Updates from Afghanistan

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
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forge
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Post by forge » Wed Aug 01, 2007 11:59 am

pepezabala wrote:
Tone Deft wrote: there's not much to gain in Afghanistan, a place for US bases, stop opium production, erradicate a terrorist group (not all of them). there's not even much if any oil there.
I found it quite irritating that that the invasion started just after the moment when the opium production was practically erased by the taliban.

Who is making profit in this conflict? Drug dealers and weapon dealers.

Who has always been the link between drug dealers and weapon dealers? The CIA.

Who is backing up the Bush-administration? Weapon dealers.

Who was the worst enemy of the drug-dealers? The taliban.

Now draw your own conclusions about this war.
problem is the whole opium issue is a double edged sword - what else do the people have? what income/economy? suddenly take it away and they're left with nothing

all of these situations are way more complicated than we know in our comfortable lives

M. Bréqs
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2nd update from Afghanistan

Post by M. Bréqs » Wed Aug 01, 2007 11:59 am

Well, I am rather surprised at the level of connectivity we have here; So I'll be able to post updates a little more often than once a month.

Surprisingly, I actually agree with b0unce for once, so I'll keep all updates to this single thread, so as to keep down clutter.

The work is about 12-13 hours a day here. It's emotionally difficult to sit down and play some music when I consider that as a desk rat here in Kandahar, my life is so much easier than the infantry who are outside the wire.

Can I sit down and watch a movie,play ping-pong or write music while I know that my comrades in armes are relying on my support, and are slogging it out tougher than I? Can I do this when the afghani civilians are relying on us?

Here's the issue... I know that our enemies don't chill out at the internet cafe, don't relax and play some ping-pong. Well, maybe they do, but I doubt it. They're fucking motivated. Do they work harder than our boys do? How much time do they spend with their families, or with their friends?

So, by taking time to watch a dvd on my computer or firing up Ableton, to what degree am I hindering our war effort? I know that I put in a good day's work; in the office by 0730 and out by 2100 with two meals in between. If I spend an hour fiddling with loops on Live, what have I sacrificed? What impact have I had on our operations?

Here's another thing that surprised me; the number of Afghan civilians on our camp. Many have taken jobs with ISAF, doing constructrion, camp services, and translation. It fills me with a sense of dread every time I think about the lack of resolve that our society at home shows to this mission. What will happen to these "collaborators" if we tuck our tail between our legs and leave? I don't like to think about that at all. Maybe Afghan civilians employed by Canada should be given a ticket to Canada and automatic refugee status if we're forced to leave...

Although I haven't left Camp yet (though that time will come) the Afghans I have met thus far seem to be supportive of our presence. I remember going to an all-inclusive resort years and years ago in the Dominican Republic. I could tell that the people who were working there only tolerated the Gringos, they really hated our guts deep down. I know the mannerisms that they displayed, and I can honestly say that the guys working on our Camp aren't like that at all. They're genuinely appreciative of our presence, and very positive about their future.

Well, I'll sign off - I should get back to work, my contribution to mission success can't stay on hold too long...

rikhyray
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Re: 2nd update from Afghanistan

Post by rikhyray » Wed Aug 01, 2007 12:32 pm

M. Bréqs wrote:Well, I am rather surprised at the level of connectivity we have here; So I'll be able to post updates a little more often than once a month.

Surprisingly, I actually agree with b0unce for once, so I'll keep all updates to this single thread, so as to keep down clutter.

The work is about 12-14 hours a day here. It's emotionally difficult to sit down and play some music when I consider that as a desk rat here in Kandahar, my life is so much easier than the infantry who are outside the wire.

