Feb 26, 2014

Legendary Guitarist Does Not Play Anymore

You with your lightening-speed of fingers on the strings of guitar dazzled millions of people around the world; with your rhythms of flamenco, you knocked on the doors of millions of hearts. You transcended beyond the borders; through your magical fingers on guitar, you talked to every individual in the same understandable language and in the same level, either rich or poor, they all equally enjoyed your music. Like sun, your music illuminated the hearts and lasted deeper than sun. Today, thousands of your fans are grieving for your unexpected death.

Paco De Locia died today, he was born in a poor family, and as a poor boy he could not finish his school, but later, as an accomplished guitarist, he brought technical skills of flamenco tunes into a sublime perfection, which rose him a world-renown guitarist.
Rest in peace, Paco de Lucia, my favorite guitarist!

Feb 21, 2014

Anahita Ulfat, Sings Songs of the Oppressed

Anahita Ulfat in traditional Hazaragi dress performing live on stage 
Solemnly, but smiley, Anahita in her unique traditional Hazara dresss, gently walks up onto stage. When she turns her charming smiley face towards the audience, her beauty pervades gloom all over the place, and as soon as she starts singing, the audience goes wild. Anahita sings with a vital rebellious voice against discriminatory attitudes towards her ethnic group. With her voice, she expands the horizon of hope for the Hazara women, for those who have long dreamt to bid defiance to limitations, and ignoring.

Anahita Ulftat is back on the stage of Afghan Star, the Afghanistan’s pop idol that broadcasts on a local TV channel, “Tolo TV.” She is a Hazara girl from Ghazni who rings the bravery bill of all Hazara women. With her unique serene gesture, but exciting voice, she melodizes unwritten songs; songs of silence, songs of an oppressed minority that for centuries has been deprived from their basic rights. Anahita sings the crying songs of thousands of innocent people who have suffered from ethnic cleansing, historical discrimination, prejudice, and exclusion.

Calm and vigilant, Anahita sings love songs, the ones that could recall the tale of a Hazara boy who is enslaved by a Pashtun, and he grieves for his lover who is taken away into a slavery market in Central Asia by bandits of Uzbeks and Turkmen who also plundered their villages. Anahita has a pain in her heart, the pain that is shared by all Hazaras throughout the history. Anahita suffers from the same pain that every Hazara has suffered and suffers today; the pain of being ignored, being discriminated, and being excluded. She sings the song that is buried in fears; laughed at, and being condescended.  She cries out the pain of a minority that has suffered from overpowering deprivation.

Finally, Anahita Ulfat’s voice has a lasting impact, and deeper like sun. Her voice illuminates the hearts, and tranquilizes the minds. The star of the 9th season of Tolo TV, must be Anahita Ulfat, and everyone should vote for this courageous, rebellious young girl, who dares to ring out the sinner voice of the Hazara women. Anahita represents a minority group, and the bravery and liberality of women, and the young generation who wants to fly high.

Here are two video links to Anahita's outstanding performance:
Anahita Ulfat sings Qatma Qandahari from Farhad Darya
Anahita Ulfat sings Norband

Feb 18, 2014

Afghans are Natural Born Thinkers

The photo is taken in Kabul suburbs -2008
Sunk deep into an ocean of thought, Afghans are famous to be natural born thinkers. As you can see in this photo, three Afghans who are probably in their 50s have glued their gazes at the patterns of the colorful carpet. The man with a Kandahari hat thinks how drops of ocean have ended up into his cup and turned into tea that would finally goes into his body. He floats deep into a dream of joy because he finally comes into the conclusion that the water has come from ocean, which Afghanistan lacks.

The other person in the middle has stuck his tea cup into his right cheek and wonders how in the heck humans learned to draw such complicated patterns on the carpet underneath him. The third person, on the right, has broadened his look to a horizon which is not usual to Afghans. Afghans do not to have horizon, at all; even the most basic and needed ones; for example, horizon of having peace, live a better life, and hoping a better future for their posterity.

