|The view from my door at 6am|
|The same view at noon. And it's not a terrible day - you can still see some blue sky and a bit of mountain.|
One tangible effect of the air quality, aside from icky skylines, is that everyone is sick. Almost every international you come across is stricken with a cough, the sniffles, or some other iteration of near-constant state of low grade cold or asthma attack. The army considers it enough of a concern that it is noted in the troops’ medical files they were stationed in Kabul. It’s edifying to know that at least the service members will be eligible for treatment if some day in the near future they contract black lung.
Most of us accept the reality of illness fairly quickly. We attempt to combat the inevitable by main-lining Airborne and keeping our desks well-stocked with Theraflu. One of my co-workers, however, has taken the unusual step of becoming a vicarious hypochondriac. He seems to imagine that he can keep himself well by convincing the rest of us that we’re getting sick. I was particularly amused (sort of) when he claimed victory for predicting my own recent illness. Personally, I seriously doubt that he can count it a win when, rather than a virus he claimed to see coming weeks ago, I think I contracted food poisoning from the DFAC. Still, I did get sick, so point to BK I suppose.
Meanwhile, our resident MD is frequently inspired to ease the suffering of his non-Afghani co-workers. Mind you, he’s an OBGYN and the degree is from Kabul University, but he is still arguably more qualified than the rest of us. I find the Doc’s advice falling somewhere between progressively holistic and bewilderingly mystical: an odd bled of modern medicine and balancing the humors. In all things treatment-related, foods play a substantial role. Lemons in particular seem to be a cure-all, as is cardamom in tea and, curiously, eye liner. Recommended for both sexes, this powdered kohl-based liner is applied to the inside of the bottom lid and said to help the eyes breathe though the dust. No word yet on whether it still contains lead, though I was cautioned not to use it every day. Thanks, Doc.
Actually, the complexion is often invoked during the office diagnostic process, while various stones are prescribed as critical RX elements. A few months ago, I was having a problem with my skin breaking out (the dust again!), prompting the doctor to ask if I was alright. I was wearing my stress on my face, he explained. Ignoring my mortification at this pronouncement, he suggested that I: (a) drink some green tea, as it is rich with antioxidants and the steam would help my skin; (b) get some more sleep; and (c) wear more lapis lazuli. The blue stone does wonders for elevating the mood and has the serendipitous side-effect of attracting true love. He was rather shocked that I unfamiliar with this last treatment.