I remember saying something like, "Is there a problem with the car?" even though I knew, for certain, that there was a problem with the car.
I remember thinking something like, "This is not the kind of place where you want to break down."
It was well past noon, and we'd already been properly broiled while sitting in 90 minutes of chaotic Kandahar traffic that viewed the two-lane road through the desert as more as a general directional guide and, even then, it didn't seem to provide many drivers with a whole lot of direction.
We were already half-an-hour late for our interview with the Kandahar governor, and now it looked like we weren't going to make it at all.
Angry drivers honked their horns and zoomed past us as impassive shopkeepers on the side of the road waited to see what might happen to us.
"There is -- what do you call it? -- dirt in the fuel," said my Kandahari colleague as the driver helplessly pumped the gas pedal of our beat-up Corolla.
This was of little comfort.
Fortunately, we were on the bomber's highway in the heat of the day -- not prime bombing time. Bombers usually seem to favor dawn, before the day gets too hot and you just want to be inside, out of the dead heat.
Assassins, though, zip around Kandahar on their motorcycles looking for targets any time of day.
My Kandahari colleague had been making sure as we drove around town to point out the site of each recent attack: Here's where the district governor of Arghandab was killed a few weeks ago. This is the ruins of the USAID compound destroyed by a car bomb in April. That's the bridge they bombed in March when they hit the NATO convoy...
Oh, and, this morning they killed some government worker a block away from where you're staying.
All things considered, it seemed better at this moment to have a working car instead of a broken one.
That's when the transmission took hold.
We drove, albeit tentatively, to the governor's office -- which seems more like a quiet Ivy League library than a bustling government center -- where we learned what we already knew: The governor was off to help plan the battle for Arghandab.
If we wanted to see the governor, we'd have to meet him in Arghandab. Soon.
We rushed out of the governor's compound and onto the streets of downtown Kandahar to search for our driver. Who was at the garage getting the car fixed.
As we puttered down the street in the back of the purple auto rickshaw on streets that American forces patrol in intimidating armored convoys, I thought, "My editors would probably prefer that I not be doing this right now."
We cruised past the old farmers with their wooden carts piled with neat rows of grapes (red and green), and some of the season's first figs. Eight-foot-tall sunflowers arched over groups of Kandahari men taking a break from the afternoon heat in the city's lush downtown parks.
The driver shouted something at one of the farmers, who lunged from his cart and grabbed hold of the rickshaw as we rolled past. The two of them teased each other like the old friends they were. Then the farmer let go and jumped off.
In no time at all, our rickshaw ride was over, our car was fixed and we were headed off in our Corolla to Arghandab to watch Afghan and NATO officials plan the unfolding fight to rout Taliban forces in the valley.