Salaam Afghanistan

Health and Ethnic Conflict.

My first visit to the Heart of Asia -- Reflections and Photos.

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Location: Mbarara, Uganda

Internist and Pediatrician with a passion for international health.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Only a week!

I arrived in Kabul about a week ago. Only a week! Feels like so much longer.

Kabul is about what you think it is in a lot of ways -- really poor, lots and lots of obviously bombed out and destroyed buildings and rubble, women gliding around in burqas, men wearing turbans and vests over their shalwar kameez, really dusty, really hot, and a little bit dangerous. But it is not at all what you expect in a lot of other ways. I guess I mean that life here is not so different from life anywhere else. I mean, I get up, "shower", have breakfast, come to work (we have to have a driver because we are prohibited from taking taxis for security reasons), work, have meetings, have lunch (in the separate room for ladies), work some more, go home, maybe go to a "restaurant" or to yoga or salsa dancing, go to bed. Our compounds do have guards posted at the gates, and there usually is barbed wire lining the top of a high wall, but it's not too scary.

I don't wear a chador most of the time, at least not in Kabul. If/when I go to the outskirts into more rural areas, I will have to wear it. I am fully covered otherwise, though -- ankle length pants/skirt, and long sleeve below-the-knee shirts. I am going to the bazaar this weekend to get a shalwar kameez and matching chador so that I look a bit more like folks around here.

I am slowly picking up some Dari (the Persian they speak here). I haven't gotten sick yet (inch'allah, i won't!). I like the food in general although it is super super greasy. I am not over the poverty. I am not used to the pasthun women begging with their children in the street, knocking on the car windows as you try to make your way through the impossible traffic (no traffic rules as far as I can tell -- no lanes, no restrictions on turns, no stop signs -- everyone just fights it out). I hope I don't "get used to it," I hope I don't stop being moved and saddened by their reality and my inability to change it for them. I am also not over the whole I can't go out walking alone thing. So prohibitive! But it is too dangerous for a woman, especially an American woman, to be out in the streets unaccompanied. Ah, well.

Nassim is having a party for her birthday over at her place. I'm going over with Jackson and Cristi.

below is a photo of me and Jackson and Cristi from the party:

I guess that's it. Not too exciting, which I think is good! Hopefully I will never have exciting news to report!


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