Archive for kabul international airport

Kabul Journal 2012

Posted in My everyday life with tags , , , , , on July 21, 2012 by Nomad

Kabul 5th of May 2012


Its Saturday the 5th of May 2012 exactly 12 days since I left home back in Adelaide Australia and i really miss everything back home. It’s nothing like where I live; everything is so different here from city to entertainment to shops and its people. Over 30 years of wars in Afghanistan has destroyed the country which rebuilding of it may take a very long time. Most of its structures are in a very bad condition such as bridges roads, buildings transportation and of course the country’s economy. With continued every day attack and bombing by the Taliban makes life hard for everyone. People can’t trust the country and the current political transition of Afghanistan and a lot of big firms just don’t have the confidence to invest into the country due to every day struggle by the government to take full control of the country and to ensure the people and investors a safe country to invest.

Flying over the region looks amazing with tall mountains deep valleys dry looking single road stretched out white snows covering the tip of the mountains. It is just an amazing scene to experience because its nothing like flying over Australia or Indonesia where you see mostly flat surfaces or ocean but not in this part of the world. All you see are the mountains and nothing else. Coming over Kabul city, it is located between tall mountains again covered with white blanket of snow, the house are very low and flat on the ground looking very muddy with no particular colour. Green vegetation is very hard to see any where around the city except some forms and vegetation lands which are not a lot but only a few hundred meters. When i was flying over Australian cities no matter which one Adelaide or Melbourne all I was seeing everywhere was trees and green vegetation which makes the city looks beautiful and amazing, but not Kabul.

Touching down at Kabul International Airport and to find out that there is very old landing truck with green grass everywhere, I never saw anything like these at any other airport around the world. Helicopter covered everywhere and very old too, military plans all around the air port make you feel like you are at a military airport. Arianna Afghanistan’s national Air line standing still looking very old and out of date. I would be scared to fly in one of them not because i don’t like it but because I can’t fully trust them due to their bad conditions. Going through to the check in counter it is very old and out of date system. In fact looks worst than an Australian regional air port with wooden counters and very unexperienced looking official behind the counter. On board our flight Fly Dubai there was more foreigners than afghan nationals and because it was my first time seeing all of them going to Afghanistan i was like wow so many of other people but no afghans. Anyhow as i walked to the counter and hand in my passport, they guy went through it as well as looking at me to make sure if it is me or something. Last year in January i went on a trip to Bali and Thailand for a short one month holiday with a mate and i tell you it was such an amazing trip and a mouth watering experience for both of us especially for me. That trip opened my eyes about what the world really looks like and what kinds of people exist out there. Anyways the guy at the counter saw the visa from my Bali trip and stared at it for a few seconds before asking me why did i get an Indonesian visa and why did i go there? I was surprised by his questions to be honest and wondered straight away if this guy really knows what he is talking about. At an airport they don’t ask why a person went to other countries but might be asking what the purpose of your travel is? For example, holiday or work or living here because there are a lot of afghan nationals who got dual citizenship with another country’s passport. So i told the guy that i went on a short holiday last year. He looked at me and my passport’s photo a few more times before stamping on it and handing in my passport to me.

As i walked out of the airport I see an empty car park and no people around and emptiness around the airport. It was nothing like Adelaide’s airport where you walkout and you see taxies lining up, people standing around waiting for their friends and families, cars driving pass and a car park full of cars. We walked a few 100 meters into a crowded car park with solders or police officers standing around staring at us like they never seen any human like us before when suddenly one of the trolley man told us this car park is not for passengers, it’s only for rich people who parks their cars and foreigners. We turned back and walked another kilometre straight to get to the gate where everyone was waiting for passengers.

It is amazing how tight the security is around the airport in Kabul. Check point after check point every 10 to 20 mitres with police officers with guns standing around in a group of two or three making you feel very uncomfortable especially for someone who comes from a country like Australia. Finally it’s time to meet and greet the extended family members with them hugging tight and kissing few hundred times on both sides of your cheeks and questions coming from every directions on how the trip was and how was the relatives back in Australia. In a way it is the warmest welcome you can get from a bunch of people. You don’t get that warm welcome in Australia even if you meet a family member after 10 to 20 years. It’s an amazing feeling you get and it really touches your heart and your soul and makes you feel a self worthy person not just a piece of junk.

