So I woke up this morning and for some reason more so than any other day, it really hit me that I’m in Kabul… so much has happened in the past 4 months that it should have hit me earlier but today for some reason it was just in stuck in my head. Anyway, many of you have asked what I’m doing out here (I’m sorry for not replying to a lot of you but my laptop crashed in January and I lost most of my emails) – well, I’m out here working with the mobile phone company Roshan. I originally came out for a 2 month contract, but now I’ve extended and will probably be here on and off for quite some time. It is actually a lot of fun –we’re working with a state of the art network in a not so state of the art country J which makes it interesting.

BamiyanFor example, I finally made a trip outside of Kabul and went to Bamiyan a couple of weeks ago – the place that was in the news because of the Buddha’s that the Taliban destroyed there – they don’t even have proper toilets and they were asking when we were going to be expanding our network to their cities. I couldn’t get it – a lot of them are literally still living in caves built into the side of the mountains and yet they want phones?? Bamiyan city is an incredible place though. It is definitely going to be a tourist destination – in fact, a lot of Japanese are already going there for tours. The city is surrounded by mountains of varying hues of orange, red, yellow and green because of the mix of the types of rock and the grass. Behind the first layer of mountains, the snow capped Hindu Kush Mountains extend even further into the clouds and into the clear blue skies so that when you look at the whole view from the grass on the ground to the sky it’s like a natural rainbow – I tried taking pictures but my camera sucks… Around the area there are also remnants of cities over 3 thousand years old, built into some of the mountains which were razed when Ghangis Khan swept through the region. The story to one of them is that there is an entire city built into the centre of the mountain, but the entrance has been lost. The sad part was going closer to the mountains to look at the remains of the Buddha’s – they must have been massive as I don’t think I could have been taller than the toe and what’s worse is that there weren’t just two as the media had said, but there were a whole bunch of other smaller ones built into the mountain that were also destroyed. It seems like it used to be the place to be and people are still living in the same mountains – one guy went Flintstone style and bricked up the front of the cave and put a door on it! I’m sure has an anteater for a vacuum..

Some of the things people do here make you laugh for days. I’m not sure if it is lack of direction, education, or experience, but some times you really have to wonder. We have this house being built next to us. The workers are working to get a bunch of bricks (a pile about 7 feet high) onto the second floor. So they make this make shift ladder using two bricks and then placing a plank, and then another two bricks, and so on. Then they have this one guy standing halfway up. One guy on the bottom takes a brick, tosses it up to the guy in the middle, who tosses it up to the top. We came back 6 hours later and they were still doing this … The funny thing is that they were using rope to keep the ladder sturdy, so they could have easily built a pulley system…

Even better are the guys who painted the government building that we’re in. They painted the entire thing! One guy had a spray gun and he sprayed absolutely everything! He sprayed the doors, the windows, posters of Massood (the national hero) everything! It was like the entire building was taken and dipped into a big vat of paint. The best part was that the next day there was another guy who was going from window to window and scraping of the paint. I don’t know – maybe it is job creation…

MasoodWe were surprised to see them spray painting the pictures of Massood – he’s like the Che Guevara of Afghanistan. He was this leader of one of the northern alliance groups who was killed by the Taliban 2 days before September 11th, and those who do like him are very passionate about him. Apparently he wasn’t actually liked by many here in Kabul because he was the one who had originally started bombing in the mid 90’s and why the Taliban were able to get enough empathy to take control. But the government is desperately trying to win the hearts of all the ethnic groups – it is incredibly complex in terms of its ethnic divides. So many cultures have been through here but yet it is still pretty divided upon ethnicities. The look of the local people vary vastly – some people look almost European with blond hair and blue eyes who descend from the days of Alexander the Great, and then there are people called the Hazaras who came through the area during the invasion of Ghangis Khan and the Mongols and thus look more east Asian – they are called Hazaras because ‘hazar’ means thousand, and when they came in the 12th century, they came ‘in the thousands’ – and then there are the Pashtoons who also vary from looking very fair with grey or green eyes or to the more south Indian with darker skin and curly hair. But you will even find some people who are fair and with red hair which completely baffles me…

Everyday here is an adventure – not necessarily anything dangerous and in fact I don’t really ever feel that we are unsafe. Primarily though we stick within the expat circle – some of the parties here are better than house parties I’ve been to back home! We went to this one party at a UN guest house which was phenomenal. The place was styled in Roman architecture with marble floors, and they had it decked out with loads of food, buckets of drinks everywhere and an imported DJ who played serious jams from way back such as the Digital Underground’s humpty dance (all you brits won’t know that one, but to all the Canadians out there ‘Step off cuz I’m doin the Humpty dance!’), and classic Rick James and Prince – the guy even played WuTang’s Gravel Pit which had people doing moves I was shy to even watch…

Ok, so this is the close of yet another lengthy message – but you gotta admit, that one every four months isn’t too bad… btw, when (not if) the leafs are in the Stanley, I’ll be on the first plane back to TO!

Hope everyone is doing well