In and Around Kabul

These are photos that I have taken in and around Kabul over the past couple of years. Kabul is a bit dangerous. It’s also a fun place. I have never had a bad experience in the city. Chicken Street is a riot even if it is a bit pricey these days. City Centre is a nice place to have a cup of coffee on the roof and survey the city. The Kabul Coffee House is a great place for an Ice Mocha with other ex-pats. Night time at Wazir Akhbar Khan Line 15 is a great place to dance the night away or have a few drinks and check out all of the femme ex-pats, Chinese hookers or Filipina gals. The Marco Polo Restaurant is good for excellent Italian cuisine. Some of the Chinese Restaurants actually serve chinese food. lol

I do know of people who have had terrible experiences there. One friend of mine was beaten badly in a roust of the local underground clubs. The “police” took him outside and beat him until his ribs were bruised black and blue. Then took him to their “police station” and kindly accepted a couple hundred dollars for his release. During this same raid, a group of Filipina girls were taken out and raped repeatedly. This set off a huge international incident. The Chinese “Restaurants” are raided about once every three months. Any place that sells alcohol is subject to being raided by one faction or another. Womens Beauty salons can be raided at any time if they are accused of being houses of prostitution. The accusation of prostitution can stem from an incident as simple as a local Mullah walking by and hearing loud laughter. Police at checkpoints will attempt to bribe you for a 20 spot to pass through their territory. This is easily defeated by stating loudly and aggressively that you are US Army and not backing down. This works as I’ve used it. The local police are scared to death of the US Army. Now that I train them and am on cheek kissing terms with the local Regional Commander, I’m pretty much untouchable. Not that I go off post alone these days. Since being hired by this new company and moving to the West, it’s UAV MILCON or nothing. Can’t go wrong in an armored vehicle.

This place wasn’t always so terrifying and violent. Before the Taliban, before the War of the Warlords. Back when the King was attempting to enact liberal reforms. Kabul was a haven for dope smoking hippies. That was the 60s and 70s. Kabul was also a Euro holiday spot. Places like Mazar-e Sherif, Ghazni and Herat, even Q’andahar, were tourist spots as well. Of course, that all came to a screeching halt when the Soviets came crashing in to install peace and prosperity at the tip of the communist sword. Back in 2006. As I was driving around, I did see a few tourist running around. I saw a couple of backpackers in September of 2007 sneaking around Kabul and I’ve heard of the occasional tourist and backpacker passing through Herat since I’ve been here. It will be years before the tourists come back in any respectable numbers due to the terror element. Such a shame. There is much to be seen and much to experience in Afghanistan.

2009 Holiday Photos

It was an epic adventure.

We started off in Athens.  Spent the next few days exploring the ruins of Ancient Greece and Rome.  Took wild taxi rides to and from the airport.  Got ripped off by them.  Bought expensive dinners and Cokes from street vendors.

Beijing — The Forbidden City

 

WOW!  I was going through old posts and came across this one.  Apparently, I’d uploaded the pics and never gone back to it.

These are from the winter of 2006.  My first long trip to Asia.  Amazing what an experience that turned out to be.  I became more or less addicted to Asia.  I’ve been back to China since then and lived in Thailand for a year aside from various excursion throughout Southeast Asia.

This was my first big trip with Becca.  I’m sure I drove her crazy.  lol  Nagged her to death and caused her all kinds of inner turmoil.

We’ve since traveled all over the world.  India.  Greece.  Italy.  France.  Israel.  Turkey.  Egypt twice.

Some of the most exciting experiences I could ever have dreamed up as a child in Louisville, KY.

Life is freakin’ incredible.

Two Rocks

OK…

See the two rocks…

Well, some Muslims believe that it is forbidden to touch the penis (even one’s own penis) with one’s hands.

In order to urinate, they’ll take two rocks and hold their penis.

Being the polite and considerate culture that Islam is…they leave the rocks in the toilet so that they’ll be conveniently available for others.

Yes! The next guy WILL use those same two rocks to hold his penis.

And the next one…and the next one…and the next one…lol

Crazy Scheit!!!

I’m in Kabul. Again…

This is an old post that I had made private due to the Military.