In Australia when you sit in a car the first thing you do is you put your sit belt on before you even say a word. As i sit in the car and closed the door i immediately pulled the sit belt trying to lock it in but couldn’t find the lock. I asked the person next to me about where the lock is hiding and he burst into laughing loud while everyone in front of us looking back thinking i am crazy or something. I asked if i said anything wrong and the guy next to me who is my cosine Bulla meaning cosine there is no sit belt here in Afghanistan and no one actually wears here anyways. It is the first time sitting in a car without a sit belt on going for a long half an hour drive to my destination. Driving out of airport seeing dirt, broken roads, and polluted air, smoke that you can hardly take a breath in. Humans, cars, motor bike, cycles and dogs running on the same road from different directions makes you feel like you are in a different planet. Traffic is such a big problem in Afghanistan. There is no traffic light or human traffic that can direct the cars. Cars moving inch by inch in a big traffic jam. People are not scared here, the first car to put their nose in is the first car to get out of the mess. People don’t respect the road rules at all, everyone just want to get from point A to point B as soon as they can even if they have go over the footpath or from inside the gutters. It’s amazing how these drivers survive in this situation without any minor accident. If it was in Australia there would be hundreds of accidents each day with hundreds of death but not in this part of the world. My cosine told me a story about how he was going to hospital in a family friend’s car and the car in front of him stop and so did he but the car behind him smashed his indicator light at the back. After getting into arguments the guy whose car was hit told the other guy that it is ok and let him go without any compensation. That’s how people are understanding and solves their problem by respect and tolerance unlike western world where these things are a dream and people will not leave without compensation.

After half an hour drive and reaching out destination it’s time to sit back, relax and have a cup of tea where it is a tradition of the Afghan people when someone comes to your house the first thing you do is you serve them tea and sweet and start the conversation. This is all part of life here in Afghanistan and people love it. After few hours of conversation, question and answer time it’s finally time to get some real rest, I am talking about getting some sleep before more and more people will pour into the house to see the new comers who come from a foreign land called Australia. Honestly people respect guests a lot in this part of the world but when you come from overseas like Australia they will have more respect for you. Somehow it’s very obvious that people know that you are not from here straight away when you walk in the street even though u look like them and u talk similar and still they stare at you like they never seen any human like you before.

Anyhow they next few days will be my rest day at home, more and more people will come to visit us and we will have to go to people’s houses too but that’s not until later on. Its day 2 of my visit in Kabul and I am already bored as hell. Back at home I used to be busy with gym, clients, and friends or at home laying down watching TV or serving the net and being on face book. It is the 5th of May 2012 my first day going out of the house to where they call it Bazaar or what we call it town/city. The good thing is that the house I am living at is on the very road where we will have to catch our ride to city or Bazaar which gives us less of a hassle from walking for miles and miles before catching transport like some of the other people living in the same areas. The roads are not concreted like Australian roads; it’s just a pile of rubbles on top of each other making a road just like a country road on outskirts of South Australia maybe a little worst. A trip that would take less than 10 minutes would normally take as long as 20 minutes or even half an hour just because the roads are absolutely in terrible condition. The transport system in Afghanistan is as bad as the roads. There is no proper transport system in place like Australia, anyone with a car or a bus can get on the road and start picking up passengers and start making money in this country. From where I live to go to city i have to catch one of those car which can carry eight people in total but not here in Afghanistan. They try to carry as many passengers as they can so they can make more money. They don’t care about safety or passenger satisfactions. A sit where 3 people are a loud in Australia, here they carry 4 people in that sit. Where you put your legs another 3 or 4 people sits. A car that has been designed to carry eight passengers with full safety and protection here in Afghanistan they double that number by carrying at least 20 or so people or they won’t even move an inch from their stations.

Buses are the same; they carry as many passengers as possible to the point where everyone sticks against another person next to them. The buses are not big either, just mini bus size buses with woman sitting at the front just behind the driver and the men moving to the back of the bus. Often people complain and start swearing to the bus staff members for pushing more and more people in the bus. The fares are cheap but buses are often crowded and just like buses in Australia they stopes every few second making the already long trip longer. Every bus has a driver and a helping hand person where they call him “cliner” who calls out for passengers to get on or when people want to get off or collecting the fares. The cliners as they call them try to get as many people as possible and make as much fare as they possibly can in one trip. A lot of people hate travelling on the bus but because they are cheap they have no other choice but to catch it. Other people who can afford the fares they catch either a taxi, private car which is again just like a taxi or one of those smaller cars which carry 20 passengers in a car which is designed to carry only eight people. I personally hate all of them but taxi; private cars are the only comfortable way to get around Kabul city if you don’t care about fares.

Getting around Kabul city is not as easy as Adelaide. Streets without names, crowded, kids trying to sell chocolate and hand bags, restaurant waiters trying to get you into their restaurant by naming what they cook and how tasty and nice they are. There are thieves that can rob your money, passport or any other belongings from your pockets in a blink of an eye. In fact Kabul’s thieves are famous in the world. They can steal your money in crowded places like a market, in a car a bus or somewhere where it involves people standing or sitting close together. I lost $100 a few days ago which I don’t know where, but i am just guessing that one of the robbers robed my pocket. I am still hoping it dropped off my pocket around the house and mum picked it up but will have to ask mum. It’s amazing how these people rob your pockets, some of them dress up in nice clothes just like an office worker or a rich kid and one touch against your body and the next thing you will see is your money is not in your pocket or your phone. It doesn’t have to be money in your pocket; some people have a note book or a piece of paper or anything that show that there is something in your pocket they will take it from you.

