10 June 2008

Advising on security and touring Bamiyan

In the months since I last contributed to this blog, there have been a lot of changes in my life. After about six months I finished up with Altai, then took some time to finish up a long-overdue report for Integrity Watch, and then found a new job. My main interests were to do something in a feel where I had little experience--the only thing I want to remain constant is that I continue to get more managerial experience. So I decided it would be either communications or security. In the end I got an offer as regional security advisor for ANSO (the Afghanistan NGO Safety Organisation). It basically involves coordinating security amongst all the NGOs in my region, which will include the north (from Faryab in the west to Badakhshan in the east and Baghlan in the south). Other job descriptions could be "mainting, establishing, and expanding human intelligence networks" or "herding cats".

The other event was that I finally got to see Bamiyan and Bandi Amir.  The most beautiful part of the road to Bamiyan was the journey itself, proceeding through Ghorband and over the Shibar pass (Alexander's route). The toughest part is that most of the way is not paved, meaning that from where you get off the road between Charikar and Jabal-us-Siraj and Bamiyan is a 6-8 hour insanely bumpy road. The landscape consisted of dramatic peaks interspersed with lush green valleys that smelled heavily of roses and lupins.

Pictures themselves don't capture the beauty of Bamiyan and the dramatic natural setting. And the niches are just as impressive without the Buddhas. They were already in a pretty lame state before their destruction, with Aurangzeb having smashed their faces and having long been stripped of adornment. It's impressive actually to picture them as they must have been. Of course if they are restored, I hope they are totally rebuilt to their original splendour rather than cobbled together from the remnants.

There wasn't much to do in Bamiyan otherwise...but there was one really good restaurant, the Silk Road, where my group (me, Saurabh, and Joran) met up with Naysan and Yazmine, who's been posted in Bamiyan for some time now working for AKDN.