Schrödinger’s bomb and other electoral quandries*

23 08 2009

If a bomb explodes in Kabul but nobody says they heard it did it actually go off?

View from the roof of the Fort overlooking the old British embassy and the hills to the south

Looking north from the Fort over the city to the hills beyond

It’s Saturday afternoon just about the same time as Ricky Ponting got hit in the face at the Kennington Oval (poor Ricky) and a loud and clear bang rings out near the Fort. We checked in with our security team who said it hadn’t been reported – surprising for such a loud bang. The guards said that it was 2-300 yards away. Close, but no smoke visible from the roof so difficult to be sure. However not a word from the local police which was a concern but as always the truth in Afghanistan is more complicated.  In our district, Kart-e-Parwan the fights are as interconnected with tribal groups as they are the police. It seems likely that it is preferable to keep these things quiet to avoid retribution.

Looking south west from the fort over the old British embassy and to tv hill beyond.

Looking south west from the fort over the old British embassy and to tv hill beyond.

The photos are taken from the roof of the Turquoise Mountain Qala and give an idea of our surroundings. The small mosque in the top image has a surprisingly loud call to prayer especially on a Ramadan morning. The dusty hills beyond used to be the city limits but Kabul has swelled by millions in the past decades. In the middle image the brick tower and white building are the Old British Embassy. Commissioned by Lord Curzon in the 1920s so the Ambassador would be the ‘best-housed man in Asia’. Unfortunately the current owners, the Pakistan Government are unwilling to let anyone return despite speculation otherwise. It would be a great place for a party and I have tried to get TM interested in restoring it but apparently the guards are trigger happy so a site visit is out of the question.

Afghan of the week, Hussain our cook. Aged "about 65" he is from Ghazni and is from the Hazara tribe.

Afghan of the week, Hussain our cook. Aged "about 65" he is from Ghazni and is from the Hazara tribe.

Today was the first day back at work since the elections and views are mixed. When asked what the result would be one of the senior engineers essentially replied ‘you tell me’ meaning he thought the US of the UK governments had such control over the situation that they would be able to influence results. My site foreman beautifully described the sound of the rockets whooshing overhead before exploding into the presidential compound a few hundred metres away. The new site architect couldn’t get back to Ghazni because of the Taliban’s tight control of the roads and although I have seen ink-stained fingers some admitted to not voting due to intimidation.

Afghan of the week is Hussain, TM’s cook in the Qala for the last three years. His story in TM is as charming as it is accidental. When he came for an interview in the early days of Turquoise Mountain he was turned down but when he appeared for work the next week no-one had the heart to explain the situation so he stayed.

Duncan DJ

*I realise the analogy is closer to George Berkeley’s falling tree than Schrödinger’s cat but it’s not so catchy.