A young man's strange, erotic journey from Milan to Minsk...and apparently, back again.

My Photo
Location: Denver, Colorado, United States

The details of my life are quite inconsequential, really. Summers in Rangoon...luge lessons...

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Hallows away...

Happy Halloween, everyone...or in Afghanistan, simply Happy Yakshanbe (Sunday).  Although in a city which mashes together traditional garb such as turbans with dudes in shiny purple suits on a daily basis -- and whose women are often veiled if not covered completely in ghostly burqas -- you could make the case that there are always some folks in costume.

Not only did their costumes kick ass, but the jams were fierce!

It's odd that I'm writing with the date in mind, because it wasn't relevant at all in my workday.  Once again I spent what would be an American holiday, or at least day of rest, on an advisor's assessment mission with the two colleagues who accompanied me to the Commando Brigade.  This time we visited the Afghan National Army's 201st Corps, headquartered just outside of Kabul.

 A rare instance in which I got away with a gate shot.

Now I join Afghans in looking mean for the group photo.

Each time a holiday rolls around lately, I play a mental game of recalling where I was for the past few...or how many different locations I've spent them in.  Independence Day (the one on July 4) was a good one for this game: Just in Marine service, I've spent two in Afghanistan, one in Israel, one in Peru, one in Hong Kong, one on exercises in Twentynine Palms (Calif.) and another on exercises in Camp Lejeune (NC).  Since I'm older than 12 and without kids of my own, I don't give a rat's behind about spending Halloween in a 'combat zone' -- aside from missing out on scandalously revealing costumes -- but Thanksgiving will surely be tougher.  I just extended my deployment by another month in order to properly transition to my successor, so November will come and go with me still in place.

Departing advisor Capt. Ridley is recognized by Paiman...

...and properly gives the Afghan shout out.
Trick or Treat!

In October, I spent a birthday deployed for the first time in over a decade -- the upside of flexibility as an individual augment in the Reserve, as well as just some fortunate timing.  That does not count Marine Forces Europe '09 (Stuttgart) -- which, despite the vastly superior locale, was actually much lonelier than this one (Danke schoen, you unfriendly Tubingers!).  So I've got to give huge props to my team, who managed to make this Month of AfghaniDan so memorable once they found out...and ironically, two of them sprechen sie Deutsch.  (Wish to correct my grammar?  Great!  Just drop a comment.)  We ended up with two gatherings in order to get full team participation...and a bonus dinner with Spokesperson Bashary in the mix, at Kabul's 5-star hotel.  I'm not trying to ham it up any more than usual below; there are just a ton of me photos because the cameras were out of my hands and they wouldn't let me escape any shots.

 The Wild Bunch.

Esmat & I dig "jar cake" (thank you, Jami!)

The surprise party I never expected gets started.

Dave and the K-Bar help me get it divvied up.

Banana-custard-chocolate-something goodness.

On the topic of special occasions, last week I voted by e-ballot for the first the U.S. elections, that is.  I stayed neutral in the Afghan one.  Of course there must be a number of first-timers, since it's only this year that a mere 16 states began allowing it for deployed military and others, including government employees.  The practice is still controversial -- I know various voters' and privacy groups have weighed in on the risks of fraud and ID theft -- but I've got to say that it was convenient and downright practical for us.  Even the postcard applications for ballots by mail take forever, and following the process the whole snail mail way turns off a lot of potential voters who aren't exactly thinking election in July!  The info wasn't readily available anywhere, but the folks at Boulder County helped hat's off to them for helping me be a good citizen (for once).

Yep, this is actually Kabul...Serena Hotel, Oct. 5th.

The Cult of Bashary: his hair, of course, was perfect.

World's scariest -- and best -- kebab chef.

Fareed joins me in scarfing down serving after serving.

The soul-crushing return to the gates of Eggers.

Please allow me to take the unusual step here of plugging something that's not self-serving, from Tim at Esquire Magazine.  See below, and get in touch with them if your family fits the bill...


For a major photographic portfolio in an upcoming issue, Esquire is looking for multigenerational families of combat veterans: sons or daughters who served in Afghanistan or Iraq, fathers (Vietnam), and grandfathers (World War II or Korea) who each served in combat and are willing to be photographed together representing three generations of American military history. Esquire has a long tradition of honoring American troops in wartime and we hope to add this unique portfolio of veteran families to that history.

If you and your living father and grandfather (or son and grandson) have served America at war and would like to participate in this project, please send a note with your contact information to the Esquire Veterans Project at

Thank you.

 Last but not least...
An Oktoberfest memento (you rock, Jess & Saskia!)


Anonymous LilSisArmyWife said...

Bro - While I'm disappointed that we won't get to over-indulge at Thanksgiving in Fairfax with you, no doubt there will be some gazpacho waiting for you upon your eventual return. You're not getting off that easily!
Sounds like a pretty festive October you had there, so hopefully November will fly by with more ceremonies, cake, chai and naan!

November 1, 2010 at 12:08 PM  
Blogger FrenchFried said...

