Lou and Peretz showed up, part of Mullah Todds San Francisco Tribe, Very Brilliant and Very creative humans, they spent months working locals in Education and Technology, Being the son of a welder, Lou warmed my heart with her skills ! And Peretz even Coached a local Basketball Team for a Tournement in Kabul. One of the top Geeks that was on site in the FabLab from Day 1 was Hameed, and they ran a blog that is very interesting. We encourage anyone interested in life in Afghanistan take a read of their posts. http://jalalagood.com
For more deep info, check this online only story that was very hard to find. Peretz is a very good writer – this story alone could be a movie. Thank you Peretz and Lou ! Love you guys !!
Next to the Taj Plex, there is a man made mound, that probably dates back to the days of Buddhism in Jalalabad, that is a watch tower of sorts, overlooking the Kabul River and the surrounding farmlands. This area formerly called Adina Pur (Pushto:آدينه پور) as documented by the 7th century Hsüan-tsang.
One thing that will boggle the mind, is Dogs in Afghanistan, Kuchi Dogs are treated like dirt, they are the most awesome breed I have ever shared space with. Loyal, great climbers, natural herders (there were some bloody fingers of the kids at the Fablab) which was the first alarm, but also protective, but need the Alpha human around to be happy. Tho they play an important role in defending the camp, or village. Locals totally freak out at how we americans treat and love our canine friends. During Ramadan (aka ramazan) , if a dog touches a Muslim during ramazan, they are desecrated. Totally freak out. My heart literally broke when we lost scout due to mysterious circumstances, Scout was my room mate @ Taj, and my friend, but I was NOT Alpha. I will also add, having a “pet” dog that you love, in a war zone, is a very bad idea if you are not 100% on station with your dog. Nuff Said. But for me, I slept much better at night knowing that Scout was on station.
Even so, I had a pack of Wild Dogs that I would feed every night off the babadeck, and they were comfortable to occasionally sleep there. A couple wanted SO BAD just to be petted, and loved, taken in, but I knew I couldn’t do that. Best security in the world is the Alert you get from the pack. One year a newbie guard was chasing them off, I went out and told them to stand the fuck down. This pack works with you. You need to appreciate that. Lost in translation. TIA.
In August 2012, the Taj House manager was gunned down near his home in Jalalabad. Afghanistan is a very complicated place, a very dynamic environment. We may never know who did this great dis-service to the people of Afghanistan. Mehrab was a hero seeking peace after 30 years of war.
In the early days, we had connections, folks that could roll to Kabul for a night run, main road, or via the ladaban pass depending on the check points, and hit up the suppliers for cases of beer for 30-40. $$ – Then in 2009 – the clamp down happened, our hauls were being shut down by the NDS check points out of Kabul – so we had to go native on beer ops. That basically means, you deal with the beer mafia. So we Did.
Started out around 120. case (4x the normal price) then ramped up to over $200 case as things heated up. Didn’t matter what the price, just that there was availability, gave us hope, a sense of normality in a strange place.
One of the Many things the I learned from babaTIM was – if you cant roll on your own, then you cant roll. I became addicted to driving around this wild west town of Jbad, and even did the run from Kabul a couple times.
This will all come around after a few chapters, but want to start with — //
2006. Sitting in the smoking area, of LSA Kuwait, just outside the cyber cafe, next to the coffee joint ~ enjoying a menthol, striking up conversations with total strangers, that had one thing in common, we like to smoke. There are so many situations, drills and real time actions, that taking a smoke break gives the best intel in the world. Black Hat, HOPE, Burning Man, or the Fish Market by the Dam in Duranta.. Brilliant endorphin seeking minds take a smoke break, and we talk to each other – true CIG INT.
Back to LSA, One young grunt exclaims, “man, its so strange being inside the wire ~ we got pizza hut, green beans and civilians hanging out with us, what do you do?”
I am on a 5 year mission to live outside the wire. Find a home, Bring in some phat internet, build a WiMax mesh net for the hospital and schools, put in a few wells, then go home. First trip in, don’t have a funding line, but we are trying to talk our way onto a C17 hop to Bagram, just gotta find some damned body armor. Mission accomplished, From there, we plan to hitch hike to Kabul and find a ride to Jalalabad. And that is exactly what we did.
My geek background is Electronic Warfare and Signal Intelligence with the Navy. That was many years ago, so now I am a Free Ranger – looking to do Reachback and DO Good, … in the words of Dr. Dr. Dave – Save The Willing First !
In the mid 90’s I met a guy named Dave Warner, he was a med student at loma linda ~ he had big visions, and I was very interested in taking part in his visions to better the world. 10 years later, we would be sitting in the Pat Tillman USO on Bagram air field in Afghanistan, trying to figure out how to get OFF the base. We were allowed transport into BAF, but that was the end of the line without a funding line – so I took a smoke break with the Afghan that ran the coffee hut.. told him we are two doctors that need to get to the Care Hospital in Kabul stat. He offered us a ride. Sweet.
Five days later, I am in my first Jirga – with local elders to see if they will allow the Rotary School and Computer Lab in Chapahara. UBL’s old stomping grounds. I had to request local clothes because the high speed black on black ssf outfit was very hot that December Day.
and Im not talking about facebook. The first thing any volunteer citizen supporting stability operations should do is learn the Pah’tan (Pashtun) Honor Code, Pashtun Wali.
Building relationships is very important in Afghanistan if you plan to get out to the villages and help folks. Our main focus was the Public Hospital and Public University, but eventually we learned the Villages are where we could win some hearts and minds.
Okay, lets admit, stuff has not been going that great in Afghanistan.
1. A girls school was helicopter attacked in Nangarhar. (barely a mention in the press)
2. Soldiers in Bagram, burn Korans . (Big Press)
3. Brain damaged soldier goes on killing spree.. returns to base to surrender. (Bigger Press, but less blowback.)
Sounds like a great time for Synergy Spring break in Jalalabad !!
Flashback One Year – March Madness Slide Show of Life @ The Taj. ( I Liked that pre canned epic music from the village mix so much I used it here also ! 🙂