It was interesting during the build up to the Kabul trip. It had been quite funny how many of my mates said “Kabul? In Afghanistan? Are you mental?” followed two seconds later by “I’m quite jealous actually.”
I got my first commissioning letter from a magazine with me named as photographer, and my invitation letter from the organisation we will meet out there.
I organised the flights for myself and my journalist friend (who was on another job in Croatia) which involved an online reservation for the Dubai – Kabul flights, only to be met with a page saying I had to pay them in full to an office within 12 hours….then a couple of Skype calls to Afghanistan and Dubai….then completion with an agent in London who said the ‘situation is getting better as there have been 15 people executed as punishment this week’, just before telling me the total price which never reflected the exchange rate whatsoever (£40 more than stated on the webpage). I then got me his brothers number if we wanted safe, cheap accommodation there, and a driver.
Of course offices being offices, it took my employer 2 weeks to confirm the time off despite the fact I was only being curteous as it had all been cleared at interview stage. Needless to say the Dubai flights went up £100 in the process, and everything was booked only three weeks prior to departure.
We hummed and hawwed whether it was worth paying the £185 extra for two weeks worth of war cover. Was it really that dangerous? We doubted it, but being Kabul virgins, we took it anyway. This unpaid for trip was rapidly becoming a very expensive ‘portfolio building’ trip for me. Even worse by loosing my I.T. contract, which of course, was the deciding factor in me being able to afford to splash the cash, despite me wanting to go since the idea was mentioned to me.
I never did too much research before leaving but enjoyed the lively journalists and photojournalists chats from bizarre destinations at Lightstalkers.org
The few days before I left I read a bit more about Kabul, and would be lying if I said there wasn’t a few moments when I thought ‘WTF am I going there for?’. Not helped with the odd panic phone call from my girlfriend during the news :
“Are you watching it? There’s been 75 NGO workers kidnapped, and a bomb on the airport road”. My chin dropped, then I thought “Really? Are you sure?”
A quick Google confirmed nothing had happened and I later realised the news were summarising past events due to a court case or something that was going on.
My overriding thoughts before going to Kabul tomorrow is I hope I am not disappointed by the experience. I’m sure it’ll be like any other big city in the area, just with a lot more small arms in full view. I’m looking forward to meeting all the characters that have been described to us from returning artisans who fled Kabul during the reign of the Taliban, to leading fabric designers and craftsfolk.
I just hope my pictures do them justice!