Kabul, Afghanistan | July 12, 2003


God bless satellite. I am listening to my favorite super wacky independent radio station in NYC -- wfmu.org, while typing this email.  But no kind words for the Kabul energy crisis -- I am also rewriting this email because it got wiped out from a power outage a few minutes ago.

I first want to start by making the US-based boyfriend feel better -- I am not going out every night.  I went out last night, but that's because some dork forced me and I was craving getting out from under the roof of the missionaries for an hour or so (the guesthouse is periodically not empty, and instead suddenly fills up with missionary tourists coming from parts of the US I have never visited).   Ramin, the restaurant owner, passed by and said, "oh man, you just missed a great party -- we just went to ISAF" (fyi, ISAF is the international security forces holding Kabul together) On the one hand, there is no need for me to be surrounded by 200 muscular European soldiers, so no worries there -- I am not being hounded by suitors every waking moment. I have, in fact, been focusing my energies on seeking out female companionship.  Three dinners planned this week with real girls, so we'll see what that produces.

I stirred up a hornets nest today.  Hornets actually sound too sinister...let's say more like a bees nest.  We had a slightly quiet day yesterday in terms of women showing up for collection or dropping off of handiwork.  In my usual neurotic style, I got freaked out that things weren't moving fast enough, so I picked up the phone and called the manager of this microcredit project whose founders I know in San Francisco. In one hour, he was in my office promising that 200 women would show up at my door tomorrow.  Later that evening, I got this creeping feeling that I was in for a little overwhelming excitement the next day, and that's precisely what happened.  I had literally 50 NEW women show up at the office today. That is a lot, especially considering that we work in a strange one-on-one collaborative process with each embroiderer.  One of the Americans from the guesthouse was visting the workshop during the peak of it all, and she was flabbergasted at the scene (and took photos).  I am already eyeball deep in operational planning for the next trip so that this chaos is never ever again repeated.  I also want to create ID cards for the women, identifying their skills in specific work.  Because the problem is that everybody is good at a specific things...zanjirdouzi, khamakdouzi, moradouzi, crochnil, pokhtedouzi, etc etc.  It's all MADNESS handling these people....but highly doable.  I've now got 4 different assistants doing color bleeding tests, embroidery design transfers, sizing charts, tailoring bundles, etc. in addition to the divine, all-knowing Nasrullah, my beloved but demanding master of the tailoring shop (who wants to be taken out to dinner at a "fancy" restaurant at least once a week!)

I also received a courier package today....things do actually work here.

Stay tuned....