Problog

Hello and welcome to my blog. It is a blog about an Air Force Physician that was reluctantly deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan for 6 months.

I have to admit, I did not exactly volunteer for the deployment, and I was a little anxious about how it would all turn out. I ended up making the best of it, and surprisingly, I actually had a pleasant, life changing, experience.

I decided to keep the blog up and running because I kept on hearing, "Why is it that you only hear the bad news coming from Iraq and Afghanistan." I figured that I was helping spread a positive message about what we are doing over. Even more important, I wanted to continue to spread the word about the plight of the Afghan people, 99.9% of which are the most incredibly friendly people that you will ever meet. The title picture is a great example of that. I have never encountered such genuinely warm and friendly people. It was so strange to see so many people with so little material objects, yet at the same time, filled with so much of the joy that comes with close family ties, abundant friends, and a close knit community. We could definetly learn a lot from them.

You may notice, as you read the blog in its entirety, my arc. I shift from focusing on myself and my personal comforts, to shifting my focus on the Afghan cause. It is very easy to get distracted by the hustle of daily life and the comforts that the U.S. provides. It is really a challenge to awake from that coma and to start to care and think about the welfare of other people unrelated to you. I think it really took me about 4 or 5 months before I really opened my eyes and became personally affected by what I was experiencing. I hope I was able to recreate it.

I have tried to keep the blog squeaky clean so as to not offend anyone (or get me in trouble-I am still in the military). Even though I am a political junky with very strong personal opinions I have been steadfast in keeping this site free of any politics. I was called to do a job and I tried to do it to the best of my ability regardless of my political stance.

I recreated the blog to read more like a book, or should I say blook (get used to the corniness it only gets worse from here) just to make it an easier read. I have removed some names and pictures just to keep it more anonymous. I hope that it helps in making it less about me and more about the cause.

Lastly, in the spirit of the blog, I decided to include the Chipin Widget that I used to raise money for Nazia. If I get any additional money I will send the funds to The Women of Hope Project and someone over in Kabul will discretely give it to her (unless I hear otherwise). You can also contribute directly to the Women of Hope Project website. They are a wonderful cause. If you enjoy this blog then feel free to contribute. I am sure that once you read her story you will be very moved.

So kick back. Get ready to hopefully laugh and definitely cry.
If you like what you read then post a comment. I will be continuously editing this site in an attempt to improve it. Who knows maybe one day it will become a book!

Enjoy. Thanks for reading.

-Shazdoc

Today Show Clip

Chipin Widget

Friday, April 18, 2008

Take Nothing But Pictures

"Take Nothing but Pictures. Leave nothing but footprints. Kill nothing but time."

-Motto of the Baltimore Grotto (caving society)

Someone wanted to know more details of what happened yesterday. I included a link of a New York Times article. I was not involved but it was very close.
This will be a picture heavy post. All of the pictures were taken by Dr. Massoud Yawar. He was nice enough to let me post them on my blog. The captions that are in quotes are from the Survival Guide to Kabul. I copied it word-for-word excerpts.

Dr. Massoud has a great story about how he got the camera that he used to take all of these pictures. The BBC was asking people all over the world to write in and tell them why they should win a camera that they had as a prize. In his submission he explained that his country has gone through many years of war and now it is going through a massive reconstruction effort. He wanted to document the effects of war so the younger generation can see what it is like so they do not repeat it.

Here is just a small sample of some of the pictures that he let me use.

A shop that sells naan.



This is a very old and famous wall that divides Kabul. The walls are discussed a little further down in the Bala Hissar caption.


Cute kids playing with a tire.



This is Bala Hissar.

