What does daily life look like in Afghanistan? It's something we rarely see despite more than a decade of U.S. military involvement.
I'm filing from Kabul, where I will be for a few more days before heading south to Kandahar province. In the capital, there seems to be a resilience gained from decades of conflict.
Here you'll find a culture that is alive and thriving. The city nurtures a micro-economy of independent businessmen and women, buying, selling and trading wares.
Thousands of shop owners open their doors for business every morning. The money-changers and cart-pushers take to the gritty streets. It is a vibrant confluence of merchants and customers doing business in both traditional and newer ways.
Kabul is better off than anyplace else in Afghanistan, yet hardship is visible on the streets. Elderly men in tattered clothes and women in dusty blue burqas beg for money as they float between the passing cars.
The city's population is swelling with an influx of people from the war-stricken, impoverished countryside. Traffic here is mind-bending. Security is everywhere, all the time: a reminder of the never-ending threat of an attack.
Yet life goes on — even in the face of an uncertain future.
Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.