Resuming transmission

The last month has involved, in this order, me stabbing myself in my thumb knuckle, deeply, striking bone and rupturing the capsule and rendering me 9 fingered (temporarily); a nasty burn on my calf being the result of a hot water bottle (pathetic, I know); and a sense of being inflated by a bike pump, and a lot of time spent in the bathroom. And being really, really tired. And uncreative.

But things are looking up. Megan the wonder surgeon (taking over from Ken the super surgeon) sewed up my thumb on a Friday afternoon at the kitchen table as I held the torch (power went out as she made the incision). And here’s a tip: locally bought lidocaine is about 30% as strong as it should be. That is, it wears off after 20mins rather than two hours. Or, more precisely, when the surgeon is still stitching.) The leg burn wound thing is healing. Etc. And it is turning to Spring. A few markers of this: it is raining, not snowing. I have stopped wearing long-johns. I have stopped wearing mittens. I have moved back into  my office at work (rendered uninhabitable over winter by the freezing temperatures, the leaking roof and the freezing temperatures. And the leaks.) We have stopped heating our home 24/7. The snow is melting. We played soccer and threw balls around in the yard and  it was great.

Interestingly, today as I walked to work, some guys in a Technical drove past.

example of a Technical.

Ostensibly, I suppose, they were guarding a VIP. But it was identical in appearance and form to Taliban times, and it prompted in me an internal conversation about evidence of real changes over the last 10 years. There was a Government then – as now. Both are seen by a large proportion of the population as illegitimate or propped up by foreign regimes (Saudi/ USA). Both had or have limited power outside of Kabul. Both tried or are trying to win loyalty and support from – or at least create cohesion in, a country that is still not a nation, and where ethnic and tribal links are far more deeply rooted than any kind of allegiance to a central power. Neither has done anything much to improve the rights of women or ethnic minorities. Security under both has been terrible; arguably better under the Taliban. Both stimulated very piecemeal/ ad hoc/ ineffective economic and foreign policies. Ministries are run by commanders and warlords in both cases; both have been hostage to the religious power-brokers. I’m not arguing things were better then; but I don’t thing things are much better now. Not in an enduring sense. This is not what you could call a robust, well rooted, popularly-supported Government, not a Government with effective control and reach, not a country that is united and cohesive, not functional, not secure, not maturing. Not yet.


5 thoughts on “Resuming transmission

  1. Hi Phil,
    I read your book ‘From Under a Leaky Roof’ about 3 years ago after discovering that my neighbours in Brisbane were refugees from Afghanistan. Since then I have moved back to Sydney and I have been visiting Hazara refugees at Villawood IDC in Sydney for the past 15 months with the Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group.
    I was wondering if you could send me an email and give me some advice.
    A friend of mine who has been in detention for over 2 years has family in Kabul. He is concerned about one of his young siblings (14 years) who is very ill with heart problems. I have tried Red Cross and Medecins Sans Frontiers to get some help but so far nothing has worked out. I was wondering if you could advise if there is anything else we can do, anyone else on the ground in Kabul who might be able to help.
    Mary Arch

  2. …nor the road to chicken street…
    hope you’ve been back for a kebob in that funky little place though. thinking of u mate, love k

  3. Hi Phil,
    As an Afghan who has gone through the last 30 years of conflicts, I found pragmatism and rationalism in your writing about Afghanistan. What you mentioned about the growing anger in “Why the military needs to leave Afghanistan” pointed out the sad consequences of anomaly in economic and social growth in Afghanistan. You are right that Afghanistan is not just a part of Kabul or Mazar city. When people see injustice their sense of revenge of economic and social unfairness will lead them to stand behind those who even harm them at the end.

    • Thanks for the comment, Sab-jan. I think you are right, and it worries me. I think there are troubling times ahead.

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