After the Fall, Only the Roaches are Left

Kabul, Afghanistan - 29 / 5 / 02

I sit in the bureau, still captain of this ship, lying idle in a sea of news. Anything that is of worth to the Media is occurring east of here. Apparently it isnít newsworthy that so far eight Loya Jirga representatives have been killed by al Queda and Taliban groups. Once again the buzzards go where they smell the most blood. I am still on hold as to whether or not I will be joining the rest of the CBS crew in Islamabad, and I guess I prefer that it stays that way. On the other hand, having nothing to do work wise does make the time drag on, and I havenít been the best person to be around ever since I was afflicted with wonderful stomach flu three days ago. I guess the sickness is payback for not falling ill during my last time in Kabul. I really must learn not to mock people when they are sick, lest I become one.

My third day here, at least I think it was the third day, an intense storm blew through. It reminded me of some of the more severe thunderstorms of Colorado except for the addition of a huge dust storm preceding the rain and lightning. Oh the complete and utter excitement of grit in the teeth and lightning strikes yards away. I wondered how intelligent it was for me to take refuge amongst a large amount of electronic equipment with a large satellite dish/lightning rod. The storm passed with minimal disturbance to the shed, save for the large puddle of water seeping into it. Apparently, instead of relieving the problem of leakage, the previous engineer lived with it and has passed it on as a legacy. That and the air conditioning unit that is acting as a paper weight in front of the overheating equipment.

The compound itself, has taken on a new look since the winter. The flowers and trees are in full bloom and the cockroaches have come out of their winter hideaways. From the size of these insect denizens, growth is not hindered by hibernation. The first time I saw one of these little beasties, I felt I had stepped into The Metamorphosis. I made sure that all bipeds were accounted for, before I took the law of nature into my own hands. The vermin become an accepted fact of life quite quickly. Ants in the nuts and candies when chai is served, mice scurrying underfoot at all times of the day, and of course the sole survivors of a nuclear attack, hovering above the bed.

The new additions definitely do not take away from the familiar. The NBC producer, who I became good friends with, arrived the same day as I did, and Marla, the relief worker from San Francisco, is back as well. Then there was the trip down memory lane as Arianne, ABCís translator, had me view footage of parties he had shot. I am not sure that I am loved by the locals because of my attempts to fit into the culture or because I apparently have no problem making an ass of myself in front of the camera. I guess every war zone needs a jester.

Talk of impending war between Pakistan and India is too prevalent for my taste. I thought I was thoroughly paranoid to begin with, but then I found a new spring in which to draw from. Meal conversation between me and the ABC engineers have dealt mainly with contingency plans for nuclear fallout, thankfully I have not been the one to initiate the dialogue, but I do keep the discourse flowing once it has started. Rest assured, however, all nuclear/biological/chemical suits are accounted for, the cellar is in the process of being cleared out for shelter purposes, and we have begun to horde water. With our current supply, we wonít have to start to drink our own urine for two weeks after the holocaust. I have tried to get Marla to stay with us, since she is a vegetarian and would probably be repulsed by cannibalism, thus making her the first main course. Enough of the macabre, I am off to a pool party at the ICRC. I donít think I will be doing much swimming, but it would not surprise me if this group brought in their own water and pool filter. War is Hell.

- Mike Brandenburg