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My holiday has commenced. I woke at 5 a.m. to grab a ride with the SECFOR. Got to the Herat airport shortly thereafter. I was supposed to fly with Kam Air to Kabul. As I was waiting for my flight, fortune smiled on me. There was an Italian PRT flight preparing to depart for Kabul via Chagcharan. PRT flights are run by NATO. Mostly Spanish or Italian. This flight was scheduled to depart at 0800. So I was excited to be getting out early and without the hassle of flying with Kam Air.

The Kam Air flight was supposed to depart at 0900. I’m guessing that it probably landed in Herat at 12 noon. Typically late.

I signed up for the PRT flight. We departed at approximately 0900. The aircraft for Kam Air hadn’t shown up yet.

During the flight, a rather ancient Afghani fellow sat next to me on the flight. Apparently, he had never flown before. I had to buckle his seat belt for him. During take off and each time we hit turbulence of any sort, this fellow reaches across and grabs the seat in front of him and white knuckles it. It was a little humorous. I felt sorry for the guy though. He was pretty frightened. Once we landed, he jumped to the ground and wouldn’t let go of the aircraft.

So now, I’m in Kabul. I need to get pages added to my passport (again). Monday, I’m off to Dubai.

A few days later, I’ll be standing in front of the Taj Mahal with my brand new Olympus e-Volt SLR. Awesome.

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As an aside, I have to wonder why everything that involves the US military is such a hassle. With US Mil Air, you have to sign up 3 days in advance. You need two copies of your orders. One must be “officially” stamped. Then you must show up 4 hours early for your flight to get manifested with the “officially” stamped orders and ID Card in hand. Then stick around for four hours waiting for the aircraft to show or be cancelled. They collect all ID cards as you are manifested. In order to board the aircraft you must wait until they call off your name and return your ID Card. When you land, they collect you ID Card again. You have to wait for another 30 minutes to an hour to get it back and your bags may take an hour.

NATO PRT. I showed up expecting to take a commercial flight. Asked if I could hop on the PRT flight. They said sure and took my name down on his list. I waited about two hours and boarded the aircraft. 90 minutes later, I was in Kabul. I exited the aircraft. A German ground controller escorted us off the tarmac. He asked who was continuing on to other destinations and told the rest of us to have a nice day.

Bureaucracy. Idiocracy. US Mil Air.

Land of the Groped, Home of the Government Approved Perverts

Full-Frontal Nudity Doesn’t Make Us Safer

For even more theater of the absurd, consider that the TSA screens pilots. If a pilot wants to bring a plane down, he or she can probably do it with bare hands, and certainly without weapons. It’s also not entirely crazy to think that an airline will take measures to keep their pilots from turning their multi-million dollar planes into flying bombs. Through the index funds in my retirement portfolio, I’m pretty sure I own stock in at least one airline, and I’m pretty sure airline managers know that cutting corners on security isn’t in my best interests as a shareholder.

And the items being confiscated? Are nailclippers and aftershave the tools of terrorists? What about the plastic cup of water I was told to dispose of because “it could be acid” (I quote the TSA screener) in New Orleans before the three-ounce rule? What about the can of Coke I was relieved of after a flight from Copenhagen to Atlanta a few months ago? I would be more scared of someone giving a can of Coke to a child and contributing to the onset of juvenile diabetes than of using it to hide something that could compromise the safety of an aircraft.

And finally, most screening devices are ineffective because anyone who is serious about getting contraband on an airplane can smuggle it in a body cavity or a surgical implant. The scanners the TSA uses aren’t going to stop them.

Over the next few years, we’re headed for a bitter, partisan clash over legislative priorities. Before the battle starts, let’s reach for that low-hanging, bipartisan fruit. Let’s abolish the TSA.

 

Damn the American People!   Bureaucratic Gropings will continue…

From Cairo to Istanbul in 28 Days

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We flew from Bangkok to Cairo on the 21st of September.  On the first day, we tripped around to Giza and the City of the Dead.  Later that evening, we took the train to Aswan.  Along the way, we stopped at Abo Simbel, Luxor, Karnak, Philae, Deendeera, Abydos, Hurghada and finally flew to Alexandria.  We spent two days touring Alexandria.  Taking in the new Library of Alexandria and Fort Qutbay as well as the Greek and Roman Catacombs under the city.  We drove from Alex. back to Cairo where we toured the city in detail (Muhammad Ali Mosque, the Giza Plateau, Pyramids and Sphinx, Saladin’s Citadel, etc).  We also took in Sakkara and Memphis and viewed the Red and Bent Pyramids as well as the Alabaster Sphinx and the Statue of Ramses II along with the Ziggurat of Zoser and the surrounding pyramids.

