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which means sth like "this upsets but a small world". my mom said it to me when I told her that a colleague will be upset if I don't call. and a friend of mine said that if switzerland makes again "zero points" in the eurovision song contest, it is only a small world of 6, 7 million Swiss that is upset :-)I like this expression. as a small update on the bloody german "I lost my purse" guy, my money never came. Frida, I thought the same as you: I could find myself in this situation... and Phil, well, yes, you are right. what else to say? I am not sure what I should be learning out of this... next time I walk away? I just give part of the amount? I smash the nose of the guy?but at least my visa arrived in Geneva today. and I found out the reason why admin is working so particularly lousy these days: they all fear for their jobs. UNHCR is considering to outsource admin to a less expensive country. IOM has already done so, their admin is in malysia. this is where unhcr might go as well, or to bukarest or budapest. haha. I am evil enough and have some experiences of the "service" provided, so I have to say this happens to my entire satisfaction. for this lousy service? we can definitely save a lot of money.I am thinking those days about how I changed in Afghanistan. I got different feedback from my friends. from "not very much" to "more distant" to "more patient" and "less tough on some issues" to "more demanding".what I definitely learnt is that no situation is easy to solve. there are so many aspects and factors that influence things. if you are thinking too much, one tends to over-estimate his/her influence and might even stop acting for fear of provoking wrong results. talk about academisation of humanitarian work.... what is right and wrong?so yes, I think I am more distant and more patient because I don't put myself in the judges' throne so quickly. I actually think I never did. but yes, I am less tough on some issues because I realised it is not so much the actions of people that makes things happen, but sometimes the sum of a hundred things. but I am also more demanding, because I still think that any act and working in general should always be done as good as possible, without overestimating yourself but also without the lame excuse that the individual does not count.the individual does not count that much. but at the same time, it can have an enormous impact. yes, I guess I learnt to accept that an individuals life is not sacred. why should it be? and I do think that there are ideas worth dying for. now I shouldn't be writing stuff like this before trying to enter the US *lol* either they stop me at the border because of my affinity to Islam, or then they put me directly into their special forces, for my affinity to the political right. geez, I am a strange person. absolutely fit for new york then, I guess :-)
I am waiting for my visa, and I am waiting for the money or a sign from that german guy I was helping out the other day... he did not send the money next day, but maybe it is still coming...in the meanwhile am thinking about a post with the title HONOUR, talking about responsibility, honesty, fairness and other lost values on this world!and I do send all my best wishes and strength to my colleagues in Herat, struggling with the latest battlefield and 130 dead people in Shindand - 100 km south of Herat, the impact of some new bombs, the contradictory reports from the ground - and Iran deporting the not so well-liked Afghans back to their country: 40'000 so far in a few days. and deporting is not a nice thing. it involves a lot of psycho pressure, also physical discomfort to abuse, apart from the fact of being deported from a country with a good living standard where you've been working for years (not officially, of course) back to a country like Afghanistan which is sliding into another period of unstability and insecurity.still, I would go back working in Afghanistan or a country like Afghanistan anytime. any time. staying at home is good for a rest, but I wouldn't want to live in Switzerland and die of boredom and disgust from some elements and life style in western society. the crap people are being told here, and ready to believe...
imagine... you walk into a train station in switzerland, and a young german guy approaches you. he says he had his purse stolen with all cards and stuff, and he needs money. he would send it back to you right next day. he needs 80 swiss francs, about 60$, 50 euros... (yeah go ahead, laugh about my miserable money converter skills!)I usually give money to people on the street - the ones performing music for instance, or people who just need a hand for a ticket or similar. not the drug people, not the beggars.now I am wondering if I am still too naive to believe any cock'n'bull story or if I will get the money in the next days. I hope I will get it. not for the money really, I have enough and it won't hurt. but it would be such an asshole thing to do to think up this story and appeal for help, and then just faking it. it would hurt on another level. we'll see...
