- Admirals Club Charles De Gaulle Airport, Paris
- London Heathrow
- British Airways Business Class
- Chaos at Dubai Airport
After helping out a stranger and nearly missing my flight, I finally met up with my mom and sister at the gate. What I found interesting was that as opposed to our flight on Ariana Airlines a year ago, this one was packed with westerners. There was an agent by the gate, with a crowd awkwardly standing around him. Nobody was saying anything and people were confused about which group was supposed to board. I showed the agent my boarding pass and asked if I could board. He paused, unsure, then said, “Yes, go ahead.” I signaled for my mom and sister to follow me, and the other passengers took this as their cue to board as well. It was very disorganized and I think if I hadn’t approached the agent, we would have been there for a while.
I’m not an aviation buff and the only reason I know we flew an A320 was because I spotted a sticker with the A320 label in one of my photos. The plane felt new and very spacious. Air France could learn a thing or two from Safi Airways. The seats were huge, with lots of legroom and recline. The flight attendants were polished and dressed in a uniform typical of middle eastern airlines. Two young women served the economy cabin – one was Afghan and the other Egyptian.
The cabin was a mix of western and Afghan passengers, though almost everyone seemed to know English. What I picked up from eavesdropping was that most of these Afghan passengers had traveled to Dubai for a conference. As for the westerners, I can only assume a mix of NPO workers, journalists, and war profiteers.
Overall, this was a very pleasant flight, except for the meal service. For some reason I broke my habit of never ordering chicken on a plane. It’s always dry and I feel like I’m more prone to food poisoning from it. While everything else on the tray was delicious, the chicken was funky tasting. It was strangely gummy and I don’t think it was cooked thoroughly. So after a bite, I left it alone and instead ate the potatoes and carrots. The entire dish was covered in gravy, which was just to my liking. A few hours after we arrived in Kabul, I got very sick. I couldn’t help but think it was the chicken served on the plane…
This was a relatively short flight at under 3 hours, but it was going by extremely slowly this time around. While the landscape isn’t as lush as say, Germany, the rugged scenery is quite dramatic and stunning.
Approaching Kabul, I was surprised at how green the landscape had become. It was still largely dry and dusty, but there was much more greenery than last year.
When we landed, I noticed a man standing near us who looked especially antsy. He pulled on his backpack and looked around nervously. It was becoming annoying and alot of other passengers took notice as well. Imagine that: A plane full of bearded men and the person making everyone uncomfortable was a westerner. One of the guys sitting behind us picked up on his nervousness and jokingly assured him in English, “Don’t worry. Afghanistan is a very safe place.” This made all the passengers laugh, but the guy didn’t find it particularly funny as he remained stone faced and bolted for the door as soon as it opened. He practically knocked people out of the aisle in an attempt to get out of there.
As we stepped off the plane, the heat hit me pretty hard. I remember the first time I got off a plane in Kabul, it was very windy. This time it was just dry heat and I quickly made my way to the bus that would transport us to immigration. Some of the westerners had private cars waiting for them on the runway. An alternative option for those who can’t manage to get into Lufthansa’s First Class cabin.
At the immigration area, I came across a poster that I tried to photograph the previous year, before my battery suddenly died. This time, I managed to snap this photo without getting into any trouble. The guy getting off the bus behind me, however, wasn’t so lucky. A security agent approached and told him “No photos!” I guess he didn’t catch me taking the first shot, so I quickly walked away before he noticed.
This time, we didn’t encounter any issues at immigration, though baggage claim was a nightmare like last time. While we waited for our bags, I noticed this ad, which I thought was kind of funny.
Through a highly sophisticated Google search, I learned that this is an Afghan-run station that promotes Rock/Alternative music. Based on a small photo on the home page, I assume they play “Afghan Rock,” though I’m not familiar with this genre and can’t imagine what an Afghan Rock song would sound like.
For a preview of what non-Afghan Rock music sounds like, check out this video by renowned Rubab artist Humayun Sakhi. There’s no singing in this clip, but the sound is very soothing and characteristic of Afghan music:
After collecting our bags, we made it to the bus that transports passengers to the arrival area. Surprisingly, everyone disappeared and it was just the three of us on the bus. This time there were no beggars at the arrival area, following us to our car. My dad and cousin picked us up and drove to my aunt’s home. We drove right into rush hour and I was reminded once again of how dusty the city was, and how much I didn’t miss the insane traffic scene. Thankfully, the airport was close to my aunt’s house and we got home fairly quickly. Before we took off, though, we drove past this sign. I have no idea what it means. I guess it refers to weapons?