Then we were off to Israel.  We spent about 5 days in Jerusalem viewing the old City and took day tours out to Nazareth, Akko (Acre), Ceaserea, the Dead Sea, the Jordan River and Masada.  We met an old friend (Mali) from my days in the MFO in the Sinai.  And we got the excellent airport treatment for which Tel Aviv is so famous.  But that’s a story for another day.

Finally, we were on to Turkey.  I wanted to see the Hagia Sofia.  Primarily.  That said, I was a bit anxious about Turkey.  I’ve been to quite a few Muslim countries and Islam hangs over them like a pall.  I don’t particularly care for it.  It’s quite heavy and puts a damper on things.  Israel did not have this except in the Palestinian areas of the Old City in Jerusalem.

We arrived in Turkey and I was quite pleasantly surprised.  Islam is an undercurrent in Istanbul.  They’re Muslim.  You know it.  They know it.  No one gives a damn.  I like that.  It’s how it should be with all religion and it’s how it is in most non-Muslim places.

It was refreshing.  I don’t think I saw but 10 Chadori/Hijab wearing women and they all seemed to be tourists.  Nothing oppressive in Turkey about religion.  They seem to all get along.  I met quite a few Nestorian Christians and they had the same attitude.  We’re Christians.  So what!  There’s none of the demand that their religion be respected at all cost.  I like that.

Turkey was clean as well.  That’s another thing about Muslim countries.  They’re dirty and run down.  Even newer places.  It’s as if Allah has declared that “thou shalt not do maintenance.”  lol  Cairo is the worst.  They built the city hundreds of years ago atop ruins.  They didn’t remove anything.  They cleared no land.  Just started building atop the rubble.  When those buildings started falling apart, they just built around them.  And the dirt and grime.  It’s everywhere.

Not so in Istanbul.  It’s a beautifully maintained city.  Clean streets.

And the people.  Everyone was so nice.  And they smiled.  Very few mean spirited folks or scammers around.  As a matter of fact, I can’t remember anyone even attempting a scam on us.  We asked directions when we were lost and we were simply given directions.

The food was great as well.  They had these pancakes with beef or veggies or jellies. Whatever you wanted.  AND THEY WERE DELICIOUS.  Of course, the Lamb Kabob was excellent.  I ate so much kabob, I thought I was going to explode.

The Hagia Sofia or Aya Sofia was wondrous.  Incredible.  Amazing.  It was gargantuan.  The famous religious depictions were beautiful.  Centuries old Art.

The Blue Mosque or Suleimein.  One of the most beautiful structures I have had the pleasure to visit.  More lovely inside than the Mohammad Ali Mosque in Cairo.  Insanely intricate and well maintained as well.  Simply beautiful.  Can’t say it enough.

We walked around the city several times. Stopped by a few museums.  The Istanbul Archaeological Museum was huge.  Relics from Troy, Persia, the Ottomans, the Greeks, the Romans, and everything in between.  It was amazing.

Then we went up the hill to the Topkapi Palace.  I didn’t know much about it.  I knew it was supposed to be gorgeous and historical.  I hadn’t researched it.  We almost didn’t go.  Huge mistake.  If you make it to Istanbul, you must go to the Topkapi Palace.   Aside from it’s beauty and historocity.  It has what are called “The Sacred Trusts.”

The Sacred Trusts are actual artifacts handed down (or stolen) from Empire to Empire from the time of Mohammad.  His clothing.  His water bowl.  The plates off of which he ate.  And not only Mohammad.  There are relics from Fatima and “the Companions.”

That is some serious history.

There are also pieces of the Kaba’a from Mekkah and old keys and locks to the Kaba’a and the Grand Mosque there in Mekkah.

Treasures all.

I could scarcely believe my eyes when I walked in this room.  When I laid my eyes upon the Sword of Mohammad, I thought I was seeing things.  I had to rub my eyes.  Take my glasses off and clean them and take a second to let it sink in.

Imagine finding the sword of Genghis Khan or Alexander the Great.  Imagine finding the actual clothing that Jesus wore or the actual cup and plate from the last supper.

