When it rains it pours. Not only on the Charles River were eights and fours and singles were clocking time against stiff winds and whitecap waves durng their final rehearsals for the Head of the Charles.

At work the pouring is also happening. Suddenly I found myself engulfed in work requests, all coming to me at the same time and all interesting and more in line with my skill set than the work I did in Kabul.

The timing is a bit off as my friends from Holland are coming to stay with us after having rowed in the Head of the Charles. When they settle in here at Lobster Cove, I will have to fly to Washington.

I spent hours reading up on health system reforms in Albania so that a colleague and I can propose creative ways to tackle persistent leadership challenges. Everyone who has been a consultant on that project has written a voluminous report. I spent a good part of the day plowing through them all so that I can ask intelligent questions not answered in them.

Another colleague who has had many bumpy landings after returning from a field project told me that each time she is in despair about finding work and starting to look around something comes through, making her postpone her search. Something to look forward to? Avoid? Accept?

Axel is of course worried that he won’t see much of me now that travel is picking up – all of next week I will be in Washington and then soon after that in Japan. Axel wants to go overseas again so we can be together most of the time – as we were in Kabul. If only we can find a nice place without dust, violence, guns, barbed wire and with an interesting job.

One of my Afghan colleagues has arrived from Kabul for a two week visit after he finally got his visa that we had requested for a conference in May. We counseled him not to wear is mullah clothes upon entering the US. He did enter in jeans and jacket and was very warmly received, welcomed into the country by a very friendly US Border Control employee. A good first impression, something that makes us all happy.

When he showed up at MSH in his western garb we hardly recognized him. At lunch time I introduced him to the abundance of Whole Foods and the complexity of their recycling bins.

After work we took him out to one of Boston’s three Afghan restaurant, the one that is not putting more money in Mahmoud Karzai’s coffers. I attempted some Dari and Pashto on the owner but I have to delve deep into my hard disk to retrieve words that came so easily to me only a few months ago. I am letting my languages slide.

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October 2011
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