The Story of Don Gato

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O Senor Don Gato was a cat.
On a high red roof Don Gato sat.
He was there to read a letter,
(meow, meow, meow)
where the reading light was better,
(meow, meow, meow)
‘Twas a love-note for Don Gato!


“I adore you,” wrote the ladycat,
who was fluffy white, and nice and fat.
There was not a sweeter kitty,
(meow, meow, meow)
in the country or the city
(meow, meow, meow)
and she said she’d wed Don Gato!


O Senor Don Gato jumped with glee!
He fell off the roof and broke his knee,
broke his ribs and all his whiskers,
(meow, meow, meow)
and his little solar plexus
(meow, meow, meow)
“Ay Caramba!!” cried Don Gato.


All the doctors they came on the run,
just to see if something could be done.
And they held a consultation,
(meow, meow, meow)
about how to save their patient,
(meow, meow, meow)
how to save Senor Don Gato.


But in spite of everything they tried,
poor Senor Don Gato up and died.
No, it wasn’t very merry,
(meow, meow, meow)
going to the cemetary,
(meow, meow, meow)
for the ending of Don Gato.


But as the funeral passed the market square,
such a smell of fish was in the air,
though the burial was plated,
(meow, meow, meow)
he became reanimated,
(meow, meow, meow)
he came back to life, Don Gato!

Absolutely loved this song when I was a kid.  We sang this at Franklin Elementary School off of Frankfurt Avenue.  It’s a fun little song.

Malalai and Sierra’s First Day Out

Unny and I decided that we needed to get them out.  Take them to the park.  Try to get them to poo somewhere else besides my Afghan rugs.  So we packed them up into my Afghan pack and rolled out.

We attempted to go to the Lumpini Park first.  No Dogs Allowed!

Next.

We head over to Suan Roe Fai (Old Rail Way) Park.  Technically no dogs allowed there either.  But we snuck them in.

We rented some bikes and tooled on over to a secluded and shaded area in the park.  I let my babies out of my backpack and watched their reaction.  I think they were in shock from the ride. They just sat there.  Scared.  Intimidated by their surroundings.  I forced the issue.  I put their leashes on and pulled them along.  Malalai wasn’t having any part of it.  I had to drag her for a bit and afterward she’d just stop and sit there.  Refusing to sally forth into new territory.  Sierra was a bit more adventurous.  She roamed around a bit.  She followed me and I didn’t need to pull her but every so often to make her move.

When we left, we placed them in the baskets and rode them back to the park entrance.  I had to lock Sierra onto the basket because she kept trying to climb out.  Malalai simply sat there and looked around until we neared the front of the park.  She started getting a little more interested at about that time.  So I held her with one hand and steered the bike with the other.

There were funny.  I laughed.  They whined.  I laughed some more.

Things I noticed.

Thai people really seem to love dogs.  Everyone pointed and talked about our pups.  Everyone was interested.  The Taxi drivers had absolutely no problem picking us up with our dogs. The ones who drove us to the parks seemed to actually enjoy having our pups along for the ride.

It was hot.

I think three crows were interested in making more than casual acquaintance with Malalai and Sierra.  I had to shoo them away twice.  I think they wanted a nice little snack.

The Red Shirts were out in force.  Don’t know if it was full force but there were a lot of them.  They were announcing over their hand held bull horns that today was not a day for Red Shirts or Yellow Shirts but a day for Democracy.  Apparently, the Reds love their King and aren’t bothered by the dichotomy of love for a King and love for Democracy.  Kind of schizo if you ask me or it may simply be that they haven’t thought through their actions to the full spiritual, emotional and political extent.  It’s their country.  I’m simply a guest.  It’s an observation.

Malalai and Sierra were or seemed to be dizzy and in calm shock for most of the trip and were exhausted afterwards.  We took them for their 2nd and 3rd car ride.  1st moto taxi ride.  1st bike ride.  1st trip to a  park.

I accidentally knocked Sierra into a creek or tributary of some sort to the Chao Phraya.  She didn’t like that too much.  I placed Malalai into the basket of my bike.  She just lay down and went to sleep.  I did the same thing with Sierra.  She moved around too much and the bike crashed to the ground.  That might be why she kept trying to climb out of the basket later.

A bird strafed Malalai while she was sleeping in the basket of the bike that I had rented for the park.  Funny but disgusting and I had to clean her.

On the way back in the taxi, both of them fell asleep on me.  Malalai on my leg.  Sierra on my shoulder.

