Thursday, 9 October 2014

Still in Kabul!

The flight to the North proved somewhat eventful. I was travelling with Sayed Mukhtar, who we have known for many years and leads our projects in Takhar, and Leslie Knott, a Trustee and our film maker for the trip.  
The UN plane should have called at 4 landing strips before dropping us off at Faizabad. The weather was glorious in Kabul and the view of the city, so parched and dust drenched in the morning sun, could not have been clearer. The leathery spines of the arid mountains stretched to the horizon and all seemed remarkably well. But our first landing attempt at Maimana was aborted as the clouds came in and visibility was dramatically reduced. We were lucky to land at Mazar-i-Sharif, for a refuel.

There we awaited 2 hours for a window in the weather. We were told that the Faizabad stop was called off but that they would try and land in Kunduz, from where we could get a car up to Taloqan. They tried! It was a nerve searing attempt at landing. Visibility was nil and this time the clouds were stained a murky brown with dust and it was like flying through a giant puddle which had become muddied and turbulent by a disturbance in the water. The wheels came down and we still could not see land below. Then as I was beginning to pray we would abort, the nose of the plane went up and we headed back for Kabul. Bitterly disappointed. Today we have a recovery flight so we have one last opportunity to get to the villages as no more flights until Monday after this.

It is another beautiful day in Kabul. Once again I have that feeling of swimming in the sea and not having a clue what lies beneath the surface. This is how I always feel in Afghanistan. It seems so calm and yet beneath that calm, so much is going on. People are so determined to work, to have a meaningful present and a peaceful future, but there are so many malevolent forces beneath the surface, trying so hard to disrupt any hope of a better world. The sun is shining in Kabul and the garden is full of roses. But the compound is encased in high walls and wire. The security briefing is sobering. Last night I went to Leslie's house. The city was dark and just before we arrived, the side of the road was lined by pick up trucks with flashing lights and masses of heavily armed police. I asked my driver what it was and he said, probably some government party. I reflected that here instead of bring-a-bottle parties, they have bring-a-body guard! Forgive fact this scene served as a reminded of how lucky we are to live in a country free from fear and war and it was a relief to step through the bullet proof gate into the haven of a welcoming house.

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