Afghan Dispatch #11: Chai (Originally Sent on July 11th, 2012)

Oh man…my eye balls are floating.  I’m sitting inside a small mud
hut in a circle with a Marine Lieutenant and about ten Afghan Local
Police.  We’ve been drinking chai for the better part of an hour.  I
can barely focus on the conversation because I have to pee so bad.

It’s about 110 degrees outside, and only about ten degrees less
inside. The flies have formed themselves into squadrons and are
conducting dive-bombing raids on my head. The Afghans sitting with us
on the floor have all removed their shows. Almost none of them have
bathed or washed their clothes this month. The one across from me
blatantly picks his nose and feet with the same hand he used to shake
mine.

In the entry way, our “guardian angel” has been joined by the Afghan
equivalent.  Mine has body armor and an M4. Theirs has a long beard
and an AK.  Mine is sweating profusely under the weight of his armor,
yet maintains an alert and aggressive posture. Theirs looks bored and
indifferent to the proceedings going on inside.

I focus my attention on the linguist, who is currently blathering on
in pashto to the village elder’s right hand man.  The linguist, or
“terp,” then turns to me and translates the exchange.  Something about
somebody bitching about not having something that he didn’t work for.
I couldn’t care less, but I nod my head and promise to ask the
appropriate people the appropriate questions. Nothing more. During
Advisor Training, they drilled into us the importance of never
promising our counterparts anything tangible. So the only thing I
promise is to ask. This gets them off my case.

The flies have reformed and are attacking the lieutenant.  My third
glass of chai is empty. Cigarettes are passed around. After a smoke we
shake hands and go outside for a picture.  I discreetly smother my
hands in Purell.

Note: The picture I attached to #10 was the one we took.

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