They were cute.  It was a nice day at the park for all of us.   When we arrived back to the Condo and I let them out of my backpack, they looked around as if to say; “How’d we get back here.”  Then they took a nap.

Big day out for our Pups.  I think they enjoyed it.  I know Unny and I did.

Last Stop in Kabul

I flew to Kabul to out process the company and depart for home.  First day back, I relaxed.  Chilled out a bit.  I set up a tour with the Afghan Logistics Service (ALS).  ALS is a company in Kabul that provides everything–Logistics services,  Security, Vehicles, Tours, Cars.  Anything you might need when setting up in country.  They also provide a “mini-cab” service.  They’ll take you anywhere in the city for 7 bucks.  They’re a pretty handy company to have around in Kabul.  I’ve used them quite a bit.

While working for MPRI, we’re only supposed to go to authorized areas.  The Green Zone, ISAF, KIA, etc.

I can’t do it.  I have to get out and see things.  How can you experience life with those “granny” rules?  MPRI is concerned with lawsuits and such.  I don’t care.  I want to do what I want to do.  Rules be damned.

I called ALS and set up a tour of Kabul.  The primary site I wanted to visit was the Bagha Babur.  The Garden of Babur Khan.  Babur Khan was a minor Prince in Central Asia.  He came to the throne of Ferghana when he was 13 or 14.  Young!  He was a scion of both Timurlane and Genghis Khan.  That’s a serious blood line.  He started out not so well.  He captured Samarkand and had it taken back twice.  The Uzbeks were a riddle that he wasn’t quite powerful enough to solve in his youth.  His Kingdom Ferghana was also usurped by his half brother while he was in Samarkand.  He left his 6 open and his half brother took advantage and left him a homeless bandit prince.

Later, he was offered the throne of Kabul when the King there died with no heir.  It was important to keep the bloodline of Genghis and Tumr on the throne.  He took the throne and used it as a base to forge an empire.  The Moghul Empire.  He carved his empire using modern technology.  He was the first to bring fire arms to bear in battle in Central Asia.  He purchased that technology from the Turks and used it to create Hindustan which is the approximate area covering what we today know as Kabul to Peshawar down to New Delhi and Agra today.  He named it Hindustan and called himself the Moghul Emperor after the Persian word for Mongol.

Babur Khan was a Muslim.  As a descendant of Genghis, though, he never forgot his roots and still openly courted the favor of the Great Blue Spirit of his homeland and the same deity or spirit whom Genghis worshiped.  The Mongols felt a great kinship with the land and nature.  This was reflected in the Moghul brand of Islam.  Babur also learned about the Hindu religion of his new Empire and took an interest in the animism, Sikhs and Buddhism of his Empire as well.  Like Genghis, he was open to different voices where God was concerned.

Having read about Babur Khan and his trek from Herat to Kabul through the Mountains of what is today Ghor province, I wanted to visit his Gardens.  Babur died in Agra, but, his wish was to be buried in Kabul.  His son, Humayun, had his body preserved in ice and transported back to Kabul where he was laid to rest in his favorite garden spot.  Today, this site is known as the Bagha Babur.

Like everything else, Bagha Babur was destroyed by the ravages of the Mujahideen Warlords in the post Soviet Era.  Instead of celebrating peace and the defeat of the Soviets, the Warlords became factional and turned on each other like animals.  No city suffered more than Kabul.  Doostum, Rabbani, Massoud, Hekmetyar and others fought for control of Kabul.  They bombed, rocketed, looted, raped and pillaged.  Many people hate the warlords today for these crimes against the Afghan people.

The warlords then, of course, lost everything to the taliban and most fled the country like cowards.

Recently, UNESCO and the Agha Khan Foundation repaired the garden and the walls of the Bagha Babur.  It was nicely done.  Even so, one can still see scars on the structures.  Bullet holes and nicks in various places on the Shah Jahan Mosque and the various grave stones in the Tomb area.  Like everything else in Afghanistan, funds are short and everything has a ragged quality to it.  Bagha Babur is no exception.  It’s a magnificent garden and tomb.  Hundreds of years of history.  We almost lost it all.  Thanks to UNESCO and Agha Khan, though, the people of Afghanistan have an important piece of their history to share with each other and the world.

I also drove around other parts of the city.  We drove out to the Palaces and the Kabul Museum in Darulaman.  The Darulaman Palace is all but destroyed as you can see from the pictures.  Another legacy of the Warlords.

