laar-sha ningrahar ta…

i scribbled the following in margins (of scraps of paper and my mind) on the way back from jalalabad a few days ago. been rather hectic here lately, hence no occasion to post it earlier.

there is this old pashto song that is very catchy and that i do not remember exactly when i heard first, but at times it becomes quite an ear-worm for me and i just can’t seem to get it out of my head -like right now when i am on the way back from ningrahar:

لار شه ننگرهار ته کمیس تور ما ته راوله
تازه تازه گلونه دری خلور ماته راوله

laar-sha ningrahar ta kamees tour maata rawla
taaza taaza gloona dray, saloor maata rawla

go over to ningrahar and bring me back a black dress
and from its fields of fresh flowers, bring me three or four

(the numerical designation is there because in its original pashto it lends a perfect rhyme with the first stanza, but as is apparent, does not make much sense in english translation.)

this, by the way, was also one of the songs sang by a contestant in this past week’s ‘afghan star’ contest -but more on the interesting affair that is afghan star later.

am just back from a day trip to the nice and warm city of jalalabad in the eastern ningrahar province, and completely spent. a deep fatigue has set in -it must be from the winding road through the several gorges and round sharp curves and up and down a narrow road that clings precariously to the mountainsides all along the roadway. i tell you, any less skilled driver who is not familiar with many of the nooks and crannies that the kabul-jalalabad road has to offer, and the whole car and the crew will fly off the cliffs and down into the river hundreds of meters below. look at them rusted corpses of cars over yonder if you don’t believe me. but boy if for all its fright it is not an enlivening experience. jagged peaks, massive rock faces, harsh, heavy, stern, and been there for millenia -leaves one awed and aghast. and the agile white-waters and rapids of the kabul, logar and panjshir rivers flowing through the snakelike gorge -where is that inflated boat to ride on down the steep slopes and around the sharp rocks and be thrown around until it shakes the very sleepiness out of your life.

we stopped in mahipar on the way to, and in suroobi on the way from jalalabad -first for the deep fried fish, and on the return leg for the famous pomogranates of tagab that are brought to suroobi at this season. both lifted the spirits of the expedition -the greasy fish seemed unappetizing, but then you realize you can’t stop eating. and the pomogranates -there is no other fruit in the world like this, and no pomogranate (at least none i have seen elsewhere) matches those found in afghanistan. blood-red, wholesome, juicy, and oh so delicious.

here is one of the more memorable things that stuck with me from the trip -somewhere in one of the ‘tangees’ (gorges) where even the bravest of people would feel a little cowed in the shadow of the mountains that loom large right overhead and even at mid day the belly of the gorge does not see sunshine, and where the narrow snaking metallic road seems like the only sign of civilization, and where it would seem most likely that a party of insurgents or thieves or whatever you call it can simply sweep down and rob and kill, all of sudden i saw a solitary figure in military fatigue sitting atop a boulder on the side of the road -an ANA soldier. our cars passed by and i took a closer look – a no brainer: the soldier was not from these parts, he was clearly a native of either central or northern afghanistan (a hazara or uzbek) and serving in a pashtun dominated province. both the fact that in the middle of this wilderness with fear prevailing there is sign of the central government’s presence (even if rather tentative) and the fact of the the presence of an ANA solider from another part of the country in here, both just filled my heart with such indescribable joy…

also, though i have lived much of my life in it, and had read about it being one of the highest capitals of the world, it was not until this trip, and the constant and rather steep descent from kabul to the plateaus of ningrahar that the unusual altitude of this city struck me -it is well above 2,200 meters above sea level in many parts of the capital, and it is one of the reasons why kabul is so unforgivingly cold -driving me to do several posts about the cold throughout the winter.

now, let’s move a few days onward from the ningrahar trip -we are in today, 3rd of march and i am writing these now.

such a weird and tiring day. i decided to drive today -a mistake. it is 6pm now and my arms and legs are aching after a whole day’s driving, much of it at the rate of meters an hour, not kilometers -traffic in kabul is in a crisis stage. bless the hearts of the drivers who bear their cross so patiently day after day and without whom the aid/government/security complex in kabul would collapse.
that was the tiring part -the weird part, well, it’s a long story. maybe i will save it for another time. but suffice it to say that i (or rather we) called off an engagement, and at one point i stepped out of an airplane and asked for my luggage to be taken out of the check-in, and all of this while they had held the plane for me to board as i was running around trying to get all the paper work that is associated with this particular air service. now i know how that sounds – angry words and sobs and broken hearts. but rest assured, it was nothing of the sort, and sometimes soon the vignettes will bear some sort of encrypted reference that may put all of this into context.

as a parting shot, my itinerary for the coming couple of weeks looks pretty exciting and i should be able to share some of it with you either here or on my flickr acc.


~ by safrang on March 3, 2008.

One Response to “laar-sha ningrahar ta…”

  1. Oh, I haven’t been on that road in such a long time. Thanks for taking me along (through your writing). Fried fish, yellow roads, red flowers and pomegranate juice. Yay for warmer weather. Did you have sugar cane also?

    I remember that fatigue as well.

    High security alert on ‘foreigner’ kidnapping, which is scary and frustrating all at the same time.

    Sorry for the broken engagement but I thank god often for my broken engagement. So good for you for not having it full of dramatics. 🙂

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