August 19, 2011

Welcome to Kabul: #Kabul, #Afghanistan,

First impressions are always a little complicated.  Sometimes they are perfectly accurate and sometimes they are completely off-base.  In a place like Kabul, it can be far more difficult to know if such impressions are remotely accurate.  (Unfortunately I lost my camera or it was stolen from my luggage, so I cannot supply any photos at this time.  However I will certainly add more later).

The only thing I can say about Kabul is that each space is loaded with inconsistencies.  A street corner might contain children playing, old men talking, a successful business, an armed security guard, goats on the street and a new glass building.  The greatest danger is that it generally doesn't feel dangerous, yet war manages to permeate the landscape.  Not through obvious means - the buildings are not riddled by bullets etc., but rather, each building is so heavily fortified and the pretense of security dominates.  The sense of risk and aggression is 'omni-present' rather than 'ever-present,' whereas war saturates all things merely as atmosphere and does not otherwise obstruct or become manifest in daily reality.

There were some explosions today and one was audible from my house, yet it didn't actually change anything. Life carries forward for all those who do not take part in the conflict, which is ultimately the majority.  Consequently, the greatest threat I believe one could have is to become complacent and become lulled into a sense of safety and thus be arrive at the wrong place at the wrong time.  After all, safety is not a feeling, it is a condition and the best determination of security is not to measure one's feelings, but rather to vigilantly assess and monitor the surrounding environment.  Even more so, to pay attention to where one is located and how one interacts in that environment is critical, because there are always ways to adjust personal behavior to mitigate threats before they happen and to reduce the potential for threats to become actions.

As time goes by, all such things will be in flux, and so will my understanding of this city.  Yet based on the last 24 hours, if I have one goal, it is to always remain vigilant and objective as long as I continue to make this my home.