KABUL—In some ways, being an “international” in Kabul is one of the last great colonial adventures, complete with armed guards, drivers and the occasional attack.
But like that word “international”—no one says “expat” anymore—it’s a colonial adventure with a postmodern twist. “Internationals”—the term used by the U.N. and other non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) to describe staff from overseas—are apt to be politically liberal, highly educated and quirky.
Perhaps even a bit nerdy. Kabul is blessedly free of garden-variety neurotics—hypochondriacs and worrywarts don’t even think of coming here—but it’s hard to think of many other capitals where a weekly “quiz night” at a pizzeria is a social highlight, drawing 80 to 100 competitors. (One of the quizzes had a category called “Porn Star or Pony,” where contestants had to guess whether the names belonged to My Little Pony products or second-string porn stars. Heart Throb and Chocolate Delight, in case you were wondering, are ponies.) And one memorable dinner party revolved around a reading of The Taming of the Shrew, reminiscent of the amateur theatricals of 1946 Kabul life as portrayed in James Michener’s Caravans. (more…)