It’s been all about dispositions and moods and sentiments and atmospheres and getting a feel for things. That applies to more than just the weather, which has been completely up and down and all wonderful, but unsettled and unsettling. But finally the consensus (a really just a dire hope) is that winter has finally broken.
Though we all know what’s coming, and this past week, it really seems like it’s already come (see Pumukl’s round up, and Hamesha’ last post), my coworker, who has been in and out of the country since the fall of 2002, was finally saying that the mood has really shifted. It’s odd and disappointing to see how much he talks about how hopeful the mood was when he first came, and he was even still hopeful last year, even after the May riots, as he hoped that would be a wake up call. So far, it seems like it wasn’t.
As I’ve said before, the donor side talk/rhetoric seems to have been improving and seeming more realistic. But the reality of this place is catching up to them. And the mood of the common Afghans (from my very limited/skewed sampling) is shifting markedly more than it did in the past year, and in a different way. It’s like a worsening is a foregone conclusion and now people are just waiting for things to get worse before they can get better. It seems like the only question really is how worse that worse is. Our two cooks, who are brothers, were telling me, in a markedly melancholic and longing manner, about how peaceful their home village is in the summer, and wishing I could come see it.
What was obvious about the discussion, though me coming to see their village was a sincere desire on their part, is that it was really about the escapism to their old life there.
I’m surely conflating and projecting a lot of my own mood and feelings about leaving here on all that’s going on around me and the conversations I have. But there is a different sense of things going on here. I remember the conversations after the May riots, and the cooks and many others bemoaned the event and the reaction on the part of Afghans, calling them delinquents and looters and people just capitalizing on the event for their own ends and venting. But the riots in Jalalabad got no such treatment.
The only thing the younger cook/brother talked about was what happened. And the bombs dropped on the houses. And the people simply being exasperated by the whole situation. Hamesha had it right when he referenced a “Sophie’s Choice”. Much as when the Taliban first took Kabul, that was the situation I gather many Afghans felt themselves in. Though the choice may not be the same, nor the result, as I don’t think the Taliban will come any where close to capturing Kabul. It seems like the situation is the same, if not the sense of things on the part of many more Afghans I’ve talked to. The sense of hope and even fear seems to be gone. Just exasperation.
And with work, it’s been that way for me to. (How is that for a completely trivializing segue??...and by that, I mean trivializing the situation of my Afghan coworkers, in case anyone was confused.) But more things are being knocked out, and the new music I’ve gotten my hands on recently has helped.