Tuesday, 30 January 2007

muharram & thawing towards spring

hello again,
there were a few days that felt like spring. i can't wait for warmer weather! we've had pots drying outside in the sun=).
we had a tile-maker from Mazar-e-Sharif here for a week to teach us, which was good and fun. there were some good discussions, and we all learned new things. it was slightly worrying to be melting lead for glazes, and when he started saying that the Istalif kilns were rubbish infront of all of the potters, but on the whole a really good exchange.
the gas kiln STILL isn't finished, it's making me a bit crazy and despondent, but i guess things have to take the time they take. some days i feel frustrated and useless, and others days i'm really happy. or rather up and down several times a day! it's never boring.
yesterday was the 10th day of muharram, which meant a holiday, and so we went down to the old city where there was a fair amount going on, as you can see from the photos. we were also invited to two epic lunches; i felt like i'd never have to eat again! but of course i did... a couple of nights before i went along with a photographer who's staying with us a wee while to a big mosque full of young men wearing black shirts, seated around the room beating themselves to the songs and chants of a boy's amplified echoing voice. i was treated like a queen, given green tea and shown up to the balcony. unfortunately (!) i dropped my camera on a small boys head; the boy cried and the camera broke. amazingly, when i bashed it around a bit, it just started working again! crazy and excellent. i wonder how the poor boys' head is though...
but yes, interesting and disturbing... and to hear the sunni's talk about it all doesn't give me too much hopes about equality and un-prejudice and freedom-of-belief...
lots of other things have happened as well, but internet is dead slow at the minute so i'll leave it to your imaginations; (probably more interesting that way anyways).

Saturday, 20 January 2007


(the pots are not made by me, i wish they were! the bikes are not mine, i wish they were!) and the lovely dog is called pahlawan, he's not mine either but i help take care of him and the other dog nehru, and they're great! there are loads of cats as well, but they're very independent and i don't see too much of them, except for one called pasha who meows and meows whenever he sees anyone, and is somehow very fat.
on wednesday night and all thursday it snowed alot alot, so that we had to cancel a trip to istalif on thursday, which made me sad, becuase i haven't been there for a hundred years! and today the potters couldn't come to school becuase there's too much snow in istalif. but luckily, the tile-maker who is here to teach us his techniques arrived safely from mazar-e-sharif, so we had a day to get sorted out. it's very good to have him here, and he's great! very keen on only using materials available here, and seems like a lovely man, enthusiastic and willing to teach us. him and ustad azizuddin ran around the bazaar buying things, which gave some time to catch up on other things in the office ~we're planning a trip to uzbekistan and/or turkey! sometimes i wish i had 3 brains becuase i can't seem to keep everything in the one i've got. or else just a more efficient 1 brain would also be good....
in my dari lesson today i read a story about mullah nasirudeen who saw a reflection of the moon in a well when he went to draw water. he became very sad that the moon had gotten stuck in the well, and decided to try to pull it out. a stone fell into his bucket, he toppled over backwards, and when he looked up into the sky there was the moon where it belonged among the stars! he said "it doesn't matter that i got hurt, since i managed to get the moon back into the sky!"
it's beautiful now with lots of white snow and shining sun. still very cold, but i don't mind it so much with the snow.
and i've moved into a new lovely lovely room, neighbour with noah and shoshana which is fun. it's for sure the nicest place i've ever lived! now i can practice harmonium with a little less guilt=).
things are good.
dinner time.