Nevertheless, Afghans are ironically the greatest thinkers and they think extremely deep. When they fall into thinking, they completely forget to take a break. A correct political term for this type of people would be “extremism.” In fact, some Afghans are extremists, especially in fighting. Take the 30 years of war for example; when Afghans start fighting, they do not stop until they exterminate each other, or, someone else interferes and halts them from fighting. They even invented a code to justify their deeds and their desires for killing each other: “Pashtunwali,” the famous Pashtun tribal code of conduct that’s famously themed in the Lone Survivor movie. According to Pashtunwali, you can kill as much as you want, until no one is left to take revenge. If you cannot kill them right away, wait for 100 years and beyond to protract the blood feud to thousands of years.

Afghan thinkers have their own base of reasoning. Their women are not included, however; they rather think women are so meek to be bothered, for their presence in public would be lustfully disastrous. As a result, women in Afghanistan are part of social outcast, like once the Hazaras were.

When it comes to modern thought and philosophy, Afghans are unique. A few centuries ago, Rene Descartes, while in his dark room sipping his bitter coffee went into a deep thought; he struggled to find a valid reason to form the foundation of his philosophy, but he finally postulated this famous statement: “I think, therefore, I am.” This statement to Afghans is worthless. I asked several Afghans about Descartes’s quote, their reaction was: “So, who cares.” Afghans think that they have given birth to God to serve them, and the crux of their philosophy is: “I am an Afghan, therefore, I’m destructive.”

In the words of Thomas Hobbes, Afghans could fall into the category of “brutish.” In the words of Thomas More, Afghans are so incorrigible, and ignorant that thousands of years even pass, Afghans would not be eligible to enter into Utopia. Sadly, More, would even go further on listing the words “Afghan,” and “Afghanistan” as taboo words in Utopia.

Nonetheless, Afghans remain extreme thinkers to this day, and deductively, sadly, some of them are with extreme opinions.

Feb 12, 2014

US Drone Crashed in Jalalabad not in Herat

This is a correction note on my earlier post "America's drone war stoned by Afghans" on January 29. In that post, I made a reference to a news on Iranian government's propaganda channel, Press TV. It said that the American drone had crashed in Herat, without naming a source. Later, I investigated and found out that the drone was crashed in Jalalabad city, in eastern Afghanistan which is populated by Pashtun tribe. The drone was crashed after technical problems and before the Taliban notice the drone was taken away from the area by U.S. forces.

Those who follow the news on the Middle East and Afghanistan know that Iran has a hostile foreign policy towards the U.S. presence in Afghanistan and in the Gulf. Being under a direct control of the government, Iranian media use any opportunity to galvanize Afghans against the U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Why does Iran want to sabotage the U.S. presence in Afghanistan? The answer is simple: Iran thinks the United States may use Afghanistan as a platform to attack Iran. In December 2011, an RQ-170, a C.I.A. stealth drone crashed in Iran. Later, Iran complained to Afghanistan about the U.S. drone and claimed that the drone had flown from Afghanistan into Iran's airspace. So, an ultimate goal for Iran is to kick out the U.S. troops from Afghanistan and its media does not shy away from lying and distorting any news against the United States.

Feb 9, 2014

Daykundi: A Long Forgotten Province of Hazarajat

This photo belongs to my trip in Daykudni, in winter 2008. I don't remember where exactly this place is but it was a deep valley adjacent to Ashtarlai district.
A long-forgotten memory stirred in me this morning; one of those that creates tumult in you and sinks you into an anguished mood. One of those memories that wraps you in a velvet of agony. Then, you are torn inwardly, and left with shredded memories that you are trying recollect when you of course cannot. Just like tattered cloths that cannot be patched, some memories cannot be healed, they rather torment you from inside. Precisely, this is what I felt this morning and here is the story:

In the winter of 2008, I with a friend - who was a documentary filmmaker - made a trip to central part of Afghanistan "Hazarajat" (where the Hazaras are living). Two days before, a storm of heavy snow hit the area and there was over a foot and half of snow blanked in all places. My friend and I were sluggishly ascending the steep and slippery path to top of the pass, near Ashtarlai district. In a short distance, a group of men appeared who were zigzagging their way up to the mountain.

My friend and I were probably the second group making the narrow trench wider in the snow, and perhaps easier for the next travelers. We gradually approached the travelers who were piercing into the depth of the snow and were step by step nearing. We stepped aside and patiently waited to let them pass. At a converging point, I looked at the men’s face; they looked drained, anguished, worried and irritable. In the middle, a man who was going short in breathing carried a basket in his back; one of those baskets that are usually used for collecting grasses for animals in the summer. Suddenly, I heard groans of a woman from the basket, she sounded like a wounded soldier, even close to sounds of someone who gives out the last breath.