I’m no believer in any of these religions, but, I have a keen interest in history.  As a personality from an earlier age and a great historical interest, I have much respect for Mohammad.  He built an empire from nothing.  He created a religion and a culture which has lasted for over 1300 years.  It’s not his fault that his religion and his culture has been hi-jacked by complete asses like Osama bin Laden, the House of Saud and the followers of al Wahhab.  That’s not to mention the Iranian fools.  And, still yet, it doesn’t take into account the idiotic Apologists in Europe and America who sell their lies to an ignorant populace.

At any rate, it was a singular experience for me to be able to gaze upon the Swords that Mohammad and his companions used to rise up out of the desert and plant the seed that created one of the worlds greatest empires.

I was awe stricken.

After Istanbul, it was on to Ephesus to see the Greek Ruins, the House of Mary where Jesus’ Mother supposedly lived out her last days and the Temple of Artemis.  Next day it was on to Pammakule.   These places are so full of history and culture that there is no possible way for me to do them justice.  The Temple of Artemis is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

In this trip, we’d been fortunate enough to visit 3 of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World.  The Temple of Artemis, The Pharos of Alexandria (Fort Qutbay) and the Pyramids at Giza.

In my estimation, Abo Simbel is a great worthy of this acclamation as well.  Abo Simbel is a wonder of any age much less to marvel that it was built thousands of years ago.  But then again, Egypt is full of wonders that defy description, dazzle the eye and boggle the mind.

From Cairo to Istanbul in 28 Days.  This was a great trip and we all very much enjoyed ourselves.

Hope you enjoy the pictures…Dave

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(some of the pics in the slideshow are from earlier trips to Paris, Rome, Athens, Santorini, etc)

 

 

Jesus in the Aya (Hagia) Sofia

Inside the Hagia Sofia -- Christianity's Original Center

This is one of the Mosaics from the upper floor of the Hagia Sofia.  There are 6 or 7 of these depicting either Jesus or Mary in combination and with others.   This Cathedral and possibly these mosaics are over 1700 years old.  It’s amazing to see something like this survive from the late Roman Empire in such fine shape.

Istanbul Says FREE ENES!!!

 

 

FREE ENES!!!

 

We just happened to be in Istanbul this week as the Pete Thamel/NCAA created Hullaballoo over our Big Blue Turkish Bro goes into overdrive. With that in mind, we headed out to Aya Sophia and the Sultanahmet Mosque in the Sultanahmet District to grab a couple of photos with our “FREE ENES” sign.

Turkey has been the friendliest country on this years Big Trip through the Middle East. I’ve been here a couple of days now and have been out walking in the city and sightseeing with Unny and Becca. Everyone has been friendly. No scary, angry or freaked out faces staring at us over our clothes or our shoes or our scarves or whatever. People here seem to be Euro oriented and the religious overtones that were so heavy in Jerusalem and Cairo are non-existent here. So far, it’s been a nice stay.

Off to Ephesus and Pammalukke tomorrow. We’ll see the Temple of Artemis which will be awesome as it’s one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Good Times.

Enjoy and hope you have a laugh at our pics.

 

NCAA! I'm coming for ya!!! FREE ENES or else!!!

 

Just having fun…

Question all things…

“Believe nothing merely because you have been told it. Do not believe what your teacher tells you merely out of respect for the teacher. But whatsoever, after due examination and analysis, you find to be kind, conducive to the good, the benefit, the welfare of all beings – that doctrine believe and cling to, and take it as your guide.” — Buddha

Tamerlane Macabre

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I was reading Tamerlane ~ Sword of Islam, Conqueror of the World when I came across this passage.  I laughed out loud.  Unny was sitting beside me and looked at me funny.  So I “made” her read the passage. She looked at me like I was an idiot and asked me why it was funny.

I couldn’t really explain why?  It just was….

Tamerlane ~ Sword of Islam, Conqueror of the World

The book was a most entertaining read.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Justin Marozzi has a similar style to John Man.  Man writes exhaustively about Central Asia, China, Genghis Khan and his grandson Kublai.

Timur was a madman.  I love the guy.

We need a Timur or a Genghis in our age.  Someone with the balls to do what is necessary rather than politicize and haggle like clucking hens.

The Great Gazan Humanitarian Crisis of 2010

Shame on Israel!

For shame, for shame…making those poor Gazans hunt for bargains in such circumstances.  Is there no humanity….OH! THE HUMANITY!!!!

But really…shame on the West for being so freakin’ stupid as to believe the propaganda out of Gaza and Iran and the lands of the Wahhabis, etc…

I have a question.

