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The Ice Cream Man Cometh

Kabul: ice cream

What goes through your mind when you hear the jingle of an ice-cream van? Maybe it offers up the promise of summer – hanging out with friends, a chance to go where you want, when you want. But for many foreigners in Kabul – its both a symbol of freedom and a reminder of their relative captivity.

One of the features of life in Kabul – is the amount of time spent inside high walled compounds – a reflection both of local living norms and the preferred security setup of foreign organisations. For many a trip to the supermarket or local MOSS (Minimum Operational Security Standards) approved restaurant means arranging a driver and/or security personnel to shuttle you there and back – and as a consequence there’s a need for advance planning and on occasion waiting around for the right personnel to be freed up. For many/most foreigners in Kabul – there’s a clear distinction between life in here, and life out there with the border between the two manned by armed guards 24/7.

What does this have to do with the ice-cream man? When you’re inside the compound the one sound that cuts clearly through the Kabul haze is gradually approaching and receding jingle of the Walls ice-cream kart. Hand pushed – it takes a good quarter hour to pass and in the [redacted] compound where I’m staying and on this street at least – comes by up to five times per day.

The promise of summer is out there. Just not for you.