Friday, November 16, 2007

Going shopping

Yesterday I rode with the guys who pick up the large dumpsters of trash, to see how they go about their work. Nothing much in it – drive up, reverse, hook up, haul up, shake it around a bit, dump it back down on the ground, unhook and off to the next.

The nice thing about the route is that it went by way of an annex where you could take a break for morning coffee and biscuits. Even better, the route also went to the PX and commissary area in the camp – ie the on-site shops – where I’ve been desperate to get to ever since I arrived but can’t yet as I don’t have a permanent security badge.

The commissary area is a large quadrangle of containers housing small shops that do everything from selling gold jewellery to tailoring your clothes and serving you pizza. It’s essentially the same as the one I saw in Kandahar last year. Same franchises too: Green Bean, Pizza Hut, Subway and also, if I remember right, the same general operator : Gulf Services.

Here the staff are either Iraqi, Indian or Filipino (in Afghanistan they are Afghans and Nepali). So, into every shop to see what’s on offer and out with my three words of Arabic and ten words of Tagalog. Smiles all around (and I’m sure, their thinking “oh boy, another smartass tourist”).

Bought some much desired beef and chicken jerky. Not anything like the biltong and machaca that I adore (American jerky is too sweet and conditioned for my taste – I like the raw wind dried stuff), but better than nothing. Also bought a large towel that wraps around me better than the one provided.

Now aren’t I getting settled in nicely?

Since I can’t take any fotos in secure areas yet, here’s one I shot in Kandahar last year that gives you the same feel.

Take-away at Pizza Hut

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