The Get Away

The past week has been an anxious one. I woke one morning to find Chagcharan and the surrounding mountains draped in snow. An exhilarating change of scene but at a time when I was plotting my departure – from Ghor and shortly afterwards from Afghanistan – an unnerving reminder of the possibility of getting stuck.

The airstrip was closed for a day or two, the possibility of hitching a ride in a car to Herat fell through, and I was getting rather worried as I tried to finish off all the work I could before my planned flight out. And much though I love being in Ghor, tired, worn out and longing for a break, I was bloody keen to get out too.

I have become slightly superstitiously nervous about packing my bags; too many flights have been cancelled even in good weather. As we got to the airstrip this time it started snowing again. As the cloud eased its way down the distant mountains towards us I steeled myself to the likelihood of hearing an airplane approach, circle invisibly overhead, think better of it and fly back to Kabul.

Instead it landed and whisked us off, jolting and sliding through the icy clouds. Back to a Kabul now encircled by snow streaked mountains. Back to the now familiar but still sinister rows of Mig fighters, bulbous grey cargo planes and vicious helicopter gunships of the Afghan military, parked up at the airport.

It has been an anxious, exhausting week and now back in Kabul I feel as overwrought as my writing, just without the grammar holding me together. For some reason, when I got back to my Kabul home I decided to cut my hair. I started hacking randomly away at it with a blunt pair of scissors before remembering the cheap clippers I had bought previously were broken, leaving me with the tufty head of a partially singed porcupine. I then decided to have a shower, knowing there was no hot water but not fully grasping the significance of that fact until I poured the first icy bucket over my head. Now, as if to prove to myself that I’m not altogether with it and really do need a holiday, cold and wearing a hat, I’m writing this blog.

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