I feel very relaxed getting about this town. But to be sure I am always looking. Even when I don’t know I am looking. We were creeping through traffic today and in my peripheral vision a vehicle going the other way suddenly stopped beside us, with a slight screech of rubber. We were in front of an embassy compound. The guards react from reflex and weapons start to come up. In a faltering heartbeat pedestrians pause, wobble in their step, start to turn away. Every hair on my body snaps up and my scalp crawls as I register violent motion in the car between driver and front passenger and back seat passengers lunging in between them before they pass out of vision. I turn to the right and stare into the eyes of a woman carrying her shopping. She is waiting on the kerb for the traffic to clear and I think to myself ‘In a moment you and I will be orange flash’. But we are not and we crawl on. I watch the guards, over her shoulder and on the other side of the street to gauge the level of threat rather than twist around to look at the car. They ease their weapons down and hands carefully slide back from trigger guards and then we turn left and are away. I look at Ali at the wheel. If he was aware of the moment of tension he doesn’t let on. My colleague has his chin cupped in his hand as he gazes out the window. I suspect it all happened under his nose without him seeing. Or he has been here too long! I’m relaxed and find myself grinning and checking the street. The orange sellers sell. The mechanics mend. The painters paint. The sweepers sweep. The women shop. And the kids scamper on. It has all taken milliseconds but wound out in slow motion. It’s good to know the senses are in tune and old skill sets at play, but if those boys really were up to no good no amount of street savvy would protect us from oblivion. It’s good to feel alive. Very alive today. Thank you.
Diary 9 March 2013