Gnawing, learning and other diversions

While I was waiting for my ride home today I conversed in Dari with two of the drivers. They wanted to know more about my ankle. The Dari word I have been using, I learned today, refers to the ankle bone that sticks out on the side of the foot. I looked up the word for joint in my dictionary, not sure if it refered to the kind of joint one smokes or the body part. I took the risk of using it and immediately the driver indicated that he loves to gnaw on (cow) joints. At least I got the right word. The gnawing piece made me laugh and I assured the driver that there was nothing yummy about my joint in its permanently inflamed state.

The mornings remain good; I can walk without crutches, even without my boot, which I am not supposed to do but there’s no pain. But by the end of the day I am very sore – the stand-up facilitation and the walking around are the culprits of course but I can’t figure out what to do about it. Seated facilitated may be possible but I can’t get used to it.

I am halfway the Organizational Learning workshop – it’s a learning experience for all of us. Even though my colleagues here understand the notion of learning as a means to stay abreast of developments and draw from each other’s’ experiences, there are strong forces and long standing habits that make it hard to imagine what actions one could take to, for example, bring about something like ‘leadership that reinforces learning.’ I think this one is the most difficult in all the five workshops held so far in Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa. The Afghans have decided they will ask the Ethiopians what they are doing about it.

There is a lot of wishing and moralizing about what leaders should do – all directed I am sure at particular people who cannot be named so the conversation happens at two levels – the general ‘should’ as applied to all leaders and the wishes that some particular ones can be coerced to change. I suggest they start looking at themselves as many of them are leading teams. They think they are doing well – although they realized they may not. The problem is that there are no feedback loops that go up the hierarchy, only down.

To create a little diversion from work, which has a tendency to take over one’s life here, we went to the last of the performances in ANIM’s winter concerts. ANIM is Afghanistan’s National Music Institute which was founded by an Australian Afghan and keeps going thanks to the combined efforts of various embassies and passionate musicians from around the world. We listened to Jazz and Blues and Ragas played by young Afghan boys and seasoned professionals from India, Latin America, Europe, Australia, Canada and the US – all bound together by their love of music. The closing piece seamlessly fused jazz and ragas into a delightful mixture formed last night in the musicians’ guesthouse over a dinner of KFC (Kabul Fried Chicken) – or Kabul Fusion Chaos as the christened themselves.

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