Today is general election day in Canada. While in Maymana, I am following the live results closely on the Globe and Mail website, slightly aghast at the proximity of the conservatives to the 155 seats needed for them to form a majority government. The Greens have 0 seats thus far, but the NDP is making good headway with 32 seats at this point. Still a few hours to go before all the polls are in. In the Moncton-Riverivew-Dieppe riding, I am disturbed by the close race between the reds (38.5%) and the blues (36%). Alison Menard is sitting with 8.8% so far.
So, here I am in Maymana. I arrived three days ago and have spent my time here refamiliarizing myself with the city with walks everyday, shopping and visiting old friends and colleagues. The city has changed quite a bit, but it is still a comfortable place to be. Major roads are paved and there is now constant power in the city. Having electricity changes life here dramatically--shops can play music, shopkeepers and tradesmen can use their power tools without generators, homes are lit at night across the whole city, except, notably, in the IDP camp just outside the airport. I notice a big different at night--I used to sleep on the roof, falling asleep only to a chorus of barking dogs. Now, I am kept awake by cars driving by and voices all around--the people of Maymana are much busier during the night hours than they were in 2005. Construction is booming in the centre of the city--a new 3-story wedding hall has gone up across the road. Homes all around us are being renovated, and the bazaar is buzzing with the sound of power saws and welding tools. This is a busy time of year as Afghans across the province (and, indeed, across the country) are preparing for winter, which tends to set in around mid-November up here, particularly in the more mountainous areas.
Still, Maymana remains familiar. Gawdi's, the horse-drawn carts, still make their way through the roads with their bells jingling at every step. The back roads are still dusty and quiet, with children running and playing in between their chores. The bazaar days, Monday and Thursday, are bustling and as energetic as ever. The men in the carpet bazaar are still as warmly persuasive as they were 3 years ago. And, importantly for the foreign female making this her regular haunt, Afghans in Maymana are curious but generally leave you to your own business as you do your shopping or wandering. This adds significantly to the quality of life here--knowing that you can go out and not be swarmed by beggars, followed by anyone or leered at is a very big advantage to living in Maymana.
The next few days will, hopefully, be filled with meetings with provincial and district authorities. Hopefully by this time next week I will have a solid idea of which district I will work in, and I can then begin to communicate with communities and their leaders to determine who is willing to work with me over the next 11 months.
And so, until next time...