A break in London
Statue of Monty outside the Ministry of Defence in London
After getting back from Afghanistan, I rushed around the UK seeing family and friends, wanting to get back out there quickly. I’d found something I wanted to do for a bit longer. Pakistan was calling, friends there were asking why I didn’t head over the border, a fair idea, and by road from Kabul to Jalalabad to the border you’re on a road with mountains either side, stopping at local cafes for hot food and tea. When I was travelling along it in January 2021, it was nicknamed the world’s most dangerous road as The Taliban would ambush people, but now they were in charge so it was safer. There was fighting in Jalalabad against IS. I’d been on long road trips with my parents when we visited Pakistan growing up, we were used to sitting in minibuses for hours on roads where anything may happen. But it hadn’t happened. Instead I’d left for London. Sitting in a cafe in Charing Cross I was rushing through a list of the administration of life I had to get through before I headed back. Bank, will, etc. And then I realised I didn’t need to rush back. I hadn’t downloaded any of the photos from the cards in my camera, a photographer I’d met there had shown me her system. So I breathed out. Don’t rush back. Take some time. I started looking through the photos, cataloged them. Started to learn what else I needed to do. I’d felt odd being back in the UK, but after a week or so it felt normal again.
I had left a few things at a friend’s house so rented a car and removed them. I felt better. Just a big bag and a rucksack, then started to cut that kit down too. I’d been able to field test my kit, did I really need all those leads, camera gear, what had I actually used? It’s easy to pack too much. I dived in the sea off Oman with my GoPro, but this time I’d hardly ever used it, could I leave that out? Creativity within limits. How many painkillers did I need? I went on a medical course and asked the doctors about using medicines from Afghanistan, they worried about regulation, so I’d take some but not the whole box. Hadn’t India made most of our vaccines and didn’t Pakistan supply the NHS with surgical equipment? But it was a fair concern. Could a head torch with some paper to soften it light a face for a photo? I started to think about the principle rather than the product. It was a useful exercise. Pack less. Then I started dreaming of travelling with a single large backpack. The freedom of it.
I’m still in the UK. Looking for the next adventure.