my life in five paragraphs...
i say it every time but i am so bad at posting regular updates. i just get overwhelmed because there is so much to say and share, where does one begin? i realized the other day that what makes afghanistan so beautiful is its complexity, nothing is black and white here, everything takes 10 times as long to get done (if at all) and day-to-day life is full of paradox and obstacles and surprises. as erika pointed out a couple weeks ago, just about the only thing that's faster to do here than in the west is buy cigarettes (you can pull over to the side of the road and buy from one of cigarette stalls strewn every few blocks, drive-up style). but it's learning how to maneuver this chaotic place that really brings satisfaction. uncovering little secrets to social conduct, or a part of the city you never would have imagined existed.
last week i went to do some clothes shopping zahra and mama mumtaz, who is the toughest lady in afghanistan. mumtaz is one of three women i've seen driving a car in kabul, she taught women how to be teachers during the taliban regime, was visibly disgusted when i asked about the burka years, and doesn't take shit from anybody. we first went to one of the women's bazaars, which are run by and for women, with hand-embroided tops, cosmetics, jewelry. the bazaar lines one side of the women's park, which is large and quite beautiful, apparently full of women eating and talking on a friday. mumtaz's husband is a traffic cop, so she basically owns the city, parking wherever she damn well pleases (middle of a roundabout? why not?) and not asking, but ordering one of the cops to watch her car for her!
the rainfall started i had three nights in a row where i thought it would be almost like camping to sleep on the roof. i had a toshak (afghan mattress), water, music and blanket. it was amazing to just lay there and watch the stars, reflecting before sleep hit me. much cooler temperature too than my room.
today i read about a medical expedition being ambushed in the north today. there was a friend of my colleagues on the expedition, a female surgeon from the UK named karen woo, and i'm afraid she was one of the people shot. there is only one survivor and no names have been released. it's just another reality check that even if it doesn't always feel like it, this country is an unstable, dangerous place. i remember before the expedition left my roomates were talking about how the province of nuristan is notoriously dangerous, no foreigners go there etc. but you still never imagine something like this will happen, because, well, you don't want to think about it. the people, 10 of them, were all surgeons and doctors, wanting to access the people and kids in this remote area who need treatment. but the people who killed them, i'm sure even if they knew this they didn't care. hatred, fear and ignorance, when combined are much stronger than common sense.
it's weird to be in a place where every few weeks or so you hear of someone dying, but then i think back to canada, where people i know have died of cancer at 29, or a brain aneurysm in their early 30s, and realize life is fragile no matter where you are, so you have to do whatever good you can in this world. while you have time.
at 10:27 AM