Friday, October 30, 2009

Some Progress in Town...Inspite of Problems

We've had an exciting week here in Kabul. Since Westerners were killed, you likely heard about the attack on the Guest House where some UN staff resided. More on that in a bit.

A couple hours later we had a rocket attack. One rocket landed in the lobby of the luxury Serena Hotel in the center of town but didn't detonate. Lots of soiled underwear among the hoity-toity who stay there I'll bet.

We were also blessed with earthquakes this month. We had one on
22 October that measured 6.2, followed by a 5.8 to the southwest on
24 October and last night's 6.0, followed by a 4.2 aftershock.

We've also got a cholera outbreak due to heavy rains that are causing mudslides and soiling the water. Though that is mostly to the east of us, there are cases here in Kabul also.

Add the excitement to the east in Pakistan and the bad guys here trying to disrupt the runoff election and you have "high anxiety," at least among the Western media.

Now about the attack on the guest house. For me the picture below is a strong counterpoint to some asinine comments by a retired Sergeant Major over on "American Thinker" and some cheerleaders there who shared his stilted view. That view being that "all Muslims are evil" they "don't care about human life in Afghanistan" and "they aren't willing to fight." To those sentiments I say, pardon my French, "BULLSHIT!"

In the first place, two Afghan guards died defending the guest house occupants. There was a 10 - 15 minute gunbattle before the police arrived (probably a faster response time than in many US cities). Around these parts the security guys tend to run toward the sound of gunfire. That's a good thing.

One policeman died trying to rescue the UN staffers. As the Reuters picture below shows, an Afghan Muslim police officer is carrying a German on his back to safety. So much for "evil, don't care, won't fight Afghans!"

The weather is also changing more rapidly than last year. I've already mentioned the rains. Well, there's also more snow...a lot more. It's going to be a cold winter!

The snow has reached down near the 9,500ft line.

Now for the lighter side of progress...

Only the richest Afghans throw away anything that might be useful.
You never know when an old empty plastic jug might come in handy.
Yet these scenes are becoming more rare.

There's still some ruins about, but they are rapidly being torn down and replaced... new mansions.

I wonder which Bollywood star is going to live here?

Looks suspiciously like LA.

Even the less-affluent are getting into the building act.
This is one of many "cliffhouses" being expanded.

And the hillsides are getting a bit more colorful too!

And even on a day that saw a shootout and rocket attack
in the middle of town, the balloon guys were out in force.

They even found a buyer.
In a country where the next meal is iffy,
when you can spend money on balloons,
it's a sign that things are improving.