Wednesday, April 25, 2007

War movies, fireworks and reverse culture shock

Tonight I watched Mrs. Henderson Presents. I’d had a frustrating day at work, and I felt like vegging out to a movie. The movie is about a lot of things, and it is set during WWII. During the movie they were showing brave young men in uniform, air raids on London and other war symbolism. While I was watching, I was listening a helicopter, and then a plane, flying low over my house. I couldn’t help but think about the way we romanticize war in the west, and how different it is for people who didn’t have young men in uniform, who didn’t have bomb shelters to retreat to but were caught in the same war. And of course, I think about the Afghans, and 20 years of war without the romanticism and pop culture making all their young men and women who died heroes.

I find war movies have a different effect on me now than they used to. I’m not living in a war zone, not by any means. But it wasn’t long ago that the neighborhood I live in was complete rubble, and my coworkers lived through that experience.

A few nights ago there was a huge firework display to celebrate the anniversary of the mujahaddin running the Soviets out of Afghanistan. I wonder if there will be a similar celebration to celebrate when the Americans leave. I was listening to the pop-pop-pop of the fireworks, and I figured they were fireworks from the sound at first. But as it continued, and got louder I became more tense. Then there was some machine gun fire (also celebratory) and one of my roommates flew out of her room in a panic. So, we made some phone calls and found out what was going on, and then watched the fireworks from one of our windows. I don’t think I’ll ever enjoy fireworks the way I did when I was watching them in Gypsy Hill Park in Staunton on the 4th of July.

Lately I’ve been having the most disturbing dreams – from dreaming that I’m in Beirut during an air raid to being locked up in jail with my boss as my jailor. I assume these dreams are my subconsciousness’s was of dealing with the stress of being in Kabul during the spring Taleban offensive. Don’t get me wrong, it really hasn’t been bad, but when you get 4 or 5 security reports a day about things exploding and people dying or being kidnapped, even if it isn’t in your city, I suppose it wears on you.

I can’t help but wonder how much I’ve changed during my 8 months here, and how it will effect me when I go home – whenever that is. How difficult will it be for me to readjust to the American lifestyle? Will I want to? I guess I’ll get a taste when I go home for vacation in May or June. I imagine the reverse culture shock will be, well, shocking.

1 comment:

homeinkabul said...

It took me about 2 months to get used to being back in the U.S. I kept getting scared when I saw airplanes...