KABUL, Afghanistan. Another plain of recently raised ruins. Streets of mud, the faint green reflection from the open sewers. The women black tents moving along the collapsing walls. And the mountains, far away so close. Why? Why do they have to send us to places like this? Why always democratize the illiterate and revolutionize the ruins? Why not Vienna, Monte Carlo, Palm Springs, Mont Blanc or even Reykyavik? Starting off in southern Iraq back in 2004 in the ruins of Basra, I slowly worked my way up through the hot spots of far too obvious agents, Amarah, Baghdad, Amman, Bandar Abbas and all the way up through Iran to Tehran. But now, once off a sudden I’m back where I started: In the mud between ruins, moaning minarets among veiled women. Why? In the Terminal 2 of Dubai Airport I spent my eight hours hanging out with a couple of Blackwater guys. Two six foot tall 250 pound meat chunks. Flatfaced, no profiles, born and raised (but obviously not schooled) in the outskirts of Chicago, sentenced to spend their youth in the fitness center, no brains, all muscles and fat, but not fit like soldiers, rather fatfit like losers, covered with tattoos and heavy metal beards and gothic words, they’ll never be able to read, one of them hunched over his triple meal, the other one having 3 cans of Pepsi and 3 cans of some power drink in ten minutes, - so where are you guys going? - Something Something. - Never heard about it, I said, - what plane are you on, the one to Kabul? - Don’t remember, he said. - Don’t Remember? I said, - you don’t remember what plane you’re supposed to be on? They looked briefly at one another. - We’re not really supposed to say. - Okay, I said, - Blackwater. They talked about their days off in Dubai, call girls in Copenhagen, in Kuwait last month they’d finished the entire bar on top of a five star hotel. - Four more years, one of them said, - I decided to take four more years and then I’m off. - To where? I said. - Don’t know, he said. Two hours later I saw them boarding the bus for the plane to Basra. That’s all. My life with the ghosts of Bush.
I came down in “Kabul International Airport”. Just a grey brown barrack. I walked right out in the mud. It was raining, zero degrees, behind a sheet metal barrier a vast plain of scattered materials, “new airport by Japan”. I crossed the ruins of a parking lot looking for our Norwegian allies supposed to meet me somewhere. A native soldier or cop or guard or Taleban terrorist in disguise joined me. Nice guy, gave him a telephone number and he called it and somebody answered. He gave me the phone. - Mister White? I said. - Mister Nielsen? the voice said.
Our Norwegian allies sent in three men back in August to build up the camp. As I crossed the Park C between rusty cars and lines of telephone card sellers they came towards me. Had to be them. Didn’t look like Norwegians, though, rather a couple of Russian kulaks. The third one is off for a week on the beaches of Dubai. They have a nice van, the driver speaks English. On the way into the ruins of a city they told me about the work at the National Theatre. I told them about my mission, the long walk from the outskirts of nowhere to the stage centre. Later the rain became snow. We went for a walk, the broad streets almost empty, just mud, puddles and chunks of blown-off concrete, into the dusk, lines of street lights, but no light, all mist, and above our heads a chaotic pattern of power lines winded with strings from the kids kites. Men floating out of the mist towards us, smiling, or begging, mild, in rags and slightly Mongolian. Most of the houses just low and square and greyish, mud, bricks and plates of concrete. Here and their a new house, Pakistan style, opulent and with those gasoline-shimmering non-transparent windows they used for banks and office buildings in Europe back in the sixties. Our house, “the Centre”, in a side street, behind walls, a gate with a guard and “please take off your boots at the entrance”.