A 29-year-old UN adviser describes her daily life in Afghanistan. Sharon Brennan in the Times:
I set my alarm for 6.50 every morning and light a wood fire in a metal heater in my room as soon as I get out of bed. During winter it was often minus 25 outside. I’ll have a shower and dry my hair. It’s a 15-minute battle trying to dress as covered up as possible while feeling professional and feminine. I must have my head covered at all times when I’m outside my house or workplace. You’re not meant to see the female shape, and the three scarves I own go down to my knees. They are all black, so they match everything and don’t get dirty: there’s so much dust in this city.
I get picked up at 7.45am by a driver in a UN Land Cruiser with blast-proof windows. I could walk to work, as it’s only five minutes away, but for our safety we’re never allowed to walk far on the streets.
I head for the Portakabin canteen in our UN compound. Breakfast this morning was a British-style egg sandwich with lots of ketchup.
Making movies the Afghan way
Cinema was banned under the Taliban, but film-makers are once again at work inside Afghanistan. Robert Fisk visits a set near Bagram. From the Independent:
Actors on the set of The White Rock, about the murder of 680 Afghan refugees by Iranians
Drive north of Kabul for an hour, turn left into a grey desert and head east for fifteen minutes, the sand shawling up the side of the windows until an armed man in the uniform of the Iranian police stops you before a forbidding compound of watchtowers, mud walls and razor wire. For a brief moment, that willing suspension of disbelief – I can see the inmates sitting on the sand beyond the iron gate – I forget that this is an Afghan movie set, and that Daoud Wahab, the producer of ‘The White Rock’ is sitting in front of me. “Looks real, huh?” he asks over his shoulder. It does.
For incredibly, as Afghanistan sinks back into the anarchy which became its natural state these past 29 years, Afghan film-makers are producing movies of international quality, turning out pictures which prove – even amid war – that a country’s tragedy can be imaginatively recreated for its people. Safaid Sang – Dari (Persian) for White Rock – was an Afghan refugee detention camp inside Iran whose Iranian guards helped to massacre more than 630 of their prisoners in 1998 after inmates protested at their treatment. The atrocity – largely unknown in the West – ended after two Iranian helicopters strafed the Afghans with machine guns. Quite a story. Quite a movie.