It seems to have landed on the moon and yet we are only a twenty minute drive from the outskirts of Kabul. There is nothing there: only craters, stones and wind. And small hills that seem to be made of pebbles and to shift around with the changing wind.
In the trunk of the 4×4, the armed guards struggle to keep balance while holding their Kalashnikovs at the same time.
Our host, with fancy Ray Ban shades, sits in the front seat and points to the driver the path to follow. He seems to know every stone.
Despite his kind smile, he carries himself loftily; despite the clouds of dust, his shalwar kameez is spotless clean.
He turns to us and points to a green spot in the distance, in the middle of this rocky desert.
“That is my house”, he proudly tells us. “All this land belongs to my tribe and wherever you see trees it was me who planted them. Peach, apricot, apple and quince trees. And I built an irrigation system that is such that trees don’t suffer in the heat of summer. Trees are beautiful.”
Once we reach the house, we realise that the irrigation system is actually incredible and potentially revolutionary: an amazing combination of local wisdom and hyper-technology.
“I brought back this family from Pakistan, they were refugee there and now they watch the house and take care of the trees. I want people in every village in my family land to start planting trees. I need to find some international funding to import from China the necessary technology”.
My family land… The horizon is enormous and monotonously fascinating: it is difficult to understand how one can tell which piece of land belongs to whom.
“Has is ever happened that you had troubles with your neighbours? Have there been problems or disputes? Orientation seems quite complicated and trespassing very easy instead”, we ask him.
“Yes, Kuchis [the nomadic Afghan minority that is ethnically Pashtun – as he is] often pass through our land. It happened in the past that they occupied the land, planted their tents and started building with bricks in order to settle down.”
“Oh, and how did you solve the issue?”
“Simple, we shot at them and they left.”