The city of Kabul was virtually untouched as the Soviets withdrew.  Not until the Warlords started fighting each other did Kabul feel the ravages of modern war.  These are the same folks whom we (the US) supported during the Afghan War against the Soviets.  Later we imposed these same Warlords on the people of Afghanistan.  Many of them are no better than and in some cases worse than the Taliban.  I suppose you could say that they are “our” taliban.

Lastly, we cruised up to TV mountain where one can take photos of both sides of the city.  It was a cloudy, dusty day.  So my photos aren’t great.  Even so, they give one an idea of the dusty, central Asian city of Kabul.

Note:  Shah Jahan is the man who built the Taj Mahal.  He is the Grandson of Babur Khan.

Nahida, Jalil an Wazir Ali ~ Last Visit

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It was the last time that I’ll see them.  A bittersweet moment that left me feeling a bit melancholy.

I drove over to the RHQ to see them one last time. I pulled in and saw them sitting out in front of their little store.  We waved to them as we passed into the RHQ. I had a little bit of business to conduct inside the RHQ.  I wanted to get some Certificates signed by General Ak to present to my guys on Thursday when we have our little Hail and Farewell.  Shoaib and I sat with the General for a bit.  He signed our Certs and we chatted for a bit.  He told me that he was going to get me a gift for Thursday.  We joked a bit and then said our farewells.

After that, we went and visited with COL Zahir for a bit.  He was all harried and had a cold.  So he was cursing everything and grumpy until everyone left his office.  We chatted for a bit and laughed and joked for a bit.  Then I had to get going.  I told my boss that I’d not be long out and about.

Funny thing.  Jonathan called me while I was there and cursed at me for being out so close to departure.  He doesn’t want to party alone in Dubai.  haha

Finally, it was time to see the kiddies.  We drove out of the RHQ and turned left into the parking lot where there family store is located.  I jumped out.  As I was pulling the bags out of the back of the SUV, Ali and Jalil came running over.  Nahida, reserved as usual, stayed by the door of the mud brick store which her father built.  I grabbed everything out of the SUV and carried it to the store.  I held out the Kangaroo bag and the Mickey Mouse bag to give the boys a choice as to their preference.  Ali chose the Kangaroo bag.  Ali picked the Mickey Mouse bag.   Next, I opened the big bag with all of the girl stuff that Unny, Orawan and Emmy had sent.

Odd to think that these items came from so far away.  Bangkok and Australia.  Such distance and worlds that couldn’t be more different than Afghanistan.

I took out the things in the bag and showed them to Nahida.  Her eyes lit up as I showed her the sandals that Unny sent.  She seemed to love the pajamas that were sent by Orawan.  The favored item, though, was what I’d forgotten in the SUV.  As I was showing her all of hair thingies, I remembered the Barbie Doll that was in my back pack.  I walked over and pulled it out.  The biggest smile I’ve seen on Nahida broke on her face.  I think that one really made her happy.  The pajamas ~ she loved them.  The shoes ~ Nahida didn’t want to hand them back to me so that I could put them back in the bag.  The Doll, though, she lit up and her smiled beamed as bright as Polaris.  It was a lovely moment.

Nahida doesn’t smile a whole lot.  She’ll break in a smile, but, it quickly goes away.  A flash of brilliance just as quickly vanished.  Seeing that smile come out for the Doll really made my day.  As I’m sure the Doll and assorted other goodies made her day.

As you can tell from the pics, I tried to get them to do that John Wall dance.  lol  Not too successful there.  But it was cute.

After we talked for a bit.  I told them that this would be my last visit.  They didn’t understand at first because Ali asked me when I’d be coming again.  So I pulled Shoaib in and told him to make them understand that I was leaving Afghanistan.  It was a little emotional  I knew I’d get a little emotional once I got to that moment.  I’m a little girly like that sometimes.  lol  I didn’t, however, think that I’d damn near start to cry.  It was funny for me.  Shoaib made fun of me a bit.  He teased me for looking like I was going to cry.  I told him;  “Hell, I couldn’t help it.  I’ve grown close to those cute little bubbas.”

I’ve been asked by a couple of people about adopting Nahida or Jalil or Ali.  The subject has been brought up with the father.  I asked about taking Nahida to the States to put her in school.  A fairly affluent couple from Scandinavia asked about adopting or simply sponsoring Ali and Jalil for European citizenship/schooling.  The Father will not do it.  It’s a shame.  Those kids could have a great life and excellent opportunities if their Father would allow it.  He said that he wants to keep his family together.  Who can blame him.  Not I.

