In the Beginning was the Road

Qala-e-Fatullah, Kabul

34˚ 31′ 42.42″ N  69˚ 10′ 18.09″ E

One morning you get out of the house, the white Corolla is waiting for you on the main road. You jump in and turn right heading down town.

A man with a yellow fluorescent waistcoat stops you. He stands by a big orange digger, he looks in your direction and flags you to turn around: “The road is now closed.”

It wasn’t closed seven minutes ago, but you know that these things happen all the time, you don’t even flinch.

You patiently turn back and head for the longer route. Three hundred meters of empty road. Bliss! You happily comment: “Ah there is no traffic this morning,”

He looks at you as if you came from Mars and snarkily  comments: “Of course there is no traffic, the bloody road is blocked on both sides now!”

OH. It wasn’t eight minutes ago…

And all the cars are bottled in a non sensical queue – those that try to get out are nose to nose with those that tried to get in before realising that the road is closed.

And you are stuck there waiting for a divine intervention that will untangle the mess.

So much for being early for your appointment, now you can be as late as it can possibly get.

The next morning you get out of the house, a little earlier than necessary, and look around wondering where your white Corolla may be.


The whole road is now flat, still muddy but flat.

There is not a single car, only very big machines that roll around squashing massive piles of rubble and making them disappear.

What will be next, you wonder.

And then, one fine morning, one sunny December morning, you walk out of your house and the road is coated with a semi-liquid, slimy, shiny black layer of tar.


Men and children and passer-bys stand still, mouth agape, and stare in awe at the magic that just happened.

And the old lady who tries to walk past you on what one day will become a footpath stops you and smiles – a few teeth are missing – and points proudly at the road and says: “Isn’t it good?”

It is very good, indeed.

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