Beauty and sooty

Afghans have an incredible knack for creating and seeing beauty, the kind I like in their embroidery, weaving, carving, painting with paint or words, their gardens and music. Yet they, maybe not the same people, also have an ability to build the most garish houses, mismatched patterns, colors, tiles, with little or no outdoors; monstrosities that hurt the eyes.

Our housekeeper, Ghulam, delights me when I see yet another one of his attempts to create harmony, symmetry and beauty in our house by the way he arranges things on the shelves of our bookcase. Today I was surprised by his arrangement of a green plastic toothbrush cup that I had given him to wash, in between two teapots. One works with the stuff that one is given and makes the best of it.

I have now completed the inventory of our house. It is amazing how much stuff we have collected and I worry about how to shoehorn it all back into our small house in Lobster Cove that is already full. It is also amazing how much, if we wanted to replace everything in case the container gets blown up or disappears (not an unthinkable scenario), the insurance will have to pay us.

Today the five day (for the government 4 day) Eid holiday started and tonight is probably the last iftar that is being consumed after sunset. This means that on Sunday the tea, candy and water bottles will re-appear. The household staff already stocked the refrigerators earlier in the day with water bottles; and the cafeteria will re-open and lunch breaks will be introduced again, making the workday one half hour longer. This will be the end of my daily lunch of a hardboiled egg, eating furtively when no one was looking, and a small bottle of Tabasco bloody mary (virgin of course) mix.

It was a very (very!) low key day and several people had taken the day off or were doing low intensity work. I took advantage of being left alone by writing my handover notes and discovering, in the process, various loose ends that needed to be tied up, firing off a series of emails to hapless colleagues asking them to take action on this or that.

I also cleaned out the rest of my desk drawers and bookcase shelves, walking around like Santa with stuff to give away. When all was done my hands were black with soot and dust as everything not used daily, even inside drawers and cabinets, was covered with a thick layer of dust, dirt and soot.

I have completed about three quarters of my end-of-assignment report which is turning out to be a challenging but interesting piece of work. My intent is to complete it before I leave. Although my boss told me I could write two reports, one for public consumption and the other confidential, I have decided to write only one as I am not entirely sure confidential, once mailed, will remain that way. Thus the discipline is to write truthfully without offending or blaming. Luckily I have some experience doing this in my daily blog, which I am actually using as a reference now and then to get into the finer detail of one event or another.

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