How do your instruments react to all the dust?
So far, it hasn't been too hard on them. It remains to be seen, of course, how they will do over the coming months, but so far I haven't had to do much beyond normal maintenance on the trombone. The outside of the case, however, is absolutely filthy.
Do you drink tap water or bottled water?
All of the drinking water here is bottled. They ship in truckloads of the stuff everyday. Sometimes it might be bottled by a subsidiary of Coca-Cola in Kabul, or it might be from Dibba, a company in Fujaira, UAE. In fact, all of the water we use here is brought in by truck, including the water we use for showers and sinks. It's considered "non-potable:" clean enough to shower or brush your teeth, but not for drinking. The bottled water is available all over the post at no charge--just find a stash and grab one.
Do you have time to practice?
Most days we do. Almost everyday I've been here we've had a quintet rehearsal, a larger group rehearsal (like the ceremonial band or brass ensemble), or individual practice time. While we do have to take time to do the various office jobs that help the band run, we've been fortunate that once things got established, we've had a few hours nearly everyday to focus on the musical mission. The biggest drawback is that Kandahar has no dedicated "band facility," so we have been using classroom tents, the Fest Tent, protective bunkers, and an abandoned meat locker as practice facilities, and we have to keep our instruments locked in a big protective container to keep them secure when they aren't in use.
Are the facilities for military only, or do civilians use them too?
Almost everything here is open to military and civilians, though there are restricted areas. Even so, those may be open to certain contractors who have the proper clearance. Also, there are very few areas that aren't open to people from the various nations that are represented here.
That's all for today, so keep asking and I'll write another Q and A installment soon!