The Yonge/University line vs. Jalalabad Rd.

Thankfully I seldom take the TTC, but on the day I got back I had to hump my 3 backpacks (well, 1 rucksack and 2 backpacks) up to York U to teach a class. Not really enough time to go home, so after having a great breakfast at Aunties and Uncles I took the Streetcar, then the subway, then the bus to York.

Of my time in Kabul, the most potentially exciting events were the roadmoves. Small packets of armoured SUVs darting their way from one camp to another. Each roadmove began with a FragO (fragmentary Order) which would include threat assessments and actions to be taken if we came under fire. The most important thing to do was keep your eyes open. "look out, not in". This is an obvious way to help keep each other alive – by being aware of what is going on around you.

As we drove along, scanning the outside world for one Toyota Corolla that might be acting differently than all the other Corollas we'd also engage in small talk (or sometimes sit in silence), but it always felt like a collective endeavour.

On the TTC however, people look in while concurrently looking nowhere. During rush hour, it's headphones, daily newspapers, blank stares and napping. Essentially, riding Toronto Transit was the direct opposite of navigating Kabul. On a subway car full of people you might as well be alone. In an armoured SUV driving through downtown Afghanistan, the three people around you become, temporarily, your world and your lifeline.

* * *

I've noticed that when people ask me how the trip was, I am reluctant to talk about it. Maybe I'm just being greedy, wanting the experience for myself, at least until I get to produce a body of artwork from it. This reluctance is something that puzzles me and I'm trying to figure out.

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