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100 People, 100 Places: It’s All About Conversation

I’ve been posting about the people and places that meant so much to me when I was in Afghanistan, but I also wanted to give a little insight into what took me there and who I am.

Like with so much in life, it was luck and a twist of fate. A friend of mine introduced me to a friend of theirs who was based in Kabul. They needed someone to fill a three-month post. I was still writing my weekly column for the SaturdayStar in Johannesburg, and it seemed like it would be a great opportunity. What a gift for a journalist, especially someone like me who enjoys  writing about meaty issues and in particular women – Afghanistan is still ranked the worst place in the world to be a woman – and loves to experience new things.

I found myself landing in Kabul on a very cold, very dreary February in 2007, not quite sure of what I was getting myself into. There was a strange metamorphosis going from London to Dubai and then to Kabul, from a major capital city with long historical roots to a new city building its roots to an ancient city that was virtually destroyed and digging itself out from decades of war. From wearing anything you wanted, to be slightly more modest, to actually having to observe strict sartorial rules to conform to living in a conservative society.

I don’t know if my love of new places and cultures stems from the fact that I moved to London when I was a two year old, with my parents I hasten to add, and something was then embedded in my psyche. But working as a journalist and being in a foreign and exotic land meant that I was in the right place at the right time. Everything had come together.

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