Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Written in 1808 about the Afghans

Mountstuart Elphinstone

"The English traveller from India… would admire their (Afhgans') strong and active forms, their fair complexions and European features, their industry and enterprise, the hospitality, sobriety and contempt for pleasure which appear in all their habits; and, above all, the independence and energy of their character...On the whole, his impression of his new acquaintance would be favourable…he would reckon them virtuous, compared with the people to whom he had been accustomed…Their vices are revenge, envy, avarice, rapacity and obstinacy; on the other hand, they are fond of liberty, faithful to their friends, kind to their dependents, hospitable, brave, hardy, frugal, laborious and prudent, and ready to defend their rugged country against a tyrant. The societies into which the nation is divided possess within themselves a principle of repulsion and disunion too strong to be overcome… ‘We are content with discord, we are content with alarms, we are content with blood,’ the old man said. ‘But we will never be content with a master.’”

Mountstuart Elphinstone, Age 29, 1808

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Dispatches from Kabul

I got this note yesterday from an old friend who lives in Kabul. I felt so nostalgic when I read this. Bob

dear bob

went to kapisa with my Afghan friend. Had some delicious dogh and bought a bunch of aboriginal tulips, like the kind in ottoman iznik tiles
if memory serves. 10 afs or 20 cents. prettier and more slender and fragant than the obese european models. the hindu kush is bigger than ever, its snowy peaks towering above a grey bank of rainclouds busily watering the grapes on the verdant shomali plain. apricots in flower there, mulberries still enjoying their winter nap. streets full of mud and gracious tajik chaps in lovely chappans. clever locals took industrial garbage and made three hydroelectric generators each with its own stone water intake. what clever, diligent, admirable, likeable people.

booked a table for four at the chaikhana on the kandahar road (azoy's song), dunno what they mean by 'rebab and tabla delta blues' but the cover charge is said to include badskshani nachos and mexican salsa, and everyone talks about the foxy hazara waitresses especially one named conchita (a popular shia name, i believe).