Egypt is also in on the blockade.  Why are there no complaints about the Egyptian part being played in the blockade?   Hmm, I wonder.

Why are our Armed Forces still in Europe?

04.04.2008: Steve Bell on Nato

We need strategic relocation.

Europe needs to pay for their own defense.  See how they like being out from under our Defense umbrella.  The cowards would have to foot the bill and they’d have to back their talk with more than “We disagree with America.”

I’d say out of Europe altogether unless they want to pay us for having our troops there.  Europe should be paying the US for their defense.  As should South Korea.  We should not be paying them for the privilege of defending them.  I’ve never understood the concept of renting bases from Germany or the RoK.  We’re there or were there to keep their sorry asses from being invaded.  They should have been paying us.

I’d say withdraw from NATO and form a separate treaty organization with Australia and Great Britain.

We should withdraw completely from Saudi Arabia unless they start paying us for their protection with billions of barrels of oil.

We should negotiate a base in Ethiopia.  Hell, at least they’re Christian.  We should negotiate a base with Israel and all of our aid should be dependent on their allowance of our use of their lands.  Put a base right square in the Negev.  Negotiate another base with Jordan and one with Egypt.  We give aid to all of these countries.  That gives us an eye for Europe.  A quick hop across the Med and boom ——–> Italy and Greece.  I’d even be for placing a base in the Christian areas of Lebanon to counter the Iranian Rev Guards, Quds Force and Hizbollah.

We should negotiate a base with India as well.  In Hindu or Christian areas.  Stay out of Muzzie areas of India.

Keep a small force in Afghanistan and a small force in Iraq for the foreseeable future but draw down the rest and let those countries build themselves.

That puts us strategically located across the globe and gives us some damn fine opportunities for sightseeing.

The best thing that we could do is to get out of Europe.

We should declare war on Pakistan and let India go in with us and kick their asses.

Solve Pakistan and Afghanistan is solved.  It’s that freakin’ simple.

That will scare the shit out of Iran and China as well as put Russia on notice.

We screw around way too often.  End this shit.  NOW!

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Khmer Apsara 2010

I purchased this painting in Siem Reap, Cambodia.  I’m a huge fan of the Apsara theme and the mythology behind them.

Also picked up the Angkor themed painting below.

A “Visit” to North Korea

Technically, I’ve been to North Korea.  I’ve never been to a city there, but, I’ve stepped foot across no man’s land into North Korea while stationed at Camp BonifasFile:CampBonifas1.jpg in the Republic of Korea as part of the United Nations Command Security Forces-Joint Security Area (UNCSF-JSA). While there, I was allowed to go over to the North Korean side of Pan Mun Jom a couple of times. I, also, snuck across a couple of times in the DMZ.

Not very far mind you. Technically, the North Korean Guards could shoot you if they spotted you crossing the DMZ. They would point their rifles at us all the time. There were a couple of areas on the North side of the DMZ that were over grown with shrubs, trees and high grass. We used to go up there and take our pics just to say; “I’ve been to North Korea.”

The North Koreans (in the Guard Towers, not those in PMJ) would point their rifles at us all the time even when we were on the RoK side of the DMZ. They (and we) were authorized to shoot at anyone in the two klik (or mile?) no man’s land within the DMZ. I think the DMZ is like 6 miles or kliks across. I remember the first time that I saw a rifle OBVIOUSLY pointed at me. I was at “The Bridge of No Return” re-enlisting. US Flag and everything. Standing there at the mid point with my right hand raised reciting the oath of re-enlistment and out of the corner of my eye I could see a NK sniper pointing his rifle square at my head. I swear the guy even winked at me.  It could have been the sun in my eye.  Who knows.  The memory is from ages ago.

Back then the US had soldiers patrolling inside the DMZ.  We had maps of minefields on hand for our side and known MFs for their side. I actually kept one of these maps and have it in my storage room back in Kentucky. It delineates all major and minor positions as well as minefields and known incursion sites and incident sites, known trails as well as the defensive perimeters and positions around PMJ, Bonifas, Liberty Bell, OP Oellette, Barrett QRF Facility and Freedom Village. We used to drive around up there as kind of a joy ride/patrol. They encouraged us to go out as a show of force. Mostly just for that….for show. I was actually able to take my (ex)wife up to Freedom Village and pretty close to the DMZ. She was pretty excited about it.

