Friday, November 10, 2006

ISAF, Rugby and Rain

It has been a long time since I joined the game on the field at ISAF. This morning, a team of Royal Marine Commandos and I made the trip to the ISAF HQ to join the other rugby loyalists on the one grassy field in all of Kabul. Although I haven't played for a few months, I got few assists in toward two goals and, in the process pulled a muscle like so many weekend warrior athletes back home. It was a good game and a good sweat.

We toured the Bazaar at the ISAF HQ, the largest I have seen. It is normal to see so many people haggling for bargains on either rugs or trinkets, jewelry or scarfs, wood carvings but very strange to see the debates that come from the bartering of DVDs. The list of pirated movies and TV shows is endless. You can get each and every season of The Sopranos or Lost, Desperate Housewives or CSI, a copy of Superman Returns or X-Men 3, or any other film you can imagine for about $3-5 a pop. Tables and tables of compact disks, ready for the viewing. What do you do in Afghanistan when you have your down time? Watch TV, of course! Seeing an Embassy employee in a dispute with a local Afghan about how 'one of the disks for CSI Season Five didn't work but, no, Season four and three played fine' was almost surreal. Remembering that we are in a war zone where people are armed to the teeth defending those who barter for CDs is sometimes hard.

As we prepared to leave, the first drips of our first real rain began to fall. Then it began in earnest, no meek shower this. It started to pour, rapidly the lack of proper drainage was evident as so much of the city became waterlogged. The roads, always dangerous for reasons that are obvious, now posed a new threat, they were slippery and wet. We stopped on the way back to our base at the British HQ, Camp Souter, named for the lone surivor of a famed battle in the British- Afghan war. He wrapped himself in the Union Jack and covered it in his uniform lest the colors be stolen and crept back across the Khyber Pass back to the safety of Pakistan a century ago. Now as I stood on the base named for his legacy, the downspouts opened and it just poured. Stuffing myself into the backseat of a Toyota Landcruiser with two other fully armored men is comical but necessary.

We returned to a 'busines as usual' environment back at Camp Alamo, Soldiers and Sailors, Airmen and Marines doing laundry and enjoying a lower tempo during a rainy afternoon. What we all would give to come home to a fireplace in our homes, curled up with our loved ones and enjoying a Hot Toddy as the raindrops fell outside.

-out here


Blogger Papa Ray said...

Yep, long ago and far away, as I sat covered in only the leaves of the nearest trees, with water coming down like no rainfall I had ever seen, I wished and wanted just like you.

Then, I had some doubts as to why I was there, what I was doing and what would become of it. I only knew how important it was years later.

I hope you don't have those doubts, because the reasons and need for you and yours sacrifice is not only clear but critical.

Happy Vets day, I'm glad you will recieve a welcome home that my buds and myself never got.

Yes, I believe you will make it back to the world ok. Changed, but ok.

Papa Ray
West Texas

8:25 PM  

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