Letters from Afghanistan

The Times they are a-Changin'


Last night was an interesting experience for me. Wednesday night is Open Mike night at the Board Walk, so as the sound crew was setting up the stage for the improv band - French Air Force, Canadian Army, USMC and USAF - I sat at the French cafe and waited. Soon after, I was joined by two Bulgarian soldiers, and we began to chat about soldier stuff; how long our rotations were, how long we had to go, how many missions we had done, differences in equipment, etc. I took the C79A2 telescopic sight off my C7 and let them look through it, which they found quite impressive; Bulgaria's standard issue rifle is the AKM, dating from the early 1950s (it was an improved model of the AK47 - actual AK47s were not in production for very long) with fixed iron sights. And crude ones at that. So I imagine that looking through a telescopic sight with a self-luminous reticle was a novel experience. He in turn took out his 9mm Makarov pistol and let me play with it. It was not a difficult item to figure out.

We found that we were the same age - me being three months his elder, and had very much in common. And it occured to me afterwards how this was in spite of him having grown up believing that I was his mortal enemy, and vice-versa. In the space of less than twenty years, we had gone from preparing for all-out, possibly nuclear war with one another, to casually chatting over military shop talk, while participating in the exact same mission. It makes me realize that with enough will and effort, anything is possible, and no ethnic or linguistic chasm is too far to be bridged by those who are willing to do so.