A sudden fear with grief conquered me. I impatiently asked the last person in the row: “Who is in the basket and what is going on?” The pale man who has already seemed grief-stricken was one of the woman's closest family members paused for a few seconds to catch his breath, then, he said: “She is sick, we are taking her to the doctor, in Nili." They were coming from Ashtarlai district. He told me that they were en route for two days and they were in their third day to arrive at the hospital in Nili, the capital of Daykundi province.

Six years passed from that winter and that incident, I am having doubt that there has been much improvement in Daykudi; one of the poorest provinces in the far-flung of central Afghanistan. This memory is one of the many that I recall now from my trip to Daikuni province, in one the coldest winters, in 2008.

Feb 6, 2014

Iciest Wrath and a Dismal Day of Pennsylvania

A fallen tree in my neighborhood
In my room, pots are for collecting the leaking water from ceiling
The last snow storm dumped more than a foot of snow across Midwest and East Coast of the United States on Tuesday. Then, on Wednesday, thick coating of ice covered all over the place. Early in the morning, I woke up with the sound of drops of water falling on my pillow. I cast a fleeting look at the ceiling, it was leaking and from its corner the water was pouring down. I collected pots and pans from my kitchen to prevent further damage to the floor. Then, I tried to call my landlord, my phone was dead, and there was no power to charge my phone.

I rushed out of the house to get access to power and charge my phone. At the door, not knowing that ice has covered the stairs and the patio, I made a nice slide, but thankfully fell on the snow; otherwise, I might have broken a limb, like many trees that lost their limbs. As I hit the sidewalk, limbs of trees were lying on sidewalks, roads, and backyards of people; I hardly made my way through them. Just around the corner, a huge pine tree was left prostrate as a result of heavy snow on its branches. I took it metaphorically very meaningful: You do not get big, if you do, your fall will be disastrous, just like the demise of empires.

So, finally, after cruising around the blocks to circumvent stepping on torn electric wires and fallen trees, I arrived at the Starbucks. At the door, the sign said: “Due to power outage, we are closed.” Suddenly, a second thought rushed through my head: Why not taking the bus and spend the day at Barns and Noble. In the bus, a woman was sitting in front of me; tears were rushing down her face. Her house was damaged by a fallen tree. I plaintively sympathized with her, to the point that I almost lied that a huge tree has fallen on my house as well and my life is ruined. I took a somber mood and showed it through a doleful look on my face. At one point I almost wanted to take her hands in my hands to calm her. She got off the bus in mid-way, but her sorrow left a tristful feeling in me for the rest of the day, even to this moment.

Anyhow, the Barns & Noble was closed, they didn’t have power either. I spent the whole afternoon at the Giant Store’s café.

What a dismal day I had and probably thousands of others were in a similar situation. This experience reminded me of my village, where electricity, and internet were not involved in our lives and we did not face this much unexpected hassle.

Feb 2, 2014

The 2014 Election, an Examination of Afghan People

Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah
Today, January 2, Afghanistan's presidential election campaign kicked off. There are 11 candidates from different ethnic groups, different backgrounds, and with different plans. The 2014 Afghanistan’s presidential election is a historic by its sheer nature; the election if peacefully and not violently goes, it will definitely propel the country into a hopeful future.

The 2014 election is an examination of Afghan people, examination of their tolerance of accepting each other in a brotherly manner, and forgetting their ethnic, and religious differences that would put their fate in peril. The election will test the Afghan people’s understanding of the last 13 years of rule of democracy, desire for a better life, and their willingness to move forward, and put an end to their miserable past. 

The upcoming election will also examine how much they have learned from the last 13 years of relatively peaceful atmosphere in the country with the support of foreign troops. The presidential election is set for April 5. The next 2 months will be a hectic time to the Afghan people and especially to its security forces that much of responsibility rests upon their shoulders.

I, therefore, will regularly keep my blog up to date. I will extensively focus on the 2014 Afghanistan’s presidential election, and I specifically will write on candidates and their plans, who is who, who seems to replace President Hamid Karzai, and finally why the Afghan election matters to the United States, and its international allies.