Photographer's Note

Firstly, please accept my apologies - I referred to this mountain range as "Karakoram" in my last post. It is Hindu Kush, I have corrected my notes now.

I have written about my first evening in Sarhad e Broghil, a remote village in Afghanistan, in a previous post ( I mentioned it was pitch dark and that it felt a bit (unjustifiably) frightening. However, the following night, I was rewarded with a clear sky. I dont think I had ever seen so many stars before. They didnt have to compete with any lights on the surface of the earth.

The mood in my accommodation was also different. I spent the previous evening in the dining room, in the company of my guide, driver and the guesthouse staff, all blokes, me the only woman in the house. Im writing this because I always get asked about what it felt like to be a solo female traveller in Afghanistan and I hasten to reply there was nothing awkward about it, nothing different than any other country I had visited before. The people employed in the tiny, but functioning, Wakhan tourist sector are professionals, used to all kinds of guests.

But the next evening Azim announced that I would be served dinner in my bedroom. That was because, he explained, a group of visitors was arriving from Kabul and they would disturb me as they would be talking in the local language. They happened to be inspectors from the Aga Khan Foundation, sponsors of the guesthouse. I of course knew that the linguistic barrier was just an excuse. He was either concerned about me being in one room with so many guys from the part of the country where tourism (and the concept of women as travellers), is practically unknown or didnt want the AKF officials to see a female guest mixing with the local men. It was the only moment during the trip when it was obvious my gender was an issue.

This photo was taken that evening, as I was confined to my bedroom.

The following morning, on the way back from my morning photo walk, I bumped into those Kabul visitors standing in the hallway. They were polite, spoke English and they looked at me with obvious but not unpleasant curiosity. We exchanged a few hellos and how-are-yous. At that moment, I really wished I had been allowed to have a chat with them the previous night. And I think they felt the same.

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Additional Photos by Kasia Nowak (kasianowak) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1585 W: 9 N: 3216] (16704)
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