Can I sit down and watch a movie,play ping-pong or write music while I know that my comrades in armes are relying on my support, and are slogging it out tougher than I? Can I do this when the afghani civilians are relying on us?
One suggestion would be to use your skills and equipment and perhaps produce some local arists: Afghanis are great music fans and there are many talented people there, try to find out if, friend of mine Besho is there now. He is a rapper, quite popular not only in Afghanistan but all around there. His mobile does not respond since few weeks ( he is refugee here but do lots in Afghanistan too) so might be he is there right now. He used to have his own show on the radio, maybe you could do something together.
Taliban was really hard on music, musicians, culture and anything civilised, still they couldnt kill Afghans love for music, even the instruments that people were hidding at a risk of being killed.
Dont forget that music is more powerful then prejudices, fanatics -muslim or baptist - speaks language of love and directly through to the hearts.
One of the greatest things about being musician is that it is so easy to meet people, start new friendships, any place, any time. Try to make the best of the situation for the locals and yourself, I am sure that a bit of social/musical service- recording/ producing the locals, will pay you back, you will get inspired.
remember, you cannot overdue with respect there, stay away of the local intoxicants and do not even think of looking at any females and you should be fine
link about Besho
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/w ... 708636.ece

OvertoneZero
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Re: 2nd update from Afghanistan

Post by OvertoneZero » Wed Aug 01, 2007 2:05 pm

M. Bréqs wrote: So, by taking time to watch a dvd on my computer or firing up Ableton, to what degree am I hindering our war effort?

Wow, and I thought I experienced slacker's guilt!

Good luck with your efforts and please continue with your updates. It's good to hear that the Afghanis you've come in contact with seem to genuinely support our / your efforts.

I got into a debate with a friend this past weekend: Is western-style government and culture inherently 'better' or more moral than Afghani or Iraqi gov't / culture?

Many of 'us' think so, many of 'them' seem to disagree. That seems to be at the very heart of the ideological conflict, i.e., the aspects that are not based on economic, security, or consolidation of power.

Even though the west is far from perfect, I believe that it is better, overall. Personally I don't think that justifies a crusade, but regardless, that is my belief. My friend compared my underlying view to the rationalization used for the conquest of north and south america by the euros.

chrysalis33rpm
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Re: 2nd update from Afghanistan

Post by chrysalis33rpm » Wed Aug 01, 2007 9:07 pm

OvertoneZero wrote:
M. Bréqs wrote: So, by taking time to watch a dvd on my computer or firing up Ableton, to what degree am I hindering our war effort?

Wow, and I thought I experienced slacker's guilt!

Good luck with your efforts and please continue with your updates. It's good to hear that the Afghanis you've come in contact with seem to genuinely support our / your efforts.

I got into a debate with a friend this past weekend: Is western-style government and culture inherently 'better' or more moral than Afghani or Iraqi gov't / culture?

Many of 'us' think so, many of 'them' seem to disagree. That seems to be at the very heart of the ideological conflict, i.e., the aspects that are not based on economic, security, or consolidation of power.

Even though the west is far from perfect, I believe that it is better, overall. Personally I don't think that justifies a crusade, but regardless, that is my belief. My friend compared my underlying view to the rationalization used for the conquest of north and south america by the euros.
Oh yeah, it's tons better, just look at the brilliant crew running the USA!

Our gov't style is better - FOR US. It takes a lot of bollocks to go in and impose government somewhere else when you haven't got your own house in order. It took a long time for us to evolve our fairly resilient and (groping towards) balanced system...how could we possibly impose that on another country?

Well, you're right- it doesn't justify a crusade.

D K
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Re: 2nd update from Afghanistan

Post by D K » Wed Aug 01, 2007 10:33 pm

M. Bréqs wrote: Here's another thing that surprised me; the number of Afghan civilians on our camp. Many have taken jobs with ISAF, doing constructrion, camp services, and translation. It fills me with a sense of dread every time I think about the lack of resolve that our society at home shows to this mission. What will happen to these "collaborators" if we tuck our tail between our legs and leave? I don't like to think about that at all. Maybe Afghan civilians employed by Canada should be given a ticket to Canada and automatic refugee status if we're forced to leave...

Although I haven't left Camp yet (though that time will come) the Afghans I have met thus far seem to be supportive of our presence. I remember going to an all-inclusive resort years and years ago in the Dominican Republic. I could tell that the people who were working there only tolerated the Gringos, they really hated our guts deep down. I know the mannerisms that they displayed, and I can honestly say that the guys working on our Camp aren't like that at all. They're genuinely appreciative of our presence, and very positive about their future.

