Friday, June 19, 2009

More Bits and Pieces

Being home feels like being in a sandbox now, a sheltered play area where little kids throw sticks at each other and people are only about 50% alive, maybe less. A month ago whenever I felt like stretching my neck and looking up I was looking at the Himalayas. People here getting upset over stupid things, thinking they have problems. I suppose I should have expected a bit of culture shock on the return landing just as I did on the outbound one. A couple of dudes having a road rage incident right on the middle of an intersection makes me laugh, right out loud. I don't know why I think this is so funny.

Kabul is the ultimate peaceful city, most of the time. People crammed together on the roads with inches to spare, cars, pedestrians, donkeys. I was still riding like a foreigner, fists clenched and eyes squeezing shut every time we'd pass a donkey cart with a truck in the oncoming lane at full speed, then cutting back in with a foot to spare. That wouldn't even cause a break in the chatter in the car, as I was the only one who thought that was anywhere near close.

You don't hear angry shouting on a regular basis like New York or Boston, no one leans on their horns in traffic. Just a constant toot-toot I'm here do you see me? On your right coming past, hurry up, cross, I'll wait. It's a rather marvelous social, organic thing, Kabul's street traffic. Given the clearances that are normal between moving objects and bodies, in the States it would be a daily massacre. But I didn't see a single fender-bender or anyone get hit, and we were on the roads a lot. One kid did walk by on the center divider close enough to bend back the outside mirror on its hinge, as we inched past, but he was polite enough to bend it back. Kabul is a peaceful city, maybe because when violence hits, it hits bad. It's not a few gangbangers shooting on the street, or a drunk fight. It's something unspeakable, life-changing, sudden. Mr. Talib reminding you this is still war. So when things are peaceful, everyone is happy, and enjoying it, no matter how many guys are cutting in front of you.

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