One of the things my father always did was look for smiles. I would say that is a goal everyone should have, look for the smiles — today pictures from Afghanistan. I have to say the world was a lot different when we traveled to Afghanistan in the 1970s. First off, you could walk up to the gate and say goodbye to friends and family back then. You couldn’t go to the gate of inbound international flights, but you could for domestic flights. Our life in Bangkok had prepared us for warmth. When we landed in Delhi, India, it was warm, so we were all set. We spent a few days in Delhi and New Delhi, and while different than Thailand, it was very similar in temperature.
Culturally very different, but we were able to adjust. When you live in one place, you tend to get used to the way things are in that place. We were used to the culture of Thailand, but our landlord was from India, so we had been introduced to many of the traditions and customs of the wonderful country. Flying to Kabul was different; however, it was a much different world. I know I struggled with the difference. It was a stark place. But there were smiles, as you can see in the pictures. Smiles of people happy to see other humans! We flew to Kabul from New Delhi, and the flight was one that I will never forget. There were, from the windows of the plane, lights.
The lights were the villages in the mountains, and they were not that far. When you fly, you always see big cities, But unless you are low to the ground or in the mountains, you don’t see small towns and villages. They tend to have 10, 12 lights on, and when you are 30,000 feet above those lights, they are not bright enough for you to see them. When you are 2000 or 3000 feet, you can see the lights from the small mountain villages. So, what we saw was close. My mother had her lucky Thai ring on, so there were no issues. That ring has never failed my mother in all the miles she has flown. I guess luck is real. I still remember stopping in Afghanistan for a week. I remember the cold.
But I also remember the smiles.