Afghanistan-A-Go-Go

A Reservist's Tale Of A Tour

Posts Tagged ‘adventures

Culture Shock

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Today, after three months in Kabul, I headed to the airport early in the morning to catch a plane. I mentioned in a previous post about how I was getting a chance to teach at a training centre in Germany, and today was the big day.

For the first time since getting here, I walked around outside a camp or other secure compound, and did so without wearing body armour. I wore civilian clothes for the first time in months, a pair of jeans that are significantly too large for me. I couldn’t fit my boots in my suitcase, so I had to go with wearing them rather than Sketchers, but nevertheless it was a weird feeling.

Security at Kabul International Airport, the civilian side, is pretty tight indeed. My bags were x-rayed on the way into the area. Then again before I checked in, where I got frisked in more detail than I think I’ve ever been. I then checked in without incident, and sat in the terminal. Most passengers leaving for Dubai were westerners – contractors, diplomats, NGO workers including a Finnish woman and her two sons. She’s live in Kabul for twelve years, it’s the only home her kids have know. I have to admire the dedication of someone who’d commit to trying to help such a place so long. She laughed at my frustration at not being able to walk out in the city, to meet and talk to people, but that’s the reality of my job.

Two and a half hour’s flying brought us to Dubai, and what I can only describe as an overwhelming culture shock. I’m not used to so many people, so much… normalcy? Though I’d hardly call DXB normal! So much luxury, it’s a giant mall. But a Starbucks coffee and sushi for lunch was a welcome change from DFAC “food”.

We expected we could get into one of the lounges, because the team lead is one of those ultra platinum frequent flyers, but no such luck. The expected reciprocal privileges were not offered. Such is life, however.

I’m starting this post from an Emirates Boeing 777 – probably the greatest flight I’ve ever been on, and waiting for lamb curry for dinner, watching as the screen shows us flying over Iraq toward Turkey, and onward to Germany. Tonight, I’ll sleep in a hotel, in a huge comfortable bed. I think I’ll take a ridiculously long shower – if available, a bath! Such simple pleasures after three months.

It’ll be a busy couple of weeks or so working on the course, and then it’ll be back to Kabul for my next stretch – shorter than the last. In fact, I’ve completed the single longest stretch of time I’ll spend in Afghanistan. It’s going to be two shorter spans – broken up by leave – and then home. To what, I’m not sure. More shocks, I’m sure. But good ones.

Written by Nick

May 29, 2012 at 11:20 am