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Veersen Bhoolai’s memoir, Afghanistan, 2009-2012

 

Veersen Bhoolai expected challenges as a United Nations journalist working in Afghanistan in 2009 and he got them. Missing a suicide bomber by mere metres, dodging rockets; sleeping in tents in sub zero weather with no heat; sleeping on his office desk to avoid sub-zero tents and trying to use toilets with about three inches of shit piled up all over the floor.

 

What he did not expect was to have to tolerate static from the very people with whom he worked. Despite being a Canadian citizen, he found himself occasionally looked down upon or spoken down to due to the colour of his skin. Many soldiers apparently too fixated on his face to recognize the Canadian ID on his chest. Being shouted at, having his bed kicked at night and a flashlight shone in his face in the early morning was just some of the ignorance he had to endure. Sometimes the lame response was “Well you know what the enemy looks like.”

 

Some people have spent six months in Afghanistan and come back with stories to tell. This Trinidadian Canadian spent three years, most of it in a tent filled with farting, snoring men. This is his story from fog filled tents to waking up to the sound of bombs to watching a friend’s body parts shovelled into a garbage bag after a suicide bombing.

 

Contrary to popular belief, Veersen Bhoolai never worked in the kitchen.

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These are just some of the photos you will see in the book

bombing of a guest house about 100 metre

Missing a suicide bomber by about a hundred metres, Kabul, December 2009.

On my way from Kunduz to Kabul, November 2009. My transportation is behind me.

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journalism lunch after press conference

A journalism lunch after a press conference, Kunduz, October 2009.

takeing refuge in a bomb shelter, Lashka

Chilling in a bomb shelter during a Taliban attack outside. Do we look particularly perturbed?