A flock of white pigeons is flying over a square. In commemoration of a long ago victory over a British expeditionary force, they [the Afghans] had built a modest, square shaped, cupola-ed building, around which stood a collection of old English cannons. Kandahar – a city where fear and joy, luxury and poverty intersect, like [...]
Archived posts from category ‘Axe in Afghanistan ’07’
I’m not going to Kandahar after all. Despite checking with no fewer than five air services, I just couldn’t make it happen in time. Airplanes broke, flights got cancelled and I got stuck in Kabul. I’m still planning on flying to Tarin Kowt to visit the Dutch-Aussie reconstruction team, eventually, but in the meantime I’ve [...]
Our politicos have lumped the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan together under the same ridiculous “war on terror” moniker, but these are two very different conflicts. Most of Iraq’s major cities – Erbil and Sulaymaniyah in Kurdistan are the major exceptions – are nearly instantly lethal to unfortified foreigners. But I stumbled around Kabul in [...]
Axeghanistan Day Three: Fore!
Kabul has a golf course, believe it or not, out in the countryside around five miles from town, just past an old rusted-out Soviet tank. The course seems to consist of nine dirt “greens” with little red flags marking the holes. There’s no grass, naturally, this being Afghanistan, so every stroke is from the rough. [...]
1) Don’t get pissed off at the slow internet connection at your hostel. 2) Don’t tell the host that you’ll “find your own internet, thank you.” 3) Don’t get defensive when one of the hostel staff escorts you to the nearest internet café. 4) Don’t tell the staffer that you’ll make your own way home, [...]
Among the many things the Taliban prohibited – and punished with death – was homosexual behavior. But now the Taliban are gone and the Afghan gays are out, big-time. In rural Afghanistan, I’m told, openly gay relationships are now quite common. Marriages, even, insofar as elaborate ceremonies mean marriage. Many Afghans disapprove, but according to [...]
Axeghanistan Day Two: Roads, Stat!
Getting anywhere in Afghanistan is an epic struggle. The reasons? Mountains, the Taliban and decades of under-investment in roads. Kandahar, for example, is just a few hundred miles from Kabul: an afternoon’s car ride in the suburban United States. But until recently, driving to Kandahar from Kabul took at least a full day and was [...]
In Istanbul I was told that my Ariana Afghan Airlines flight to Kabul would be delayed five hours due to unspecified problems. I was peeved and not a little bit confused. Five hours? Even Delta does better than that. Then I belatedly boarded the Airbus 310 and suddenly everything made sense: there were big red [...]
Summer’s here, the sun is shining and the poppies are in bloom. You know what that means? All the Taliban fighters who had been hibernating in Afghanistan’s impenetrable mountains have emerged from their slumbers and are creeping down the mountains to visit violence on U.S. and NATO forces. In the south, British troops swoop down [...]