Tuesday, 16 January 2007

freezing time

time flies!!! i wish we could just freeze it, in the same way that the water is freezing in the pipes, to give a little chance to get some things done that never seem to reach the top of the pile. today my harmonium teacher, ustad Jawed, was far from pleased with how little i had practiced... that's one of the downsides of living in a fort with lots of people that don't necessarily appreciate hearing me practicing my scales and trying to learn ahmed zahir songs. but i guess that's just an easy excuse. i used the same one when i was in boarding school for not practicing clarinet (although it was probably quite legitimate there as well, apart from without the singing... but then there were squeaks and squaks instead). i'm also not doing so well with my dari homework... huy huy. but i did use my sketchbook last night for the first time in a hundred years=). i drew a picture of my lovely bukhari which makes my room really warm, aah i love it. (the bukhari i mean).
and i've had quite a few of those good moments the last few days when i realise how happy and lucky i am to be here working with these amazing potters (they really are great i wish you could meet them). then there are other moments of being overwhelmed and feeling incompetent and not being able to communicate, but i guess you need both ups and downs, eh.
the gaskiln is slowly slowly getting finished, tomorrow we'll finish the door (inshaAllah), then just need to install the burners and finish the chimney, i can't wait to see how it fires!!! (please cross your fingers if you're reading this...) and next week a tilemaker is coming from mazar-e-sharif to teach us, which will be really interesting. another thing i'm very much looking forward to is the hamam (bath-house, here in the fort!) being finished~ warm water, warm floor, warm air, will be super. speaking of baths; i also need to give nehru and pahlawan (the fort dogs who i love) a bit of a wash. i'm not sure though if everyone else will be very happy if i wash them in the hamam, though... maybe it's ok for them to be a bit dirty until spring... it's a bit cold to be running around with wet fur.
there's a good proverb to remember
"qattra qattra darya meshawa"
drop by drop makes a river.

Tuesday, 9 January 2007

back in Kabul

iwasn't sure i'd make it back, but after several emails and phone calls, and a trip to oslo, i got my visa! marcus came with me, and it was fun.
then i took an overnight bus to stockholm, and a friend let me in at 6am to sleep for a wee while, which was brilliant! TACK JOSEFIN! then the flights all went fine. when i arrived in kabul, the border control policeman looked at the old visa and stamped in anyways, and i thought all that trouble for nothing!
it's good to be back. but cold! i wear as many layers as i can, which does the trick. i've heard it's the coldest winter for 17 years! the pipes are frozen which means no water, but at least we have a generator for light, and bukharis (sawdust fuel heaters) to keep us warm. in the picture you can see us having a little teaparty in the ceramics school to celebrate... everything (christmas, eid, new years etc etc).
it's a bit difficult to do ceramics though... the ground where the clay is dug from is of course frozen, things take a hundred years to dry, and everything is cold cold cold. the potters mix the clay by stamping it with their feet, so today sultan muhammed had to thaw his feet out by the bukhari afterwards. but everyone is still in amazingly good spirits, we have a good laugh. we're trying to finish our gas kiln, and that will make life easier for us as well, cuase we can dry finished objects in the kiln with a really low flame, and fire more often.
it's good to see jenny again, yesterday i stayed over in her lovely warm little flat and had a warm shower and good coffee for breakfast=). i'm lucky that she's here! or she got me here in the first place.
there's loads of stuff to keep busy with, and tomorrow i'm starting dari and harmonium lessons again as well. i'm a bit rusty, even after 3 weeks. so that's all good.
my knee is a wee bit sore still, and i'm sad about all the cycle trips i missed out on in sweden becuase of it. but i'm lucky to have a physiotherapist-sister. (except for if i don't do the prescribed exercises there's no escape!)
i hope you all are well, and wish that you could come to visit...

Wednesday, 3 January 2007

and now i have a blog

hello everyone,
i've thought of doing this for quite a while, now i am finally.

it's the last night in sweden. i'm sitting in marcus's little flat eating peasoup he made and drinking his wine. yum! tomorrow we're off on a trip to oslo to collect my passport and (inshaAllah) a visa for Afghanistan in it.
then from there to stockholm, and from there to istanbul, and from there to dubai, and from there to kabul.
it's all in the air.

it's been a good trip to sweden. i'm still tired. but i'm still happy too. it's been very good to see family & relatives & friends & babies of friends. and it's been amazing to walk around, go wherever i want, spend time in the forest with uncountable trees and hidden animals. unfortunately for me i slipped and hurt my knee, so not so much cycling or running about as i had hoped.
but i'm prepared for kabul with more warm clothes and my computer full of music.
i'll try to keep this blog going from there.