Monday, 16 November 2009

Quick Compartmentalization

I'm approaching my first week here in Kabul. It's been filled with all the expected first impressions of a foreign conflict zone: the layers of military security and precautionary protocol; the motley crew of bacchanalian expats, myself among them; romantic notions of Afghanistan's storied past, rugged terrain, defiant people.

Coming from a nugget of truth, cliches serve as a shorthand and ought not be dismissed outright. But it's still worth being mindful not to slip into these the well-trodden pitfalls without at least of bit of resistance.

This week's evenings have been spent meeting dozens of aid workers, diplomats and journalists, and a few elusive security contractors. The days on learning how to navigate the city enough to feed myself and exerting mental energy on figuring out exactly how I'm supposed to make rent. It's going to take some time to understand exactly what's going on here, how things function, and who's who.

While still getting settled, events continue without me. A military convoy was bombed Friday morning (a friend said he heard his windows rattle), only a few days ahead of President Karzai's inauguration this week. I'm told most of the city will be even more locked down than usual for the event. Offices will be closed, roadblocks will choke the city, foreign staff's mobility will be restricted to a few secured locations and curfews are to be tightened. Still without a presspass, I'll likely be doing the same.

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