A very tiring day, with Pervaiz showing up at our house before 10am, ready to drive to Kargha dam. When, yesterday, he asked me, in the office, if I would like to visit the dam, he realized he had to ask Lev too, who's sitting right next to me. Then, Giovanni also wanted to come and finally, shortly before leaving, Lyn also joined, meaning we had a full car leaving Kabul.
Although Giovanni was quite pushy, hoping we would cave in and drive on to Pagman, already the road to the dam was so tricky at times, getting stuck once or twice, we realized Pagman really wasn't an option.
The scenery was absolutely fantastic, with the mountains still covered in snow and the sun brightly shining.
We passed the Kabul golf course, a UNICEF school, nothing but a collection of tents, and a military training ground.
Due to the drought of recent years, the reservoir is fairly empty, although we should have taken more notice of how deep it still was, before we walked on the ice and, indeed, fell through, right at the very end, getting quite wet in the process.
Walking on the ice, it was so quiet we could actually hear the ice melt gentrly, like water slowly trickling down a mountain stream, or tiny silver bells tingling in a slight breeze.
Struggling to get out of the water, and after walking up the steep banks, getting rid of the swimming pools that had formed in my shoes, another car showed up with four guys from work. Lots of fun, oranges and nan and, for the first time in what must have been 25 years, I was taken in by a particular joke being played on me: three of the guys seriously looking up, pointing up into the sky, as if something interesting was happening overhead. You know the drill.
Looking up once, twice, three times, I had no clue what they were staring at and, even, talking about, before it dawned on me I was being fooled.
Notwithstanding the joke, I can easily imagine filling your weekends like this, in an environment (nearly) free of cable TV, Playstation and high speed internet.
In the afternoon, we were back in time for the Hash. Unfortunately a very small group, but a fantastic walk.
The Soviets, back in the day, supplied Kabul with an Olympic-sized swimming pool. Right on top of the Bibi Mahro hill, with a 360 view of the city. We climbed up the hill and were almost overcome by the truly fantastic view. The melting snow had made half of the hill into quite a bit of a mess, meaning we occasionally had to slidder up and down, covering ourselves in mud.
The pool, no longer used but still with a three-level diving board standing right next to it, is now used as a football pitch, while a broken down tank sits quietly, close to the edge.
What were these Soviets thinking? The view is stunning, but there isn't even a decent road going up. And there's literally nothing on top of the hill besides the pool and a large billboard.
Standing on top of the hill, we also had a great view of the south western part of the city, where many Soviet-style buildings have been put down, including a huge hospital, which would fit perfectly in any Russian provincial capital
The run was, however, very tiring, over two hours long because with no hare amongst the walkers, we ended up walking the path for the runners, who ended up at our destination almost an hour before we did.
The gathering place, housing no less then 12 Americans, was as luxurious as you'll ever get in Kabul. With a roof-terrace the size of a soccer pitch and rooms the size of squash courts, with private bathroom, it was as good, nay better, as any place most people ever get to live in.
After getting back from the dam and getting ready for the hash, I was trying to get my socks and shoes to dry while sipping tea at Lev and Lyn's place. I noticed they actually had a lovely cat hanging around, waiting to be petted.
I tried to convince Giovanni to take in the cat, but he wouldn't have it. It seems I'll be making frequent trips to Lev's.
Early in the week, Lyn dropped some information, saying that the French were giving a party on Thursday. Assuming it was going to be like the Italian's party from last week with loads of free drinks, mainly strong stuff, everyone wanted to go.
Turned out it was invitee-only and Lyn, herself vying for the title of Kabul's socially most active woman together with probably Jacqueline and Jagoda, hadn't even received an invitation herself.
We hooked up to a group of 25 people, who were drinking at l'Atmosphere, the French restaurant, before going to the party. When we went, we drove in some 7 cars, aimlessly, around Kabul, trying to find the French place.
Struggling but managing, occasionally getting bogged in, in the slowly melting streets of Kabul, we managed to find the place. Filled with expats, a significant part of which were cute and tiny French girls who all seemed to be called 'Amelie'. But virtually no drinks.
I managed to confiscate a bottle of white wine and shared it, mostly, with Lev. By the time it was finished, we were finished and we drove off, collecting Giovanni in the process.
Note: One of today's pics is by Giovanni.