Have I mentioned before how deeply humbling it is being around the Nepalese Gurkhas? The two chaps who are with us keep to themselves pretty much, but are always there in the background, a gentle, quiet loyalty surrounding them…..the kind that leaves me with no doubt that they would not shy away from laying down their lives for us.
They get up ever morning at 5am (or even before, I am usually still buried in my sleeping bag at that time, trying to rest and stay warm under my 4+layer of clothing so not sure what time it really is) and creep out to patrol around the compound to ensure our safety. After that, a bit later, they come back in and bring me a cup of tea in my camp on the floor …..every morning, without fail. Their servant hearts and quiet, unassuming demeanour is so humbling and I am sure I will never forget these gentle yet powerful men as long as I live.
The snow is still thick outside…while it is lovely being here, I am not sure my line manager would appreciate me spending my time here in Afghanistan in Nuristan, instead of managing my projects, so I do hope the helicopter manages to land in the next few days. I fear that life up here will get a little challenging in the long-term if we do get stuck here: the boys have still not showered whereas I am braving the cold water every day, emerging with blue toes but feeling very refreshed; and the minds of the Afghan staff here may become corrupted beyond belief by the porn on the computers if they stay here for much longer. They have certainly used their time here to do something to those PCs……..every time you turn on one, half naked Western women with huge breasts pop up left, right and centre. It make me feel uncomfortable that Afghan men would stare at Western women as if they were sex objects while they would kill anyone who looked at their wives and sisters in the way they look at those models. The latter, of course, is unlikely, given their female relatives are probably covered up in a Shalwar Kameez and wear a burqa when they leave the house.
We have had so many special moments up here. The locals are not used to seeing expats and while it is hard to communicate with them, we have been greeted with smiles and occasionally cups of tea during our walks out and about. Even the local police chief has given us the warmest of greetings, and I have born witness to some truly heart -warming scenes: a man with his two little boys, holding a baby with such tenderness that it made me want to cry; an older man heavy-laden with firewood, collected from afar to heat up his freezing cold home. For the communities here, supermarkets, luxury toiletries, pizzas , running water and electricity are mere TV images (and some of them do have satellite dishes and little generators to power limited electrical equipment).