Well, I'll sign off - I should get back to work, my contribution to mission success can't stay on hold too long...
know your enemy. infiltrate.

fortycoats
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Post by fortycoats » Wed Aug 01, 2007 10:52 pm

Tone Deft wrote: there's not much to gain in Afghanistan, a place for US bases, stop opium production, erradicate a terrorist group (not all of them). there's not even much if any oil there.
stop opium production, you must be having a laugh

"KABUL, Afghanistan, Sept. 2 — Afghanistan’s opium harvest this year has reached the highest levels ever recorded, showing an increase of almost 50 percent from last year, the head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Antonio Maria Costa, said Saturday in Kabul."

“This year’s harvest will be around 6,100 metric tons of opium — a staggering 92 percent of total world supply. It exceeds global consumption by 30 percent,” Mr. Costa said at a news briefing."

http://opioids.com/afghanistan/2006.html

that article blames the taliban for the opium cultivation, the same taliban that had wiped out the poppy fields.

funny how the taliban only became a terrorist group on april 30 1999, america was pretty fond of them until they decided to build the Trans Afghan Pipeline, without involving unocal in the deal

"Regarding the placement of the Unocal Pipeline, a US Official delivered this ultimatum to the Taliban (via the Pakistani delegation acting as their interlocutors): "Either you accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs." (Ref: Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquie in "Forbidden Truth" (31)"

http://www.ringnebula.com/Oil/Timeline.htm

Aghanistan may not have oil but it's neighbour Turkmenistan has the fifth largest reserves in the world.

pixelbox
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Post by pixelbox » Wed Aug 01, 2007 11:37 pm

chrysalis33rpm wrote:
Tone Deft wrote: do you know the history of afghanistan over the last 50 years?
I don't. Fill me in, in broad strokes.
PRIME FUCKING EXAMPLE OF YOU FUCKING BRATS JUST JUMPING ON WHATEVER BANDWAGON SEEMS THE COOLEST! You fucking turd! How can you cry out against someone, and basically compare them to a crazy power mad tyrant when you have ZERO facts?

GROW THE FUCK UP YOU SPOILED PIECE OF SHIT!

Man! I typically don't get this crazy on a forum, but fuck you pissed me off! Ignorant little shit.

pixelbox
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Re: 2nd update from Afghanistan

Post by pixelbox » Wed Aug 01, 2007 11:46 pm

chrysalis33rpm wrote:
OvertoneZero wrote:
M. Bréqs wrote: So, by taking time to watch a dvd on my computer or firing up Ableton, to what degree am I hindering our war effort?

Wow, and I thought I experienced slacker's guilt!

Good luck with your efforts and please continue with your updates. It's good to hear that the Afghanis you've come in contact with seem to genuinely support our / your efforts.

I got into a debate with a friend this past weekend: Is western-style government and culture inherently 'better' or more moral than Afghani or Iraqi gov't / culture?

Many of 'us' think so, many of 'them' seem to disagree. That seems to be at the very heart of the ideological conflict, i.e., the aspects that are not based on economic, security, or consolidation of power.

Even though the west is far from perfect, I believe that it is better, overall. Personally I don't think that justifies a crusade, but regardless, that is my belief. My friend compared my underlying view to the rationalization used for the conquest of north and south america by the euros.
Oh yeah, it's tons better, just look at the brilliant crew running the USA!

Our gov't style is better - FOR US. It takes a lot of bollocks to go in and impose government somewhere else when you haven't got your own house in order. It took a long time for us to evolve our fairly resilient and (groping towards) balanced system...how could we possibly impose that on another country?

Well, you're right- it doesn't justify a crusade.
Soooo...what you are implying is that THIER gov't structure is working for them? Better go watch some more tv and smoke another joint. Maybe go read the New York Times...yeah. That way you can convince yourself that your puffy white cloud view of the world is the correct one.

