Monday, October 26, 2009

Photo Studio in Afghanistan

Afghan Photographer
Originally uploaded by culturalvisions

I've seen street side photo studios, like this one in Herat, all over the world. The shutter is a makeshift lens cap, the negative is made of paper, inside the camera box are trays with chemistry for processing, the negative is re-photographed to make a positive and the results are washed in the bucket on the ground. The client gets a beautiful 3X5 inch contact print after a few minutes wait.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Happy Days in Herat

Afghan Musician
Originally uploaded by culturalvisions

Kabul in the 70s was known as the Paris of Central Asia according to the NYT. For me Herat was the Northampton of Central Asia- good tea stalls (chai khannas), good bakeries (not as good as Hungry Ghost) and absolutely great music coming from every chai khanna.

Afghanistan had it all if you were a fan of life as it was lived in "Old Testament" times. Come to think of it, Northampton of the 70s had a lot more "Old Testament" feel about it. Let me clarify that Herat of the 70s was as interesting as Northampton of today. Although Afghanistan had lower prices, better shopping, cheaper hotels and fewer flush toilets. Oh, right, the toilets. I guess I prefer Northampton.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Research Group Triangle

Jura's Place, Herat, originally uploaded by culturalvisions.

This was our hang-out in Herat in 1973. Jura had the best tea and the best music. We called ourselves Research Group Triangle and we sat in this small, smokey room for hours talking about our expedition overland. There were four of us. That's an appropriate configuration for a Group Triangle of the early 70s. We traveled for a year. Sometimes together, sometimes alone, and always connected --even pre-internet. I had 100 rolls of film and stingily took just a few photos in Afghanistan. This remains one of my favorites, but it is because of the memories rather than the quality of the picture.

Northern Afghanistan, December 1978

Northern Afghanistan
Originally uploaded by culturalvisions

"Money is for whomans, not for things." That's what the Chief of Afghan Police kept repeating as he interrogated us about not paying for our hotel room. Unfortunately, it was the bulk of his English literacy. We paid for the hotel a second time to avoid jail time.

Also, Vivian complained about my previous post so I pledge to avoid potty stories in the future. For instance, I'm not going to tell of the night the Afghan authorities locked all the internationals passing through their village in a single room for safe keeping. There were 6 or 8 of us who were told that we might be killed if we were mistaken for Russians by the locals.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Honeymoon in Afghanistan

Originally uploaded by culturalvisions

That's right, Vivian and I spent a month of our year long honeymoon in 1978-1979 in Afghanistan. There are stories to tell of our adventure, but I'll start with pictures. This one is from a week long truck ride from Herat to Mazar-i-Sharif. That's a mostly roadless ride through desert and dust. We would stop every few hours to get out and pee. The Afghan women wouldn't leave the truck. Vivian would barge her way through and squat in the sand with the men. I pissed standing up. I attracted a crowd. They were very impressed with my fly-- very modern and very western. Then one day I pissed toward Mecca and everybody yelled at me.

This recollection was initiated by a NYTs article on Afghanistan's Golden Age.