one year in the UN and I start accumulate experiences about long ways of administration and utterly incompetent people not even realising their failure...I was supposed to leave Switzerland tomorrow Saturday for New York. I asked about one and half month ago who is in charge to organise my visa. I asked again two weeks ago, and got a reply that Geneva will organise it.I spent three hours with the lady of the Travel and Visa Unit on Monday, filling out forms, taking the picture, signing et cetera - only to get a mail from the same lady on Wednesday that she gave me the wrong forms and took the wrong format of pictures. She asked me some other forms and stuff. I visited the website of the US embassy and checked it, to find out that she clearly has no idea of what she is doing. oh well. why should she? maybe because she is working for the Visa and Travel Unit for several years now????it is not too bad for myself. this way I get a prolonged holiday at home!just doubting the efficiency of the UN once more, if it is not even able to organise a visa on time for a staff member to start her new job...Worldman, maybe you would just smile and thank for the service. just, what if there is no service? what if someone is simply not up to their job? and also, especially in Pakistan, I made the experience that the nicer you are the worse they treat you. Once you start bitching, people start paying attention and make things possible. I got better rooms in hotels, accelerated check in services and generous luggage allowances only when starting to be strong and annoying. I find it sad. no wonder this world is such a fucked up place, if being nice only counts as a sign for the other to keep on sleeping...
I am doing so fine. enjoy being at home - even though everybody in my family seems to have an emergency of some kind and needs to go to hospital and stuff. well, it all turned out okay in all cases but there were a few tense moments. good to be at home - even more in times like these.the last rumour that swept Afghanistan on the day that I left was the following one, that if you receive phone calls from certain numbers a deadly virus is transmitted, which causes immediate bleeding out of nose and mouth and ears, and you die. and they did send this email here as a warning.....Subject: BELIEVE OR DO NOT BELIEVEDear all,These are some suspicious numbers (Which is coming as a phone call tomobile phones and is causing very strong bleeding in intellectual/brainsystem!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) , presumably, almost all heard about. How much theseinformation are true and accurate I don’t know, but just I felt to share some ofthese numbers which I got it from XY office;111009000888009192431900880055079005588885555Wish you all safe moments,intellectual bleeding, my arse!! please, for anybody who believes this kind of crap: dont be afraid. you may have a mobile phone, but you clearly dont have any intellectual organ that could bleed at all.if feels so good to be out of it! getting the adrenaline out of my system. had the last Afghanistan experience on Monday when driving to the airport. there were credible sources warning about a suicide attack on Herat airport... we were told to go there last minute only and reduce the time of actually being on the spot. so I got out of our armoured car in the last minute - only to hear that the plane is an hour delayed. aaah, quel plaisir!but now am home. still alert about every unusual noise, but having such a good time with friends.
my plan was to leave herat and go straight to islamabad, spend a day, dubai, spend a day, and thanks to all those night flights be home by thursday morning.I should have learnt the insh'allah lesson better!herat to kabul was nice and smooth. UNHAS has this extra terminal for themselves, so passport stamp and transit check happens within few minutes. you hardly have time to go to toilet when you find yourself back in the same plane again. the planes are based in islamabad, and the typical monday route is islamabad - kabul - kandahar - herat - kabul - islamabad.I had a bit of bad luck - the guy in front of me of smelling of sweat quite badly. we were driving towards the runway when I was already looking around checking for a seat to change to once we are airborn, when the smell suddenly changed. and all passengers started to look agitated. and I realised its bloody SMOKE that we are smelling! and, like for re-assurance you look towards the flight attendants and see their faces fall and get all white, and you realise, haha, humanitarian air service has an emergency :-) well still being on the ground you can laugh when they stop the plane, push open the door and say "leave all your luggage and get off the plane now. leave your luggage, get out!"the other thing I realised is that I need a camera with a better zoom.after this picture ISAF showed up heavily armed and I stowed my camera away. we were in the restricted section of the airport... it took them almost 30 minutes to get the buses coming to pick us up - oh well, not