Tuesday, 19 August 2008


(view of Istalif)
... in the middle of thinking about potters and tiles and clay and projects and meetings and friends and trying to communicate and going here and there, there is always something else on my mind as well. The news, as well as people whose opinions i respect because of their years of experience here, are painting quite a worrying picture of the current situation, and the future.

Last time i was here, (i left only 14 months ago), i travelled alone through the Khyber pass twice without feeling worried, and cycled through Kabul (the first time, dressed up as a man -ehem). Now we are not even supposed to walk to the nearest shop, and i feel something different in the air.

The worst thing is obviously all the people here who are affected. Their names don't make the news, and they can't just get on a plane and leave all the troubles behind.
How many times can you survive having all hope extinguished? How many times can you lose loved ones without dying inside? How many times can you leave your home and have everything taken away from you?

And what can we do?
What are we doing?
(Lutfan ihtehaat kunen - Please be careful!
written on the wall near the Ceramics school here in Kabul)

Independence day

Yesterday was the day the Afghans got their independence from Britain. This meant a holiday for us (-but not for the thousands of police out on the streets trying to prevent any number of things happening).
I celebrated by spending some time in the ceramics school, with some very useful helpers:

Saturday, 16 August 2008

a wedding

Thanks to the kindness of one of the potters, who drove me back and forth from Kabul out of the kindness of his heart, I went to a wedding on Saturday up in Istalif. The groom was the brother of one of the potters that i knew from last time i was here. I gave my camera to Abdul Matin, another potter, who took some great photos (of the men -it wouldn't be right for me to take photos of the women).
I was ushered past all of these men to the house, where all the women were sitting, standing, dancing (on every available centimeter of floor-roof-&-stair-space). Against my will, i was taken to the up-raised, pink-clad bench where a weeping bride sat with down-cast eyes. Fortunately, i was able to retreat to a corner, and then to the roof (even better!) where i was less visible. My rusty Dari, terrible performance on the zer-baghali (a ceramic drum held under the arm -which is where it gets it's name from), and adamant refusal to dance a single dance did not stop welcoming smiles from all directions.
There was even vegan food!
It was a really great chance to meet more of the women and girls of Istalif - last time, in the course of almost a whole year, i only met the women of 4 families! Today, as i walked down the hill in Istalif a little group of young girls called out "I saw you at the wedding!" Now at least i'm not a complete stranger... It's the women who do the decorating of the pottery in Istalif, and i really hope to spend some time with them.

Thursday, 14 August 2008


Now, after a summer of Sweden (fika-ing, swimming, cycling on Gottland, socialising, knitting, reading, drawing etc) and some travelling (buses buses buses -i'm afraid i can't recommend eurolines to anyone- and a guilty flight, to Prague and Barcelona, and then finally London-Oxford) i'm now back in Kabul!

I'm here with the same organisation as before, but this time doing a slightly different job. I'll be working with the program in the village where the potters i was working with before come from, near Kabul, called Istalif. It's such a beautiful place, and i love the people, so i think it's going to be a good 4 months.

I'll take some pictures soon and post them up.