Sgt Carrie Mehr, now a few weeks in Afghanistan where she's taking over running a post office in an army base, is beginning to find her groove in Jalalabad -- or J-bad as the soldiers call it.---
The base is surrounded by opium fields and she emails that the other day she saw in the distance a mosque in Jalalabad. "It made me think how crazy that there is a whole other completely foreign city that I can't go explore just on the other side of the fence."
Encounters with local Afghans are mostly related to shops on base. Jan, a baker, makes delicious cinnamon sugar bread. "There are other guys who have shops and stuff on base ... anything from watches to movies to electronics to sunglasses to jewelry boxes." That said, there are no fixed prices. Everything has to be bargained over.
One Afghan, Kaan, works at the post office. His brother was killed by the Taliban because of Kaan's affiliation with the army. The other day he asked Mehr if she liked to drink and mentioned his enthusiasm for beer.
Morale she reports is decent on the base. "No one really talks about what is happening outside the wire. I suppose that could be because it is easier to ignore the fact that there are people killing each other just outside the fence."
Her men are working with the mail at Bagram. Mehr's hoping to see some of them come mid-January. There are civilians working at the post office. "Many of them are lazy in my opinion. I'm not surprised though ... I don't think civilians should be over here. [...] many of them don't carry the same work ethic as soldiers do."