Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The Foolish 100

It's the end of my second day in Kabul. Yes, I did arrive after a fairly uneventful flight on Ariana (except for the 2.5 hour delay), arrived at Kabul Int'l Airport. It was chaos - not like Japan's controlled chaos - utter, random chaos. People are everywhere crammed around a small luggage belt. Boys and young men approach, "lady, I find your bag." People constantly bumping into me and grabbing my bag.

Everything is different and bleak. Seems more like a society trying to survive than move forward. See bombed out buildings and poverty every where. Trash is just thrown on the sides of the streets either for the goats to eat or children to rummage through for food or resale. Good thing most items are compostable.

I met up with the group at lunch. We late met a women who has been working on women's rights since the 1960s. Her office is a house with a barricade. In the middle of her speaking, a loud boom and the window shakes. She laughs and says, "rocket missile."

Fast forward - staying at the guest house, sharing a room with 3 other women; 10 of us sharing one bathroom. Electricity - yeah, sometimes it has it, and when there is electric, there's heat. However, electric goes out at night and power is by generator - which means shower by wood stove. We have armed security protecting us at night. It's quiet at night, except for the hum of the generator. When that's off, a dog occassionally howls. Cats screech in a quarrel.

today, met with a tribe who had 23 members held captive by the US troops. 3 were present today and never received a reason why they were detained for 9 months. They want us to tell the military that in order to be friends with the Afghan people, understand the culture.

Driving to one of the meetings today, we were stopped at a checkpoint. What does one say when eye to eye with a machine-gun-toting Afghan military person? "Hello. How are you?" He seemed embarrassed while my heart stop beating. Our driver slipped him a 100 aghani (about $2 US) to let us pass. We were allegedly stopped for having tinted windows on the van.

In general, people are happy to meet Americans. Not only for the dollar, but to practice English - like Japan. However, I found myself in 2 situations today where one person approached to talk to me and soon I found myself surrounded by people, all curious as to what the conversation is about. I quickly and politely found a way out. People also like the photo taken, maybe a sign of honor.

My time is limited and I gotta run. I'm good - it's a great experience. The food is ok and I haven't gotten sick yet :)


Anonymous said...

I am glad to see an update!
I was a little concerned after the last posting!
Hope you are enjoying the adventure!

Anonymous said...

Jenn, Jenn, Jenn, Jenn,Jenn.

Your writing some interesting stuff...tourism is Kabul has a road ahead of itself with twists and turns. Obviously it is not turnkey. I guess I would be interested to know more about the culture in "group scenarios."

Awesome stuff. Stay well and trust your insight and pick up a good CD or tape. Dijana

Anonymous said...

Jen your uncle is sharing this blog with me - giving him some business at our spring meeting!
HAVE TOO MUCH FUN! I'm envious!
Suzanne (STS)