Christmas in the Land of Islam

Kabul, Afghanistan - 24 / 12 / 01

The holiday season has hit the Western world, and our little slice of it in the middle of the land of Islam reflects it. We have the Christmas bush adorned with lights outside, and our pine twig properly dressed inside. The house has been invited down to the US Embassy for Christmas lunch, a little soire being thrown for the troops, no open bar though. The feast for Christmas eve is quite impressive, with shish kabobs and meatballs, and the largest cake Iíve ever seen. At least there is enough drink to get through the holiday season, after that, who knows. The Western body count may go back up in the next couple of weeks.

Yesterday was the first time I have heard gunfire in the area, sometimes right next to our gate. Reminds me of West Sacramento, at least Iím not on my bicycle this time. It was a nice reminder that we are in fact still in a war zone. It is kind of easy to forget that when the housekeepers are changing your linens everyday, your laundry is always done, and there is a full meal prepared three times a day. As the producer for ABC put it, ďWe may be in the middle of a war zone, but it doesnít mean we canít be f!#*ing civilized!Ē I guess with over 20 years of covering conflicts in the region, I guess he is entitled to those little pleasures.

I was given some information about the house the other night as well. Apparently the previous tenents were Pakistanís ISI, the secret intelligence service. Iím still looking for camera holes in the room and hidden microphones.

Wish I had more to report from Kabul, I havenít had a chance to leave yet, but everyone is leaving tomorrow for Bagram and turkey dinner. Everyone has been pretty upbeat about the interim government, with just a little bit of healthy trepidation. It is quite exciting to be here during this time, although I wouldnít know it, Iím too busy worrying if we are going to lose power during a satellite transmission. No rest for the wicked.

Hope everyone has a FANTASTIC Christmas. I promise I will have some more worthwile experiences in the near future.

- Michael Brandenburg