M. Bréqs
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4th Update from Afghanistan

Post by M. Bréqs » Mon Aug 13, 2007 4:48 pm

Hello again all. Things are still well here in Afghanistan. The 'Van Doos' have had their first action here, five of our guys lightly injured. The news back in Canada is all over it, but I am glad that nobody was killed. It really highlights the difference in difficulty between my situation and the guys "outside the wire". Humbling, actually. The day before, I saw the Union Jack at half mast in the British compound. At the time I didn't know what happened, but it gave me pause.

I was planning to write a diatribe on the difference between military procedure vs informal networks and getting things done around here; but I'll hold off on that until a later email. For now, the incident with our guys, and seeing that flag at half mast, have given me something a little more weighty to write about.

We have a memorial in the Canadian compound for all the guys and the gal who've died here since we lost four men in Spring 2002. It was obviously either built in Kabul and subsequently moved here to Kandahar in Winter 2006 when we redeployed to the south, or it was built here. I suspect the latter, as it doesn't look that old, and I don't ever recall having heard off a monument like this being moved in the past.

On the monument, there's a plaque not for each soldier, but for each incident. The plaques are about a square foot or slightly less of black marble etched with the face, name and unit insignia of the soldier(s). They're on two walls, about chest height, facing each other, and about 6 -8 feet long.

The problem is this: Our monument is running out of space.

I guess whomever designed it never really thought about just how many casualties we would take. As long as we keep dying in groups of two or more, we can sustain our current rate of casualties without having to expand the monument.

But I think that this isn't a case of stupidity on the part off the designer, nor niavite. I think it was optimism. Not a shallow sense off optimisim like "shit, this'll be a cake-walk", but a stronger, more sincere sense of optimism. If I can be allowed to speculate, perhaps the mind-set of the designer was not "how many off our guys and gals are going to get killed", but it was reflective off the mind-set off the Canadian soldiers who deployed here: Casualties weren't the chief concern.

These guys were more concerned about the mission; to help build a secure and stable environment for our own security, and to keep those goddamned parasites off the backs of the Afghans for good. They were probably not thinking about getting killed, but rather about getting the job done. Maybe you could accuse some of underestimating the job, but I don't think that's the case for most of them They knew the dangers, but it wasn't their first concern.

Sure, some guys thought about the adventure. Every one of them thought about the danger pay; to pretend otherwise, that we're all a bunch of warrior-monks would be bullshit. But guys generally don't think about dying. Or if they do, they keep their mouths shut about it. I know I haven't, personally. I got my affairs in order before I left, but that was because the military gave me a checklist I had to complete, which included a power of attorney and a will, before I could go. I didn't dwell on the possibility off dying one single minute, and even faced with the mortality of my comrades, I don't think about it now.

So, I look at this black marble, and I see two faces I actually recognize. Canada after all has a fairly small military. I see another I should know; we were both in Bosnia together I was told, but I have no idea who he was. I stared at his face for a minute or two, but nothing. Not a glimmer of recognition. Maybe I should have been more of a networker, and less of a proceduralist and I would have actually talked to him once.

It's a good monument. I wish I could post a picture, but technical difficulties preclude me from doing so until after my first Leave block.

I promise that at that point I will post a studio pic. Also, we have a music club here; I've decided that rather than playing with live in the confines of my tent, I would get some social activity, practice my French, and join a band. Any advice on integrating live with a band would be appreciated; I'll also have to check the Tips n' Tricks forum to see if there's anything there.

L8er
MB

forge
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Re: 2nd update from Afghanistan

Post by forge » Tue Aug 14, 2007 12:19 am

rikhyray wrote:
M. Bréqs wrote:Well, I am rather surprised at the level of connectivity we have here; So I'll be able to post updates a little more often than once a month.

Surprisingly, I actually agree with b0unce for once, so I'll keep all updates to this single thread, so as to keep down clutter.

The work is about 12-14 hours a day here. It's emotionally difficult to sit down and play some music when I consider that as a desk rat here in Kandahar, my life is so much easier than the infantry who are outside the wire.

