A braai in Afghanistan: S14 semis, 2010

Kabul ... either dusty or muddy, take your pic.

An old schoolmate, Rob Cochrane, put me onto a colleague of his at a private security company that does protection for projects in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, where international forces are too stretched to handle themselves.

Many of the contractors are ex-special forces from around the world, but Rob’s colleague came from a different route — he was an ex-Kiwi cop who was in their top SWAT-like unit but also a rugby player of some note. Dustin Watts is a big Kiwi bloke, probably not a pound heavier than when he was top of his game playing for the ill-fated Vikings before a spell in Ireland as player-coach of a club side.

The braai was held in a residential compound run by and for the security guys. Some of them lived with their clients, but the compound also serves as offices and a sort of guest house for people coming and going between contracts.

It has a very well-organised (and cheap)  bar for staff and their guests, and it is in a pleasant green garden — an oasis from the dust of Kabul.

There are about 20 or so people at the braai — almost all South Africans and fairly split between Bulls and Stormers fans — in other words, a lot of Dutchmen! They rose to the occasion, delivering an awesome braai of fantastic boerewors, whole fillets, lamb chops and  accompanying egg-potato sludge and green stuff.

The gathering was slightly muted by recent news that a couple of colleagues had been killed in a plane crash of a private domestic carrier Pammair.

Rescue workers and soldiers search for the remains of victims in an Afghan plane crash on Shapiri Ghar Mountain, 20 miles east of Kabul. The Kam Air Boeing 737 crashed on February 3, 2005 killing all 104 people on board. Pic: Fardin Waezi

Nobody has confidence in any Afghan airline and you try to find alternative means, but sometimes it is unavoidable. Testimony to the remoteness of the routes you fly in Afghanistan is the fact it took rescue workers four days to even locate the wreckage of the plane, which came down less than 100 kms north of the capital in the Hindu Kush.

I thoroughly enjoyed the match. The Crusaders were let down by nerves under the high ball, but the Bulls capitalised ruthlessly and owned the game from begining to end. In full flow they are impressive.

I didn’t stay for the second game, but I know the Stormers fans will be happy with the result.

So I’ll see them again this weekend for the showdown!


About FoxFromZim

I am a journalist from Zimbabwe, currently based in Singapore. I report chiefly on international affairs, specialising in politics, war and natural disasters when not playing golf badly.
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