Business or not

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Before having dinner at what might just be the best restaurant in town, Jaisalmar (what is it anyway, that so many of these restaurants also operate tourist guest houses?), I spent three hours at the Dutch embassy.

Earlier this week, I had received a call, asking me if I could please attend a meeting, at the Dutch embassy, with ‘people like me’. There was going to be coffee and tea and there would be talk of ‘things that would be of concern to me’.
Intrigued, but assuming the subject would be security, I agreed and so went over to the embassy today.

I found some 10 Afghans with a Dutch connection, most, if not all, having been refugees living in Holland, some from as early as 27 years ago. All were working in the private sector, which was convenient, as the acting ambassador told us that she called the informal meeting to start something of an informal network of Afghan businesses with a Dutch connection to bring together Dutch businesses and Afghan businesses.
I was intrigued, and thought of First Fridays and First Tuesdays. Mostly everyone else, however, mostly speaking only in Dari, was more interested in the rampant and incorrect spending of Dutch aid money and really felt like commenting on that.

Indeed, I was something of an odd one out, having no structural relationship with Afghanistan. But we were a colorful collection anyway, with one guy running for parliament in the upcoming elections and another being in charge of urban planning in Kabul.

It’d be interesting to see if this evolves into something of a real businesses-meet-businesses network. However, I’m pretty sure I won’t be there to see it happen since I’ll be gone before the end of August.

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