Monday, 24 September 2012

Rain and Spider Bite

(Originally on 7 September, 2012.)

It's been raining today. The arid nature of Afghanistan probably rejoices. It can be observed also from the chawkidars, whom the rain has made loud and talkative since the small hours of the night. They also played Persian or Dari pop. Dari is one of Afghanistan's two main languages, and actually it's the Afghan version of Persian. I've started studying it. The chawkidars also gave their wet bread to the Tree Sparrows, who are now filling their little stomachs.

To be within a yard surrounded by high walls when the rain drums various surfaces and the locals chat endlessly brings Ethiopia to my mind. In other ways too, Afghanistan and Ethiopia share a lot in common, more than for example Afghanistan and Syria share in common. Both Ethiopia and Afghanistan belong to the poorest countries in the world. Both Afghans and Ethiopians are culturally conservative and extremely proud. Conflicts with neighbouring countries as well as persistent ethnic tensions within their countries are commonplace in both. Both countries are ruled by elites that seem quite unmoved by the anxiety and poverty of their citizens. They prefer filling their own pockets from the foreign helpers and send their kids to fine foreign schools while most of the populations remain illiterate.

Something bit me yesterday. On the side of my palm, two symmetric holes appeared quite next to each other, the hand swelled, turned burning hot and the holes turned brown. I never saw what bit me - there are so many mosquitoes here - but judging from the holes I assume it was a spider. Luckily it doesn't appear to have been a hobo spider or a black widow, because by the time the medical kit had been found, the swelling had gone down. At least the poison wasn't very strong stuff.

Over the last weeks Kabul has witnessed some more passage of hirundines, mostly Barn and Red-rumped Swallows, as well as Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters in a couple of days. I have also seen a couple of Hume's Whitethroats, in addition to the more common passage migrant Lesser Whitethroat. The local birds like Palm Dove, Rose-ringed Parakeet, House Myna and Common Magpie occur on a daily basis. The magpies are of the same species as in Europe, while the parakeets and mynas represent a bit more exotic birdlife - yet probably at the edges of their actual natural range.

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