Snow in the Panjshir and the City Wall

29 11 2009

On the way up the city wall in my new sheepskin waistcoat

A trip up to the city walls was blocked half-way by a Police checkpoint. Firstly the sergeant told us it was too dangerous with mines but on questioning his commander, by phone, confirmed that it is just forbidden. This is because the rockets that landed in town were almost certainly fired from the city wall. In the days after the last rocket attack the sky was buzzing with Chinooks and their Black Hawk protection dropping these steel containers onto Kabul’s ridgelines. How long this exhilarating route will be out of bounds is anyone’s guess.

Eid day sermon on the city wall overlooking Kabul

Making the most of our long-weekend holiday four of us headed to the Panjshir Valley to see it in a different light. This was my third visit to an area that has recently been regarded as safe territory even in the most troubled times. It was good to see it in the snow although the Massoud memorial has not progressed as far as I would have expected.

Old Russian guns pointing up the snow-lined Panjshir Valley

A US convoy passed and our German colleague got a too little excited and jumped out of the car to get a better picture of the passing troop carriers. The US commander, probably enjoying his weekend drive through the safest part of Afghanistan, didn’t like this and pulled up to remonstrate. When our German friend failed to take heed the sergeant jumped out of the second vehicle cocking his rifle in the process. Cameras were put away and we all headed on to Kabul.

House in Panjshir village with a minaret behind. The top of the wall is finished with old artillery shells which is imaginative

Higher up the snow is more even and makes the valley begin to look like the Great Glen in Scotland except that the sense of battles past are fresher.

Life has been pretty quiet since Karzai’s inauguaration except for a report of two IEDs that went off the day we were in Panjshir.

No doubt our police friends on the ridge line have something to do with the drop in rockets attacks.

I enjoyed my first ever thanksgiving dinner at a friend’s house. Roast turkey and the works with pecan, pumpkin and banoffee pies to follow. A present game where you can choose from the pile or take a present someone has already opened followed by watching ‘Charlie Brown’s Christmas’ made for a relaxing afternoon.

Home comforts indeed.

Duncan DJ