DAVID GREENE, HOST:
As a foreign correspondent, leaving your post can be a moment to reflect. Our colleague Sean Carberry is wrapping up two-and-a-half years as NPR's Afghanistan' correspondent. Sean took a walk around his neighborhood in Kabul and reflected on how this small corner of the city has changed.
(SOUNDBITE OF DOOR OPENING)
SEAN CARBERRY, BYLINE: First, you avoid stepping into the sewer trenches that line most of the streets of Kabul. And then there's the street which is actually paved. It wasn't when I first arrived here. It was dirt with craters so deep that small cars could seemingly disappear inside them.
(SOUNDBITE OF CAR HONKING)
CARBERRY: Coming to the end of the street, there's an old bakery where men sit on the floor all day long baking tasty loaves of bread. Across the street is a gleaming new four-story shopping center that was built since I moved here - inside, a grocery store, dress shops and a shawarma restaurant.
(SOUNDBITE OF SCISSORS SNIPPING)
CARBERRY: Next to the bakery is 22-year-old Hamid's barbershop, where I periodically dropped in for a trim.
HAMID: (Speaking foreign language).
CARBERRY: He says the neighborhood is much better thanks to the paved roads and renovated sidewalks. He says it's resulted in more business.
Around the next corner by a police checkpoint are two new multistory shopping centers and another under construction.
MOHAMMED ESSA: (Speaking foreign language).
CARBERRY: Twenty-three-year-old shop owner Mohammed Essa says as a result of all of this construction more wealthy people have moved into the neighborhood. Essa says the market area is more crowded than ever. While the neighborhood has come a long way since the time packs of stray dogs wandered the muddy streets, it's hardly Beverly Hills. There are still plenty of rundown old shops and the paint is already peeling off some of the new buildings.
(SOUNDBITE OF CONSTRUCTION)
CARBERRY: Still, there's constant construction on the street these days - constant as in all night long. One of the most famous restaurants in the city is on my street. Recently it hopped into a new compound across the street. The old lot was demolished and a new structure is going up. Given the depth of the foundation, I guess the new building will be five to six stories tall, which happens to be illegal for a residential neighborhood like this. But the law certainly didn't stand in the way of the other tall buildings that sprung up next to my house. Sean Carberry, NPR News, Kabul.