My mate over at the Transitionland blog has done a spot-on guide for what to wear for women (and men) in Kabul.
In the Autumn, Winter and Spring, I pretty much wear what I wear in London: skinny jeans, boots, tunic dresses and trenchcoat. But in the hot, sweaty Summer, she’s absolutely right: a shalwar kameez is your best friend.
Now and then, an old, defunct blog of mine receives a comment from spambots. Crafted to fool the blog’s systems into thinking they’re kosher, the automatic selection of words sometimes has a poetic, if surreal beauty to them.
I’m certainly not the first to notice this. The site www.spampoetry.org has been blogging these Zen-like gems for years.
Yesterday’s comment looks like some kind of erotic-Tao lesson:
Out! Gone. And I young lady the, forgo the bus, the old monkey around! Clara Hyummel kicked in anger nor gullible stool. My wickedness, Alya, overlooked! Underestimated. Your cock, it turns, much stronger than I thought. Escaped! Escaped and sealed the portal!
Knew, motherfucker, we kinemsya to repossess him. Has not regretted his forebear’s fetish, only acclimated to us astray pilfer!
Effective devoted, Clara, what do we do now? Moaned aunt Aglaia, his run in his hands.
Huge kitchens, weary traces of unbridled the latest battle sorceress a pair of dusky spots ardent on the walls, to Clara in the heat of thrust on the lightning, unshapely piles of dishes and utensils, swept from their seats, reared in a considerably corner of the whip plate.
On the ceiling crackers tossing some material it does not decamp, not a spider the make an estimate of of a cat, and his passing, Clara had created, and then some time sighting try fireballs.
What to do now? - Clara buhnulas in a stilted chair, with his leather-covered elk legs on the fare and began to squeeze up. - Do nothing, Alya.
He was presumably already in Meline. And there he finds himself. Archmage.
When attacks happen in Kabul, this is always the line that gets to me. For many, the fact that yesterday’s attack on a supermarket in Wazir Akbar Khan killed a number of foreigners is its most chilling aspect. It’s not for us to judge this harshly - people connect with what they know and the ex-pat community is a small, close-knit world.
For others, the targeting of civilians, whether foreign or Afghan is what makes this attack in a heavily-guarded, affluent part of town so disturbing.
For some, who believe the Taliban justification that the head of Blackwater/Xe was the target (there is no indication any Blackwater employee was there), it’s another infuriating example of foreign presence putting Afghans in danger.
I can see the truth and the reason behind all of these viewpoints. But it’s that line…’including one child’ that tears me up the most.
Finest has a few branches in Kabul but the targeted one I hardly ever visit, although it’s the closest to my work geographically. It has a cash machine, that foreigners often use and stocks a variety of imported foods - Italian cheese, British conserves and American snacks, making it an attractive destination for foreigners with Fridays off, while most Afghans are at prayer.
The area surrounding it hosts several embassies, the British being just across the road; several news agencies (Reuters and the BBC to name just a couple) and Eggers and ISAF military bases are nearby. It’s also home to many restaurants popular with foreigners and residential homes and guesthouses, owned by rich Afghans and, more often than not, lived in by foreigners.
The security in Kabul has often been spoken of as improving in the last year, in direct contrast to the rest of the country. The number of checkpoints (known as ‘rings of steel’) has increased and most shops and restaurants have armed guards. There’s also talk of a deal done behind the scenes with the Haqqani network - the insurgent group behind many of Kabul’s most brutal attacks.
Yet this man, this attacker and suicide bomber, managed to walk right into the supermarket and kill several people. It’s something that will profoundly disturb the international community, which, of course, is the aim of the Taliban. Many people will find their security details tighten. They won’t be allowed out as much and businesses in the area will probably suffer.
The relationships between local Afghans and westerners will go downhill and the security forces will be more jumpy.
But really, there’s very little you can do about this kind of attack. When you move to Kabul, you take that risk. If, indeed, you have that choice, unlike the small person who died yesterday.
It’s Legislative vs Presidential in Kabul. The MPs of the newly elected Parliament are demanding that the inauguration goes ahead as planned tomorrow on the 23rd, while President Karzai wants a month delay for his appointed special tribunal of the Supreme Court to investigate voting fraud.
Some MPs are threatening to go ahead and inaugurate Parliament without him, whether at the Parliament building or elsewhere, possibly at a Mosque in central Kabul.
The President is supposed to be flying in today from Russia and is expected to hold a press conference today.
This leads to an interesting dilemma for parties involved.
Does Karzai stick to his guns and insist on a month’s delay, thereby appearing strong (and appeasing the majority Pashtuns who believe they’re under-represented)? Or compromise and appear weak?
Do the MPs meet without the President, thereby effectively making a vote of no-confidence in their country’s leader?
Do the ANP/ANA stop MPs from assembling and stay loyal to the President or do they let them through and stay loyal to the state?
Do ISAF/UN/USA representatives and Ambassadors attend and risk alienating, even unseating Karzai? And if they do, what if it all kicks off in riots?
Whatever happens, two things are certain. I’ll have a camera there and somewhere, Abdullah Abdullah will be waiting in the wings.
And on the journey from the airport to home, I was flipped off by one ANP on producing an ISAF pass (despite my initial indignant anger, I thought ‘fair enough’) and by another in front of a new political billboard of a young bloke giving a peace sign, standing next to a big red crossed circle proclaiming, ‘no TB’! Taliban, I presume, although perhaps a stance against Tuberculosis.