Signs, Signs, Everywhere are Signs

Anyone who’s been to KAF knows that there are signs posted everywhere. Sometimes they’re professionally made but most are just printed sheets of copier paper. While this post is going to deviate from the blog’s DFAC theme, it was inspired by a sign I saw in the Cambridge DFAC a few months ago.

Well, as long as they have a letter, it must be perfectly fine.

I’m no bacteriologist so I really don’t understand the mechanism by which a letter, even an Authorized letter, can prevent food from spoiling but I obviously wasn’t too worked up about this as I didn’t bother to visit the Catering Office to find out. I just steered clear of the condiments for a while. The letter struck me as the epitome of bureaucrateze and continues to amuse me to this day. It gets even better when you read it carefully and realize they are actually saying the letter has a new extension date. I didn’t even realize letters could go bad (except, of course, letters one may have written to a girl one was crushing on in 10th grade…those don’t age well).

Many of you non-KAF folks reading this blog probably think we have it pretty good over here. We just mosey on in to the DFAC and food is presented to us on a silver plastic platter. Well, it ain’t as easy as that, Bucko. At left you can see some of the many rules and regulations posted up in the entrance to the Lux DFAC. Other DFACS have similar postings. We have to abide by ALL those rules every time we eat. Someday, I’m going to read them.

Just as I started to feel like I was recovering from my deep-seated paranoia, I come across this sign at the IH:

Is that bastard still following me?

Now that I’ve sufficiently paid lip service to DFACS, I’m free to expand my examination of signs to the base as a whole.

Around The Village

We refer to our accommodations area as the village. Here’s a sampling of stuff I have to see everyday.

Oh, do you mean no bikes at all?

I was just kidding about not having read all the signs on the way into the DFAC…I’m actually a pretty rules based guy as I alluded to in my discussion of the pie debacle. Not everyone around here is like me though (yes, KAF would be much nicer place if they were). I suspect that many people have sign fatigue due to the sheer numbers of them so you end up with things like this:

Probably the most disturbing signs we’ve encountered are those in our washrooms. This first one caused M to quip, “I tried that but it was just too scratchy. I’m going back to toilet paper”:


I’m just gobsmacked that this next sign is even necessary. Did they seriously have a problem with people consistently trying to do this? Seriously? Who would do that with any expectation that the results are going to be anything other than troublesome:

But I can still flush my empty water bottle, right?

Ok, I get that this next one is necessary to assist those from toiletless cultures in not breaking the seats. But I bet ya a dollar you laughed at it even as you were mentally chastising me for my cultural insensitivity. I once wrote on my Facebook status that I was tired of finding muddy footprints on the toilet seats. My brother commented “Yeah, mud, keep telling yourself that’s what it is”. Our whole family is going to hell.

Certainly explains the footprints…


The Boardwalk always provides nice fresh fodder for any KAF sign collector.

There are only two ATMs at KAF, both at the Afghan International Bank. Anyone who’s been here a while is very familiar with this sight:

Quelle surprise

It’s evident, however, that not many are familiar with this sign:

Thankfully, we have a new bank “Coming Soon”. The Kabul Bank must be a very good bank because it is getting mentioned in all of the major western newspapers. I wonder if all this publicity may explain why this sign has been up for about a year and a half:

Soon is relative. As in, “Soon Afghanistan will take responsibility for its own security”.

All you KAF residents, please ensure you do exactly as this sign says:

A picture is worth 1000 words my ass

AJ’s is like Future Shop except that here the future is pre-ordained:

“Destiny is cool and all but can I just get a USB stick, man?”

Creepy Van

Several of the vehicles have signage from their previous lives. You see buses with the names of German tourist companies on them, trucks from various, likely now defunct, European and Asian companies etc. This isn’t to be unexpected as many companies and countries opt to take used vehicles into this harsh environment. There are, however, several used Toyota vans that have signage that is just plain creepy. They all offer free things like ice cream and candy. If I saw one hanging around a school yard, I’d be calling the police or the Catholic church to come pick up the driver. This one I snapped a picture of is both creepy and paradoxical.

Stop Sign

That pretty much exhausts my stash of sign photos so far but I saw many more before I started taking pictures of them. I particularly regret being unable to lay my hands on a picture of the DFAC menu that offered “Dying Fish”. I’ll be continuing to collect photos of KAF signs and will be doing more of these posts in the future. If you have some you’d like me to use, contact me.

14 thoughts on “Signs, Signs, Everywhere are Signs

  1. You’re a funny man. I think once you’re home for good you should deconstruct B’erk the way you do KAF. There’s at least as much fodder for blog posts.

    Brilliant as usual my dear!

  2. I came across this blog via a gal in my Facebook feed. My son is over there, north of Kandahar, and I’ve been bugging him to send me everyday shots of where he’s living, to give his worried mother some sort of context at the very least. Yours is a terrific commentary on how life becomes life, no matter where you might be positioned on the globe. THANK YOU SO MUCH for your humor. This is awesome…

  3. Mark I hope you get a book deal out of these funny and informative blogs. I know a cute little red head who could probably hook you up with some book people. Isn’t that right Miss Box761?

    • They’re actually in Pashtu and Dari, two of the local languages. As far as I can tell, it is instructing everyone to put X’s on their breasts and genitalia. I hope this answers your question.

  4. I have a question….do you get ration cards you can use at any DFAC or do you actually pay cash everywhere you go? Is do you pay per item, or is it just one fee per meal no matter what you eat??

    • We get ration cards that have a magnetic stripe. They get read at every meal. I’m not sure how the billing actually happens as it is paid by the countries we are working for. It’s a flat fee per meal but you only get one plate handed to you at the entrance. There are more small plates and bowls available for salad etc. It’s really just an all-you-can-eat cafeteria.

  5. I did Oct ’08 – Jul ’09 in KAF in the Cdn HQ. My fave sign was the Niagara vegetarian option, “Baked Aboriginals” (for Aubergines). Keep up the great writing.

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