Can I sit down and watch a movie,play ping-pong or write music while I know that my comrades in armes are relying on my support, and are slogging it out tougher than I? Can I do this when the afghani civilians are relying on us?
One suggestion would be to use your skills and equipment and perhaps produce some local arists: Afghanis are great music fans and there are many talented people there, try to find out if, friend of mine Besho is there now. He is a rapper, quite popular not only in Afghanistan but all around there. His mobile does not respond since few weeks ( he is refugee here but do lots in Afghanistan too) so might be he is there right now. He used to have his own show on the radio, maybe you could do something together.
Taliban was really hard on music, musicians, culture and anything civilised, still they couldnt kill Afghans love for music, even the instruments that people were hidding at a risk of being killed.
Dont forget that music is more powerful then prejudices, fanatics -muslim or baptist - speaks language of love and directly through to the hearts.
One of the greatest things about being musician is that it is so easy to meet people, start new friendships, any place, any time. Try to make the best of the situation for the locals and yourself, I am sure that a bit of social/musical service- recording/ producing the locals, will pay you back, you will get inspired.
remember, you cannot overdue with respect there, stay away of the local intoxicants and do not even think of looking at any females and you should be fine
link about Besho
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/w ... 708636.ece
great idea

you'd be crazy not to

M. Bréqs
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Re: 2nd update from Afghanistan

Post by M. Bréqs » Tue Aug 28, 2007 6:53 pm

forge wrote:
rikhyray wrote: One suggestion would be to use your skills and equipment and perhaps produce some local arists: Afghanis are great music fans and there are many talented people there, try to find out if, friend of mine Besho is there now. He is a rapper, quite popular not only in Afghanistan but all around there. His mobile does not respond since few weeks ( he is refugee here but do lots in Afghanistan too) so might be he is there right now. He used to have his own show on the radio, maybe you could do something together.
Taliban was really hard on music, musicians, culture and anything civilised, still they couldnt kill Afghans love for music, even the instruments that people were hidding at a risk of being killed.
Dont forget that music is more powerful then prejudices, fanatics -muslim or baptist - speaks language of love and directly through to the hearts.
One of the greatest things about being musician is that it is so easy to meet people, start new friendships, any place, any time. Try to make the best of the situation for the locals and yourself, I am sure that a bit of social/musical service- recording/ producing the locals, will pay you back, you will get inspired.
remember, you cannot overdue with respect there, stay away of the local intoxicants and do not even think of looking at any females and you should be fine
link about Besho
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/w ... 708636.ece
great idea

you'd be crazy not to
Thanks for that advice; Unfortunately, the security situation confines us to camp. I'm not one of the guys "outside the wire", so unless Besho comes to Kandahar Airfield (KAF) to play for the soldiers, I won't be meeting him...

We have a market every once in a while just outside the camp gates that we're allowed to visit; I could check to see if I can find a CD of his around there, but everything is pirated, so I'm not likely to buy it.

M. Bréqs
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Post by M. Bréqs » Tue Aug 28, 2007 7:01 pm

Well, things have been pretty busy here in Kandahar. Not only are we conducting operations and doing all the logistics / administration necessary to support our team, but we just had July 1st.

No, not really - It was moving day. In Quebec, everybody moves on "la premiere juillet". Not (usually) out of disrespect for Canada Day, but because it's acutally a decent way of harmonizing the whole process. Just like locateurs in Quebec, everybody here had to change their quarters in the accommodation tents, a massive reassignment.

Somebody thought it was a good idea; so we all had to be out of our tents no later than 10 am, with all our shit packed, piled up outside. Then, at 10:01, we were allowed to move into our new tents. If you filmed us moving our stuff around and sped it up, it would have looked like it was like something out of the Benny Hill Show I guess.

To go off on a tangent for a while, there's two ways to get things done in the military; by following procedure, or by networking with people who can do stuff for you. as I said before, I'm a proceduralist by nature, rather than a networker. But that's not the way they do things in 5 Brigade, the biggest Francophone chunk of the Army.