For someone who is new in this part of the world shopping in Kabul can be hard. When you go to a shop the shop keepers tell you a price that’s very high in fact higher than normal market prices. They tell you that something cost you 1000 Afghani when the real price is no more than 500 Afghani. Most people in Afghanistan kind of beg for lower prices even if the shop keeper lower the prices still the ask about if they can lower it even more. That’s how it is in here and if you don’t know how to do that than honestly you will get ripped off big time. They will sale you something double their prices.

Life can be hard for some people in Kabul if they don’t have education or a business of their own. People get out of their houses in the morning and go stand on a cross intersection of a busy area of the city and wait for someone to come and pick them up and take them to work. Normally its trade work like building sites labourers and everyday cleaners and so on. Sometimes people sit almost half of the day before returning home with no food and no money because there wasn’t anyone to take them to work. It depends how lucky they are. People come and collect pieces of metal from houses and try to sale them to make a few dollars a day. An average person lives on less than $20 a day and they are happy with that.

Going to Hazarajat which is a mountaineer part of the country and where mostly Hazara tribe lives. Hazaras are a minority group which make around 10%  of the total population and who are very different in religion, colour and also look. They are believed to be the descendent of Ghangez Khan who was once the ruler of almost all Asia and a part of Europe. Ghangez Khan was believed to be a ruler who used to rule by fist and swords. He would kill anyone who wouldn’t want to be part of his empire and who wouldn’t bow to him. He was believed to be a very cruel man to those who hated him and very fateful to those who used to follow him.

Hazarajat is my home town, where i was born and breed till i was older and flee to Pakistan due to prosecution by the Taliban who are Pashtons and the majority of Afghanistan’s population. Hazara people always has been prosecuted against, killed, murdered and wasn’t allowed to work in public and government offices due to being Hazara and Shia Muslim. A lot of the Sunni muslims who are the majority of the population in Afghanistan and around the world believes that Shia Muslims are in fiddles or Kafir due to being Shia despite us following the same God, the same Book, praying to same direction Mecca and who’s believes are almost the same. The only difference is that Shia Islam believes Ali who was the son in law of the Prophet Mohammad and who was the closest person to him was the next person to lead Islam but Sunni Muslims believes Abubakar who was one of the followers of the prophet was the next person to lead Muslims. That’s the only difference but these people make it such a big issue when there is not even that much differences.

Anyways during Taliban era hazara people was killed and murdered in hundreds even their womean and children. Better looking women were picked up and was taken as prostitute and the rest was killed in cold blood by cutting their throats even the elders and children as young as one year old. People’s house was burned down to the ground so they wouldn’t be able to live anywhere and die of hunger and cold. Girls as young as ten were gang raped by these people who they called themselves Muslim and followers of Islam. Women’s and girls’ couldn’t go to work school or even outside the house without a man present with them as a matter of fact. Anyhow there was a lot of cruelty against hazara people in Afghanistan since the 1980 even before that until now, even now despite a government which is lead by western world there are discrimination against hazaras in all walks of life. A lot of Pashtons believes that hazaras are not from Afghanistan and they should get out and have no right to be called Afghan like Pashtons and Tajiks.

If people of Afghanistan come together and try to work as one and try to work towards a better Afghanistan which was around 30 years ago than there will be a possibility or else Afghanistan will be the same which it is at the moment in another 20 years. People will hate each other, there will be harassment in every way that you could think, and there will be discrimination against minorities and woman and religion. Afghanistan can be one of the richest and most valuable country among its neighbours and that can only happen when people of Afghanistan work as one and only for one purpose to take the country towards a better future for the country and also for its people not just Pashtons but every single afghan citizen. Afghanistan have a lot of natural resources which hasn’t been touched yet for example natural gas which is probably number 1 in the world, gold, silver, metal, coal, copper and other resources which hasn’t been discovered. Afghanistan’s resources hasn’t been touched since the beginning of the time and once upon a time Afghanistan will be a very rich country but only if its people really wants to and have the guts to put their hands up and say yes we want an independent and a great Afghanistan.

I returned back to Australia on 17 of June 2012 after a month of stress and struggle with what happened in my life back there. It was a journey that will be remember for ever wither it is for good reasons or bad can’t be discussed here but it was defiantly a very experiencing journey which opened my eyes a little more wider towards the world and of course towards Afghanistan the country its self as well. To me it was a life changing journey and it actually changed my life in every ways. i only hope it is for good and not anything out of ordinary.