Thursday, April 2, 2015

Bits from January 2004 Journal

January 27: Well, no snow or ice here except for the cubes in my drink. Just came up from having a nightcap with my visiting Marine BG. Nice evening talking pro to pro. Evening is quite nice with pleasant chill in the air. Turns out too that his Marine bodyguard was the deputy commander of the Marine contingent in Brasilia. He remembers the day we took the picture of Andy in full regalia!
Shit happening in and about Darfur. Washington is ready to jump in head first and I'm trying to point out that the pool might not have as much water as they think.

January 28: Last night was quite cool but had to get up early to see off my guest. Tonight I am too tired to write or open the windows. Day ended with 3 1/2 hour intense meeting with Assistant President. Was supposed to be at pizza night with staff. This weekend will last 8 days with Eid. Rest then.
January 30: The weather has been quite nice since I got back from holidays. The evenings are cool and the temperature falls to the lower 60 by early morning. Over the weekend, we are supposed to hit the 50s. This is open window weather and I do. Even during the day, in the office, I open the windows and the breeze makes it comfortable all day. (I'm on the 6th floor and can see to both Nile Rivers.) Not for years have I been able to open the windows in the office. Very nice.

With windows open, the air cools nicely in my house. I also get the smells of the city. Most every night, this includes the smell of burning garbage but is bearable and passes quickly. One morning this week, it was so bad it woke me and I put on a face mask that I has been reserving for the sand storms. But windows open is too good to pass up. Locals say it'll only last to February.

With the windows open, I hear lots of things. At night I hear sometimes the bass rhythms of Arab music. This morning as I was waking, I heard several different kinds of birds singing. The early morning sounds start earlier. I hear the night trains and their whistles as they pull into Khartoum Station. The first call to prayer is around 5:30. I can sleep through that but usually stir and then go back to sleep. For some reason, not all the mosques use the same schedule and there seems to be a second call around six. This week, perhaps because of the Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca), the first call to prayer also seems to come with a chorus of some kind. There is much I don't know about Islam.

A boy's school sits just down the block from me. The boys all wear green pajamas (they look like pajamas to me). They start school pretty early. Well, the morning sounds include what I have taken to calling the Daily Harangue. Remember the school assemblies of old? Well, these may be like them. A voice, on a big load speakers, starts speaking something that sounds like the call to prayer. Very pleasant to listen to, almost like singing. But then he switches into the voice I imagine the Ayatollahs use to excite the faithful to slaughter the infidels. This goes on for some time and actually has convinced me not to go outside during it. Then as suddenly as it began, the harangue stops and the voice assumes the tome and cadence of your high school principal. When the daily is over, I know it's time to get up. Sort of a Khartoum alarm clock. I'll miss it when it's time to go back to AC.

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