Monday, October 02, 2006

White City and Fundamentalists

The last few days have been very tense here. There were three suicide attacks in and around the city yesterday morning. The UN has declared a "White City" which means all internationals (and anyone who values their life) should keep movement to an absolute minimum. The security forces apparently caught another wannabe suicide bomber, and another potential bomber was spotted riding a bike through the city - I guess someone noticed he was acting oddly and had wires sticking out of his shirt . . . Today there was a suicide bombing in Kandahar City.

I'm feeling very stir crazy. I haven't exactly been out exploring the city since I've been here, but I hate being stuck at home. I think the UN codes are a little funny . . . I wonder if they have an "Emerald City" code. It would be appropriate -- sometimes I feel like I'm in the middle of fairy tale. Not a children's fairy tale with happy endings; more like an original fairy tale -- gruesome and often heartbreakingly sad. I realize that sounds quite depressing, and I don't mean to imply that I am depressed. I am trying to explain how difficult it is to wrap my mind around some of the things that people will do and have done to each other. I'm not limiting this discussion to Afghanistan -- I think the US takes the cake this week for the murder of 5? Amish girls in their school. That is the sort of disturbing story we've come to expect from Afghanistan; a man sending the boys out and killing the girls . . .

I spent this evening with one of my temporary roommates, a nice woman from Virginia who came to Afghanistan 5 years ago to work with Afghan refugee women. She came here alone, with a mission, and has been wildly successful in her work. B was kind enough to hunt down beer for Nathan and I (quite a commodity in Kabul these days), so we spent the evening with her enjoying Heinekens. Unfortunately it turned into my second conversation with her about Christianity, and Christ as the savior, and the lost cause of the Palestinians (of course Israel will win), the evils of Islam (she believes that the Prophet Mohammed was visited by Satan, not Gabrielle when he received the Quran), and, well, you get the gist. Compounded with a crappy day at work, this has made me a little grumpy. I can ignore the religious talk, but when she starts on her rants about how Islam supports suicide bombing, and how the real problem makers in Afghanistan are all Arabs sneaking into the country and blowing themselves up it makes me want to scream. Unfortunately, she is a guest of my boss (one disadvantage of living with your coworkers) so I have to really watch what I say. ARGH.

Last night, she and a consultant visiting and staying with us were having a very serious discussion about whether or not the way Afghans fight (invaders and themselves) is due to genetic coding. Talk about frustrating, not to mention racist.

On a more positive note, I may be traveling again this weekend - the consultant is traveling to Kunar to interview some of our NGOs, and she said I could tag along if I wanted. I'd love the opportunity to see more of the country, and take some more pictures. One of the most frustrating parts of being here is that I came here to help the Afghan people, and I suppose I am in some abstract ways, but I am completely separated from them because of the security situation. When you combine that with the complex social codes of what is and isn't acceptable behavior from a young woman making social contacts becomes a little daunting.

I had other things to write about, but I'm all wound up now so it will have to wait for another time.

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