Thursday, August 14, 2008

Why blogging in Afghanistan can be difficult

At times I have trouble knowing what to write about on this blog.  It's not for lack of material.  There is always some new experience, some difference in culture, some adjustment or some piece of news that I itch to share (and sometimes literally itch.  Have I mentioned that I am currently waging a war with bed bugs?  I'm winning).  Afghanistan has a lot going on that I want to write about.  The problem is that it is tough to choose what direction to go in.  I often find myself sitting at my laptop thinking "Where do I even begin?"  Between the new experiences and fun adventures there are a lot of hard topics and frustrating issues.  Moving here has put me into a very new context.  At times I feel like everything here is completely different.  Some of it just takes getting used to (like the call to prayer five times a day) and some of it I don't ever want to get used to (like seeing women ride in the trunk of cars because there isn't room inside the car with the men).  I really want people to get an idea of what life is like here, but somedays it seems that there is too much to even give a glimpse.  And that's where things get difficult.  How do I even begin to show and share this place that is so full of beauty, tragedy, misunderstanding, hopefulness and hopelessness?

My step-lady, Mary, used to make us do this thing at the dinner table to get us to talk about our day.  We had to share something funny, sad, good, bad, and beautiful that had happened that day.  Alison's were always great.  I think that on days when I feel that blogging in Afghanistan is too difficult, f.s.g.b.b. is a good way to share a little about life here.  So here it is for today:

Funny:  Although streets in Afghanistan don't have names, they are often known by what they sell.  Flower Street sells flowers.  Chicken Street used to sell chickens, now it's where you go to buy Afghan tourist items. . . business isn't so good right now.  Stationary Street sells stationary.  Today we ended up on Plumber Street, lots of porcelain and piping.

Sad: There are a lot of beggars in Afghanistan.  It's heartbreaking to see women in torn burqas sitting on the side of the road with a hand outstretched.  It's heartbreaking to see mine victims with missing limbs begging outside the Red Crescent (Red Cross) offices.  It's heartbreaking to see women carrying unconscious children in their arms while they beg and knowing that they probably dropped the child to illicit more sympathy.  These are all things I saw today while driving downtown.

Good: Our housemates are great and we are really enjoying sharing an apartment with them.  Last night we all sat out and enjoyed the cooler weather and tried to solve the problems of the world (we didn't succeed).  Today Sari and I went shopping as we're both in the process of building our Afghan wardrobes.  We are so glad that we live and work with people that are laid back and adaptable, just like us.

Bad: On Wednesday, three international aid workers and their driver were killed in the Logar province south of Kabul.  The Taliban have claimed responsibility saying they thought it was a military vehicle and that the women were soldiers.  The incident has caused increased tension and security within the international community throughout the country.

Beautiful: The dust has settled, the weather has cooled, the sky is blue, and it's supposed to rain tonight! These are beautiful things.


Ailsa said...

Well done, Julie. I'm glad you're sharing your stories even though it might seem futile.

When I read about the three aid workers killed earlier this week, I have to admit I was very worried for you. I'm glad you're okay, but I'm also so in awe that aid workers continue to stay in the region, especially while being targeted.

I do believe, though, that even the presence of aid workers is a step in the right direction toward solving the world's problems, because - aside from the actual work being done - you represent powerful resistance, which is hopeful.

Be safe.


Alicia said...

thanks for sharing what you did. You sound a little like someone who has just come back from a missions or overseas trip with just soo much to share, but no energy or words to even know where to begin. Only for you, this is real life, not just a quick glimpse into another culture. Anyways, share what you can, you already are painting such a great picture for us all!

So glad you are getting along well with your housemates, what a relief. My guess is that when you come back to the US you are going to be all confused when a street is named "Fig," or "Flower," or some other noun. Again, I do appreciate their system for naming streets/giving directions. Very practical.

Dara said...

i agree with you about the aid workers. it's really sad, and 2/3 were canadian women. it's heartbreaking to hear their husbands on the news talking about them and how they can't believe they won't ever talk to them again when they just did a couple hours earlier.

glad you're going to get some rain!

Kjerste said...

It's so hard for me to even imagine your life right now. Thanks for taking time to share a glimpse.

I can't even imagine mothers who are willing to drop their own children to gain sympathy from others. We live in such a sheltered world in the U.S.

The Exception said...

I don't think you should feel bad for the women that ride trunk. When there is no room in a car I always call "trunk". It is the best seat in a full car.