The other side of that is that families are economic units in Afghanistan.  All of the children are earners of some sort.  Whether it be bringing in money for odd jobs or working the shop that their father built or begging on the streets.  They all bring in money to the family.  Lose one and the whole family loses money.  To lose three would be a fairly large dent in the family economic situation/ability to earn.  Even so, I know that he’s been offered money to allow the children to go outside of Afghanistan.

Whatever his reasons, Baba jan wants his family to stay together.

Last note.  I think Nahida thinks that Unny is as beautiful as I think she is.  She asked me for another picture while I was there.  So I gave up my last pic of Unny to her.  I’ll have to get more printed.  I like to look at Unny from time to time and see her brilliant smile.  I think I’ll take all of the pictures on my wall and have Shoaib take them to Nahida.  I’ve got them posted all around my room.  I’ll not need the pics for much longer as I’ll have her.

I hope the Gods watch over my little children here in Afghanistan.  I know I’ll think of them from time to time and wonder how they are.  I wish there were a way to keep in touch.  I will always feel blessed to have had these little people in my life.  Even for so short a time.  As I left, I gave the boys a big hug and swung them around one last time.  It’s taboo to do such a thing to Nahida, so, I just shook her hand.  I told them to take good care of themselves and to be brave and strong in life.

Khoda Hafiz Nahida, Jalil and Ali…

Gifts from Amrikkiya

Since the Larry Vaught article a few people sent messages via email that they were sending gifts for my kids.  The first box arrived on Wednesday night.  I called and asked the military for a ride to the RHQ and took the gifts to Nahida, Jalil and Ali.  They were so excited to receive the toys and other items.  It was a cool day for all of us.

This particular box was from a friend from WildcatNation ~ PsychoCat.   Thanks to PsychoCat, I was finally able to give some real girly stuff to Nahida.  Like I said earlier, I’m clueless as to what a girl might want. Nahida loved the gifts and so did the boys. We played frisbee together for about a half hour and then I watched as the boys wrestled and tried to go all John Cena on me. lol Their words, not mine. I barely know who John Cena is…

I want to get these pics posted and I’m tired.  So since a picture speaks a thousand words…

Nahida is so much more vibrant in person than these pics portray.  She’s just super shy.  A lot of it is cultural.  I showed her a picture of my girlfriend Unny and told her that Unny said hello and that she (Nahida) was “such a pretty little gal.”  You should have seen her smile when I told her that.  So cute.  She seemed extremely reluctant to give it back to me.  So I gave it to her.  She kept looking at it.  Then she’d put it in her pocket and then take it out again for a peek.  She asked Shoaib to tell me that Unny was “besyar makbullah.”    I laughed and smiled and told her that I agreed.

Nahida, Jalil and Wazir Ali Say “Go Big Blue!!!”

GO BIG BLUE!!!

I purchased a couple of UK sweatshirts to give to my little friends over at the RHQ.  I wanted to give the sweat shirts to the kids before I left for leave as a Christmas gift.  I didn’t have the time, though.  So I put them away until after my R&R.

Wahid, Shoaib and I took the  sweatshirts and a few other items (puzzles and candy) to the kids today.   It was fun playing with the kids and explaining them the meaning of the puzzles.   I explained to them who Donald and Daisy  Duck and Huey, Dewey and Louie are as well as the 101 Dalmatians and the Cookie Monster.  As I was doing it, Shoaib reminded me that I used to call Wahid the cookie monster.  When I first met Wahid, he scammed one of my cookies off of me.  I got mad and told him that I’d kick his ass if he ever touched my stuff again.  lol  Then I started messing with him and nicknamed him cookie monster.  It ran on for a year and finally I just let it tail off.  He was pretty embarrassed by it.   Of course, that just made me rub it in all the more.

We gave them the sweatshirts and the candy.  Baba brought over his baby girls as well.  They were cute little girls.  One of them was scared to death of me and the other just looked at me as if I was a curiosity.  I laughed and laughed.  Kept tell ing her; “so you’re the brave one of the family” and laughing.  She let me hold her and talked to me and generally was a fearless little gal.  I loved it.  Too cool.

After the boys put on their sweatshirts, I got them to pose with the flags and yell “Go Big Blue!”  It was too funny and too cute.  I wish I had my vidcam, but, I left it in Thailand with Unny.  I had to coax Nahida over to get into the picture.  She gets shy when the camera comes out.

