Wednesday, July 14, 2010

City of dust

(It's a multi-post afternoon as work grinds to a post-lunch lull in the face of afternoon sunshine. Please do scroll down for further Bamiyan photos.)

Even the rain in Kabul smells of dust. As the first drops fall onto the evening streets, damping the alleyways and eventually running through the open gutters, an unmistakably mineral, earthy smell drifts back up into the air.

Dust pervades the city, defying weak human attempts to control its advances. Street-dirtied shoes might be left at the door, but the enemy drifts through open windows on teasingly cool summer breezes instead. It invades my breathing, prompting vigorous allergic reactions from my nose and lungs. Bicyclists in the city wrap scarves over their faces to filter the air, but I remain stupidly stubborn in leaving uncovered these few inches of socially-acceptable skin.

The frantic road-paving projects will certainly go unremarked by the diplomats at the Kabul Conference next week (though it is for these dignitaries that every street is currently half-destroyed), but the fervent hope protecting my sanity through every creeping construction-related traffic jam is that just maybe the morning commute will become clearer after all these thoroughfares are hard-topped.

This passing evening storm will temporarily tame the air, turning the streets into puddled mud-clay for a few hours all too brief. Then a dry breeze will pick up, bringing the finest, lightest particles to dust my room once again.

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