Saturday, May 14, 2005


(c) Roger Leo

This city shows all the energy and bedlam of the Third World. Wild drivers who use the horn to say "Hi" and "I'm about to pass" and "Get out of my way" -- constantly. Bicycles everywhere, vying with horse- and handcarts for travel room. Street vendors selling everything from shoes to fresh potato chips -- cooked on the spot -- to vegetables to radios. So far the only sign of unrest is on BBC and online, and the presence here of a group of UNHCR workers who fled violence in Jalalabad three days ago. A mob ransacked and burned their quarters. They lost everything. (Another visitor was in Jalalabad that day, and saw no riots.) Today their security chief is flying back down -- Jalalabad is east of here, about four hours by car -- to see if they can return. A visitor to this teeming city played tourist yesterday -- palaces, historical sites, bazaar, museum, lunch in a restaurant -- and saw no hostility, much less rioters. It's a big place.


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