Sunday, June 21, 2009

First Impressions

Kandahar - If the desert did not exist, landing in Kandahar would be no different than landing down in Kathmandu. Steep rugged mountains squeeze the airfield here. And its probably because of these mountains, dust and haze refuse of leave the base - an hour into my arrival here, I was covered in white dust.

Kandahar Int'l Airport, which was built by USAID in early 60s, is now used as a military and partly civilian airfield. The airfield is under the command of the Canadian forces, with whom I'll be spending some time this week.

Other than the fact that this is a war zone, not much is different here. My dust-covered tube tent has a squeaky twin bed and the store inside the base sells bedsheets and dust cleaners for prices that are cheaper than Wal-Mart's. The cellphone shop inside the store plays bollywood songs at a low volume but loud enough for the shopkeeper to groove his head and shoulders. Packets of Marlboros and Camels (not the animal, of course) seem like the most popular items here.

But nothing makes this base more Canadian than a freshly brewed cup of Tim Hortons, a two minute walk from my bed. Pizza Hut is down the road. Oatmeal and Omlette for breakfast taste better than the cafeteria food at my undergraduate school. Walking by the cafeterias (they call them DFACs), it's hard to escape the smell of hot food, whatever they maybe.

Food aside, there is another peculiar smell one cannot neglect inside the base. The stench of feces made it impossible to sleep last night. But apparently this is the smell of Kandahar. By this morning, it has become a way of life.


  1. A unique and interesting way of discrediting the efforts of the cooks at Tusculum! ha

  2. the jab at the food at TC is hilarious, Alex.

  3. Well done, you bring the scene alive. Take care and keep your head down.