No plan survives contact with war. Helmut von Moltke
AFTER WHAT we had been through, the building we now parked next to loomed like an apparition in the night, big steamy plate glass windows brightly lit from inside. It was a restaurant, a single large room, filled with mujahideen; the Hazara proprietor was smiling as we came in. The place was loud with talk. Some fighters were on their way into Afghanistan, others on the way out. Down the center of the room were several posts with weapons stacked around them; I counted two machine guns and four RPGs in one pile. Near the door were dozens of pairs of beat-up shoes, but Wahidi chuckled that he didn't want to trade his good German sandals for any of these and took his shoes with him to the back, and Hakenberg and I followed suit.
A young Hazara waiter soon appeared with a black roll which he set down and unrolled as the mujahideen drew in their feet. It was a twenty-foot rubber mat. With the same briskness he distributed bowls, and another waiter moved down the center of the mat bent over dealing out the flatbread from a big stack cradled in his left arm. When one of the Pashtuns boisterously grabbed several, the waiter clicked his tongue in annoyance, but ignored him for the moment. Later he returned and took some of them back. Dinner was boiled beef, bread and tea. Afterward, the Hazaras cleaned up with the same quick movements, deftly rolling up the mat, pushing the leftovers and scraps ahead of them as they went.
We slept in the same room where we ate: the restaurant was also a hotel, both of which consisted of the same large room. After breakfast we slowly drove through the town, which was called Ongooray. A good many shops were made from forty-yard shipping containers; how they ended up in Ongooray I never found out. We were now in Ghazni province, far north of Kandahar; from here we would turn southwest, toward the flooded river. This was all mujahideen territory here, they told me proudly, free Afghanistan.
Most of the people here were Hazara; they had a Chinese look but were paler. Ghazni was on the edge of their territory, the mountainous and inac-