The drive took about 5 hours, weaving in and out through the mountains and through small road side towns. We stopped for snacks and lunch once and finally made it to the outskirts of Kabul. Once there I called a friend of a friend who’s number I was given in Dushanbe. She told me that the small complex that she and a few other friends lived in had an empty room that would be way cheaper than any hotel and that there was wifi too! At the sound of wifi I jumped at the opportunity and I made my way there with the help of a taxi driver. After finally making it there I met Catherine and was shown around the complex and my room. That evening I was invited for a little pizza night that all the guys were having and so I went along and met other journalists, photographers and NGO workers, from Australia and America. At the end of the night I was invited to come along to a project opening the following morning in the Panjshir province, that one of the photographers would be going to. Delighted to be seeing some more of Afghanistan as my trip was being cut considerably shorter and having the chance to see something I would otherwise never see, I accepted.
I woke up at 5.30am to a call from one of the guys telling me that the drivers had arrived early and that we would have to go in 10mins. I jumped up brushed my teeth and put on my boots, we went outside of the complex next door to meet the guys and jumped into the car. The drive took us a while out of Kabul and up the mountains eventually stopping opposite an emergency healthcare centre. Opposite was the orphanage the opening was taking place in.
We were treated to a few speeches one from the major of the province and the children in the center recited some poetry and sung. And there was even a little showcase of some child kickboxing which through us all a bit.
After, they cut the ribbon and we were served a massive lunch of rice, meat, spinach, salad and naan. Full from lunch we decided to have a walk around the area and explore the river running behind the center and the mountains. We somehow acquired a guide and he took us for a walk around. We strolled around, took some pictures and met a bunch of people interested to know where we were from. It was interesting to see this side of Afghanistan. A very surean and beautiful place despite all I was led to believe by everything I had read before coming into the country.
The next morning I woke up after crashing out in the evening to the news of a shooting that had taken place in the CURE hospital in Kabul not far away from where we were staying. One of the journalists had told me that she had gone to the hospital to inquire about some details.
After some breakfast I headed out making for the centre to have a look around and try to explore Kabul, determined now to let the awful news from the morning distract me. But it was hard to remove the thought of someone who was in a position of protecting people turning on innocent people, when every member of any security in Kabul has an AK45 in their hand. From supermarket security, hotel security to government building guards. Nevertheless I powered through and decided to check out some plazas and the main streets. I was, for a brief moment rejected entry to a shopping plaza and told to leave the entrance, as the attendant tried to usher me out he asked if I was Pakistani, after I told him I was in fact Indian my entering the plaza was suddenly allowed.
This has been a common thing in Afghanistan, since I crossed the border. A large portion of afghans seem to skape goat the Pakistani’s as the reason for terrorism in their country, they tell me that all the terrorists come from Pakistan but India are good friends. So the atmosphere in a town or in fact any place I am in whether it be a shop or house can suddenly become friendly or defensive, depending on whether they think I look Indian or Pakistani.