Photo: Orange is the new Black

Whilst visiting the work that the Government of Punjab is doing in Bahawalpur district, we went to a fruit and vegetables market in Bahawalpur main bazaar. This trader was located in front of the gates, in front of the banner explaining what our initiative was trying to achieve! He was very loud and friendly and insisted that we buy some of his fruit. I could not resist! They tasted good as well. People in Asia put orange henna dye in their hair for various reasons. One of them is tell the world that they have made a pilgrimage to Mecca, the holiest site in Muslim beliefs.

Whilst visiting the work that the Government of Punjab is doing in Bahawalpur district, we went to a fruit and vegetables market in Bahawalpur main bazaar. This trader was located in front of the gates, in front of the banner explaining what our initiative was trying to achieve! He was very loud and friendly and insisted that we buy some of his fruit. I could not resist! They tasted good as well.
People in Asia put orange henna dye in their hair for various reasons. One of them is tell the world that they have made a pilgrimage to Mecca, the holiest site in Muslim beliefs.

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What do you think of when you think of Afghanistan…

friendly people in a market in Bamyan

friendly people in a market in Bamyan

What do you think of when you think of Afghanistan?
War, Taleban, jihad, deserted mountains, insurgency, war, freedom against oppression, America’s war, Pashtun people, war, war and more war?
First of all, Afghanistan is a country, populated by 32 million people. Yes there are horrible people there, just as there are disgusting human beings in western societies. The lack of a unified justice system and corruption in governments allow them more freedom out there it is true, but I would bet we have just as many dishonest and revolting people in the West as they have. Our society is just better at identifying them and cracking down on them
My point is people are just people, wherever you may go.
What Afghanistan is not, contrary to what media outlets try to make you believe, is a country full of people ready to slit your throat to steal the 10 dollars you have in your wallet, ready to kidnap you because of what your skin colour represents, ready to wage holy war and kill every western or Christian person they see indiscriminately.
This article, http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/07/25/under-americas-surveillance-dome/ ) a truly well written account of the “rule of law” in USA, shows the bias western media has when commenting on international polemics. I urge you to read it in order for your mind to have that 10 minutes of balance when reacting to news we receive through our little screens on our desks or in our hands.
I cannot write as well as the author of the article above, Rev William E. Alberts, but I echo his sentiments completely. We in the UK are relatively lucky to possess a media that still has an element of freedom to it (although this is being chipped away at gradually), contrary to state and corporate owned media in the US. I am not going to start becoming holier-than-thou in this blog, as this is probably not why you’ve clicked on it in the first place, but I guess my message would be: please please please make an effort to read news that is balanced and not written for political ends. Research all points of views before simply basing your own opinion on what you see in one article or bulletin. The world is not just black, or just white. Every person sees the world and its history in a different way, and the more you speak and understand others’ point of view, the more learned you will become.
Just a thought on a sunny Friday morning…
For your information, when I see Afghanistan, I see kebabs and fruits, old men smoking hashish in the parks, green tea being brewed on street corners, battered old cars that still carry on, black hair and green eyes. Most of them, just like you and me, revere family, love their friends, respect their wives as their culture dictates, play football or cricket in the park on weekends, drink tea and whose first instinct is to be helpful and smiling if someone approaches them.

And although I feel tense when walking around, I wonder how much of this is created in my head to what is actually happening out there…

Photo: A South Sudanese woman in a market in Northern DR Congo

South Sudanese woman in Northern Congo market

This woman, whose name I unfortunately cannot remember, lived in what is now South Sudan and left during the recent troubles in Juba. She crossed into DRC and now lives in Aru, near the Ugandan border. She is growing cassava and banana to sell at the moment and is an expert seamstress. She owns her own sowing machine and gets good income from it. She was very happy to talk to me about the problems in the area. The North East Congo-Uganda-South Sudan region used to be a lawless area where many bad things happened. It is however easier now, and she is looking forward to returning to her native Juba soon. For her and her family, I really hope this happens! good luck!

Photo: Kabul and its many wonders

In Kabul, the fruit market is usually teeming in the morning. There is hardly any place to move. However, as the afternoon wears on, the place relaxes and you can actually start talking to locals. I was taking pictures of fruit diseases (yes that’s how cool I am) and a couple of local kids came up to me and started posing. I was playing around a bit, but then they wanted to see the pictures I had taken. They were not satisfied with them, so they made me concentrate! It took at least ten minutes to set this one up properly. The result is great though… Just looking at the eyes shows me a different world…

Photo: a beautiful canyon in Afghanistan

A very famous place in Afghanistan, Bandeh Amir. 7 underground sources link together in a deep canyon along several miles to produce a truly amazing view. Every winter, it hosts an international skiing tournament. There is hope yet for the Afghan tourism industry!

A very famous place in Afghanistan, Bandeh Amir. 7 underground sources link together in a deep canyon along several miles to produce a truly amazing view. Every winter, it hosts an international skiing tournament. There is hope yet for the Afghan tourism industry!

Post: The music lottery

Picture the scene: You are in a car. The road is rough. You still have a long way to go. The driver moves his hand towards the radio switch… An explosion of thoughts occur in your head (possibly the most active your brain has been for a long time). What will he put on? What type of music am I gonna be subjected to?

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE for the love that everything that is holy, let it not be Continue reading