of this, a few others were getting ready to leave--Mohit Sinha is going to Bangalore to work at a think-tank and Aashish Mishra, who's off to do a PhD at LSE. On top of this 4S, the infamous cheap bar of Defence Colony will be shutting its doors on the 20th for a one-month renovation. True, it's not the end, but one must worry that renovation will entail making it less ghetto and dive-y, which after all, was the whole point.
The flight to Kabul was relatively normal, by general standards, not those of a typical flight to Kabul. No goats, neem trees, or firearms in sight, nor was anyone carrying much more than twice the allowed amount of baggage with them. Indian served complimentary beer on the flight (I was the only non-taker), and no-one felt compelled to fast, even though the journey is under two hours. The terminal reconstruction is quite evident in Kabul and it's gotten much nicer at the airport.
Having been gone for four month I noticed a lot of changes. For one, things appear to be looking up. There's even more construction than before and a lot of small businesses are being repaired as well. On the hand, people are bitching about increases in the price of flour and oil.
It's nice to be back, the weather is perfect, about 25-30C with no humidity. I've made it a habit to sit out at L'Atmosphere, where no one is bothered by my using the internet, even though I'm not ordering anything due to the fast. In summer, it's an open-air restaurant (any of you who have been to San Diego, think Cafe 976) with lots of fig, pomegranate, and cherry trees, as well as grapes and roses too. I'm a bit annoyed by the constant repetition of the soundtrack from My Best Friend's Wedding (the English version of Mere Yaar Ki Shadi Hai), but oh well.
I found, with Nathan's help, a nice guesthouse behind the Kabul City Centre shopping mall. It's actually a private house run by a nice and mellow Australian guy, and is next to an awesome Lebanese restaurant. Beyond finishing my survey of perceptions of NGO-sector corruption in Afghanistan, I'm trying to rustle up a new job but networking with everyone imaginable. It's much easier to find work hanging out here than going to DC or Cali, just because communication tends to be so poor between Afghanistan and wherever the donors are. Plus you just get a lot of experience in anything you do here.
So, basically, the job search begins, the partying continues!