"BALA HISSAR The ancient citadel and home of some of Afghanistan’s most important kings is now off limits and extremely dangerous owing to unexploded bombs and landmines. However this magnificent building dating, it is believed, in parts from the 5th century has played a role in every twist and turn in the city’s often violent history. Bala Hissar sits to the south of the modern city centre at the tail end of the Kuh-e-Sherdarwaza Mountain. The famous Walls of Kabul, which are a staggering 20 feet high and 12 feet thick, start at the natural fortress and follow the mountain ridge in a sweeping curve down to the river. Bala Hissar was originally divided into two parts. The lower fortress where the stables, barracks and three royal palaces were contained and the upper fortress called Bala Hissar which housed the armoury and the infamous Black Pit, the dungeon of Kabul were situated. However the arrival of the British in Kabul marked the end of the citadel. From 1839 onwards the British used it on and off as their barracks until the massacre of the British Mission by mutinous Afghan troops in 1879. General Roberts was dispatched to Kabul to quell the situation and took the citadel. Shortly afterwards an explosion in the powder magazine partly destroyed upper Bala Hissar. General Roberts decided to finish the job off and ordered the destruction of the rest. Perhaps, however the last word lies with the founder of the Mogul empire, the Emperor Babur who captured the fort at the start of his conquering career and went on to write of the magnificent building: “The citadel is of surprising height, and enjoys an excellent climate, overlooking the large lake, and three meadows which present a very beautiful prospect when the plains are green.” Today the fortress is home to the 55th division of Kabul. The big green gates are adorned with photos of Karzai and Massoud. Visitors are not allowed in."



The Kabul Zoo.



A crowd formed when they saw this man with a big snake.



A market that sells birds and bird cages.




Kid selling balloons at the Kabul zoo.




Kid getting a haircut on the street. The bald spots should grow back in no time.



No eye protection needed for this job.



You can get a little drink of chai at this shop.



Cobbler fixing some shoes.



Raking cotton.



Great picture of a goat.



Kid in wheel.



Front of Kabul Zoo.

"KABUL ZOO Kabul Zoo is a soulless complex and is not a great place for its inhabitants. In 2002 China donated two lions, two bears, two pigs and a wolf. In addition there are a number of other species including nine bears, jackals, birds, rabbits, eagles, wild boars, foxes, guinea pigs, monkeys, owls and six huge vultures. In total the zoo has 116 animals and a staff of 60 to care for them. Conditions are poor but it is a popular place for Kabulis and up to 3000 people will visit during a week according to the director Sheragah Omar who has worked at the zoo for nine years. A British animal protection group, the Mayhew Animal Home in London, ensures there is enough food for the animals, and the 25 kilos of meat the two lions Zing Zong and Dolly eat every day. Zookeeper Aziz Ahmad is also an obliging guide with gruesome stories about the fate of the zoo’s last elephant (the elephants house is completely destroyed) and for a small tip will show you the final resting place of the zoo’s most famous resident, Marjan, the one-eyed lion. Donatella the famous bear is undergoing daily treatment for a nose infection from German ISAF. The zoo is open from 06.00--18.00 every day and entry costs five Afghanis."



That's right, 5 people on one motorcycle.



Kids getting some water.



Carrot juice anyone?



Public swimming pool in Herat. Of course women and girls are not allowed.


Child sleeping in a wheel barrel.



Here is the Darulaman Palace that was destroyed after years of war.
"DARULAMAN PALACE The palace built by King Amannullah in the 1920s is set into a small hill in front of the Kabul museum with the once impressive four-mile avenue (once lined with poplars) past the former Soviet embassy, schools and ministries leading to it. Fighting from 1992 onwards destroyed the building but it remains one of the most impressive, albeit shattered structures in Kabul. The palace was used by King Amannullah and was later used as the Justice ministry and Defence ministry. The equally striking former Defence Ministry is on the hills behind."



Would you go to this guy for your physiotherapy? I hope that those are not his patients.


Here are some young aspiring body builders.




Thanks for reading.

25 comments:

C. Valentine said...

Thanks for the link explaining the reason for your Snow Day yesterday. My son said they "felt" the blast at your old Camp. I need to learn not to panic and be patient and wait for things to show up in our news. Love today's pictures. Stay Safe!

Susan said...

I'm glad you are safe and the pictures are incredible. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I'm heading to Kabul in Jan 2008, the pics and info are very helpful!

Ace

Massoud said...

Hello,

Hope you are doing well. A bout a week ago I sent you an article about Buzkashi game but did not hear back from you.

Yours,
Massoud Yawar

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