It was 2009. We had left early that rain-soaked morning, long before daybreak, loading our jeep in Kabul with plastic containers of water and petrol, spare tyres and food. I brought a sleeping bag in case we broke down on the twelve-hour journey; my driver had a gun to ward off bandits and kidnappers. We were going to Bamiyan, where Genghis Khan had tried to destroy every living thing and which is the ancient home of the Hazara Shias, the third largest ethnic group in Afghanistan.
The road was bumpy, uncomfortable, endless. Mile after mile of vast earth and sky, mud houses; women in burkas working the fields in the rain. Part of the sense of remoteness and isolation is deliberate: Bamiyan lies between the immensity of the Koh-i-Baba mountains and the Hindu Kush, making the Hazara less vulnerable to enemies.