Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Sounds of War

War mostly sounds like a generator, constantly growling in the background. This is punctuated not infrequently by trucks or humvees roaring by, with their rattling diesel engines and shouting occupants. Lots of shouting. Helicopters often fly overhead at what seems to me to be dangerously low altitudes, with their whoop whoop whoop sound. Like jet fighters, they always come in pairs. It gets so you don’t really notice it any more, which is good, as I tend to walk along thinking about being at home with my family.

Only occasionally does one come across the sound of gunfire off in the distance. You can tell the M16s from the AKs because the M16s make a quick popping sound, while the AKs sound more like what you hear on an old TV Western. I have trouble distinguishing the newer M4 carbines from the AKs though because the M4 uses a more powerful bullet than the M16. And of course, you cannot but notice the slow blam, blam, blam of a .50 caliber. You know things are getting hot when you hear that.

Inside almost every building the sound is one of air whooshing, a white noise caused by the ubiquitous air conditioners – I don’t know how we’d ever be able to fight a war down here without AC. And, of course, the squawk of telephones and radios (I have three on my desk alone). It gets so that you want to just walk off somewhere and find some peace and quiet, except there is no peace here.


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