Manchester heaven

The view out of the window is no longer the dust-filled sky, the dusty mountains, the barbed wire with the kites caught in them, the galvanized roof of the guard’s quarters. The view is, once again the beach, the point, Lobster Cove. I have to change the header of my blog.

Daily musings on living and working in Kabul will be of the hindsight kind – made up of memories, slow insights, new perspectives – or made during short trips there in the future, but no longer the object of my daily writings. Will there be enough to write, I wonder, in quiet Manchester?

The daily things I took for granted when I left Manchester two years ago will be taken for granted soon enough while the daily sights of Kabul will become more special: the stray cats, finally grown up enough that they can jump up the high wall and fight with each other. The cooing pigeons just outside my window, building nests on the silliest places; the sparrows that ate the entire grape harvest of our grape arbor that revived in one year, after years of neglect. I think it was thanks to the ‘dawa’ (lit. medicine) that Hadji Kazem, MSH’s gardener, periodically gave to the two enormous and ancient grape vine trunks, one on each side of the veranda.

It was an odd sensation, during the final stretch across the Atlantic, that I was in-bound this time, rather than out-bound – the terms have switched; there won’t be an outbound until my next trip. It is both exhilarating and a little scary as I don’t have yet a job to go home to.

I finished listening to Howie Carr’s book about how the Bulger brothers and their cronies enriched themselves and corrupted everything they touched. The parallels with Afghanistan are so obvious – politics just another name for self-enrichment, patronage, so many people are for sale, so many situations used to settle accounts, repay debts, revenge for slights and insults in the past. The abuse is, no doubt, still happening in Massachusetts right under our noses but it is a little more refined and subtle than in Afghanistan – but the Afghans are learning fast.

And then I was home. Tessa and Axel were waiting for me at the airport with a bouquet of flowers from our garden. I didn’t mind that it was overcast, humid and there were huge mosquitoes that right away bit me. I dodged the mosquitoes to see Tessa’s vegetable garden with cabbage, broccoli, purple, red and yellow peppers, beets, and more. And there was the wonderful smell of the ocean.

Tessa and Steve joined us for the kind of dinner that cannot be had in Afghanistan: fresh swordfish, fresh corn, homegrown tomato salad and a glass of cool white wine. I am in seventh heaven again.

1 Response to “Manchester heaven”


  1. 1 SallyK September 10, 2011 at 1:53 am

    Welcome home!


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