So, I'm busily preparing for the trek to Nuristan and also manoeuvring around the chaos that is Kabul. Somehow we had neglected to realise that by bringing the trip forward by a few days we were then slap bang in the middle of the Kabul conference; the massive international meeting of world powers being held here in Kabul to discuss the future of Afghanistan. The whole place is in lockdown and here, where we are in Wasir Akbar Khan, there are tanks, armoured gun vehicles and soldiers on every corner, there are NDS, ANP and ANA all in their different uniforms and nobody is going anywhere - except for to Spinneys, that pinnacle of supermarkets which is staying open despite everything. Rock on those groceries!
Last night I had to be rescued from my place by PM and Tariq who drove across town on a mission to spring me from my place and bring me back here. I was sad to leave my rose garden, the five kittens, two tortoises and multiple rabbits who were out and scampering about on the volley ball court. S and M and Leg Roll were discussing which of the rabbits would be subject to the cull that they were planning; several of the rabbits were pregnant and a veritable bunny population explosion was threatening. It was a shame to leave the tranquility of the garden, a freshly white washed wall was to be used as a screen for showing films and the guys were getting ready to enjoy the lockdown with a film or two, comfy cushions spread out on the lawn, a barbecue and some good wine. I, on the other hand, was headed for the compound and a paddling pool on the roof...
I'd foolishly underestimated what would happen here with nobody travelling and the shops being closed for two days. Being all so very last minute I've got a ball gown being made in Qualaifatullah and some ethnic tops I wanted for the trip. One day I'll learn not to leave things to the last minute.... I hear what you're saying about priorities and seriously, I probably shouldn't be worrying about a ball gown right now, but still, what's a girl to do? It's certainly been an interesting process having a dress made here, as I mentioned before, they just don't do natural fabrics so my cunning find of some raw silk in AWWSOM was a precious one. My first round at the tailors produced a reasonable skirt, it fitted well and my only criticisms were that they'd glued a random panel into the front of it (heaven knows why) this had marked the silk at the front, and from where they had been working there were dusty paw prints all over the white silk and it would need a thorough dry clean. It wasn't bad. The top however was more of a circus with a bust that would have fitted Diana Dors and some handy ruched panels at the sides that they were very proud of but which I could see would need to be instantly unpicked as soon as I got it home. I wondered why they didn't go for the concept of making the item in rough, having a fitting with me and then making the final fitted product. I felt bad that they'd made it all but would now have to unpick and re-sew a lot of it having grossly overestimated the size of my bust, it was either that or the fashion here was totally 1980's bustier - given the dresses that I'd seen displayed (brightly coloured nylon creations that would have had pride of place in a Barbie doll's fairy princess wardrobe - I imagine that this was one of those clashes of style moments that I should have anticipated.
PM told me last night that he had heard several loud bangs in the distance - apparently I was engrossed in the computer and heard neither the bangs nor him telling me about them. Repeated rocket fire on the airport... and us waiting to fly out of there. I'd had several email updates on the progress of the vehicles and thus far all was going well, they'd not had any problems and we were still on target for our rendezvous up North. We found out a couple of days ago that there is still a lot of snow on the pass and the horses won't be able to go all the way over. We had planned for the horses to carry the bulk of our kit (and there's a lot of it) so now, when their little hooves can go no further, we'll be lugging it over the pass ourselves. The image of a straggly band of people labouring through the snow at 16,000 feet comes to mind but seems so very remote and painless as I sit at my desk in Kabul - I know it's going to hurt but I just can't imagine it right now.
In deference to the Kabul Conference, the airport and roads surrounding are completely closed, so many important people arriving, amongst them Hilary Clinton, who, when I saw her on the TV, looked ever so much like a man in drag. PM had horrified me with stories that she was partial to a little reverse action, especially with young men, and I just couldn't get those images out of my head when watching her despite the fact that what she was saying was reasonable and not totally outlandish. Most of the time I listen to politicians on the TV with an autistic head on, you know the kind of head where you can instantly tell when someone is lying through their teeth or is simply delivering a foil of bullshit, liberally peppered with terms designed to disguise that there is absolutely nothing inside the hot air that they are spouting. If you squint your eyes a little and just listen to the words, the child or the dog inside you, the bit that is innocent and can still tell the difference, will raise it's ears and say, "That person is offering me what looks like food but when I go to eat it they will grab me by the paws and squeeze me til it hurts, best I don't listen to them". So I am torn but find myself switching on the TV to listen to various puffy people talking shit.
Luckily for me, instead of boring politicians, the headline story is of a love sick baby platypus: it's the BBC reporting from Sydney, Australia, where a lonely platypus has swum into a sewage plant, "This duckbilled juvenile had taken refuge in a large pipe attached to a tank and it was feared that this amorous semi aquatic, egg laying mammal might have suffered hypothermia...." but then it's back to the Kabul conference and Hamid Karzai is there swishing by in his distinctive striped chapan. From a hotel room in Kabul, Lyse Doucet is there doing her best to level out the crap and get some straight talking from the various bigwigs. Bernard Kouchner is with Lyse and as ever, she has my admiration for being there, brilliant and professional, I can only hope to follow in her footsteps.