There was no safety drill on the Ariana Afghan Airlines flight to Kabul, no embarrassed air hostess pretending to blow up a life-jacket. Perhaps they thought it unnecessary in the face of greater dangers. The descent was terrifyingly steep, in order to evade mujahedin rockets fired from the mountains which encircle Kabul. And the plane excreted magnesium flares to fool any heat-seeking Stinger missiles. The Arrivals Lounge at Kabul International Airport was an empty room. There were no customs or immigration officials because a rocket attack on the Airport had forced its evacuation five minutes before our plane landed. The rocket attack also meant that the baggage handlers refused to unload the plane. I hitched a lift in a UN jeep to Kabul’s only grand hotel, wearing my hot-weather Delhi clothes and shivering in Afghanistan’s chilly autumn.
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