The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
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Left to right: Father and baker, middle son: dough flattener/shaper, eldest son: dough kneader. Up front is youngest son: bargainer, money taker, and too cute to not be taken by...
Outside the wire we have a bread making family that has set up shop in a seemingly abandoned (?) shell of a building. The mud hut is right next to the gas station/repair station/ Afgan 7/11/ electronic goods shop where we lease a handful of vehicles from a jolly fat Afghan named Macmoud. He might be cousin to Karzai thrice removed, or maybe not. With Big Mac there's no telling.
The family in the fly ridden, ramshackle hut is poor by the looks of it, but they are better off than many other Afghans. They have a steady stream of customers that they bake bread for. The local nationals (LNs) come on to Kandahar Airfield on a daily basis to work. We have hundreds of LNs that come in every day to do everything from cleaning to construction, in addition to driving the hundreds of trucks with all our supplies that line up outside the wire, sometimes for days. They have to eat, and the baker supplies the basic building block of the Afghan diet.
They make a pretty good living in my estimation, especially when I stop by.
You see, they charge me $1.00 a flat loaf.
I didn't think it was too bad. But come to find out everybody else - gets 5 loaves for a dollar! I don't mind getting gamed, but that's ridiculous. I think 2 flat loaves for a dollar is fair enough for the rich Americans.
Here you can see why we are having such a hard time breaking even against the Taliban.
I mention it to Fat Macmoud in passing. Not complaining, but I said I needed to sharpen up on my bargaining skills. But Macmoud owns the property where the bakers have set up shop. They pay him daily for the use of the three-sided mud walled structure. To him, they have committed some grave affront. (Probably the affront of getting caught!)
Over my protestations, Machmud the Lard Ass tells me he will take care of me. He's more worried about his business with ISAF and his fancy clean "Man Jammies," (I'll get a picture uploaded...) than he is about the baker's family.
He walks over to the Baker, yells and gesticulates wildly (Pointing at the American the whole time...), grabs a dozen just baked loves with his greasy hands, his fat, ring adorned fingers poking holes in the bread, and walks back to where we are standing!
My jaw is halfway to the ground. All the Afghan baker and his dirty children know is that the American just cost them a butt load of bread!
Big Mac the Unbathed presents me with the stack of bread and tells me, "Do not worry! You will always have bread, whatever you need, anything, when you come!" If the baker isn't partial to the Taliban, he might be now.
I take my ill gotten stack of warm, hearth baked, bread and put it on the dusty covered front seat.
I wait a while, allowing Macmoud the Vulgar to settle down and attend to other business. Pulling a five dollar bill out of my wallet, and start to make my way discretely over to the Baker's mud hovel. I have a small LED flashlight no bigger than a Palmetto bug that has a flat clip attached to it.
Folding the Fiver into a tight square, I clip the light to it as I walk.
The Baker is sliding bread into his underground oven when I walk up. He looks up at me. I maintain an expressionless face, and flip the small package to him. He deftly reaches out, snatches it, gives it a cursory inspection, and tucks it in his shirt pocket. He looks at me again and smiles. I smile back, and all is well again. Crisis averted, I walk back to my mud encrusted vehicle.
We load back into the SUV, the smell of fresh baked bread a welcome respite from the ever present stench of the famous Kandahar "Poop Pond!"
Someone actually lives in that...
The ride back was uneventful. Dusty with poor visibility, but that's the norm.
Traffic's light today...
Now, if we only had some butter to go with that bread...
But I won't ask Macmoud the Tyrant!
Note: Pictures courtesy of Tara H, who graciously allowed me to use her laptop to upload the pictures I took today. Thanks Kid!
Albert A Rasch™
Member: Kandahar Tent Club
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS (Let 'em sue me.)
The Hunt Continues...