Saturday, March 11, 2006

What Day Is It?

The days are beginning to blend together. Think it's Day 6 of my time in Kabul. Here are a few more things/observations/experiences:

Yesterday we traveled to the village of Istalif. It was an hour away from Kabul. Along the way, a motorcycle pulled alongside our van. A helmet-less male, 20-something, with dark sunglasses, moustache, leather jacket and jeans was driving with a blue burqua'd woman riding on back. They waved to us. I waved back. She gave the thumbs up. I showed her my camera and and asked if it were "ok" and she nodded with approval. Got a couple of great shots - with the burqua and she later took it off and allowed me to photograph her. Women's liberation.

Anyway, Istalif is in the mountains. We drove through the country into the foothills. Saw more greenery, streams and trees. It's early spring and most trees are not blooming, but the almond trees with their white buds are leading the way.

Istalif was heavily destroyed by the Taliban and like much of Afghanistan, is in the rebuilding process. The town is known for pottery and we met with several potters.

Had lunch at the Minister of Mining & Industry's country house afterwards. His wife is a fantastic hostess and brilliant businesswoman. She runs a company that is rebuilding roads in Afghanistan and she has been instrumental in getting at least one school built.

The plan was then to visit the place where kites are flown, but Karzi was there and we were not able to visit. We asked our guide to take us to the stadium where the Taliban killed people (stoning women) in a public setting. Olympic symbols were around, along with Mousad. Joggers were exercising. Big difference from a few years ago.

Today we visited the province of Warkdak and had some security. We met with Dr. Roshanak Wardak, a female gynecologist who is also the governor of the province. Her main agenda is education. "Education opens the mind of the people," she told us.

She explained that everything she has done has been for the benefit of the people and not herself. Her mother would not let her marry, instead, telling her to become a doctor and help the people. She fled to Pakistan during the Russian occupation and returned just prior to the Taliban reign. Wardak was not impacted negatively from the Taliban. The doctor said she covered up but did not wear a burqua.

"I told them to show me in the religious books where it says to wear a burqua and I will wear seven of them," she told the Taliban. They couldn't prove it.

It was another rain-free day which meant for loads of dust. Our ride to Wardak was 2.5 hours, 45 minutes spent on a bumpy, dirt road up into the mountains.

I understand there was (another) protest in Kabul. We knew nothing about it.

So much more to share, but the Internet connection and this keyboard sucks. So until next time, thanks for everyone's encouragement and support.

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