posting from bamyan-1

arrived here on a helicopter flight this morning. my first helicopter ride. on the flight i was thinking to myself: ‘you have not worked in development if you have never traveled on a chopper.’
which got me started on a whole train of thought as i was trying to keep out the incredible noise of the rotors with an incredibly loud album of pearl jam blaring from my in-ear earphones. my ears took unspeakable abuse.
yes, back to the train of thought – i was thinking to myself: what would a list titled “you have not worked in development if you have not done the following” look like?

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it is incredibly cold here. my fingers are getting numb and typing is less fun -even typing for a blog post. we are staying in the lovely, spartan and one of a kind roof of bamyan guesthouse. the boys looking after the place were shocked to see us -almost no one travels here this time of the year. roof was not our preferred option, but the only other option, the silk route guesthouse, is shut down for the winter. so it is either roof or it is one of those traditional caravanserais where 30 men sleep to a large salon. we decided to go for the cold of the roof guesthouse though the warmth generated by 30 plus bodies sleeping in the same space seemed (and seems now) very tempting.

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one thing i noticed here is that construction in general, and aesthetics of architecture in particular are not as well developed in bamyan as other places, even in other rural settings. where i come from, a semi-remote district in ghazni province, even though it is not a provincial center, buildings are much nicer, use of space is much more sophisticated, and signs of good taste in architecture and house construction much more evident. trying to find an office space to set up our provincial operations in, proved very difficult. plus i would wager there were more shops in the center of sang-e-masha bazaar than in the provincial capital here -and that was many years ago and from my memories as a child. things must have surely grown larger there, while here, the bazaar was still sleepier than it should be for an important provincial capital on a business day.

*
which started me on a whole other train of thought – what does it take for a place to boom? i mean truly boom and take off the ground? what could one engineer/plan – in the way of economic planning for a certain area? transport infrastructure? electricity? a suitable business environment? rule of law (the only area where bamyan does ok), what else? the rest will surely have to come from within the place and the people -if it is all to not go back to square one of a centrally planned economy. extractive industries maybe?

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in the afternoon after the meetings and such, we descended on my favorite row of ‘antique’ shops on the main bamyan thoroughfare. fun and games. some genuine antiques (bactrian coins, ancient looking pieces of stone), some genuine new stuff (toy guns for kids -still wondering what that had to do with the place), and plenty in-betweens (newly made stuff abused the heck out of to look old) -a little like genuine fakes you can find on the market alleys of kucadasi and izmir. i settled on a pair of new locally made gloves, a ‘barak’ shawl, and a beautiful bamyani hat.

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tomorrow is another full day with field visits and meetings, and maybe, maybe if the time allows a ritual visit to the cliffs and the tragic looking buddha niches. every time i see the cliff wall, and you can’t help seeing it every time if you are staying in the roof of bamyan guesthouse, my heart aches and grimaces. what madness, what perverse thinking could have allowed for deliberately doing this.

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with that, it is off for me back to the warmth of the bukhari in the central space in the roof guesthouse, and leaving the precious only internet cable of the guesthouse to the next person in line. adios and buenes noches.

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~ by safrang on December 5, 2009.

5 Responses to “posting from bamyan-1”

  1. Welcome! i am the first reader of your post coz i’m near to u.
    ok, what is ur business here? can i help u man?
    anyway ,be careful of Bukhari and dont bur urself to night!
    there is an information center just infront of the Big Budha and u can go there and ask information aboutBamyan in the morning and also if you need some more help and infos i will help u coz i’m a real fan of you and ur blog!
    Take care

    • Hi Bamyani – thanks for commenting on my post. Call me tomorrow – if you want to meet up – my number is in your mailbox. best, hamesha

  2. noticed it’s snowing here.. nice! Good luck on your work hamesha!

  3. awww, it’s snowing!just like here in Norway!lovely!

  4. “one thing i noticed here is that construction in general, and aesthetics of architecture in particular are not as well developed in bamyan as other places, even in other rural settings. where i come from, a semi-remote district in ghazni province, even though it is not a provincial center, buildings are much nicer, use of space is much more sophisticated, and signs of good taste in architecture and house construction much more evident. trying to find an office space to set up our provincial operations in, proved very difficult.”–can’t help yourself but be one of the “kola safid hai Jaghori?”

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