Saturday, 23 February 2008


In my youth I have been twice there, as a hitchhiking tourist, before the Soviet invasion. In my memory this was the country I liked most compared to Iran, Pakistan and India.

At that time, to me, Afghanistan seemed to be a fairy tale country, straight out of Thousand and One Night.I liked these proud men (proud of what?) in their baggy pants, frequently in rags, but carrying nearly always a gun slung over the shoulder.

Considering that half of the population is female in every country, I never saw one. Never. It took me some time to realize that these statures walking around and wearing a kind of blue sack covering from top to ground ARE the women I never saw.

So, when saying something about Afghanistan it must be said I only talked to men, met only men, saw only men, had only their opinion.

There was only one exception to this: in Kandahar, in an electrical appliance shop, I talked briefly to a German woman who had married an Afghani. She wanted to bail out of this country as fast as possible but could not because her husband confiscated her old passport as well as all her other papers. Furthermore, her marriage made her an Afghan national. She was the sales girl in this shop and during the 15 minutes I met her she told me her dream: to return to Munich, sit in the sofa at home, watch the telly and sip a cool beer.

All that is snow from yesterday.

The fairy tale country has long ago changed into what it is and probably always was: a God forsaken place with too much religious fanatics. And even those who are not practice a "way of life" coming straight out of the darkest part of the Middle Ages.

Afghanistan is the worlds' biggest heroin grower and exporter; the trade being protected by the armies of about ten NATO countries. The chase of Osama bin Laden has long ago turned into a farce. The Taliban fighters who happen to be made prisoners don't have to worry: they pay 1000 Dollars or more to the Police to be free again, back in business.

What are we doing there?

For good measure, here is a photo from a work of art made right there, but about 2000 years ago. It is safely in a Paris museum otherwise the present day people would either have smashed it or stolen it to be sold abroad for easy money.

Last not least: the first picture has not been made in Afghanistan but in Yemen and sent to me by a friend who went there. I like it, it is so funny. Hope you appreciate, too.


  1. bonjour! i don't pretend to understand other cultures-i don't even understand my own. i feel in my bones that the countries who most repress women are the ones who are the most backward. america included. conservatism is never the way forward- and i have learned you just can't change people. with any luck- the world will be able to evolve someday.

  2. The Afghan population has been through so much pain and misery in the last decades. The youth under 30 has lived in war since the day they were born. The infrastructure, education system, health care, everything everything everything is ruined first by the Soviets, then the Taliban and then America.

    When will they EVER get a break from outsiders who know what's best for them?

  3. Hallo Runnergirl,

    Thanks for commenting. You are right, the Afghanis have been through much hardship.

    But not only since the Soviet invasion.

    Many of these tribes indulge in continuous warfare since time immemorial.

    When I traveled from Herat to Kandahar and then to Kabul, there were no real tarmac roads, nearly no bridges.

    And the health system: honestly, I don't think they ever had this (on a national basis).


  4. oh Georg
    hearth-breaking story, both on the ones that have lived for so many decades repressed, and the german woman craving the sofa, the tv, and the beer
    but agreed that regardless of the way you have been raised or if the impositions of your culture are this tyrant, but surely one can see clearly the sadness of these women, even if covered by many veils

    and yes Georg excellent ironic photo of the two women

    gute Nacht!
    tschüss :)

  5. Georg,

    Those two images say a lot about the proud and civilized Afghanistan that once was and the hooded and oppressed land that it now is.

    The Al Qaida and the mullahs of Pakistan have worked really hard to make it the dreamland of their pure version of Islam. The result is painfully visible to us. I wonder whether the men living there, having seen only hard life, economic deprivation and blood, too feel like those in other parts of the world feel about them.

    Afghani women, the really pretty ones you never saw, will ironically be the least troubled, being happily hidden inside their homes and behind their veils!

  6. art is good when the belly is full and water is replaced by wine !

    isn't it better to be not starving than "art" to be appreciated on a hungry stomach.

  7. Thanks everybody for commenting.

    Anrosh: you are absolutely right! There is a famous saying from Bertold Brecht: "Erst kommt das Fressen, dann die Moral". (First comes the grub then the morals).

    Well, I don't know if this is properly translated.

    Vinod: I am not so sure if the women there are so happy hidden inside their homes and burkhas.
    But I never had any chance to ask.


  8. Hi George. Do "you know" in very years ago Afghanistan was a part of Iran and then lazy kings of my country lost it very cheap?!!! I think those poor people who never found any peace in their life should ask God why they've been born there? !!! I do know that it's not good to say but sometimes I doubt about God's kindness and fair while I'm looking at those people miserables and thin children who are dying for the sakes which don't relate them....

  9. Georg,

    May be you are lucky you never did. You may well have decided to stay back smitten, to be found years later by another Georg at a ramshackle shop, yearning for Germany!

    You know, if you have never been out of a well, you find happiness in it since it is your whole world...the frustration comes only when you realise that there is a life outside too and it is very different! Only that German lady you met had seen the other life, and she longed for it.

  10. For Somi,

    I don't think the situation in Afg. has something to do with God. It's totally self-made; they propelled themselves into stubborn backwardness.

    Why this happened to them, I don't know. Could be they had too much religion, but that is only a guess.
    If you have some time to spare, have a look at my post of 30th December.

    For Vinod,

    Yes, could be I escaped by pure chance. But it nearly happened to me in Lahore/Pakisan where I fell ill. Beautiful nurse in the University Hospital there. But I could not adjust to her shrilly voice. Chance again??

    If you are born inside a well, could be you you convince yourself that this dark and humid place is the good life and anyway God's will. But if you have some fantasy and imagination, could be you are yearning for something else.


  11. Have you seen this blog:

    The short of it, if we can't change ourselves, how can we ever expect to change others??? Grrrrr, I hate that attitude! ; (

    I met a young man who was working in the Financial District in SF when I delivered Stock Mkt Quotations while they were still printed on paper and shipped around the usa. He told me stories of guns etc and hiding and finding ways to get out of the country, even back then. He was saving to get his parents out some how. I wonder what happened?

    I found one cd and need to pick a song or two for you to hear. Soon!


  12. Hey George! long time no visit...I was off from blogworld for a while.

    regarding Afghanestan, well anything is better than what they had before..don't you think?

    Have you read any of Khaled Hossieni's books??

  13. Hallo Frieda,

    Thanks for commenting. In fact, you are not the only one who is/was away from blogging for a while.

    As to your question "was it worse before, under the Talibans". For me and for you, most certainly. And I would not like to be a woman in that country.

    But on the other hand, how many women you see over here in Europe wearing their headscarf (hijab) like a national flag!!

    My idea is, leave them alone. And when the Afghan people are fed up to live in the early Middle Ages, they have to clean up their house THEMSELVES.

    Right now, it is the other way round and that with very scant success.


  14. @ Frieda:

    i have read from Khaled Hosseini the Kite Runner, what an splendid book!! If you haven't read it Georg, i highly recommend it to you!...

    yet not sure how better Afghanistan is nowadays than before...

    and this is just a funny coincidence but while i was reading The Kite Runner, i found one Kite runner in California (close to a San Diego beach), i thought it was almost karmatic 'cause the resemblance of the boy with the one describe in the book is almost uncanny, and indeed he was running a kite

  15. Halo Bere,

    I know the "Kite Runner" by reputation. They even spoke about it on the telly.
    However, to tell you the truth, I am a bit weary to read or see comments on the misery worldwide. Really, I am weary of that.

    Yesterday, in my weekly, there was an article about Afg. saying people are now selling their daughters to clean up debts.

    I will never read this book.