John Patten
Photos from Afghanistan
This is part of the journal I kept from January 2002 until early 2003. I got there just before the
huge influx of agencies and people after the Taliban were removed and all was new. Everyone,
especially local Afghans, were adjusting not only to the change in the situation, but to the
entourage of foreigners in all our strangeness. It was very busy out in the mountains on surveys
for the last few months I was there, but I will try to add some of the experience from that time as
well. Some very personal parts have been left out, some other parts are very candid. Throughout
the journal the italic parts are my current additions now that I have time and distance away from
the situation. These are snippets from those moments in time and you will probably not agree
with it all. I know I don't, but sometimes people have to work through issues to find a voice, so
take it all with a grain of salt. People have different perspectives on different days. What I am
sure of is that collectively we don't know much and keep making the same mistakes without
learning from either our history or the people living the present situation. The photos in my mind
that went by in fast fleeting moments are better than the ones I actually got on camera.

I tried to make the journal as humourous as possible to keep my sanity and record the
observations so visceral to a foreigner in a land that most of us do not get to visit. However, the
horrifying events are still included and even now they evoke the emotions I felt when I was sitting
in the middle of it all. I would also be willing to discuss the passages I wrote concerning my take
on present-day Islam, because this was an overiding issue in the region. The importance of an
individual's religion to his life is often missing from the humanitarian dynamic. As an aside, I
recently went to France and loved it, so my jibes at the French humanitarians should be taken as
humour. Although, I defy anyone to change my opinion of most journalists and their industry.
Most seem incredulous to critical scrutiny and don't seem to get why many people around the
world consider it to be one of the most unethical professions around. What world news is not is
unbiased and factual reporting of world events. How can it be with their current structure and if
they don't travel throughout a country? I divided the journal into roughly quarterly-sized blocks
if you want to skip around to different time periods, but every month is there following the
Year 2002        Year 2003        Postscript