5 Brigade is based in Valcartier; all their infantry, armoured, artillery, engineer, logistic and admin guys live in pretty much the same town, and work on the same base for most of their careers. The predonimantly English speaking portion of the army however, finds itself posted in Gagetown, Petawawa, Shilo, Edmonton, and Wainwright. So the Quebecois soldiers for the most part know each other pretty well compared to the more transient and populous Anglophone soldiers.

This of course means that while the francophones get things done by calling up their buddy Bruno who knows a guy, the anglophones file form #XXXX in triplicate to the Brigade Logistics clerk for processing to the appropriate staff officer, who will then confirm the requirement with the Ottawa... "I'm sorry Sergeant, according to NDHQ J4 Supply, your section has exceeded your annual pencil quota. Perhaps your section shouldn't sharpen them that often so they would last longer... However if you wish a pencil quota exemption, you can apply once each fiscal quarter using our handy form. Please fill it
out in pencil."

Well, I exadgerate. But being a true believer in Procedure, I've seen it work. It has its advantages. Because with networking, stuff and service goes to the most charismatic guy, not to the most urgent requirement. This results in hoarding of supplies, inability to get service requirements taken care of, and valuable military activity like helicopter reconnaissance sorties being doled out as joy-rides... Hypothetically of course, that would NEVER happen here, I just heard a story about a guy who knew a guy...

Procedure ensures that resources don't get devolved down to the lowest level where they have a tendency to stagnate; The whole notion of holding a force in tactical or strategic reserve is from the same school of thought that declares that there is a set way of doing things. It's not because we don't trust people at the bottom; in fact, the Canadian Army probably places more trust in our Jr officers and Jr NCOs than any military I've ever encountered. But, we Anglos just don't always know who to call when we need something; we haven't existed in the same base as each other for years and years, we've been split, and there are a lot more of us.

So, procedure becomes necessary just so that the new guy posted in has a fighting chance of getting anything accomplished at all.

Well, back to my story about moving day; We were given our room assignments, and told that we weren't to move earlier than 10 am on "la premiere juillet". So, when the time comes, I pack up all my stuff (including my precious music electronics) and park it all outside in the dust; I dutifully clear my old room out by 09:30, and wait until 10 am to move to my new location.

Well, upon arrival, somebody's there, in my spot. A guy from the Royal 22nd Regiment (R22er, a "Vandoo"). And 6 others with him. I'm the token Anglophone, the token Reservist, and the token non-infantry (well, ex-infantry) in the joint.

Well, I have procedure on my side. The accommodation plan, published by the Chain of Command clearly shows that I get the coveted corner space. However, the Vandoo is adamant he's not going to move; he's been there a week already, having moved well before the authorized time.

Well, I could have won that battle but I would have lost the war. I have to co-exist with seven other guys, and rather than be a pushy asshole (which I can do when necessary) I decided to let it slide, on the condition that he use his networking connections to get me some plywood, 2x4's and some tools so I can construct a desk.

See? This networking thing can be handy! I guess I can learn something from these guys... I'm certainly enjoying my new desk, that's for sure!

Well, since I'm in with these guys, "when in Rome do as the Romans", so I'm getting my baptism in networking... So all that remains is for me to do is to draw up the schedule when we'll have lights out, and publish it in triplicate to each guy in the tent so that nobody in the tent will wake any others up inadvertantly... But since I don't want to be a wet blanket with these guys, I'll draw up a "lights out time delay request form" (in both English and French) and post it in our common area. I'm sure they'll appreciate that!

;)

Next post will be a little more about our music club... Finally something pertintent to Ableton!

MB

M. Bréqs
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Post by M. Bréqs » Thu Oct 18, 2007 5:54 pm

Well, it's been a while since Iposted an update about Afghanistan... I spent a couple of weeks vacationing in Eastern Europe, and returned only a week ago... And I'm crazy busy catching up on the work I missed.

Anyways, I've been inspired to write something. I just saw one of the best bands I've seen in a long while. They're a bunch of Aussie soldiers in a soul / funk / big band ensemble. Guitar, bass, drums, 3 piece horn section, 3 harmonizing female vocalists... All coreographed.

