Another ordinary day in Kabul
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My Day with the President
Cast of Characters: Me, Valerie (colleague and TESOL), Kim P and Bruce W (TESOL), Ken and Debbie (house mates), Hamid Kaiser (President), Shams (Driver and guard), Akram (Driver), Punch (other driver), Kawa (Admin and supervisor of drivers), Abdul (Minister of Finance), David C (Australian working at the Ministry of Finance), Freshta (Assistant to the Australian Ambassador), 200 Afghan soldiers, 25 language students and a million Afghans on the road.
The day started like any other normal day.
Morning greetings were replaced with reports. "Something is going on!" Ken announced as he entered the dining room for breakfast. "There's alot of air activity this morning." Said Valerie as she entered immediately behind Ken. "Look! There are soldiers all along the fence!" Debbie confirmed as she pulled back the dining room curtains. Sure enough, right outside our gate was over 200 Afghan soldiers spread across the school grounds opposite our house, heavily armed with large automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenades (rpgs).
Ken, Debbie and Val went up to the roof for a better view and to take photos, while I donned my chador and went out onto the street to see if I could meet any cute foreign journalist who might be lurking around the presidential entourage. No luck. Well, it was all very exciting but extremely inconvenient. It would have been nice if the President had told us beforehand because suddenly we were ordered off the roof, off the street, and definitely no photos. Val was forced to delete her photos (but Deb sneaked her camera back into the house). We were then ordered to not even look out the windows. Snipers aren't very polite! Then the street was completely blocked off and the phone system was jammed.
But we had work to do. You know.. people to see, places to go. Just prior to the President's arrival we had to leave for a our morning English classes at nearby Chai La. Under great protests, we drove through the barricades and fled the street.
Classes went great. Students showed up. It all went well, and soon it was time for Shams and Akram to pick us up and take us to our appointment with the Abdul in downtown Kabul. No Shams. No Akram. Eventually Shams arrived 20 mins late and we were now running late for our meeting.
Val and I meanwhile were still sitting in the van.
We then waited behind the wall for about 15 minutes until Akram was able to get us and escort us to the vehicle just as Shams handed Punch 300 Afhs and they kissed (literally) and made up. We drove away, Sham bruised but okay, we were shaken, and plunged headlong into gridlock traffic - thanks once again Kazai.
Just made it in time to our next meeting at the Serena Hotel and lunched with the Assistant to the Australian Ambassador - delightful Afghan woman who is about to head off to Australia and marry an Afghan in Melbourne, and who happens to be the cousin of Nouria (our Afghan lady friend). Small world.
Race back to Chai Lai just as afternoon classes are commencing. Twice the number of students turn up, and Val, Kim P and Bruce handle the doubled class sizes like true professionals.
Home to Qobla Palaw (rice and lamb) for dinner. The sky above is finally quiet and the call to prayer sings out from the nearby mosque. A quiet moment in my room enjoying my last sachet of hot chocolate beckons.
Yep, just another ordinary day in Kabul. :-)