Friday, October 24, 2008

Dangers of Complacency

This week a woman working for a Christian aid group was shot to death near Kabul University. Her crime, according to the Taliban, was that she was "spreading Christianity." In reality what she specialized in was educating the disabled.

Her real crime was complacency. She got into a routine, taking the same route to work everyday at the same time and walked alone, probably because she felt safe.

It's easy to get complacent here in Kabul where Westerners are rarely greeted with a hostile glare and where the local merchants greet Westerners with enthusiasm. One simply doesn't feel threatened in Kabul.

While everyone knows that there are Taliban and Al Qaeda here looking for targets, the local people are so friendly and helpful that it is difficult at times to be cautious. I've been in neighborhoods in Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles and Newark where I did not feel as safe as I do in Kabul.

The house I live in right now is in the middle of town. We have Afghan families living right next door to us. Their chickens wander the sidwalk outside the compound. The street in front of our house is a poorly maintained two lanes which is frequently difficult to navigate due to traffic. We have a wedding shop, car repair shop, computer stores, beauty parlors, banks, restaurants, street vendors, and travel agencies across the street and around the corner. In other words, I live among them and I do not feel threatened at all.

That's where complacency can creep in. In part that is why I take so many pictures. By always looking for a good picture, my eye is constantly roving the crowd, looking for that which may be out of place.

A while back I posted a picture of this restaurant where the sign read "HeIty and Tasty." They've fixed it...sort of. It now reads "HeaIthy and Tasty" which is an improvement, but they are still using an uppercase "I" for the lowercase "l." The Dari script on the right side of the sign is a transliteration of "Afghan Fried Chicken" on the left, rather than a translation.

Shopping with dad.
Boy in modern clothes, dad in traditional clothes.

The never-ending supply of fresh produce.

These graves near Darulaman Palace are a new National Monument.
They are the thirteen members of Parliament who were killed by a suicide bomber last November.

The mountains to the south of Kabul.

Mountains to the east of Kabul with the demining camp by Darulaman Palace in the foreground.
Another reason these guys don't get attacked as much by the Taliban is that when that happens, the locals take up arms and avenge them.
So it is equally for good sense that the Taliban don't interfere with them too much.

You frequently see some very nice horseflesh on the roads around Kabul.

The guy on the left is selling phone cards.
Note the wad of cash in his left hand.
The young lad seemed to be trying to make change.

A dress shop on a little side street.
Such a sight would have been impossible in Taliban days.

Donkey love.
She didn't seem to be all that cooperative.