I was up there when Kim Il Sung passed. The NKs pulled everything up on line as if they were massing for an attack. They pulled out of the Armistice. We were preparing mentally to die when that went down. Making peace with our maker so to speak. We didn’t know what was going to happen. Clinton sent Carter in and Carter sold us down the river and Clinton was hailed as a hero and peacemaker. When in reality all it did was give NK the potential and tools to go Nuke on the World.

While there I learned about the “Axe Murder incident.”  One of the Korean guys who worked for me was the man that drove the truck over Bonifas and Barrett to stop the NK Guards from further mutiliating their bodies. He risked his life. It was huge. Meeting a real life hero. He was also a Vietnam War vet. Korea sent one Brigade over there for a time. I think they were pulled out because they were so brutal.  US Soldiers who were stationed at the DMZ during the incident and a few other times were authorized to wear the 2ID Patch as a Combat Patch. It was odd seeing old guys running around with that Combat Patch.

I’ve heard that when the US patrolled the DMZ, that occasionally US troops would meet up with NK troops and sometimes they’d actually interact in a positive manner. That said, if either sides troops are caught on the opposite side patrolling, deadly force was authorized. To my knowledge, the US was caught up in firefights as late as ’92 when we pulled the majority of our troops out of the DMZ.

In Pan Mun Jom, the NK soldiers and US and RoK troops interact on a limited basis. Mostly eye contact and smiles, though.

Every once in a while, a NK trooper will defect by running across to the RoK side. When that happens, it usually results in a firefight. The NK Officers will order their men to shoot the defector. The RoK and US soldiers will try to get him under their protections as soon as possible. To my knowledge, no RoK Soldier has ever defected to the North in Pan Mun Jom. No US soldier has ever defected via that route either. Though, I seem to recall a US Navy Seaman defecting to NK in the 80s or early 90s. I may be mis-remembering.

It was fascinating being up there. That said, when I crossed Freedom Bridge out of the DMZ for the final time…it was as if a great weight was lifted off of my shoulders. I hadn’t realized that it was so stressful while I was there, but, as we crossed Freedom Bridge and we stopped for one last look back and to throw our coins into the Han River, a feeling of intense relief that I had survived that year flooded through me. It was immense. Intense. Indescribable.

Below is a photo of the North Korea Flag which flies just beyond the DMZ.

The world's tallest flagpole in the North Korean village Kijong-dong

While I was there, Soldier of Fortune magazine had a 1,000,000 USD reward for a piece of the flag…and proof, of course.

Post Script:  I wrote this a long time ago.  The events herein occurred a long time ago.  Early 90s.  Memories from 20 years ago are now pretty hazy.  That said, I know that the NK guards in the towers on the DMZ would trail us with their rifles as we drove around the DMZ.  As for the re-enlistment scene that I describe, that may have been the over active imagination of a 23 year old.  But I know for a fact that the United States violated the Armistice agreement by keeping prohibited weapons close to and inside the DMZ.  Why would I expect that the North Koreans did anything different.   Also, I was there when Kim Il Sung died.  Kim Jong Il famously pulled out of the Armistice for a time and pulled massive amounts of Armor and Arty up onto the DMZ.  We thought we were dead.  Those of us at Camp Bonifas and Camp ‘Liberty Bell.  The KATUSA’s spent all day kissing and hugging each other good bye.

Here I am re-enlisting at the Bridge of No Return:

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And a few more photos of what I think is me in Freedom Village:

 

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The first picture below was taken from inside of one of the buildings at Panmunjom.  The second, I’m not sure.

 

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MRAP and a Horsedrawn Buggy ~ Herat, Afghanistan June 2009

MRAP and Horse and BuggyThis is life in Afghanistan.  The people there live in a strange twilight between the ancient world and the modern.  Modern day Jet Fighters, Airliners and UAVs passover villages whose inhabitants live in Mud and Thatch huts.  Some of these folks might even have a TV jerry rigged to a small 3.5 kw generator.  These are the “rich folks” of the village.  Most of the men of the police force who come to train at the RTC live on mud floors or in caves outside of their village.  To marry. one must pay a dowry.  These folks ride horses and donkeys.  They carry their goods and belongings to and from the bazaar or home in donkey carts or horse drawn wagons.

They still judge travel there in days rather than hours.