Frohes Geburstag! I'm sure your German (Sprechen) is less rusty than mine (Einschuldigung)...
Are you feeling melancholy? Sounds a bit like it to me when reading you extended your deployment...That also means that your big Odyssey is coming to an end. I have been reading your posts for a couple of months now and I just realize that it could not last for Ever...! Don't feel obliged to stay overseas though just to feed addicted weirdos like me with news from the front!
Just make it last till the last drop!
Thanks and stay away from knives.

November 1, 2010 at 12:22 PM  
Anonymous Weezie said...

My favorite is the scary kebab chef!! :)
Great pics, as usual, and if your pals over there can whip up a yummy looking birthday cake like that, then maybe they can make a decent turkey/stuffing/cranberry sauce too!
We look forward to celebrating whenever you get back!! xoxoxo

November 1, 2010 at 6:53 PM  
Anonymous Snaggle said...

I'm pretty sure your german grammar was right on! And while Thanksgiving is a bummer we'll all have to make it a boxing day for the record books this year!!!

November 1, 2010 at 9:38 PM  
Blogger Major Dan said...

LilSis- You mean you're not sending me gazpach?! Hey, Oct was full of slavish work mostly...those fun & games were the exception. But yes, please make Nov fly by!

Weezie- Taaaanks, but they didn't MAKE the cake. Afghan markets have everything ;)

November 2, 2010 at 1:43 PM  
Blogger Major Dan said...

Snaggle- You're on. I'm calling you & the CT Hoovs out. Boxing Day for the Ages it is!

FrenchFried- THANK YOU for all the feedback, and again for such kind words. It makes it so worthwhile to have interested readers!

November 2, 2010 at 1:45 PM  
Anonymous Slapstick said...

Your Godson thanks you for sneaking his food-face picture into this post ... but he also wishes to pass along that now he's a big boy with crazy blond locks that his daddy won't cut until Afghanidan makes his triumphant return :)


November 2, 2010 at 9:42 PM  
Blogger John Cocktoasten said...

You were a Marine for Halloween (you even committed to the haircut)! Great costume!

That's cool they let you vote online--I didn't realize that was an option. Not sure if you heard this election result, but the voters of Denver defeated a measure to establish an extraterrestrial affairs commission. I know in Boulder you don't need one--Mindy did just fine with Mork back in the 70s, but we don't have that kind of experience down our way. Short sighted voters...


November 3, 2010 at 10:46 PM  
Blogger Joneser said...

Okay, I can't believe I'M the one who gets paid to write. The content in this blog is outstanding and beats the pants off of 95% of most websites out there (with Fitzy being in that 5%, obviously).
Love the pics as always, and really loved the perspective on holidays missed while serving duty. And as for Halloween, I'm with you. For those of us without kids, that holiday is stupid!! YF and I observed it by watching baseball and drinking a few beers.

November 4, 2010 at 6:32 AM  
Blogger Jami said...

I made the blog! Or at least the cake I sent you did. I agree that it's great that they let you vote online. Since you’re serving your country, your government should make it easier for you to exercise that right, in my opinion. Even though this is my first comment, I have been reading and very much enjoying the blog. Thanks for sharing your experiences! It’s great to have an insider perspective on what’s going on over there.

November 4, 2010 at 3:26 PM  
Blogger FrenchFried said...

Dear AfghaniDan,
Are you kidding?! THANK YOU for sharing your experience, your wicked-witted talent for writing and your sense of humour.
Your blog is one of the most resfreshing I have come to read about on-going and after deployment in Afghanistan (and Iraq). There are very inspiring -though few- bloggers out there.
Unfortunately, MilBlogging is verboten in the French Military (Yes, I am Unapologetically French - I "Rangered Up" that one-). So at times when the mission of the French troops (the mere reason for being "there") is more and more questioned, your posts just show that the mission is worth the hardship, the pain and the suffering. Afghanistan really started from scratch, there are no miracles but sweat and blood (I just wish it were more sweat than blood...)
OK, I write too much. Your turn now: Ready, Steady, Post! Post! Post!
Take care, don’t crach on your keyboard

November 5, 2010 at 4:33 AM  
Blogger Major Dan said...

Slap - I won't believe it til I see him.
Wood - Denver's full of pansies; they know the aliens are among them already! Good call on Mork.
Jones - You're a professional! I'm just a blabbering guy who needs this as therapy.
Jami - Thank you...and the cake was delicious!
FF - I for one appreciate France's huge contribution here. I think 5000 currently? Merci pour votre service!

November 10, 2010 at 1:32 PM  
Blogger FrenchFried said...

It's actually less than 5,000 and more like 3,850 troops +, which is very little compared to the 68,000 or so US troops. But think that the French Military is always busy with peace-keeping or conflict-preventing in other nasty or not-so-like-paradise places, like Tchad/Sudan, Ivory Coast, or Lebanon....Anyway, Africa is still OUR sandbox, Keep Away!
A bientôt

November 16, 2010 at 9:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Loved your German! It reminded me of Uncle Ralph's "Hoch Deutsch." Tante Anne always got upset because he fractured the German - like "Wolst du haben sine." (Do you want any of this.) But we understood it just fine.

Disappointed you won't be around for T-weekend except in thought. Will have to plan an multiholiday party.

Love, Auntie B.

PS Fantastic blogs!!

November 20, 2010 at 5:40 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home