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Shower power

Not a bucket-of-water-heated-over-the-camp-stove kind

Martin Savidge reports from the field for CNN on major breaking news stories and has anchored several of the network's regularly scheduled newscasts.
Martin Savidge reports from the field for CNN on major breaking news stories and has anchored several of the network's regularly scheduled newscasts.  

Editor's note: In our Behind the Scenes series, CNN correspondents share their experiences in covering news around the world.

By Martin Savidge

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (CNN) -- It's amazing what you'll put up with for a shower.

I should clarify: It's amazing what you'll do if you haven't taken one for almost a month.

Oh, I bathe, don't get me wrong: A-bucket-of-water-heated-over-the-camp-stove kind of washing. The same bucket that my month-old socks are soaking in right now. And it works. To a point. That point would be from my waist down.

No, I'm talking about a water-blasting, out-the-nozzle, superheated, steam-raising, lather-inducing dousing. And the showers have come to "Camp Kandahar" -- our media headquarters here at the Kandahar Airport military base.

CNN's Martin Savidge reports that after nearly 19 days, largest battle of war against terrorism completed (March 19)

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Images from Operation Anaconda 
Map of Afghanistan  showing the location of the fighting

Savidge reports: The Battlefield

A reporter's reflections
The road home
Getting out
Mining snow

To understand what sort of rapture this brings to my life I suggest the following experiment.

  • Move into your unheated garage. This will only truly work if you're north of the Mason-Dixon Line because in order to get the full effect, the temperature needs to average around 31 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Pour sand and/or flour over your head about every 20 minutes or so. You need to enlist the help of a friend because you must continue these dustings while sleeping.
  • Start your lawn mower and run it full tilt without stop, night and day, parking it directly beside your bed. This simulates the sound of military aircraft. To achieve full enjoyment, you should borrow all of the lawn mowers on your street. (Make sure your garage is properly vented).
  • Wear two pairs of pants, shirts, socks and underwear for the entire period, although not at once, except when the temperature dips into the teens.
  • Wake yourself several times in the night with the sound of the CNN Breaking News theme. (These will be your simulated live reports.) Then, after downing four cups of coffee to liven up immediately, return to bed. (This simulates the breaking-news report cancelled.)
  • Eat food that only comes in foil or plastic. Drink only water or beverages that can be made from water. Soft drinks don't count.
  • You may have a telephone but you must run an electric shaver near the headset to simulate satellite interference or what we call "blur." You may also bring a laptop with an Internet connection but you must drop off-line the moment you find a Web site or download you really want or need.
  • Again douse yourself and everything you have with the sand/flour combination because I'm sure you missed a spot.

    I thought about all of this as I waited in the shower line. I waited even as heavy Army trucks kept passing through. I waited as the Germans cut through with their dirty laundry. (Yes, we have a laundry now, too.) I neither grumbled nor fidgeted. My eyes locked on the rubber flap of the shower tent. Someone has to come out before someone goes in.

    Do you have any idea how long a person who hasn't had a shower in a month will take when given the chance? An eternity! At least that's how it seems to those not yet beyond the rubber curtain. We waited, oblivious to everything else around us, including the sign that asked us to wait beside the tent instead of in front of it so as not to block traffic.

    Until a soldier walked up and said, "It's broken."

    The line vanished like our sudsy dreams. One minute it was there, then -- "pop" -- gone.

    I slogged off across the base through dust so deep that if it were snow it would close Atlanta schools for a week.

    All the while wishing I had waited before soaking those socks in my bucket bath tub.

  • Dump entire bag of flour on head.




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