Khak Bad: the “dust wind”

15 May 2007 / 25 Saur 1386

Generally the wind blows from the north here. But starting in May, the wind sometimes blows from the west. It is one thing for strong wind to pick up all the dust in the streets of Kabul. It is quite another to have the city enveloped in a 2,000-foot-high rolling cloud of fine dust.

I cannot convey the sinus headache you get when this happens. But at least this sequence of images will give some impression.

What it normally looks like…

Khak bad arrives
You know it is coming when the sunlight changes color.

Khak bad abates
It arrives suddenly, but it abates slowly as the fines settle down.

post khak bad
Afterwards you can still see the squall-line of the wind-storm moving off.

I got caught outside in such a storm last year without a scarf. I had a hacking cough for the next three weeks which progressed into pneumonia. Many Afghans have tuberculosis, and I feared I had contracted that. I found out later that I am unlikely to suddenly contract TB, because I am not malnourished. The difference in access to a balanced diet alone means I am living in a different world than many of the Kabulis around me.

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