bad. for security clearance it normally takes 24 to 48 hours!so I could spend another night in kabul and flew into Islamabad today morning. still the same boring city - and bloody office for unfathomable reasons changed my flights in a way that I have the whole day in Islamabad tomorrow, and there is no Dubai. I still arrive in Switzerland at the time foreseen, which was enough reason for the stupid jackass in the office here to say "but your schedule has not been changed at all - destinations and arrival times stay the same".I still wonder sometimes how deliberately stupid some people manage to be. must be quite a challenge to think in such a small box.talking of small box, this is the beechcraft we were using today to fly to Pakistan.nice and cosy, no neighbour as single seats only, and capacity 18 passengers. funny to see the pilots working so closely.had lovely clouds.bought myself some books in Saeed Book Bank (Jinnah Super Market Islamabad). If you ever come to Islamabad, this is the place to go. you find everything. critical books about world politics that are not in our shelves in Europe and even less in the US, I even saw "Mein Kampf" by Adolf Hitler today (wonder how many google search will hit on this page now....). did not buy it, I'd like to read it but hey, as a german native I wont read it in english.so this is my selection of books that will help me over the day tomorrow and steer away my thoughts from fancy Dubai while being in f... I mean in less fancy Islamabad:
last day.I just gave back my phone and radio equipment to our radio room guy. he was so sad, happy for me but sad, saying that I will always stay in the heart of the office family and asking me to please keep in touch. it does hit you right in the heart - almost physically - and the chest goes all tight, and the stomach seems to have thousands of sensitive nerve endings!parting... someone once said it is the most intense form of human contact. not everyone is up to it. some people are scared of living life to its fullest, maybe.Tous les changements, même les plus souhaités, ont leur mélancolie, car ce que nous quittons, c'est une partie de nous-mêmes ; il faut mourir à une vie pour entrer dans une autre. and for the non-french speaker the english translation of Anatole France' wisdom:All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.
there is nothing more exciting than packing and leaving to a new life.sorting out memories, throwing away things, just keeping the most treasured staff.with a little help from my friends - thanks guys you are great!!turning anger and disappointment into energy. I discovered really good horoscopes - on tarot.com. I have it on my google startpage, and yesterday it did tell me not to "hide the anger that is lurking under the surface, even if it is unconvenient for other people". I did, and it was a beautiful day also for my friends - and Friday 13th, I realised this morning! that is one of the few great things in Afghanistan: there is loads less of superstitious small talk ;-)however, today it says "(...) don't slip into the time-consuming trap of believing that you must explain yourself to others. Just keep pushing forward, inch by inch, in the pursuit of your dreams."dreams... I see myself walking through Grand Canyon, running to a Security Council Meeting trying not to sweat upon arrival, flirting with some great guys, enjoying Splash with my friends until I'm "gayed out", going for good bread (well maybe not in the US... but in New York!). I look forward having more contacts to my old friends at home again. Afghanistan has been too far away from everything. and I just want to have fun :-)and honestly. this is the first time I am looking forward to buying business suits and deux pieces. not sure about the high heels... am 1,82 already with flat shoes and I dont want to intimidate everyone ;-)Song of the Day - Poison by Alice Cooper
I am looking forward to getting out of here. leaving some of those things behind.sometimes you go on mission and it is a defining mission for you, your personality, your professional development, yourself. and sometimes you just go on a mission and have your share of work, have fun, meet new friends, learn some things - but it is not a defining point in your life.I would have expected Afghanistan to be the first. and I am disappointed that it was not. but well. life goes on - and I am looking forward to suck some more marrow out of life in the future!today... a relaxed day. after a really great funny party yesterday evening was woken up by phone calls to remind me we want to go for a picnic. alka seltzer is a good friend in those moments! were in a beautiful garden with a swimming pool, a little dairy fabric, cows and vineyards. nice. and in the evening our great guesthouse team (am tempted to write family - we do know so much about each other!) we went to the military base where they have a beautiful small spanish restaurant. and then spent some time with spanish military friends at their friday night party.a great day, all in all :-)