Saturday, April 2, 2011

Chock Full

Well - I have finally awoken this morning after yesterday's long but chock full day.

The day started slowly at the fort.

We gathered in the kitchen and then out in the courtyard to hear the security briefing from Shoshana. It seems that things are a bit tighter this time than they were last. There is a more formalized sign out system than there was on my last trip and we were all issued cell phones to communicate with the fort about our movements.

After the briefing - Judy decided it was time to wash the dog - Palawan. It became an all hands on deck effort to get this to happen. Palawan resisted as Stocky held him and Judy did the majority of the scrubbing. I had the much easier job of pouring the water over the dog to help with the rinsing. 3 others helped with the gathering of the water and additional shampoo supplies needed.

The Afghans at the fort looked on in disbelief - they do not have alot of use for dogs and considered this a sort of silly effort on our end. Like trying to keep a rat clean.

The juxtaposition of the dog washing and the security briefing, one couple's 2 year old son - climbing a tree while security walked the perimeter with guns and military choppers flew overhead was striking.

Its all so normal until one of those other elements catches your eye.

We left the fort to go for brunch at the Kabul health club - Shoshana's gym. Its new since I was here last as are many things in Kabul - you can definitely see some progress - in the opening of new businesses.

The health club - like many other westernized places - has a beautiful courtyard - that you get to after the armed security pat down. Once the guard says yes the guy behind the slide peep hole door lets you in.

After our buffet lunch Stocky, Judy and I made our way to Murad Khane - the part of town that the Turquoise Mountain group has been re-doing. When I was here last it was in full process - wood being carved - decisions being made about the facades of the 64 buildings being redone - 19 of which have been fully built or refurbished.

I walked into the double column Surai - which was in process last time - they had asked for mine and Judy's opinion about the woodwork above the archways they were constructing. Walking in - it was all done - there was grass in the courtyard that had been all wood and scaffolding - the gardner was planting the roses in preparation for Sunday.

It took my breath away and tears welled in the corners of my eyes. I could not believe all that had been accomplished.

She showed us the other buildings - the great Surai - the school that was built - and the medical building.

This was a pre-tour before the groups all show up on Sunday. I was glad to get the time there alone with the clarks to really get a full sense of what had been accomplished.

We did not get to see all of the buildings - but will see the rest on Sunday.

There were many arrivals that took place today and we all soon made our way to the British Cemetary for the memorial service for Anna. It was a really beautiful ceremony - each of the parents read bible verses - and the family all had a beautiful calm light about them - which was only highlighted by the sun that set over the graveyard - the flowering trees - and the mountain neighborhood in the background that was filled with playing children - jumping from roof top to roof top - flying kites and yelling with joy.

The Father's verse was from Ecclesiastes - "A time to destroy, a time to rebuild" and it all seemed so appropriate to his daughter's work and to everything happening in Kabul.

Rory closed out the ceremony and recited a TS Elliot poem that talked about endings as beginnings - and history as "time filled with meaning - a series of creative moments which add something new to the world and determine the world's course."

This seemed appropriate for Anna - and for the completion and handing over of the Turquoise Mountain project. There is some question as to the meaning this project will be given and how it will fit into history and how the Afghans will use it now that it is their time.

We all went to dinner at Sufi last night - there were 40 of us eating and the room was buoyant as past TM architects and workers came together with board members and other guests.

I had dinner with Will - who I had met and had walked the city wall with on my last trip. Will has worked here since 2004 and has now archived the whole project and is going to be done at the end of April. His pregnant wife is back in England and he is trying to figure out what is next for him as he knows this experience cannot be recreated anywhere else.

As we are talking Rory comes and asks will about the attack on the UN as Rory has been asked to comment on it for the press.

For those paying attention at home - the attack that took place yesterday was in Masar-i- Sharif - a small town about 9 hours from Kabul. The attack was a response to a Rev. Jones in Florida and his burning of the Koran after "putting it on trial."

There are not words for the ridiculousness of this action and how it has now caused strife and deaths 11,000 miles from the swampland of Florida.

We are all safe here at the fort but it has put an understandable damper on the day's activities.

We are in a bit of a lockdown scenario as Shoshana and team did not wish to risk any unecessary movements.

This will also limit those who were planning to come to the Qala today - as many dignitaries are also in lockdown.

However - we continued to work on the set up of the sale and I moved woodworking, tables and other materials to set up for this event. As with events anywhere - there are a number of opinions and more chiefs than there are indians and today I gladly played the part of stage hand.

Remains to be seen how successful the sale will be.

More later.


  1. I am struck by the elevated consciousness of Ecclesiastes, TS Elliott and even your own musings as compared with the destructive ignorance of "Reverend" Jones. I'be been following his poison for months. Well done all. Stay safe.

  2. Hi Stephen,
    We do live in a shrinking world - more like a big neighborhood. it is amazing to think that something in FL could have such an impact so far away and impose its will on TM as well. I personally feel like this idea of my belief system is better than yours is like watching a bunch of impulsive teenagers who look for any excuse to act out and then blame another for their decision and actions. Someone described religion as spirituality plus politics. Smells right to me.

    I was struck by the memorial service for such a young life - a light snuffed out so soon. I remember sending you a quote from Ecclesiastes a while back - for everything there is a season... because of your ability to tune in to whatever presents itself and finding place and purpose.

    Finishing up my writing course and am struck by your natural writing ability and capacity to put words together in a way that brings us right into the moment.

    Give hugs all around - be safe