Going with the flow

Bike and vehicle traffic fill the streets of Kabul at dusk. (Photo by Alyssa Schukar/The World-Herald)

CAMP PHOENIX, Afghanistan — I’m really glad that at no time during this trip will we be responsible for driving in Kabul.

There are really no lane markers. Some of the roads have big chunks missing. If traffic signals or signs are out there, no one seems to pay much attention to them.

Traffic circles are everywhere — like the one the Americans here call Rob Reiner Circle because of the billboard of some guy who looks just like Reiner — and crazy intersections that mesh traffic together in ways that boggle the mind.

Pfc. John Asbach of Fremont, Neb. (Photo by Joseph Morton/The World-Herald)

“I compare it to a school of fish. That’s what it’s like out there on the roads in Kabul — it’s like fish,” says Pfc. John Asbach, 23, of Fremont. “You just go with the flow, literally, and if you don’t go with the flow, you’re going to have problems.”

Asbach said he seldom drove at home and has actually logged more hours behind the wheel here. Once he’s back, he’ll have to change his approach to driving.

I don’t think the Fremont police are going to accept “I was going with the flow.”

Actually, it’s not unusual to suddenly see an Afghan car coming the wrong way down the road straight at you. That’s what the Americans call “counterflow.”

Alyssa and I were out today visiting a police checkpoint with some of the Nebraskans, and I saw one car blithely slide into the side of another while merging. The police officer standing a couple feet away simply waved for them both to keep moving.

We’ve been told there really isn’t such a thing as car insurance here, so I guess there wasn’t much point in stopping.

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