Friday, January 15, 2010


Afghanistan is a land of dust. It is the universal thing which seems to be a common ground, so to speak, for this entire country. Usually people think of sand in this part of the world, but I have seen very little real sand. This soil is very different than sand. Sand has a larger particle size and is therefore heavier. It takes a significant amount of wind energy to suspend sand in the air. That is not the case with the dust here. A light breeze is all that it takes to make a lasting cloud of obscuring dust. The light fine loam that passes for topsoil here covers the surface of everything in short order. You can literally clean floors every day and get a good yield of dust each time. As I have passed by vendors of bread, fruits and butchers shops I can't help but wonder how much dirt is on the surface of anything exposed to the air, especially along a busy road. I am guessing it makes up a significant portion of the dietary intake of your average Afghan. Here at Bagram there is much more dust than I am used to at Camp Spann. I am sure the constant traffic of helos, jets, and heavy equipment contribute greatly to the cloud of dust which is constantly in the air here. If not for the clouds of dust (ghobar in dari) Bagram could be a beautiful place with some picturesque snow covered mountains in the distance. But no amount of effort by any force will control the dust in this arid land. It is just another part of the character of this country.
Another dari dust word is Khaag bad, or dust storm (when they hit they can come in fast and give an eerie lighting much like an eclipse.)
I am sure that from now on Afghanistan will come to mind when I hear the ancient phrase 'dust to dust'.

1 comment:

  1. Happy Birthday, Neal!

    I'm really proud of you and have been watching your blog daily. I think both Afghanistan and America are better for what you've done over there. Danielle and I are toying with plans to go out & visit this spring once you're back.