KANDAHAR/BAGRAM AIR BASE/KABUL, Afghanistan -- Kabul airport had fallen quiet at the moment I left, but the chaos of upended lives lay all around me on the tarmac. In horrific scenes the previous day, people had clung to a U.S. transport plane as it moved to take off and at least two dropped to their deaths after it was airborne.
I scuttled in with the early morning light on August 17 past tattered shoes, broken slippers and a headless doll. My fellow passengers and I were en route to an evacuation flight hurriedly arranged by the Indian government after the Taliban captured the Afghan capital. The debris around me summed up the renewed destruction and desperation that the people of this conflict ravaged country had tried so long to escape.