Daily Affairs in Sunny Kabul

October 8, 2010

Kabul is sunny and clear blue, except that is for the dense haze of dust and smog.  Incredible that people’s lungs can take it.  No wonder the average life span is 44.   At night it is like driving through a fog on the Maine coast. And then every once in long while it pours.

Driving through the city you can quite easily forget that there is a war on.  One soon stops noticing the men with guns at every door and street corner.  Once in a while you feel that something odd must be going on somewhere when nervous hyper vigilant foreign or Afghan armies pass in heavily armed convoys.

The majority of my time I feel like I am in any typically out of control South Asian city. The streets are a chaos of every day survival activities. Of course surviving is a rough business here and not only because of the decades of instability.  This is just another part of the world where there are too few jobs and too few opportunities, packed mostly with people only able to think about making it from one day and one meal to the next.

At night it is different from most places I’ve experienced – but typical for insecure places.  From 4-8 the city is stuck in one large traffic jam.  Once the knots are untied and the vehicles released there is little to nothing downtown.  Shuttered shops stand in long rows.  A few pedestrians quietly move around in streets that were hours before impassable.  There is nothing to do in the city at night – no music, no movies, no tea shops (of course alcohol is banned, so no bars – for locals anyway) and precautionary measures stifle what little social life one tries to find.  The other night I was waiting outside the French Cultural center to meet some colleagues.  The wide main street was controlled by a pack of dogs and once in a while a car passed at great speed – the faster they go the more likely they are inhabited by government officials or foreigners.  But otherwise nothing else.  I didn’t get into the French compound.  My colleagues didn’t realize that after 8:30 no one is allowed in – known guest or otherwise.  They finally came out and we followed their official French car as it sped, in classic form, to the French embassy guest house.  There our car was not allowed to wait outside for fear it contained a bomb. It waited elsewhere and returned when we called it – still intact.

So, so it goes.  Wake at 6 (well, I’m first woken at 4:30 by the myriad of calls to prayer), picked up at 7.  Bump along scarred roads and sit in traffic and haze until 8.  Arrive at the center where we are holding the training and madly work with the 10 students and my great team until 5 or 6.  Wait and work until 7, hoping for less traffic, and get back in a taxi or provided car, and either creep or careen through the dark fog back to my room.  A fairly normal day considering.

Related Posts:

First Single Shot Video Contest Winner – CSFilm Afghanistan21-LookListenLocal

First Single Shot Video Contest Winner – CSFilm Afghanistan21-LookListenLocal

First Single Shot Video Contest Winner – Afghanistan21-LookListenLocal

“This video is about street kids because:
• Streets kids are under a lot of mental pressure;
• They lose the chance to get an education;
• The likelihood that they will be recruited by insurgent groups and gangs is high;
• They should play but they work.
There are thousands of kids on the street who make a living by begging, waxing shoes, washing cars and much more.”

The black future of Afghanistan

The black future of Afghanistan

From a colleague in Afghanistan: Kabul city is currently surrounded by those wild creatures in this black forest. Those predators have become more savage and unrestrained than before.

3 Comments

  1. Bill Rising

    Hi Michael,

    I watched the 11-minute pre-project film, which is really interesting and well done! Moreover, your comments about life in Kabul are insightful. I suppose I’m fortunate to live in a developed Asian city, especially one in the tropics! It amazes me how barren the environment is there, and recall the dryness and heat I experienced during a short visit to Karachi (which is on the water).

    Stay well and safe, and thanks for bringing the sights, sounds and deeds of these people to us.

    Always,
    Bill

    Reply
  2. Nancy Marcis

    Michael,

    I just returned from Israel
    and so much of what you describe
    in Kabul could be written from
    outlying Palestinian towns.
    Most fascinating country of
    contrasts. It is hard to believe that it is so volatile.
    Looking forward to Christmas.
    I hope we will all be together.
    Aunt Nan

    Reply
  3. Bob Nesson

    Dear Michael. Fascinating pictures, blog, project. Seems little has changed in Kabul since I was there in the 1980s. Maybe the air is more dirty, the streets more threatening. The driving seems the same but with more cars, bigger jams.

    What can i do to support your efforts? Stay safe. Bob

    Reply

Leave a Reply to Bill Rising Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *