Continues for the last time!
Before I get heavily invested in writing about my misadventures in Kuwait, I must first wrap up my Chest Bread chronicles. For now, my dear reader, I must insist that you kill your budding dreams of Kuwaiti hell. Your western education probably leads you down the complex circles of Dante's infernal vision, but hell is a simple thing for a Kuwaiti. Take away all the Third Country Nationals working in Kuwait, forcing the Kuwaitis to do all their work themselves. That's it. Hell. Anyway, we are back to the Chest Bread chronicles, and I promise you, this story, as much of everything in Afghanistan back then, also ends in shit.
One day we woke up from whatever we were doing at the time as word came down from the Grand Gandhara Hotel and Mortar Lounge managers that the Governor of Kandahar had invited us all for a beautiful Eid al-Adha feast. The excitement level at the chance of eating real, hot, cooked, and tasty food was spiking much above the Gandhari normal. Even above the "f**k, our perimeter's being attacked again!" level. When the time came, we sauntered off to eat in small groups. We were, of course, in full battle-rattle as a precaution from any uppity terrorist food critic who might decide to attack us mid-chew.
Upon reaching the terrorists' target, erm, the festivity tent, we realized that it would be more beneficial to run and assail the delicious food rather than waste time defending ourselves from death. So we patiently waited, our M-16 rifles and M-9 pistols on the ready, looking for food, much like aggrieved Karens nowadays look for a manager. We politely shook hands with the local politicians, Afghan Army personnel, and local celebs. We posed for pictures, awkwardly posing and smiling gloomily, desperate for food.
Finally, the eating time came, and off we went to the tables. We tried our best to dampen the sounds of excited teenage girlish giggles from our otherwise stoic male group as we gleefully clapped, ran, skipped, and flitted our way to food. As we moved forward hastily, I realized that if terrorists captured us, we all would probably sell out our motherland for a piece of the glorious Chicken Tikka. As it were, it only took the threat of a good meal for us all to lose our grim, professional bearing. Sisyphus had found his jackhammer on Eid al-Adha in 2002. We had temporarily broken free of the otherwise unending grasp of dark eternity. The food layout was terrific! Loads of naan, chicken, lamb, rice, fresh veggies, salads, chutneys, daal, fruits, etc. Musicians were sitting and singing Ghazals in Pashtu and Dari, and a cool breeze was blowing into the terrorist trap.
We were, of course, too busy to worry about death and such other insignificant matters as we chowed down the heavenly food. Amid the ongoing food orgy, I looked up from my plate long enough to see grungy, dusty, shirtless little boys scurrying around the place, happily grinning and enjoying themselves. Little kids, behaving like little kids! It was an incredible sight to behold in this g-dforsaken piece of our world. Quite a few of the boys were helping out the cooks in the kitchen by bringing out fresh food as they made it. Our buffet line was never lacking for anything delicious, thanks to them. A few boys were in charge of the naan deliveries, and they made sure to carry as much naan as they could in one go to maximize efficiency. Doing so allowed them to play longer in-between deliveries. How does a grungy, dusty, shirtless little boy bring the giant naans in bulk without plates or containers? He picks them up en-masse and hugs them as they carry them to the tables. As I saw that happening, the cerebral cortex, the part of my brain responsible for higher-order thinking, activated an alarm for a few seconds and then returned to its hibernating state upon noting my complete non-reaction.
There wasn't much use for higher-order thought anyway if one wished to survive in the war zone, and thus, we were all amygdalaian slaves. And of chicken tikka. And what of the naan? Regardless of the perilous health implications baked into each piece by the boys, we snarfed down the bread with abandon. The little boys' skin oils, bacteria, dirt, pungent armpit sweat, and even left-over piss and poop on their hands added a certain "je ne sais quoi" to the bread taste. The exquisite taste of that bread was unavailable anywhere else, including in the finest bakeries of Paris, France. I decided that such delicious bread required a name, and I christened it "Chest Bread." My cerebral cortex later that night would have delighted in saying, "I told you so!" had it been out of hibernation. Regardless, the results of the earlier indulgences were immediate and catastrophic.
A few hours later, the realization came to a few of us in our tent that our anal sphincters had become utterly dysfunctional and refused to do the one job they had. Usually, the kidneys take care of ridding our bodies of water, but in our case that night, the Chest Bread magic redirected the flows to our asses. As painful as the process turned out, running to and from the half-barrel toilets, I couldn't help but laugh out loud at the stupidity involved in the process. The rule was that if we left our tents, we would have to be fully battle-ready and armed. That meant we had to put on our full battle rattle, the kevlar helmet, and take the M-16 semi-automatic rifle with us wherever we went. Including the Toilet. In the throes of severe diarrhea, even if it meant releasing the brown-water floods into our unsuspecting pantaloons. G-d is my witness, if the terrorists ended up killing me, I could live with that, but I would not go down without a fight. My leadership at the Grand Gandhara Hotel and Mortar Lounge had assured as much. Even with foul-smelling brown liquid squirting wildly from my buttocks, I knew I would hurriedly fall prone, aiming and shooting my trusty M-16 at the enemy and letting loose a hiccupping rain of iron in perfect three-bullet bursts. My leadership could count on me fighting the terrorists down to the very last squirt.
What? I told you all of this would end in shit.
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