Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Under Attack!!

How's that for an alarmist title? Well it's misleading to say the least but it still seemed appropriate. Last night (3am) I kept hearing all these noises, sometimes it sounded (in my groggy state) like very brief thunder other times straight up gunfire. I found out this morning that it was actually a shootout between some terrorist and the Afghan Police/Army. It took place less than a mile from where I am which I guess should be unsettling but for some reason its not. I guess some of the reasons it is not particularly unsettling is that I have heard about violence in Kabul for awhile (though I haven't actually heard the violence itself), rumor has it these guys are linked to the attack on Karzi and the police found them and cornered them, they weren't after me, and there was almost no chance I would be caught up in it. Still its kind of surreal. For me the most difficult part of working in Kabul is having to take security into consideration all the time which means I (as I keep saying) don't get out much. Ironically the projects I manage are in a very safe area of Afghanistan (Central, called Hazarajat) where one can, and I have, walk anywhere one wants without fear.

I was walking in Bamyan, a province smack in the middle of Hazarajat, a few months ago and as often happens an Afghan (student) who wanted to practice their English came along and started talking to me. We came to a creek that we had to cross so I hopped across and he just left his bicycle in the grass along the edge of the creek (plenty of people around). I asked him if "that wouldn't be a problem?" and he said "what wouldn't be a problem?" apparently he was not worried in the least about someone stealing the bicycle even thought it probably cost 2-3 weeks salary for many people in the area. Yeah,
I'm hoping to get a job there next (assuming my next job is in Afghanistan).

If you want to see via satellite the approximate area where the fire fight took place (in Kabul) go here (Google maps). The fairly barren area to the right with a faint line going across it is a very well known mountain and the line is a very old wall built by a king way back when (not sure how way back though). I live about a mile west of this point. The houses at the base of the mountain are where Kabul's poor (not poorest) live. I have been around here and can attest that this particular area is not the nicest of mountain "settlements".