Monday, September 04, 2006


Making the approach to the airport in Kabul, one flies past jagged toothed, snow capped mountains that look as desolate as the face of the moon. Below the snowcaps is a dry and barren slope leading to a dust covered valley. It is little wonder that finding someone in these mountains can be virtually impossible. It seems like every valley could swallow you up forever.

Landing at the airport in Kabul offers a much more social experience. It was reminiscent of arriving in Port-au-Prince or many other developing nations. A large number of people squeezing into a constricted place with systems ill-equipped to process the amount of traffic that multiple international missions can generate. Even newly installed high-tech passport readers seem to operate at their own pace or perhaps it is they just ever present coating of dust that makes eight or ten passes through the reader necessary.

The streets of Kabul are dry and dusty and colors seem to fade in the intense sun and heat. Even the dominating mountains, which should look majestic from the city, sit in a muted haze. Traffic is chaotic, testimony to the apparent abundance of petrol, the presence of so many internationals and the enterprising nature of the locals. As I sit in my seat, flying through traffic in a jet lagged state, my consciousness adjusts to the familiar chaos of war turned to fragile peace.

While my movement is restricted, I am pleasantly surprised at the opportunity to enjoy magnificent hospitality and local cuisine in the home of an Afghan American family returning to their former country to work in the reconstruction. Another pleasant surprise is an Italian restaurant, run by a Croatian couple, that served a very acceptable pizza. My previous experience with the Italian tourist influence in the former Yugoslavia is that fine pizza is available from Zagreb to Pristina. This tradition seems to have found its way to Kabul.

I look forward to Friday, the traditional Muslim day off, when I will have the opportunity to shop in a bazaar and collect my hoard of souvenirs. An Afghan Christmas is in the offing. (August 30, 2006)


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