Municipal tweets

I am following the mayor of Kabul on Twitter (KabulMayor). He started tweeting on July 24 with the words “This is my first Tweet! I’m a great supporter of information sharing and social networking. Please feel free to contact me.” The mayor and I are both following Obama who was tweeting like crazy last night to constituencies in AK, CA and CO.

I did contact the mayor to find out what’s up with the Darulaman roadbuilding project. He tweeted a few days ago that three major road project will be finished in a month. I hope that this main road we navigate several times everyday is one of those three. This project is the source of much of the dust that has settled in Axel’s lungs (and probably mine but with less ill effects). Today the mayor had another encouraging tweet: 1st phase of Kabul Municipality’s solar street light project complete. More streets have light at night. Important for Kabul security.” It’s good for the night vendors but it makes no difference for the women – taking back the night is a long way into the future. Right now they are focusing on just being able to walk the streets without being hassled, pinched or insulted.

The mayor is a brave soul. Not only is being a mayor is this country a very hazardous occupation, the major of Kandahar was just killed a few days ago, but being modern in this society (as in ‘tweeting’) is also risky where so many want the country to return to the time of the Caliphate. And then of course there is the corruption and the backlash from more powerful people who are unhappy about how the loot is divided.

Several months ago a powerful opponent of the mayor, probably someone who felt he didn’t get his fare share, threatened to have him brought to court for this or that ‘irregularity.’ The mayor’s response was, that’s fine but first let me get my job done. Since then sidewalks have been created nearly everywhere in town.

I have also befriended the mayor on facebook – he is very much with the times. Sometimes I wonder whether the ideological Taliban (as opposed to the crooks and criminals also heaped under that umbrella) have a division that monitors the electronic media and social networks as part of their intelligence gathering operations.

Last night Steve and I went to the Korean restaurant and had a seafood hot pot – a rare treat in this landlocked place. Afterwards I invited Steve to watch the Monsoon Wedding (Mira Nair) but he declined. I watched it on my computer and recognized the pattern of the Hindu wedding but had forgotten much about the movie. It is worth viewing, especially by all of us who went to Kerala. But I think our wedding was funner.

This morning I introduced Katie to Sadiq the woolman who runs the ‘wool fatcory’ – a grandiose name for a mom and pop entreprise in a decrepit old mud-brick house. Armed with cookies, juices and grapes we headed out to the far western corner of the city and visited the place where some twenty women are busy spinning, carding and knitting.

We invited the women to take a break and they obediently sat down with their backa against the wall on the flat mattresses while we tried to communicate in broken Dari and smiles. This time the women allowed themselves very little time for the break that we had introduced – maybe because it was too close to lunch time (and too close to Ramazan?) and they needed time to cook. We were invited to several lunches but politely declined, as would be expected.

We purchased wool, cashmere socks and a hat and talked about the usual topics of age, babies, children, marriage and such. I need to hand over the baton to Katie to support this group, not only financially by buying things but simply by going there from time to time and chatting and having a good time.

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