Making Soapies in Kabul

Trudi-Ann Tierney used to work on Home & Away, before taking a leap of faith and moving to Afghanistan to work on the country’s most popular soap opera ‘Secrets of the House’.  Trudi’s is a fascinating, inspiring story which she shares in her book Making Soapies in Kabul.

This is an edited extract from MAKING SOAPIES IN KABUL, published by Allen &Unwin, RRP $29.99, out now.

The whistling dog woke me up again, for the sixth morning running.

Despite having not hit my pillow until 2am, I smiled when I heard his

feeble toot-tooting just after five. My mangy Labrador alarm clock

didn’t exactly belt out a tune (although I had picked out a solitary

bar of ‘Sweet Caroline’ two mornings before), and as I watched him

sitting alone under my window, serenading the first signs of sun,

I couldn’t discern any actual lip-pursing or puckering-up. But he

was most definitely whistling.

I had never encountered a whistling dog before, but then the past

month had been a rollcall of phenomenal firsts; my entrée into life in

Afghanistan in April 2009 had been nothing short of mind-blowing.

Hundreds and thousands of expats had made this journey before me.

Soldiers ordered here to fight the bloody war; aid workers

committed to cleaning up the mess; doctors and diplomats; moneyhungry

entrepreneurs who’d sniffed out the scent of a quick buck

to be made in the battle zone. Amongst them, I felt uniquely out of

place in my mission to Afghanistan; I had come to Kabul to manage

a bar and restaurant—‘The Den’.

I spent my entire three-hour flight from Dubai into Kabul pressed

up against the plane’s window, marvelling at the alien new world

below. I gazed in wonderment as the plane cruised over chocolatebrown

mountains, their tops sugared with snow, and then dipped into

barren valleys where the only hints of habitation were tiny perfect

grids of crude mud fencing. I was an unabashed, window-licking,

mouth-breather, and I was not even particularly disconcerted when

the turbaned fellow in front spent minutes at a time staring back at

me through the gap in the seats. As we skimmed over the NATO base

next to the airport and landed alongside military choppers standing

to attention on the tarmac, I fumbled for my headscarf and recalled

the extraordinarily easy journey that had brought me to this place.

It all began late in 2008 over dinner with my brother Adam, one

of my life-long friends, Paul, and his partner, Jose. Paul had just been

appointed as the head of production for Afghanistan’s largest and

most successful television broadcaster and was back in Australia

trying to assure his family that moving to Afghanistan was a sane

and sensible life choice. My TV career in Australia was kind of at a

standstill. My business partner, Muffy, and I had recently had a comedy

show optioned by an international production house and an Australian

network was showing genuine interest in funding the series in the new

financial year. Muffy also had a documentary in early development

with another company. We were playing the waiting game and I was

in need of a new adventure. Much to Adam’s horror, I farewelled Paul

that night with a commitment that, if ever there was an opportunity

for me to join him in Afghanistan, I wanted in.