What's amazing is that these are soldiers, here in Kandahar, who practiced in their free time, and came up with a really solid band, with a really solid repertoire... And unlike a typical bar-band, they've got a unique conception of what they want to sound like. It's also a touch wierd watching three lovelies in fatigues singing "Sweet-Talkin' Sugar-Coated Candy Man" and dancing like they just stepped out of 1944 (and they did a better job than whats-her-face Aguillera on TV).

Anyways, this got me thinking; how people keep themselves entertained here on base... It's obvious to me there's an uneven distribution of labour around here - some folks work 14+ hours a day, while others, well... don't. but, nonetheless, even the busiest buggers find some time to get some fun in.

For instance, I know a big gang of officers who play poker once a week. We're authorized to gamble once a week maximum, limit of $20. Though, I don't really think that's an enforceable rule honestly. These guys chomp dried out cigars (it's not very humid here) and laugh the night away outside their tents at least once a week.

I joined the music club for the Canadians here. We get access to a practice space, and access to their equipment, though they're selection is heavily unbalanced towards rock. They've got around 30 guitars, about 15 amps of different varieties, and one crapola old keyboard and a single trumpet. But, some of those guys have gotten some time to practice, and I've played at "sound-guy" for them on a couple occasions... But you know what they say, Garbage In, Garbage Out...

There's a Chess Club here too. They've got tournaments, and even publish move-by-move every officially sanctioned game their members play. They're super-organized (which I should have figured considering they all play competitive chess), but the best part is they're so inclusive. It's a Canadian club, but we allow all nationalities to join. So, there's an Afghan National Army officer playing, I think there's some kitchen staff from South-East Asia, Canadian service personnel of all ranks, all playing against each other. Very cool.

There's a hockey league here too. It's its own little microcosm of the whole army (well, lots of Canadian soldiers play hockey, so maybe the Army's a macrocosm of the hockey league...). They've divided their teams up differently too. Some teams are all brothers-in-arms from the same company, while others are divided across units but made up of the same ranks. Yet others are all really good but older players from across different units and ranks, and other teams are guys all from the same base back in Canada. Then there's the couple of English speaking teams, since the majority here are francophones... It's interesting to see that these teams self-identify differently. And no, I can't tell you who's in the lead, I don't follow hockey.

I'm playing a role-playing game (Shadowrun for those who have heard of it) with a group of dudes here... That's keeping me busy whenever I get some spare time, on top of fiddling with music (though not as often as I would like). I find that working with music on the computer is tiresome after 12-14 hours a day sitting in front of the computer at work...

There's coffee shops here, a "boardwalk" with shops and services, fast food outlets, and stores run by the nations that contribute a large number of forces (Netherlands, Canada, UK, USA). There's even a local Afghan market that they allow to set up once a week outside the entrance to the base. I've checked it out once, and apart from bootlegged DVDs, you can buy rugs, scarves, lapis lazuli jewlery, carvings, knick-nacks, (supposedly disabled) vintage guns from the 19th century, and even hookahs (for smoking opium or marijuana, though I dare any soldier to try to bring a four-foot hookah back into the camp and explain themselves to a crusty old Sgt Major!) Then, of course they have mounds and mounds of cheap Chinese-made crap.

Some guys are into Carpentry here, and some others are volunteering to teach English to of the locally employed civilians - unfortunately I don't have the time for that. I know a couple of guys who are ardently learning Pashto, in the expectation that we'll be here for a few years more, and that they'll rotate back again.

Anyways, I don't want to give the impression that it's all fun and games here - the guys work, and work hard. But I also don't want people thinking that we're sitting in dusty pits, not changing our socks for a week at a time, with our vehicles parked just meters away with the engines running, as we try to sleep to the engine noise and the smell of diesel, draping our flack vests over us like blankets in case of a rocket attack... Those are the guys outside the wire.

I think we all owe them one... big time.

rozling
Posts: 1760
Joined: Mon May 30, 2005 9:48 am
Location: Dublin, Ireland

Post by rozling » Thu Oct 18, 2007 6:21 pm

Cheers for the update/s - fascinating reading especially with the musician's slant.

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