I sometimes wonder what these kids think of all of this.  I’m some strange American man and I bring them things for no reason.  Shoaib teased Nahida today and told her that I wanted to take her back to the States to marry my son.  She didn’t take to the idea.  I told her that he was joking and I don’t have a son.  No need to worry about that.  Even so, she seemed nervous the whole time.  As if she thought we might take her away.

I kept re-assuring her that it was in no way going to happen.  Although, I’d love to adopt her and take her home with me.  Get her away from the fate that most likely awaits her as an adult Afghan woman.  Send her to school and lead her to a happier life.

I gave Shoaib the camera and he snapped away as I played and acted like a kid myself.  I think they enjoyed it.  Little Jalil called me Dear Uncle today.  I can’t remember the Dari word for Uncle  or I’d type it here.  Then Jalil and Ali started calling me Dawood Khan.  lol  That’s what was on my name tag on my uniform when I first met them.  I laughed and laughed.  I got them to yell “Kentucky!” and “GO BIG BLUE!”, “Patrick Patterson” and “John Wall.”  I was trying to get them to say “The Great Wall of Kentucky!”  But I think it was too long.  lol

Then I got them to yell “UK is Number One” and “Go Big Blue!” again.

It was a fun time.  Always nice seeing my little friends.  Peace!

Kentucky Fans Care

As Kentucky fans, we have been bountifully blessed this year with Coach Calipari and this outstanding Kentucky Basketball team. I know that many of you, like me, are very grateful for this program’s return to prominence as we have endured the longing for success now for several years.

I believe that Kentucky fans are the most loyal, passionate and generous fans of any sports team in America. And, I think I have a way that we can share who we really are with the rest of the world.

There are extremely cold temperatures throughout America now and will be next week as well. Even Florida has had a series of record low, freezing temperatures. Most of us are blessed to have warm clothes and a warm enough place to sleep to endure the arctic air that surrounds us.

But not everyone in America will have what they need to stay warm tonight. They need things that most of us already have in our closets, under our beds, or in our attics. I believe that everyone reading this has something, even just one thing, that they could share with another human being to help keep them warm.

Since Kentucky has the most dedicated fans in the world and we are a caring group of good people, I have an idea how we can show the rest of the world.

Between now and next Friday, January 15th let’s each find some way, small or large, to make a difference in the life of one single homeless person. Let’s choose to unite in belief, for one moment in time, that every homeless person can’t help where they are in life right now.

Let’s look throughout our homes for anything extra we have that we can share. The economy is too tough for many of us to go out and buy new things to give away. So, let’s simply share what we already have with just one other person

Look for blankets, sweatshirts, sweatpants, warm socks, gloves, hats, scarves, candles, or anything else you can share to keep someone warm.

Next, write in permanent ink on the label or somewhere discretely this one simple phrase, “Kentucky fans care.”

Finally, go find a homeless person and give it to them directly or take the items to your local homeless shelter for distribution to those in need. Sadly, there is no shortage in our country today.

Let the message resound throughout America that indeed, “Kentucky Fans Care”.

Feel free to share this message in any way or any place that you can. Post it on other boards. Send it in email to friends and family that bleed blue like us. Print 50 and hand them out at the game Saturday. Just try and help to spread the word in any way you see fit.

I know what good and kind hearted people we have in this Big Blue Nation of Kentucky fans. Just think of how many lives we can touch for the better. It’s a very small thing for each of us to do. But together, we will shout this message to the rest of the world. Let’s help one other human being trying to simply survive, one night at a time.

CurlyCat in Tampa

I think this is a fine idea.  Please feel free to copy this and pass it on and use it.  I’ll find a way to do it here in Afghanistan as well.  I’ll post pics later.

Thanks, Dave

Random Photos

I bought this Statue of Jayavarman VII in Cambodia in December of 2008.  Carried it to Afghanistan and it’s been in my room here in Herat since.  I’m going to leave it in Afghanistan.  Just wanted to leave a piece of Cambodia behind in this country.  The Taliban and the Khmer Rouge similarly wrecked their respective countries and set them back decades in progress and education.  To me, it’s a similar tale.  I’ve pretty much decided to give this statue to MG Akrummuddeen.  Hoping he will keep it in his office.  That would be pretty cool.

These candies were an Eid gift form Wahid.  I’m going to send them home to my Momma.  The tins depict the Minarets of Herat.  I think that ‘s awesome.  These remind me of the candy tins that my Grandmother used to have at her house when I was a kid.