Beauties

I had arranged for a full program for Friday, the last weekend of the consultants who are exploring options for the future of the medicine supply chain here in Afghanistan. We started the day with a visit to the ugly remains of what was once a beautiful palace at the end of Darulaman Avenue DarulAman Palace.

Unlike former visits we were allowed to ride up to the terrace on the southern side that now faces the new Parliament building which is still under construction. I don’t know what will happen with the huge dilapidated shell of the former palace, a stark reminder of the Muhajideen landgrab of Kabul. It’s not a particularly inspiring site for the parliamentarians once they move into their new home.

Next stop was the Kabul museum. It hasn’t changed all that much since I last visited it, some 3 years ago, except for the addition of statues that have been recovered through the committed effort of people patrolling the borders, those being alert in the international art trade circuit, archeologists who have turned piles of ceramic rubble into statues again and the staff of the Kabul museum who saved this rubble. The story of the Kabul museum is a great tribute to those who believe in the positive power of art.

I was happy to see many families with children and school children with notebooks copying text from the explanations that were given in Dari and English. The museum design still has a long way to go but its treasures speak for themselves, even if poorly displayed in cold rooms.

We piled back into our cars and drove through town to drive up Televisyon Hill, a high peak over Kabul where all the antennas and radio transmitters are, including the one that our guards and drivers use to keep us safe and in contact with each other at all times. It’s a rather ugly site, this forest of metal and concrete, but it does give one an amazing view of Kabul. During the day the view is hazy and the contours of the city hardly discernible. Now one knows exactly how big the city is, maybe 5 million, more than a tenfold increase since my first visit in 1978.

We returned to our guesthouse after stopping by Bresil Pizza for a large order of party pizza, half of which went to the guards and drivers. We showed our supply chain colleagues our guesthouse which is quite luxurious compared to where they are staying, one of the old personal homes still heated by petroleum stoves.

In the evening a smaller subset of the group went to the house of the fashion show organizer and we were able to fundraise at least a bit, with each of us returning with a piece of clothing and a donation to the school. We met several young professionals, a musician, a lawyer, an advisor to a deputy minister, a mining engineer, a vet, a journalist (most of them women) from Canada/Pakistan, Germany/Afghanistan, Germany/Holland, Singapore/Germany, Afghanistan, America/Afghanistan, and Maine. We added Sri Lanka/Australia, Danmark and US. It was quite the United Nations in that small room. All of these people are doing amazing work without all the protection and luxuries that we enjoy as members of a large and well-funded organization. They showed up in ordinary taxis, live in ordinary homes and have blended in well with Afghanistan.

We had front row seats to a violin solo by the young American director of the local music institute, enjoyed a fabulous meal and then paraded some of the clothes before we returned happy and exhausted to our respective guesthouses. It was a day with lots of filaments connecting us to each other, the past horrors of this place and 9/11 but also to the hope of a better future for this amazing country.

1 Response to “Beauties”


  1. 1 axelsjournal January 25, 2014 at 11:38 am

    That tragedy and hope exist on the ruins of Darulaman Palace can be felt in this video by Farhat Darya on YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxbRq2UkClY


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