Thursday, March 26, 2009

Green City

Deh Subz means Green City, and it's named so for all the grape vineyards that grow here. The best green grapes and raisins in Afghanistan come from here, and our driver was in the middle of a sentence about the excellent soil quality when we noticed military police lining Pacha Sahib Street, the main road east out of Kabul center. When we turned right onto Deh Subz Road, the line of force kept going--MPs perched in the back of Toyota pickup trucks, mounted machine guns at the ready.

In a city where ISAF, Operation Freedom, and Afghan forces (and all the tanks, military vehicles and guns that go with them) are such a constant presence, this might not seem like a big deal. But this was different, and we could all sense it.

"Today there is much security," our driver said. "There is danger."

The danger is Tarakhel, the village in the center of Deh Subz District. Tarakhel is known as an area where terrorists and organized criminals roam. At a time when kidnappings are on the rise across the country--and most go unreported--Terakhel lays claim to one of the best known crimes: In October 2008 a former presidential candidate and the son of a wealthy banker were thrown in a narrow well and given a small tube to breathe. Three weeks later they were rescued, and news articles said they'd been found in a safe house.

During the day, tanks drive by the school, clogging the entire dirt road as they pass. By the end of the day, though, there's not a soldier or military policeman in sight. We haven't been able to get any news about what happened. Nor do we know why there was a mob gathered around the family entrance of the War Victims' Hospital.

Back in Kabul, we go apartment shopping. We learn from Razia Jan, our host, "We have to move before you leave." I'm having trouble uploading pictures, otherwise I'd show you my "Moving Day" series... the house where we're headed moved out today, and all the furniture was packed up on wooden carts and pulled by an old man down a busy street.

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