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There vs. Here

Kyrgyzstan, July 10, 2010

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There: I rode the N-Judah to work, which could take anywhere from 20-50 minutes depending on SF Muni's mood.

Here: My flatmate and I walk to work, playing “Frogger” as we cross the streets (jaywalking is standard here, but that doesn't mean drivers slow down).

There: I was cold. Cold getting out of bed, cold waiting for the N, cold in restaurants. I know, San Francisco is not the Arctic and you'd think after living in the Bay Area for nearly seven years I would have become acclimated. Not so.

Here: I am on sensory overload, in the best of ways. I'm constantly absorbing the city layout, while periodically hopping or sidestepping to avoid substantial potholes. It is warm and the air is dense. Some trees emit the scent of over-ripe, tropical fruit although they bear none.

There: I would read about civil conflict and atrocities occurring in far off places and wonder how accurate the information was.

Here: I solicit input from those around me regarding the recent conflict – curious about their perspective on the situation and how they are personally affected by it. I ask about the referendum and whether or not they voted. I have not yet had the chance to visit Osh or Jalalabad to see and hear with my own eyes and ears how people are feeling and reacting to the situation. When and if the opportunity presents itself, I will jump.

There: I've been meaning to put together an emergency kit – water, flash light, non-perishable food and all that jazz – in the event of a natural disaster. This would serve to hold me over until the assistance I assume would come, came.

Here: I try to imagine what I would do if my neighborhood were attacked by armed groups. If my friends, family and I were forced to flee rather than risk death, rape or other injury. Would I take refuge in a school? A church? A trusted community removed from the violence?

There: I was (ok, still am) rather self-righteous and sensitive to situations that seem unfair. Perhaps this has something to do with being a Libra and a middle child? I recall how angry I was when USPS didn't process my Change of Address request, which meant I didn't receive my monthly bus pass on time and was forced to purchase another one. After a month of stalking the post office and providing documentation of the situation, USPS finally cut me a check for $45.

Here: I’m left feeling angry at the injustice of it all. But I cannot simply write a letter and expect to receive just compensation.

There: Unfortunately, now that the supply of bloody and fiery photos has subsided, so has the media coverage on Kyrgyzstan.

Here: Despite the fact that Kyrgyzstan is quickly falling off the world's radar, Mercy Corps, Kompanion and other organizations are undertaking the arduous and complex challenge of assisting those who have been deeply affected by the violence in the south. Sadly, the topic of recovery activity, here and elsewhere, deserves so much more attention than it will ever receive.