Kabul Summer Evening Rooftop

August 16, 2014

sunset290The sun has finally dropped across the distant ridge in the west and suffused that part of the country in a peach wash that the camera fails to capture adequately so I have stopped trying. It’s a witching hour. Kites wobble high in the sky, some so startlingly elevated that I wait to see if a low flying aircraft is going to sever its connection. Less stable airfoils bob and dip, are pulled high, but then sideslip their objection and fall towards the ground in a stammering dive before being encouraged aloft again by unseen hands. They dance their various dances against the hills that are lovely in their soft pastel duns and blues. No hill or range is the same shade and as the temperature slips back towards thirty, layers of grey and tan, blue and purple softly and quietly march back towards a smudgy horizon. A grey blue haze over the city, that laces the horizon to the south, is capped by a peach dome directly above me that is being dragged too swiftly to the horizon, like a billowing cape towed by the sun.

Martins skid and weave after insects that make the mistake of being enticed out at this hour. These fast moving day fighters will suddenly respond to some unseen or unheard signal and abruptly retire. Equally abrupt will be the sudden appearance just before complete darkness of the night fighters. Dropping out of mud eaves they will pay attention to the tree tops around our house. Small bats not so different in blisteringly quick profile to the Martins, their flight is fluid and controlled, rolling turns and elegant manouvres so different to the crashing and abrupt moves of their daylight colleagues Even as I write the Martins have vanished.

The kites of the highest flying sort are now the only ones visible. The lower elevated pieces of plastic and paper are being absorbed into the ever deepening shadows of the hills. Somehow they fly with no perceptible breeze which is a relief of sorts, since the days of July are marked by smashing winds stirring up gritty dust.   In the west of the country the “One Hundred and Twenty Day Winds” harass the natives at this time of the year. But Kabul endures its own gales at this time which lift dust from the streets and deposits it in a fine, abrasive layer over everything.

Lights wink on. A baby cries. On the distant ridge someone welds and the blue white flash and flicker catches my eye. A bike mudguard rattles as its owner dodges potholes but jolts across a rocky, broken brick surface nonetheless. The ubiquitous ice cream vendor continues to plague us with his tinny tune. (We have not helped ourselves by purchasing 20 ice creams from him a few days ago. Hardly surprising that he hangs around our Aladdin’s Cave of a gate).

The first bat just jinked past. Blackhawks thunder in and out of the calm. The baby still cries. I watch the bats move in on the tree tops – they are conveniently at eye level. The sun heads toward Europe and has taken its cape with it. I stir from my chair and head downstairs to grab dinner.

Diary 11 August 2014


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