Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban divides into at least two very different periods. It was only in 2004 that Afghanistan experienced its first suicide attacks. Before this, the war was not a war in today’s sense. Only after the slow but steady re-emergence of armed opposition groups this tool would be used with greater regularity. Living in and travelling through Afghanistan in the early period was a fundamentally different experience. Contact to the provinces was less of an obstacle. Terror, crime rates, abduction or even regional warlordism were at a low compared to today.
At the same time, Afghans seemed full of hope and were enthusiastic to engage in democracy. Elections and new institutions were not tainted with the negative connotations they bear today. People I encountered back then definitely carried a taste of the new freedom on their lips and in their eyes. For this period would soon reveal itself to be short lived and fragile.