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So I’m back in Kabul – in 2014 – the year the wheels are supposed to come off Afghanistan.

So how is it?

Well, there is still no new President, there have been rocket attacks in the city, and legislation outlawing violence against women is even further away (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/04/afghanistan-law-victims-violence-women ). But the sky is blue, the sun is up and the city is as lively as ever.

This time I am staying in a hotel, which is pretty much like the last Kabul hotel I stayed in – lovely garden but dodgy plumbing and electrics. But even here there are changes – the food is amazing; the staff speak English; I haven’t seen any mice or cockroaches and every room has, albeit slightly unreliable, wi-fi.

In  fact, it seems that after living a decade with westerners in their city, many of them British and America, Afghans have really embraced the English language. I have been taking taxis from the firm that is security approved, and their drivers all speak English. This means they can argue more effectively with you as to why your taxi fare is $15 – an outrageous amount of money here – but it also means you can explain where you want to go without having to ring someone else who can speak Dari and pass the phone over. (In fact, they’re better at knowing where they’re going than the taxi drivers in Belfast!)

But it’s not just firms that cater almost exclusively for westerners. As I have scoured the shops for scarfs, jewellry and nockle (the delicious Afghan snack of sugar covered almonds)  I have discussed the prices with Jamil, my faithful shopping partner, and the shop keeper has butted in, in English. However, I still need to learn Dari!

But one thing is definitely the same- the crazy driving!

 

 

 

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