Some days I really don’t know what to write about. My day becomes routine and I consider the things I do rather mundane and uninteresting. But for my wife and family members and now seven hundred daily readers, anything I take a picture of or write about draws them closer and helps them understand my year long experience. As such, here is the latest.
While walking around ANA land, an AF Captain pointed to a soldier on the hill side. At first I couldn’t understand what the big deal was until he explained it wasn’t a real soldier. After closer look and explanation, I observed an outline of a soldier constructed of large rocks. The only time you can really see it, is when it snows and then the snow melts revealing an outline of soldier armed with a rifle. Perhaps my blinders have been on and I just never noticed it. So now my curiosity is getting the best of me and I hope to find out more information about this artwork. Was it created during the Soviet era or after the Taliban were ousted? What is the purpose of this rock sculpture? These are some of the questions I hope to pose to my ANA counterparts.
One of my stops today was the proposed site for the new library and literacy program. The ANA Garrison commander has designated some room space inside a large building to accommodate these programs. The current library is compressed into a small room and the shelves are sparsely stocked. There are 99 books for the
entire library. The three primary themes were religious, political, and history. Notice in the picture how they number sequence the books on the listing attached to the wall. There was one book that looked out of place and had an American title, but was written in Dari. It was Toby Green’s book, “Inquisition, The Reign of Fear”. In the near future we will have an opening for an expanded library and literacy room.
Next to the library was a very special room held in reverence by the ANA. This was the Hall of Honor. When distinguished guests visit, they are asked to sign the guest book. The walls are adorned with framed scripts written in the native language. Our interpreter translated some of the meaning for us. In the back of the room are framed pictures of President Karzai, the Minister of Defense, and the Army Chief of Staff. To the right of the president’s portrait at equal height and of equal size is a picture of Ahmad Shah Massoud nicknamed the “Lion of Panjshir”. He is almost legendary in Afghanistan due to his roles of being a Soviet resistance fighter, Defense Minister, and then the Northern Alliance leader. He was assassinated on 9 Sept 2001 (2 days before the Sept 11 attacks on the US) by suspected Al-Qaeda agents.
On a side wall, there was a snapshot picture of a woman that caught my attention. She was wearing an Army beret and an ANA officer uniform. Her name is General Khotul. She holds the distinction of being the first and only female ANA general but she was also the first female ANA paratrooper. I don’t know much more about her, other than she was a guest speaker at women’s seminar in 2008 in conjunction with some female Air Force women.
Before visiting the new library site, I popped my head inside the ANA barber shop. Some of the soldiers were a bit shy of my camera, but the barber was posing for me. What I really wanted was a picture of the tools or scissors they used to cut hair. I have never seen
anything like them in my life. Oh well, I still have 3 months left to resolve my intrigue and as long as my camera is functional, I will take more pictures of mundane stuff.