Pass a large tank graveyard; pass nomads living in tents. No one for miles, landmine markers everywhere, red or white stones - - hiked up and down many - - my translator claims it's a bit of a job making scheme - - Halo Trust is a major one here - - to keep them employed. Scores of houses over and over again with large white check marks on them indicating they've been cleared for mines. Minute by minute mind boggling things rushing by you out of windows, on streets.

I talk to two boys practicing Chinese martial arts around a massive drained Olympic size pool. Only a picture would do here -- the diving boards still towering, it's too odd and haunting, I can't explain it.

In an eatery there are kabobs on skewers and naan slapped on the floor while a little pigeon in the corner trots around.

I walked down a street that looks like it's out of Hunts Point- - store after store selling auto parts.

Hundreds; massive lines outside of the Iranian embassy.

Look at one place to stay the nite, across from us there are hooves and meat parts scattered on the cement floor, man in there is smashing away with an ax or hammer, look upward and there's a big meat hook hanging from the ceiling in the hallway.

Many places have no running water, you're dipping pitchers into a barrel for hand washing, to wash down waste in these squat over porcelain holes.
More naan slapped onto the floor. I'm eating everything, said fug it, no way to keep hands clean, stomach clean.

Along the road, outside of Kabul, every NGO is walled up or non-existent, every place turns us away at the gate or they're not there or the phone number is dead - - physical signs of projects everywhere, but abandoned, never started, scared, I don't know what's going on, not sure anyone does - - received incredibly warmly by mostly everyone, though there are some mind games, truth playing, bullying but maybe it's a hazing thing.





OPTIONAL READING ABOUT THE DYNAMICS OF A FOREIGNER AND
A FIXER/TRANSLATOR INTERACTING

"Yes, I'm willing to die and laugh about it just like you, cross the river on the slippery slats makeshift bridge with a heavy backpack; don't slow down, don't hesitate, don't say whoa or ask for or get offered assistance or are you good - - so what if I fall in, no way I'm gonna get malaria, just don't think about it and it won't happen, be a man, be a soldier."

Who-suffered-more-competition. Then there's money and maybe nationality and foreign aid, or trust, broken promises, but there's also some bonding and caretaking, taking my hand in his and taking care. It's very tricky and hard to understand - - give him the benefit of the doubt and take in many sincere "they destroyed my life...put my father who knows nothing old man in prison... took our daughters, sisters."

Old man taking care of me, speaking to me in pidgin German, me answering in pidgin German; I'm paranoid about accidentally dropping in a Yiddish word. He's talking wistfully about the good old days when hippies came to Afghanistan and they played guitar and he joined them with his instrument (but the guy of the couple had a hash problem). Back then if you were a guest they wouldn't take your money at stores, you couldn't buy things - - he said en shallah maybe in the future it will change. He's Faruq the 58-year-old driver, strong as anything - - reminds me of Sumi's mother and I treat him with the same politeness. He's my best friend, the kindest man I met so far.

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