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An uplifting encounter

Earlier this month, we had had a long day in Ghazni, Afghanistan, chasing a news story of tribal commanders ceremonially turning in their weapons. All four of us – reporter Scott Baldauf; our interpreter, Lutfullah Mashal; our driver, Malik Jan; and I – were hot and irritable from a bone-jolting, seven-hour drive home to Kabul behind a convoy of diplomats and security forces.

Now it was worse. We had become separated from the convoy, and it was already 3 p.m. If we could find the correct road, it would take six more hours to get to Kabul. That would mean driving after sunset – which is risky in a place where underpaid soldiers often moonlight as robbers. I became anxious.

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Then came the tension breaker. A delightful Afghan man sitting on his donkey appeared, with an expression that almost implied he'd been waiting for us. He allowed me to take his picture, and seemed to enjoy the break in monotony. As for us, we certainly were grateful for his comic relief.

As it turned out, we eventually found the right road. And all along the way home, security forces from the convoy had stayed behind to protect the stragglers.


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