Stuff that isn’t the same

Here are all the differences between what I’m used to in the United States and what they have here in Kabul. I mean all the common, everyday things that have taken some time to get used to since I’ve been here.

Okay, so it’s not all the things, but it’s the little things that don’t make you write home – just include in a blog on a slow blog-day.

So here we go.

The power goes out every 60 minutes or so, but only for a few seconds each time. We all have to have voltage regulators that will keep our computers going until the power comes up again.

Air conditioning units have a the cooling mechanism just about where you’d see it in the US – right at the base or right under the window on the outside of the house, but the fan for the unit is at the top of the window, on the inside of the building. This unit is controlled by a remote, and it makes little dinging noises when you operate said remote. This is the way that almost all homes are air conditioned and heated.

Toilets have a normal sized bowl, but only water in the teeny tiny little bottom part of the bowl.

Toilet paper has a huge cardboard roll in the middle, so the amount of actual paper is much much less. That’s pretty blatant, right? I mean, it’s not like we aren’t going to notice that the cardboard roll on the inside looks as big around as a can of soda! Come on toilet paper people. We may have to go real bad, but we aren’t stupid.

(There’s at least one more that has to do with the bathroom. I’m just warning.)

Speaking of soda cans, all of them have pull tabs. Yep, that’s right. For all of you that had started a wicked necklace or belt in 1982, but were never able to finish it, I can send you a whole bunch of pull tabs because I go through two or three cans of Fanta and El Famir Coke each day.

The flush handle for the toilet is on the top of the tank. I’ve seen similar mechanisms, but not exactly like these – a flat panel that sits flush with the top of the tank, but press down on the side closest to the edge, and the whole thing pivots like a stone panel from an Indiana Jones movie, and the flush is done before you can say, “Look out Docta Jones!”

Lastly, since this is all I can think of right now, there is one thing that constantly catches me off guard and invariably makes me look like an idiot as I’m coming and going from the buildings on the camp.

The doorknobs all the turn the opposite way.

You’ve got to turn the doorknob clockwise to get the door to open. That’s just wrong. I mean, it feels right-er to turn it away from the latch, unlatching (or “knobbing” as the pros say) the door. I used to ask myself, “Is it because I’m on the other side of the planet?” I didn’t think it was because of that, a hunch that was later confirmed by Wikipedia. It seems that the knobs turn that way just because things are different here. It’s been fun so far to learn these new things, but it’s also helped me to understand a little bit more of just how backwards a country could become when it can’t figure out how to make a doorknob that turns the right way. I’m just saying.

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