The two guys I had been sharing my tent with were still there. Jim had actually been replaced in November by another American, Bill. He was around 168 centimetres and about 200 pounds. He may have been a bit fat but if he had lost 25 odd pounds, he would still be a pretty solid guy. Along with his stout physique, he had short, brown hair and a similar coloured beard and moustache. He had been a police officer in Dallas. Like Jim he was secretive about what he did in Afghanistan. However, he did open up every once in a while.
It was Bill who gave me some insight into Afghan culture by explaining “Man on Thursday.”
The Afghan weekend is Friday and Saturday. Therefore, their Thursday night is like an American’s Friday night. They kick back and have fun.
Bill explained that some years back whilst he was training “Afghan Marines,” they had drones that would pass over at night. They had the ability to see through the tents sort of like an X-ray. The soldiers would get a call from Command.
“What the fuck is going on down there?”
“What do you mean Sir?”
“There’s sex going on in every tent down there.”
“It’s Man on Thursday Sir.”
“What the hell does that mean!!??
“Well, it’s Thursday night sir. The men are relaxing.”
It was not uncommon for the men if alone with each other for prolonged periods of time to simply become intimate with each other.
In early February, Bill and Sayeed got their own container and were off. We had suffered and complained in the cold together. But now I was alone and it sucked even more. The next few days in that tent were tough. It had begun to snow a lot. The snow was piling up on the roof. One night, I felt something wet on my face. It was a sort of dripping. Where the fuck is this coming from, I asked myself. Looking up, I realized it was snow leaking through the roof of the tent.
If I moved to another bed, I would have to take the sheets and make up the bed. I was too sleepy for that. I was also too sleepy to get up and physically move the bed away from the drip. So I just rolled over to my left. Problem temporarily solved.
We had a problem with the heaters, they would stop working at minus 10 degrees Celsius. That's a very cold tent. So they put in heating tubes for all the tents which were attached to a generator outside.
On Monday February 8, my internet stopped working. That same night the heat stopped as well. The generator was blowing regular air through the tubes. No hot air, meant a damn cold tent. There was now mist in the tent. I had to think hard regarding where to sleep.
I momentarily thought of sleeping in the arcade/internet room. However, I realized that the soldiers would enter early in the morning so that wouldn’t really work.
I opted for my office. So at 4 am with snow falling in minus 15 degrees Celsius, I walked the two hundred metres with my sheets around my shoulders and my pillow in a Foot Locker bag. I slept on the desk. It was uncomfortable but I figured out if you are tired enough you will sleep. I put two chairs next to the desk so I wouldn't roll off and break my neck.
I had been messaging and emailing Karl for a week about an update on the container. This time I was less subtle in request. Aysel was on leave. Adrian was there to assist Karl. So this time I CC’d him in the email. I knew it would embarrass Karl and be the impetus for a reaction as opposed to the usual shit.
I have been waiting six months for a container. No one has the manners to tell me when it’s coming and I am now sleeping on my fucking desk.
If I can’t get a proper response this week, I shall just take a flight, work next to you in your office and ISAF and get me a room at HQ.
I knew that there was no way Karl wanted me in the office with him and he would be uncomfortable that Adrian saw the email.
This shamelessly, incompetent dick told me that the Commander had shot down the idea of the container. No one had told me and I had wasted another two months waiting for accommodations that weren't coming.
I finally had my first rocket attack around mid-February. Just the day before I had been marvelling at how there had been no rockets since my arrival five months earlier. The funny part is I never even heard it, I was watching TV in my office and had it not been for the alarm I would never have known. My area is considered secure so we were told just to stay there. However, I put on my helmet and vest just in case something came through the window.
After about an hour I forgot about it and continued watching my DVD.
I had gotten a bit fed up with Bill and Sayeed thinking they could pump me for information and then clamming up if I asked a question. There had been a conference at a local hotel in late 2009. The Governor and Mayor were going to be there along with a lot of high-ranking military. I asked the two of them if they were going and they said no.
“Really?” I said in surprise. “You’re not going.”
“No, we’re not,” they both answered shaking their head.
Imagine my surprise when arrived to see them both there and Sayeed being the official translator.
I understand these guys have their security concerns but I didn’t like being played for a fool. I decided that the next time they thought they were getting information from me, I would deal with them.
Sure enough Sayeed was passing me in the corridor in January. We greeted each other and then he causally asked, “So anything new happening outside the camp?”
“Well, there’s some stuff happening in Qala-I-Zal.”
Qala-I-Zal was a damn dangerous place. It was located in the western part of Kunduz. The Taliban had their flag in the area and the local Afghan National Police or Afghan National Army (ANP/ANA) had limited influence.
He looked at me, “What stuff?”
“Well, about a hundred prostitutes form Uzbekistan have come to Qala-I-Zal. The Taliban have set up gambling there sort of like Las Vegas. Anyone is welcome and it’s like a neutral zone, no gun play. You can have the women for the night for one hundred dollars. My reporters go regularly with their friends. They keep inviting me to come along.”
Sayeed looked at me, his face a study of concentration. I could see he was making mental notes.
Now go tell that to your fucking Commander I said to myself as I walked off.