Saturday, October 24, 2009

New Campus

For the past few Thursday and Saturday mornings I've joined several of my colleagues at the 45 acre plot where the new campus will be built: to run, walk (that's me), be outside and play. We still have an escort, a driver and an armed guard with us, but there's lots of land and a chance to almost be by oneself.

The site is in the shadow of the Darulaman Palace.
And I never got tired of taking pictures of it.

Like the Palace, the land here took a fair amount of shelling during the fighting between warring Afghan factions in the 1990's.

Only recently were all the landmines removed. The white stone indicates 'OK;' the red flag: 'landmine', but all gone now - I hope.

Excavation of a mine?
Left over tank from the Soviet occupation in the 1980's.

Soviet artifacts.

This was once part of Kabul University which was housed on the original site.

Here's me, looking important.

Actually, I was looking at the dead sunflowers in the courtyard of the bombed building.Part of the Veterinary School of Kabul University which is still on site. The dog barks and barks when I approach, but also wags that tail. The cows just do their thing.

The fat-rumped sheep. Only two willing to pose; the third said 'baa.'

The goat.
And his friend.

This gentleman (the caretaker, I think) and I manage to have a conversation in Dari. Not much: 'how are you?' and 'I'm fine and you?' sort of thing. I did manage to crank out in Dari that I was a professor at the University. He told me the words for goat (boz), sheep (gospan) and cow (gaw), offered to shake my hand and posed for this picture.

There is no money for construction of the main buildings yet - estimated to be $50 million, but the facilities for the guards are currently being built.

Trees have been planted and it's possible to visualize the final roads.
Here's the soccer field which is almost finished - missing bleachers.
A downed kite. Recent, I think.

Me trying my hand at kite flying. Not as easy as it looks!

The darn thing just kept spinning and crashing.

Here's our driver trying his best to help out.

The kite is aloft, but I didn't get it there; the driver did and then let me hold the string. I think the guard wanted to join in but he was in charge of the gun.

It's a dragonfly - relaxing on the soccer boundary line.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Some Answers

No, we can't drink the water. We use bottled water to brush our teeth and we don't stand under the shower with our mouth open. The housekeeper washes the dishes in tap water and lets them air dry. Bacteria don't live well without a watery environment.

I eat fresh vegetables and I don't peel tomatoes. I do wash them in bottled water.

In the guesthouse I eat a lot of packaged foods - I've developed a taste for lentil (Dal) anything. In restaurants I have ordered hummus which is ever so much better than what I've had in the States, a dumpling affair with meat (Montoo) and wonderful feta cheese, of all things. There is a great Lebanese restaurant in town and last night we went to a place for Sufi music that served a thin form of their traditional bread (nan) stuffed with, I think, spinach, which was delicious.

The University has just hired a cook that can make hamburgers and we're getting a pizza oven. On Thursday nights at the guesthouse we've been ordering pizza - I get the pepperoni.

We have to make special arrangements to buy booze. It's illegal in this Muslim country, although at least in Kabul, it appears to be tolerated for the international community. Thank God!

Today it was 19 C (about 70 F); tonight it's 10 C (about 52 F), but it's getting colder, fast. And we're already starting to hear the horror stories about just how much colder it's going to get.

I am not using anybody's real name in this blog. The only people I know here in Kabul are people I work with. I am trying to get out and about, but it's difficult considering the security concerns.

Everyone has cell phones that are issued by the University. We carry them with us all the time. There are land lines in Kabul but from what I understand they are used mainly by the ministries and other organizations that are looking for secure ways of communicating.

I wear a head scarf whenever I am in a vehicle; I don't wear it at school and I don't wear it when I'm in a restaurant.

I wear a top (or a tunic) that covers my butt and either slacks or a skirt. I show my ankles!

I do not answer the question 'how old are you?'

I do not offer to shake hands with a man unless he makes the move first. I don't touch men, although I'd like to. Afghan men are drop dead gorgeous!

I try and say 'tashakor' (thank you) as much as possible and am trying not to be an ugly 'Amrikayi.'

Any other questions -- that I can answer?


And the 'dawn comes up like thunder.......'

Saturday, October 17, 2009

National Gallery of Art

Today we went to Kabul's National Gallery of Art.The gallery is just down the road on the right. That road is one way: note the flow of traffic and the arrow sign.

For some reason (?) rather than driving the long way around and approaching the gallery going the right way on the one way street, we didn't.

The driver just aimed up that one way street, going the wrong way. I seemed to be the only one in the vehicle reacting to all the cars whizzing by and pretty much dodging us. Everyone else was calm-ish. I have yet to develop that Zen place in my inner being - or whatever.

Oh well ...we made it and didn't get arrested or anything. The prevailing sentiment seems to be that Afghanistan has a lot more to be concerned about than one way streets and which way people travel on them.

The Gallery:
And the gardens which, of course, are beautiful.

The sign says 'Welcome to the opening exhibition of the Garden of Peace and Hope for young Artists and Musicians.'
A 'four o'clock?' with a two-colored blossom.

We were the only guests in the gallery. It costs $5.00; a ticket was written out for us.

We left our shoes at the door and we were given others to wear inside. We were told if we wanted to take any pictures it would cost us 50 Afs ($1). A docent accompanied us and filled us in on the history behind some of the paintings and our escort translated.

Salang Road (artist Yousf Asfi), the road from Kabul to Mazar-e-Sharif through the Hindu Kush mountain range.

Amanullah Khan (Artist Gargani ). The reformist king of the 1920's and according to our escort, the greatest Afghan ruler. It was listed as 'needle sewing' (needlework). A registry number of 572 was assigned to the painting; I wasn't able to find out what registry it was.

Habibullah Khan, father of Amanullah Khan (Artist Prof. Gh. M.Maimanage)

A case full of 210 Destroyed Relics of Taliban Regime.

Torn up pictures.

Our escort told us they mainly destroyed pictures of women.

They missed this one. Date is 1956 - before the Russians came, before the Taliban.

The lighting was mostly bad, the picture frames were damaged, many paintings had no labels and at one stage the guide wiped her hand over a picture to remove the dust. Like the museum and the zoo it was a sad place. But once again I was impressed : impressed with the guide's concern about the dust on a painting and the museum's bravery for displaying what the Taliban had done to their collection.

I'm glad I went.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Street people

Some more shots of the street and its people.

Plastic watering cans.

Standing around!

How many do you count?

Note use of street for walking!

The market just down the road.

Girls in a school uniform . And below - a woman in hers.


They're probably assisting their blue-clad friend across the street. It's difficult to see out of that contraption, particularly if you wear glasses!