Habibi is an interpreter ('Terp) for the Canadians and today he accompanied us as we went out to range control. Truth is I was surprised he was willing and even enthusiastic to have his photo taken, but for the most part, the 'Terps are eager. There seems to be a crucial difference between living here versus down south in the Pashtun region (i.e. Kandahar). On the way back we stopped by an old Soviet FOB, left over from the 70's. (Coincidentally, earlier in the day we met with an ANA Colonel who ran the dog battalion for the Soviets in the 70's!)
Habibi stands as a counter to the cautionary tale of the previous post, and so after traveling with him for an hour or so, myself and the Canadian soldiers were invited to the 'Terp mess hall. While he was a little disappointed that I wasn't going to eat the goat, the meal was a lovely affair, devoid of the over-processed selections at the American mess.
It was one of those moments when I felt very much like this project had some real merit. Specifically, I might have the ability to lessen the gap between our beliefs regarding Afghanistan and the contradictory, depressing but also life-affirming and giving reality of its people.
A side point about the US mess. All food comes with a list of its nutritional value and general merit. Certainly it's worthwhile to know what you're putting into your body, but such caution seems typically contradictory. Cookies, muffins, cakes and abound, as do ice cream bars and coolers filled with pop. No such sillyness occurs in the 'Terp mess. Sure there are French fries and a can of pop for each person at the tables, but at the same time the quantities consumed seem practical and also - crucially - the 'Terps seem less concerned with the minutia of managing their lives, of counting each calorie.