Location Bravo, Somewhere in the Arabian Desert – I was airdropped by military helicopter into my permanent station.
After a few days of getting settled into my tent, I started to scope out the camp. The place is laid out kind of haphazardly. I got lost a few times. I decided to survey the entire camp and draw a map on a piece of 6” X 10” note paper from my appointment book. The map really helped me navigate this bizarre desert camp.
At the end of my third week, I started to get comfortable at the camp. I explored the small stores around the area. There were many “hajji shops” or local Arab vendors. We call all the local Arab vendors and store keeps “hajji’s”. Therefore, their stores were called “hajji shops”. I guess it’s supposed to be a derogatory ethnic slur for the local Arabs like the term “gook” during the Vietnam War.
I originally thought “hajji” came from the Jonny Quest cartoon series. Jonny’s adopted Indian brother was named “Hadji”. Therefore, my otaku brain thought the ethnic slur originated from the cartoon. According to Wikipedia, hajji is, “an honorific title given to a Muslim person who has successfully completed the Hajj to Mecca.” I guess I was wrong…
The hajji shops had all sorts of bootleg DVDs. They even had bootleg anime DVDs. I didn’t want to buy bootleg copies of Anime, so I just browsed their selection. They have all the popular titles like Full Metal Panic (フルメタル·パニック!), Blood Plus (ブラッドプラス), Yu-Gi-Oh (遊☆戯☆王), Dragon Ball Z (ドラゴンボール), Appleseed OVA (アップルシ－ド), and Gotham Knight (バットマン: ゴッサムナイト).
The local PX (Post Exchange) was pretty small. It was more like a gas station store. It had only the bare essentials, and its DVD selection was almost non-existent. On rare occasions, they stocked some Shonen Jump Magazine issues. Overall, it was pretty weak.
The internet here also sucked. In order to get a private connection on your laptop, the hajji stores would charge $85 per month for a weak ass Wi-Fi signal. It was so frustrating. The wireless router would drop the signal every five minutes. I would try to read some e-mails or download a podcast, and my connection would suddenly drop out. I had to suffer and wait until the signal would reconnect my laptop to the router. I had very little free time, and I would waste the most of it waiting for the wireless signal to connect. Damn, what a rip off.
I’m glad I brought two CD wallets filled with DVDs from my personal collection. It would have been a difficult deployment without any entertainment. I would be completely bored with the lack of a good DVD stores and a decent internet connection.