Things always look different from the ground. Mention Kabul and immediately people think of it being the most dangerous city in the world. Many of us lived totally normal lives without any security, which is one of the reasons I decided to write Dispatches, to explore a time and place that is already disappearing.
In some ways it reminded me of the last days of Saigon, a time written about in The Quiet American by Graham Greene or the Happy Valley set in colonial Kenya, which isn’t to say that many expats who lived and worked in Afghanistan were very dedicated to the people and the country.
Part of that dedication came from wanting to help the country change, to have it follow more democratic lines and bring equal rights and prosperity to the poorest nation outside of sub Saharan Africa.
I interviewed a young man about how he viewed the prospects of progress. He wasn’t optimistic. “This is a very conservative country,” he said, “the changes we want might happen….in 200 hundred years, but I doubt before that.”
100 People, 100 Places are a series of short dispatches to complement my latest book, Dispatches from the Kabul Café (Advance Editions, 2014)