Adapting your Kabul social life and other pleasures

16 04 2010

Skiing in the Salang Pass in March

In an apparent attempt to put a little pressure on the foreigners or ‘Harijees’ the police raided a number of Kabul bars/restaurants confiscating alcohol and in one case jailing the manager for a day or so. As always cautionary security reports follow rumour and social lifestyle although not stopped, is altered while things settle down again. There is potential to extend this charade to raids on private property but there is not much more that Karzai can gain from this particular political stunt. In the fort we are already making plans for more in-house entertainment over the summer months. 

Going back 3 weeks to March, an eventful few days started with a visit from Prince Charles followed by a chance to ski in the Salang valley and followed by Turquoise Mountain’s celebrated of Nawrouz, or New Year with the residents of Murad Khane. 

Despite a blanket ban on press coverage HRH’s visit to Kabul was leaked to Sky News not long after he left us in Kabul to fly south to Helmand Province. As the BBC had filmed the Prince during his visit they were quick to follow-up with full coverage. During the hour spent in the fort he clearly looked like he was enjoying himself and admitted to having looked forwards to this for four years, something followed up in recent press. Despite his critics in the UK regarding his opinions on architecture and urban design his passion showed through with perceptive questions on designing in a difficult environment and the need for good infrastructure. 

View looking across the valley close to the Salang Pass into North East Afghanistan

Skiing in the Salang was a treat that I have looked forward to for months. Not far from the site of the disastrous avalanches in February some part of the slopes still have 2-3 metres of snow and so we were wary of steeper slopes in the warming climate. It’s been a few years since Afghanistan had a working ski lift so not surprisingly the route up was significantly longer than the ski down. 

Afghaniman is a group of Afghan Army who provide security for the road through the Salang Pass. The group of French enthusiasts who I went skiing with recently handed over an assortment of ski equipment so that the Afghans could enjoy it for themselves. Skiing is one of a few activities and sport that many of the internationals take for granted but will take a few more years to become commonplace here in Afghanistan. I have heard of opportunities for paragliding and rafting.

The local ANA must have been busy when the avalanches swept vehicles off the road down into the valley. They are an amiable bunch and I look forward to meeting them on the slopes.

Afghan National Army soldiers who guard the road through the Salang Pass

The weather is consistently warm and we hope to be able to start putting the sanitation system into Murad Khane although there is no end of particular issues to keep the work interesting. 

Recent holidays to Delhi and Queensland have put a dent in my workload (and blog posts) but it’s time to knuckle down and catch up with the project programmes. 

Duncan DJ