Thursday, February 28, 2008

Pamukkale, Turkey

While flying back to Afghanistan I had a chance to prepare a few more of my December / January holiday pictures. These show the ancient Roman and Greek ruins and Travertines in Pamukkale, Turkey. Worth a trip.

Return of the, well, not exactly 'native' but one who feels he belongs

Got back into Kabul yesterday - thrilled beyond thrills to reunite with Ms S. and anxious to catch up with other friends. Counting down the minutes (263 as I write this) until my first game of Ultimate.

I had had a fantastic few weeks in Ottawa - thanks to those who encouraged me to spend some time resting between jobs although it was also partly because when I left Kabul I didn't know what would be next. (Slight pity I had to transport all my stuff back and forth.) It was terrific to see Dad and some of my oldest friends.

The trip here was hectic. Collected a new reason for a flight delay in Toronto: "Ladies and Gentlemen we regret to announce that our departure has been delayed for a technical reason, and that technical reason is that we have no pilots. We don't know where they are. We don't know when they will get here. We will keep you informed." I'm not joking. After roughly half an hour one pilot showed up but we didn't move until another ambled up (OK, use of that term is a joke) and then we had another hour on the tarmac while queueing up for de-icing. One loud mouth complained about the de-icing, but would he really honestly have wanted to go without it?

I didn't think I'd make my connection to Dubai but Lufthansa in Frankfurt were marvelous. They had a separate bus waiting at the foot of the stairs for the half dozen of us hoping to make the same connection. Off we zoomed with, apparently, Michael Schumacher at the wheel to the right part of the airport and then we followed a ground staff person at a very brisk walk up to the departure gate for Dubai.

I'm so glad to be back.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Parliament Hill

Yesterday I audited the field trip component of my friend Harry Turner's photography course - a course I took two or three times way back in the silver-based era of photography. We trooped around Canada's Parliament Buildings and here are my favorite images.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Blue Rodeo musican meets me in person!

I'm tired as I write this but I want to post the news that tonight I met - all too briefly - my favorite musician. In the whole world. There were 5,000 people at the Blue Rodeo concert and yet here I am with maestro Greg Keelor.

LESS-TIRED-UPDATE: Shout Out to Ben-Bob who asked where I saw this concert. In fact it was right here in snowy Ottawa. It was my 21st Blue Rodeo show, which pales in comparison to Dianne's tally of over 350. I thank Dianne for getting the meet-and-greet passes that enabled us to catch up with the boys. Jim Cuddy told me he had seen me dancing crazily beside Dianne and was quite confused because he knows her husband Dan is not normally so demented. Of course the reference site for my Blue Rodeo fandom is on my website here.

FURTHER UPDATE: I have just been sent this pre-concert picture. My sign features Dianne in a Burqa (she is labeled 'Dianne of Afghanistan') thinking "I hope they play Floating".

The references are to the fact that Blue Rodeo will be entertaining the Canadian troops in Kandahar, Afghanistan in March and to Floating, my favorite Blue Rodeo song, which I have been requesting hopefully but without success for twenty years.

Additional notes: yes, the 'guy' from Blue Rodeo is 'old' (51 in fact). This is not boy-band - not was it even when I first saw them in, I think, 1987. A young woman sitting in front of us at the show (while we and everybody else was standing) was texting someone "I'm bored as shit. Everyone here is 40". In fact, at 45, I think I was on the young end of the Blue Rodeo Bell Curve.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Istanbul photos

Here, in a new format (created by Adobe Lightroom - which I think I like) are my selected photos from Istanbul.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Strangely, the longer I delay blogging because I'm so far behind, the farther behind I get!

SO MUCH has happened since I last posted. That was a quick note to ensure friends that I hadn't been near the bomb attack on the Sarina Hotel in Kabul. In fact I need to relate a few even earlier things. So gather around my flip chart and we'll brainstorm on the following:

I got back from holidays about a month ago and having now been a motionless night (this is my criterion for listing countries) in Turkey, Romania and Seribia I have updated my list of countries visited.

The holiday really made me realize that my job was not making me feel interested or personally developed and after a few days back at work I resigned. My contract required a month's notice and I gave seven weeks - however Equal Access responded that I should leave at the end of January (three weeks later).

That was while I was in the northern Afghan province of Kunduz. On the way back through a heavy storm while we were putting chains on our car wheels at a checkpoint the policeman let me fire his Kalashnikov rifle. It was the first time I'd ever fired a gun and it will probably be the last but it was quite a thrill. There was much less recoil than I expected and much much more noise.

Evenings were turned to job hunting and over the last few weeks I've had various tentative offers and enquiries but nothing is definite yet. I hope to go back to Afghanistan because of the important work that has to be done and because of special friends. I miss playing Ultimate Frisbee - there are very informal pick-up games that were the high point of my week.

I came home on February 2 and 3 - on a marathon journey that really made me feel my age. After a short (but of course delayed) flight from Kabul to Delhi I had a 13 hour layover in the transit lounge. Thankfully I met a very interesting medical student who helped pass the time. Then I had a cramped 15 hour flight from Delhi to Newark with no entertainment system or reading light. Then, rather surprisingly I had an 11 hour wait in Newark for my flight to Ottawa. The best part of the trip was seeing Dad and the second best part was having Customs tell me that I did not need to pay duty on the photography equipment I was carrying. (Honesty is the best policy.)

I still hope to post more holiday and Afgahnistan photos...