Saturday, March 11, 2006

And on the 6th Day...

I recall, or have made up, a story I once heard or read about Afghanistan. I’m hoping someone can verify this for me. I remember it being from some TV special or documentary on this country, from years ago, most likely from the early ‘90s. As I recall an old man was relating a joke/proverb about Afghanistan, something to the effect that after God had finished creating the world, on the 6th day, he took all the left over rubble and debris and dumped it here.

After yesterday’s excursion, I can see why they tell that story. Now, there is the literal interpretation of that story, in terms of the debris and detritus all over Kabul, and of course, that is true for many third world cities. The characteristic overflowing trash lining the streets, the stink of sewage and smells of street food intermixed, and the overwhelming dust.

Kabul has the Silk Road buzz, the post-war twist and the faint ghosts of the Ruskis for its own particular version. But I think the story wasn’t meant to evoke this particular scene. It wasn’t meant as a post-modern parable of globalization, the Cold War, and the post-conflict zone. I think it was meant to be about the mountains and harsh landscape. Most of us are familiar with such, at least through the TV and news. But as always, witnessing it in person is dramatically different.

So I had, likely, the best day I’ve had here. And all we did was take an hour and a half drive outside the city. This one-day excursion was as relaxing, if not more, than my RnR to Goa. And if I could do this trip, or others similar (as there are many places to see not far out of the city), with some regularity, I could even forgo the RnRs during the extension (oh yeah, I think I’ll be here till the end of June).

The simple details of the trip, for it was a simple trip, are that we had a picnic lunch prepared by our wonderful chefs, supplemented by some local food supplied by our gracious hosts, and took it along, at the invitation of our Afghan host, to a day-house/picnic area on a mountain-side right above Charikar. Our host, the wonderful “The General” accompanied us to the location and stayed with us there for a couple of hours. "The General" was from Charikar and was the mujahidin commander there for years, allied with Massoud. The sun was strong and warm, and the air was thin and crisp, and not a whiff of diesel fumes. Luckily I brought plenty of cigarettes, lest my lungs get too used to clean air. Pictures are below.

Leaving Kabul...and the dust behind...

...and the convoy leaving us behind

The switchbacks up to the picnic spot, four walls of windows, and a great roof deck...

Being with "The General" meant we got more than the basic picnic spot, but even those were quite nice, even by first world standards.

Even the guards enjoyed the day, I hope...

2 comments:

NegativeMode said...

Nice pictures. I like pictures. And you know what they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, and we all know how many effing words you like to use.

Q. A. Shah said...

N-mode--thanks. See I do take constructive criticism. This was especially for you and the "A la Mode Crew." I figured you'd appreciate the "Old Man On Donkey" picture the most. And yeah, it's sad that even with pictures, my captions are like 3 sentences long.

The only diarrhea i suffer from here is from the mouth...