Befriending with Lonesome

Luigi Pralangga


People at times said “Leave me alone” and when things turned out overwhelming… often they seek refuge to the most remote place just to find themselves with no one else, and thought that by being afar may get the dust settled. I guess once in a while, indeed people need to get a break… being away may be good to clear out the cloudy stuffs cramming the head, where often making ourselves less sensible, highly emotional and easily get frustrated towards the others (also vice versa).

Having to endure over 8 months, Afghanistan – where I initially thought would be as easy as the previous assignment (a.k.a. Iraq) – this time around I have to admit that I was wrong. The fact that I am blessed with the finest living quarter (in comparison to the previous camp in Baghdad), it is definitely the most comfortable compound to live and work altogether. Facility-wise, I could not complain at all.

The staff is pampered with 24/7 electricity, almost 100 Mb of fibre-optic based internet connection/speed with wireless connectivity within the compound. What else? – The comfortable accommodation, where a 40 foot sea-container is zapped into a studio-type apartment, and fully furnished with basic appliances and one other thing that made me relieved most: week-long room service and laundry!. (See, I told you that I should not complain not a single bit for all these…).

At the same time, the operational security environment remain enforcing staff to limit and restrict unessential movement around the city of Kabul, as threats remain high. With regular security advisories both over email and SMS where occurrences takes place almost everyday.

Our compound was also experiencing indirect attack when the neighbouring compound got attacked by the Taliban. The potential security risk from public protests, crowd demonstrations all the way to real threats like indirect and direct attacks by roadside IEDs… especially when during road traffic and stuck between the same lane or opposite side of the passing NATO-ISAF armoured military vehicles, which mainly prone to target of an attack.

…and to make it worst, lately was announced to us that rocket-launch attacks have become apparent.

When that happens, definitely a lock down. Weekdays and weekend, one to remain inside the compound, where it comes to their scheduled RnR (rest and Recuperation) break, staff is not permitted to travel to the international airport by road, then the chopper is dispatched to the base taking them for a less-than-five-minutes overfly transferring them to the assigned landing sites at Kabul International Airport, to safely connecting the international flights, getting them outside the country.

The international airport in Kabul, at times has to enforce closure due to attacks directed at the military airbase which shares the same runway with the commercial/civilian aviation operations. When this happens, the ticketed passengers would only be left with the fact of missing the flights home along with its connecting legs.. while the scheduled arrival may have been diverted to other cities within Afghanistan, waiting to get clearance to fly into Kabul.. – For those with real emergency to get home ASAP, booking a separate ticket would be the only way to go – of course, on-the-spot-airfare must be hitting the roof. Some people do that, believe me… as their stress level of having to endure 8-10 weeks serving in Afghanistan made their ‘cup is full’ and the urge to get out has been psychologically unbearable.


I felt that urge, too.. and I would not think of such pressure is exaggerating.. – anyway, here I am enduring another 8 weeks cycle for the 5th time.

Listening to Matt Simon’s – “With you” at played out from my MacBook inside the container accommodation, the time is 1:22PM on a weekend and taking a long look through the window, I can see the bare mountains surrounding the city of Kabul. Tree-less hills, swift-moving low clouds over shadowing some military outposts upon some areas.

With the temperatures slowly decreasing, where the evening may reach below 10 centigrade – one can imagine how chilly this would be. I know winter is coming. For me personally, the cold winter has already inside me since months ago.. since distance sets me away from the loved ones at home front.

I’ll be with you, I’ll be waiting for you.. on the other side, on the other side..
And the winds that blow they’ll guide you home..
get you through the night, get you through the night..
It’ll all be right..

Perhaps, for those who listen to Matt Simon’s song back in Jakarta, over MTV at some cafe with the girlfriend or spouse – the feeling must have been so romantic. The centered tea-lights where table for two and the arriving sizzling steak for dinner and perhaps glass of wine.. or iced lemon tea – definitely builds the moment: “Love is indeed in the air”.

But dude, that may not be the case for ones currently stationed here in Kabul, Naqoura – Lebanon, Layounne – Western Sahara, Goma – DRC Congo, Entebbe – Uganda, Monrovia, Liberia, Port-au-Prince – Haiti or other locations under mission assignment, definitely listening to the melodies and especially once the lyrics fits to one’s circumstances, the going becomes really tough to endure.

I am not so sure about others, some are so strong to endure such lonesome over longer period of time. The isolation and the movement restriction, though indeed this is aimed for the very safety of staff – at personal level, people finds it a growing challenge indeed.

recently, this feeling where I found submitting myself these sets questions:

“What am I doing (Here in Afghanistan)?”
“Is this (assignment in Afghanistan – or those other locations) really worth it?”
“Is this (hardship assignment) what we signed up for?”

I am sure folks currently stationed at various United Nations’ field mission with similar kind of conditions might have found yourself asking of same.

Yes, I agree – We have duty calling..

I understand that someone has to do the role – and presently each one of us presently entrusted with this role to embark by Gusti Alloh SWT. Therefore patience and perseverance are key to survive and remain gaining sanity while going through.

The points below have been the counter-measures to defeat the mounting feeling or drawbacks of having to serve away from family and home front:

I am about to embark on a great adventure. If I am open to exploring new cultures, are flexible about your expectations, and can embrace this life with my eyes open and a lot of creativity, patience and humour, I will have a fascinating and rewarding experience. (True!)

Like any career, long-term experience, or relationship, there will be periods when things are going well and some when they may not be so terrific. The bumps in the road can occur within the family, your Embassy or Consulate community, or the country where I am now posted. (Agree!)

A peacekeeper’s field service life will offer many unknowns, which are part of the adventure. What I could expect is a life very different from what I have had before, and the manoeuvre into new mission assignment or location transfer I’ve made in average every 3-5 years; Each time, at least to some degree, I will have to re-establish my identity and adopting in new location. (Correct!)

Actually there are more points, where among many – the consideration of career boost and attractive remuneration package of undertaking field mission assignment may further supports your plan in getting things on your dream list come true, to name a few.

Yeah, but right now… let me get this out from my chest by admitting that I miss them very much. In the meantime, seems like it is important for me to get into terms with lonesome, while away from them, suppose this could provide me with the opportunity to reflect inwards deeper by placing thoughts on things I would be doing better in my relationship with the loved ones, respectively.. different approach towards stuff that goes on within the larger family dynamics and steps ahead.

Going through the days with lonesome, personally being alone never felt right. sometimes it felt good, but it never felt right. Loneliness is the human condition. Cultivate it. The way it tunnels into you allows your soul room to grow, though at times I often to be reminded that the time you feel lonely is the time you most need to be by yourself. Life’s cruelest irony, indeed.

However, I would only rely to fasten my prayers.. and hope for the best safety & security.

To all my brothers and sisters, the servicemen & servicewomen currently serving in various challenging locations, you are not alone and united we stand. Seize the lonesome and distance that stretches between you and the loved ones – the longing hearts and missing emotions transformed as the energy to endure, as there is always the light at the end of the tunnel.

It will get brighter once you keep going and putting forward hopes and prayers.


To Alif, Abigail and Arjuna: I know well that you’ve got piling homework, tutoring sessions and extracurricular activities after school… spare me few minutes over voice notes to learn how your days went, and share me pictures from home everyday please… I promise I will send you more messages over WhatsApp, email and share you snapshots of the day of how my day goes by …

..and for you, honey… I will make this up to you… all these absence, those nights and the non-stop runaround in keeping things running and of doing things all yourself – am putting my best efforts for us to be under one roof again… I know that things are not easy for each of you guys back home. Keep your shalat & prayers remain consistent, do good on your grades and keep me also within your prayers (doa) therefore insya Allah, things are heading for the better (Ammin!).

Just like the song’s lyrics said:

I’ll be with you, I’ll be waiting for you..
on the other side, on the other side..
And the winds that blow they’ll guide you home..
get you through the night, get you through the night..
It’ll all be right..

But this time around, I am coming home for you all to be together again – therefore please pray for me.

I love you and you know that very well.. my hugs and kisses from Kabul, Afghanistan….

Yes, that Afghanistan…


Disclaimer: This notes are reflection of personal thoughts and do not reflect in part of as whole the official view of the organisation of which I am serving. Copying, Distribution in whole or in part of this notes without prior written permission is illegal and subject to legal violation.




About Luigi Pralangga

Luigi Pralangga, currently serving for peace operations in Afghanistan - Previously lives and work in the Middle East, West Africa and New York - USA.

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3 Comments to "Befriending with Lonesome"

  1. J C  15 November, 2015 at 16:53

    Keren…asik membacanya….

  2. james  10 November, 2015 at 08:41

    salah satu Kenthir sudah hadir nih mbak Lani

  3. Lani  9 November, 2015 at 13:59

    Jadi ingat lagunya Elvys……..sambil merindukan trio kenthir

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