Scenes of the city
As burqas and veils flew past in a blur, and old men and children milled around much more slowly during stops, I attempted on a recent drive through Kabul to capture a bit of the city's appearance to fresh (though tired) eyes...
It's "Abbey Road", Kabul version 2010!
"My friend, how do you keep from getting tripped up in the shawls and manjammies when you ride this contraption downtown?"
"Brother, can you spare a -- whoa, is that an Escalade heading this way?"
I don't know why I liked this one...maybe two cabs actually in the same color scheme, maybe the masked man approaching, maybe the snow-capped mountains beyond...but probably the earthquake effect of one very bumpy ride for taking 'happy snaps.'
One of the bright spots of driving around this mountainous city is catching a glimpse of the still-white Hindu Kush, no matter how warm a Summer day it feels like in the dirt-colored dust bowl below.
I was astounded by this mosque when we first drove upon it. After hearing so often that nothing survived the Afghan civil war -- and the particularly brutal urban warfare of Kabul -- intact, it was a sight to behold.
The banks of the Kabul River, actually with some water in it. No one's about to confuse it with the Seine, but I felt a twitch of excitement upon seeing it in its city. The last time I was in country, I only saw it flow (with much more volume) much further East...
"We got shades here! You can't begin to look like ZZ Top without your cheap sunglasses, man! The beard only gets you halfway!"
I'm not usually the type who'd wax poetic about billboards...I think you're probably sick in the head (or more likely, the heart) if that's your idea of urban beautification. But here -- where it just signifies choices, trade and normalcy to a foreigner like me who wants to help "normalcy" along in any way possible -- it's a sign of hope.
Rather than attach one of the countless stories being cranked out daily by the crush of news media in Kabul about Afghanistan's shifting politics, its bad dudes in powerful places, or the associated blame game with all of that, there's this one. There's a war going on...and grunts like these are setting out on patrol every day, unsure each time if it will be their last -- but unswerving in their determination to make the land safer. I'm humbled to wear the same uniform as them...