2012
06.19

SYNOPSIS:  WHAT DAY IS IT?!  DEPARTURE AND FINAL REFLECTIONS

“But your flight is tomorrow!”   Said the clerk behind the desk after looking and looking at the computer forever, which had already made me wonder what the heck was wrong.  Tomorrow…  I guess, that said it all.  I just had enough of Afghanistan, so much that subconsciously I had departed a day early talking myself into believing it was the right day.  “Man cheli moshkel hastam!” I replied (something like “I am such a problem!” even though it was grammatically completely wrong, of course)  “Moshkel niest”.  The clerk assured me that it was much better to be a day early than a day late.  He asked if I wanted to change my flight, but I was in no mood to throw good money after bad and asked him for a standby.  If there was no room, I could always go back.  But everything worked out very nicely.  The plane had at least 20 empty seats and without any further trouble at the desk, I was able to fly today.… VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2012
06.14

SYNOPSIS:  A WILD GOOSE CHASE TO FIND THE GULDARA STUPA.  THE LAST SUPPER WITH THOMAS AND NASSER AND A LOOK INTO THE EXPAT SCENE OF KABUL.  A LONG BLOG WITH MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING.  FOR SPECIAL INTERESTS ONLY.  NOT WORTH READING FOR ANYONE IN A HURRY.

By the time the three of us sat down for a late lunch in the afternoon, exhausted and sweaty from seven hours of a useless search, I was in tears.  I could feel how my nose got red and my face puffed up as the tears started to roll.  Navo, the lanky, tall driver and Shirin, my stocky “gun” looked away, uncomfortably playing with their food, not knowing what to do with me now.  They had tried so hard, but we had been doomed to fail from the get-go.… VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2012
06.11

SYNOPSIS:  ABOUT THE LONG OVERDUE VISIT TO THE KABUL MUSEUM, THE NATIONAL GALLERY, THE SULTANI MUSEUM , THE ZOO, AND ABOUT MEETING THE DONORS OF THE GARDEN OF LOVE AND HOPE.

The final two days are starting.  I am on my own, just as I was 16 days ago.  But now I feel a bit more comfortable with my environment and I tested the waters of my newly-won freedom today.… VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2012
06.10

SYNOPSIS:  THE CONTINUATION OF THE OFFICIAL AND UNOFFICIAL STORY ABOUT WOMEN’S RIGHTS – PASSED ON TO ME SECOND HAND – AND A FEW OBSERVATIONS I MADE WHILE TRAVELING.  READING DAY 35 PART I FIRST MAKES THE MOST SENSE.

Let’s call her Mina.  She had fled with her wealthy Afghan family during the Taliban regime to the United States.  She and her father had decided to return to their homeland after the U.S.… VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2012
06.09

SYNOPSIS:  THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES AND THE MINISTRY OF WOMEN’S AFFAIRS – THE OFFICIAL AND THE UNOFFICIAL STORY ABOUT WOMEN’S RIGHTS.

The National Archives are located in a stately mansion and organized chronologically.  Many fading photographs of emirs and dignitaries provide a chronological overview of the history of Afghanistan.  It was quite interesting, but I certainly could not recall the details after just one visit.  The museum is divided into two sections:  historical documents and photographs and a section on art and manuscripts mainly featuring copies.… VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2012
06.09

SYNOPSIS:  POTTERY AND PICNIC, DOGS, THE OLD BIRD-BAZAAR AND MUBIN’S STORY.

Another day going north…  And since there is only one road, it’s the same road I have been on for the umptiest time.  I asked Mubin if we could not go south for a change, but he claimed that there is nothing of interest for a long time except desert.  I have to trust him on this.… VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2012
06.09

SYNOPSIS:  MUBIN’S VILLAGE, BAGRAM AIR BASE, CHICKEN STREET, AND YET ANOTHER PICNIC ALONG THE WAY.

Really, the Panjshir Valley could have been done in one day:  Getting up and going a bit earlier, skipping the picnic at Mubin’s future subdivision and if need be, cutting the drive into the valley a bit shorter.  But then, what else would we have done?!  Wasting time is one of Mubin’s talents and picnics are one of his favorite methods.  I am not complaining, just noting.  He is in a bind as much as I am.  He has to entertain me for 16 days and our options have been severely limited.  But I am getting tired of it!… VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2012
06.08

SYNOPSIS: ABOUT MUJAHEDDIN, MASSOUD AND TANKS IN THE RIVER.

You would think he is running for president if you wouldn’t know otherwise: Ahmad Shah Massoud. His picture is everywhere, from full wall-size depictions on government buildings to posters in every grocery store or motorbike repair shop, to postcard sized on the windshields of cars. Laughing, contemplative, shooting, reading, praying or instructing and always, always good looking!… VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2012
06.06

SYNOPSIS:  THE DREADED TRANSIT BACK TO KABUL.  ABOUT ICE CREAM AND FOOD, BRIBES AND CARS.

I had braced myself for hell again and that was good so – since traffic lacked any animal herds today and for several stretches the race-driven Afghan drivers held back, a whole hour was shaved off the hellish part and the ride felt almost manageable; but only in comparison to day 28.  Not once did we have to back up – amazing!  But don’t get me wrong.  Knowing what I know, I would never again agree to this trip unless the tunnel is fixed.  There are flights after all…

The lack of any new material today will allow me to catch up on a few odds and ends I have been observing and thinking about.… VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2012
06.06

SYNOPSIS:  A VISIT TO AN ANCIENT BUDDHIST SITE OBSCURED BY THE LEGEND OF ROSTAM.

Takht-e-Rostams are numerous in Afghanistan – the “Throne of Rostam”.  Rostam, if I understand this right, is kind of the Gilgamesh of Persian legend, a hero written about in the famous 10th Century Shahnameh, or Book of the Kings by Ferdowsi (Firdausi), a Persian writer.

Takth-e-Rostam near Samangan is an unmistakable Buddhist site due to the presence of a rock-cut Stupa.  Both Mezar-e-Sharif and Samangam are safer places than Balkh and my crew was a lot more relaxed today compared to yesterday.  I was even invited to walk around the bazaar, but it did not look like anything worth exploring.… VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY