|Earthen pot in a tree. Formerly it was used for water. The|
water would evaporate from this clay pot and keep the water
cool. Now it was abandoned to a tree
and some home for a bird.
The bags have two inner heavy plastic liners that, if sealed correctly, shut off all the air to any inhabiting insects in the bags thus suffocating them in about two weeks. When you have a valuable commodity you raised and you plan to store it for a long period of time you dont want varmints eating it before you do. This, compared to the traditional plastic woven bads, they did well. There were three problems with the bags in Afghanistan: most farmers didnt keep wheat long enough for there to be a varmint problem (they consumed it rapidly and they knew they were in competition with varmints), the price of wheat was flat and didnt increase in value after harvest like chickpeas did in Africa and the cost of the bags which were nearly 20X more than the woven bags.
The professional agriculturists in the audience asked alot of technical questions which were referred to me. This required alot of talking on my part. When you open your mouth and talk, it expels air and humidity. Something I was not acutely aware of until I started my fast. The humidity comes from your body... from the water you drank the previous day... the water that was supposed to last you until 730pm. My throat was already parched and it was only 11am. The room was getting hotter. I am sure the boy (he was 26 but still considered a boy because he was not married) was dry as well. When you know you have a limited amount of water in your body and you werent getting any more until 730 pm you are much more conscious of LOSING water.
We exited the meeting and it was hot out. My guess was that it was over 110F but not by much. At 115F you start to feel the hair dryer blowing against your skin... if there is a wind. My staff immediately went for the shade of some mulberry and ash trees on our walk to our car and driver. One staff member saw one of the nonAfghan (not an American) standing in full sun and cautioned me because he was in full sun and they knew I was fasting. This guy was not fasting. He stopped me to chat and we chatted. Did I say we were in full sun? I was fully aware we were in full sun. My staff was fully aware we were in full sun BUT they were standing and walking in the shade. I concluded our talk quickly and they were waiting for me in the air conditioned beat up Toyota Corolla. It was beat up, the brakes squeeled, there was some sort of bump bump that came from the rear end when we rounded corners and the power steering squeeled but the A/C worked just fine. In hot Afghanistan we know our priorities.
It was past noon now and we headed back to the office. I knew we had to conclude the day quickly. I was reminded by my project manager, an Afghan, that everyone was fading fast due to lack of water. I was too. I could feel it. We got in the office and turned on the fan. Low and behold the A/C worked and blowed a little bit of cool air. They wanted to break and rest first and then have our office meeting. I agreed and gave them an hour to relax and pray.
I was late for our office meeting. I was busy on the computer actually finishing the writing of Day 1 when a staff member came up and got me. "Bob, we are all waiting for you." I remember thinking that I wanted to go to the bathroom but didn't reasoning I didnt want to lose any excess body liquid. In an hour that urge disappeared along with the sweat from my body.
We are very casual in my office and close. My management style is to present what I am thinking of doing and let them pick my suggestions apart. They know Afghanistan and Afghans alot better than I do. They know the little sidesteps you have to do among members of different political parties, different ethnicities, whether you are Sunni or Shia Muslim, or just personality clashes. Afghanistan is filled with different layers.... very complex layers...you need someone to guide you through these layers...someone you can trust. Then we discuss our plan of action for the coming week. It took about 20 minutes and I was done. More liquid lost from my body and my throat was parched more than it was yesterday. I am thinking of setting my alarm for 230am.
I know now why they nap in the afternoons during Ramazan... 730pm comes much quicker.