Spring Time in Afghanistan

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Not a musical mounted by the Taliban.

Day 63, Parwan, Afghanistan.

The season of spring is something that’s a rarity for someone like me, coming from a coastal city bathing in humidity at every opportunity that it gets. Then to find oneself, after a bitter winter, standing atop a hilltop that overlooks the entire city, is spellbinding to say the least.

The vista before your eyes is something straight out of a watercolor painting. The clouds line up, less to provide shade and more to pose. The sun shines upon you, more to provide light than warmth. At 6000 feet above sea level the sun is a merciless beast. The air is dry and the wind blows with a purpose, the sun’s heat is nonexistent, only the glare blinds you.

Then the clouds move and a crack through those water vapor monstrosities throws just enough light upon the valley and you behold the beauty of Kabul in all its glory. I guess this is what it must have felt like to be the master of all creation; pure, content and vain.

On the outskirts of Kabul, lies Parwan, a hillock near a dam that turns into a popular springtime destination of much of Kabul’s residents. Every hillside turns into a lavender tainted frame that puts to shame anything that the Swiss countryside can throw up. You’d be surprised how cheesy this natural beauty can make you feel.

Families scatter among the hillsides occupying spaces with picnic baskets. Grills are set up, vendors hustle and kids run amok. Yet nothing can distract you from the ever-pervading bliss that permeates every pore of your senses as you stroll through this Babylonian garden of wonder that stretches before your eyes.

Hawkers sell the Afghan ice cream, Sheer Yakh, people click countless photographs of the lavender hillocks and between this men walk around with semi-automatic weapons slung over their shoulders. Yes, with the beauty comes the brawn, such is the dichotomy of Afghanistan. The more you see of it, the more you grow accustomed to it.

To find a spot of such tranquil beauty is rare and to expect it in such a place even rarer, but what do I know, I’m just a guy from Bombay.

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The Odd Kind

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Out with the old and in with the odd! We have been out scourging for travel stories that’ll make your lips quiver, head heavy and bollocks tingle. Tales filled with experiences of people traipsing across the country or the world for a multitude of reasons other than to be just tourists. Some travel to work, others work to travel, and then there’s the third kind, the odd kind.

This is the kind that whether for work or play, manages to find something off the usually trodden path with their travels. That pretty much sums up all those people who travel but have never been called tourists. Work, vacation, or wandering, a million reasons lead to travel; which lead to a million stories.

No pretty bucket lists and surely no rooftop infinity pools. Instead, how about camping stories set 14,000 feet above sea level? Or, being employed in one of the most unstable countries there is? It may be a transcendent encounter with a Tibetan artist running a café in Gokarna or evading an encounter with the Taliban by a hair’s breadth. We’ve got it all. As long as it’s different, we’re game!

This is where you will read about moments in someone’s travel where nothing seems normal. This is where you will read anecdotes that will make you go, “What the how?!” but mainly, “Why?!” This is where you will find out where the real kicks are. This is The Odd Traveller.

Our group of travellers is a motley crew; some of which haven’t traveled as much as they would like but make the most of it, while other have traveled reluctantly but interesting things seem to happen to them wherever they go.

First there’s Natashaa, She doesn’t have it all figured out but what she knows without a doubt is that she needs to travel. Coupled with a love for all things written, she wants to experience the most peculiar, dangerous and different things the world has to offer and write about them. This traveller is a firm believer in the power of a single moment.

Then there’s the sardonic, pop-culture spewing, Danish, who lives to travel amongst other things. Thanks to fate and fortune, his work has taken him around the globe. How this Bombay bred boy landed up in Kabul, Afghanistan to work for an American digital agency is something you will read about soon enough. For now, suffice to know that no travel is good enough for Danish unless it’s crazy. Spontaneity, apparently, is his thing.

So stay tuned for travel tales like few others, coming your way from our travellers and their friends.

Bon Voyage!

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