Not all.  A goodly portion of Afghanis, though, travel in this way.  Even when a motor vehicle is involved, travel that in America or Europe would take a few hours can sometimes take a day or two and sometimes more.  There is also the danger of bandits and taliban gangs on the roads.  Caution is needed and a good ear for trouble.

It’s a strange place.  It’s also an enchanted land where anything might happen.  Good or bad.

Kabul Beauty School

This is an old post that I wrote up a few months ago while I was in Herat, Afghansitan.  This happened between June and September 2007 in Kabul.

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I read the book Kabul Beauty School and decided to seek out the real place.  The actual beauty school.  Try to meet the author and get her to sign the book.  The books more about life in Kabul than just a Beauty school.  So I get there and decide to get a hair cut.  This is a few years back.  The reason that I decide to get a hair cut is that the receptionist is pretty as hell.  lol  Just an excuse to talk to her and stick around longer.  And she smelled so good I didn’t want to stop inhaling her scent.  Whatever it was.  Some combination of fruit and flowers that left my knees weak.  haha

I get my hair cut and while in the middle of that.  I’m talking to the receptionist.  I get her name ~ M….  She’s Afghani but had moved to London with her parents during the diaspora.  I figured she was about 24 or 25.  We talked for a while and eventually I talk her into meeting me for lunch at my hotel.  We exchange phone numbers.

Back to the hair cut.  The gal cutting my hair had underarm stench that cut the freakin’ wind.  A couple times I actually thought that I was going to start gagging or pass out from it.  It was strong.  Like she hadn’t taken a bath in a month stink.  I just started laughing.  I let her finish my hair.  She does an ok job.  I spike my hair up anyway so if they screw it up, it usually looks like I did it on purpose.  lol

Back to M.

M calls me up and asks me to meet her in the lobby of my hotel.  I get all excited.  Woohoo, I’ve got a DATE in Kabul, Afghanistan!  hahahaha  You have no idea how big a deal that is until you spend a few months in Afghanistan.

She shows up with a body guard and stinky hair cut lady as a chaperon.  We have tea and talk for a while down in the coffee shop in the mall area of my hotel.  And it’s actually a pleasant afternoon and good conversation.  I seem to have met a Kabuli socialite.

Her body guard has an AK47.  And stands there like he’s ready for the attack from hell.

Of course, I am the perfect gentleman during this meeting and each subsequent meeting under the watchful gaze of the body guard.  The last couple of meetings she didn’t bring the chaperon.  But she never went any where without her body guard.  She laughed at me for being nervous.

Turns out M is only 20.

And she is a member of the extended family of Agha Khan.

If you don’t know who Agha Khan is…look the dude up.  He’s so rich that he has his own consulate in London and a couple of other countries.  He’s the head of the Ismaeli Clan.  The Ismaelis are a sect of Islam.  Shi’a Islam.  They’re small.  Maybe 30 million worldwide.  The largest group is in Canada.  Agha Khan is their leader/father/benefactor.  He sets up scholarship foundations for them.  Businesses and keeps them organized and in touch.  He’s no Osama bin Laden.  Quite the opposite.  He believes in education.  For Muslims.  Men and women.

Anyway, I meet with M a few more times.  At first because I’m interested and I think I might get laid.  lol  Then later, I figure out that there ain’t a prayer in hell of getting laid and it’s just interesting talking to this girl.

Out of curiosity, I asked a guy named Sher Ahmad (a whole other story) who is the Security Boss of Rashid Dostum (look him up).  I asked Sher what would happen if I wanted to marry M.  He told me with a straight face; “David, they would kill you.”  I looked at him in disbelief at first.  Then I just laughed.  Realizing that he was telling the truth.  That’s when he told me that she was a relative of Agha Khan and she would be matched with another Ismaeli and never have a worry in her life.

She emails me out of the blue every once in a while.  She returned to London not long before I departed for Herat.  Apparently, they’d found out that she was meeting with some strange American.  Thankfully, I had sense enough to not make any Rico Suave moves on her or anything stupid like that.  The bastards probably would have killed me had I tried.  For me, it was enough to meet an nice, educated Afghan woman and learn a bit more about the culture.

I tell ya.  Lots of crazy experiences over here.

The first email that I got from her after her return to London:  “David, I miss you so much.”  I must have been her first crush.  It was a cute email.  She was a nice girl and pretty as hell.  Had this lilting sing song voice that made ya wanna break out in song yourself.  It was a great experience for me and a beautiful side of Kabul that not too many Westerners are privileged to have.