Body onsite and the elections results

4 09 2009
The remains of a person buried under the 150 year old foundations.

The remains of a person buried under the 150 year old foundations on the Jewellery School site

We found a body on site on Thursday. It is the last piece of excavation left and the disassembled bones were buried under the old foundations 3 metres below street level. The wall is around 150 years old and the skull is small so likely a woman or child’s but I’m no paleantologist. We recorded the discovery and they have reburied the remains in a white sheet by a small shrine in Murad Khane. I hope it’s not where we’re going to build next year.

You can only guess as to the reasons why someone was buried beneath the foundations of a house rather than in the many burial grounds in Kabul.

Turquoise Mountain labourers waiting for their wages outside the office.The shelter on the left is where, outside Ramadan we eat lunch together.

Turquoise Mountain labourers waiting for their wages outside the office.The shelter on the left is where, outside Ramadan we eat lunch together.

The official election results are meant to come out tomorrow. Despite significant accusations of fraud it looks like Karzai will have the most votes but not enough to avoid a run off for shared power. Obviously some of the 2000+ allegations of fraud must be false but most amusingly Karzai’s supporters accused supporters of his closest competition, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah of ballot stuffing in a strong Pashtun region in the south of the country. The joke is that whilst Abdullah received only 14 votes everyone said that even these must have been false as not one person would vote for Abdullah, who takes more of the Tajik votes in the north. Abdullah claims strong allegience to Massoud, the Lion of the Panshir who you may remember was killed by the exploding camera.

 

Adbul Samat aged in his early 40s.

Jewellery School Mason Adbul Samat aged in his early 40s.

Afghan of the Week is Abdul Samat, one of the skilled masons on the Jewellery School.

He is good natured but occasionally asks to leave early to go and tend his garden from which he feeds his family. I’m not convinced by this but can’t think of a decent reason to say no.

Alongside Afghanistan’s depressing poverty statistics life expectancy is a bleak prospect for many people. Currently it is 45. Something like 50% of children don’t make it past the age of five. Most Afghans look older than they are and many don’t know exactly how old they are. One of the stronger points of reference in this fascinating culture.

Duncan DJ





Kabul helicopter flight

31 08 2009
American soldier admiring the view of Kabul from the Hip helicopter

American soldier admiring the view of Kabul from the Hip helicopter

On Saturday morning we spent an exhilarating hour sweeping low and fast over Kabul. The American General charged with training the Afghan Air Force, visited Turquoise Mountain’s work and drew parallels in what we are trying to achieve* and invited us to see their project, based in a $183m compound (puts TM’s $25m in perspective). Although jewellery and traditional building are a world away from attack helicopters we have the same goal: Capacity building with Afghan people. Because they trained in Russian aircraft the Americans have taken the surprisingly pragmatic approach of sticking to what the Afghans know. Just in are 2 brand new helicopters made by Russians in Czechslovakia, no US contractors in sight. The American instructors are taking a little while getting used to the cyrillic dials and switches but it isn’t a problem.

I was woken up by three low crumps a few nights ago as rockets landed in Kabul although no reports yet.

Faisal is the pride of the AFghan airforce as the first pilot to graduate from US flight school.

Faiz is the pride of the Afghan airforce as the first pilot to graduate from US flight school.

Afghan of the week is Lt. Faiz Ramaki who is the first Afghan pilot to graduate from US flight school in 50 years. Understandibly the US instructors are very proud of this, as with each TM pupil who leaves the school to go onto college or get a vocational job.

Dramatic lightning storm last night. It started overhead and then lit up the wider landscape with the hills silhouetted black against the barrage of flashes beyond. As the power went down so security guards light their compounds by setting off bright flares, green and red. Occasionally a hillside district’s lighting is reconnected, sparkling back to life. Quite a light show from the roof of the fort.

Building – All is going well although life is getting busier by the day in the new role of Murad Khane Project Manager. I’m just putting together a contract for infrastructure. One of the key points is risk of terrorist attack which the RIBA guide states as ‘unlikely’ but of course they’re not used to building in Afghanistan.

Duncan DJ

*For those interested in TM’s goals they can be found at www.turquoisemountain.org