[Audio] UWRF13: Reflections of Afghanistan

Ubud Writers and Readers Festival 2013 Reflections of Afghanistan : Ben Quilty, Agustinus Wibowo & Michael Vatikiotis Forgotten wars & forgotten people. Hear from two individuals who have made the journey to Afghanistan to record the lives of the people there through their images. What does it look like through their eyes? Indus, 15 October 2013 Featuring: Ben Quilty Ben Quilty has been widely recognised for his artwork. Quilty’s paintings of his Holden Torana produced a sell-out show in 2002 and since then his work has been seen in many exhibits and art fairs. Some of his work can be seen at the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the Museum of Contemporary Art. Quilty won the Doug Moran Portrait Prize in 2009 for his painting Jimmy Barnes, ‘There but for the Grace of God Go I, no.2′. In the same year Quilty was named runner up in the Archibald Prize [read more]

December 5, 2013 // 0 Comments

Speak Without Interruption (2013): Give Afghanistan back to the Afghans October 20, 2013 Ubud encounters: Give Afghanistan back to the Afghans Posted by Muhammad Cohen in: Art, Asia, Books, China, Faith, Foreign Affairs, Immigration, Islam, Journalism, Military, Religion, Sociology, Terrorism, Travel, War, Women’s Rights, World Issues Australian painter Ben Quilty and Indonesian writer Agustinus Wibowo told the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival in Bali how they each reached Afghanistan by different routes for different reasons. But following their stays, they both also reached the same conclusion: after a dozen years and thousands of casualties, it’s time for Afghanistan to solve its problems without foreign help. Wibowo came to Afghanistan for the first time as a curious and footloose traveler. In Afghanistan as well as Pakistan, Wibowo said that since he came from Indonesia, people assumed he was Muslim. Telling them he was an ethic Chinese [read more]

October 20, 2013 // 1 Comment

Kabul – Thousands Pairs of Legs

Practising with new legs Afghanistan, a war-torn nation, is where the handicapped war victims dominate the scene. A bazaar with armless beggars lying on hot asphalt, or pedestrian path with men sitting next to plastic legs waiting for alms, or handicapped street children crawling for tomorrow, are common things here. Fate is just decided by a simple foot step. You step on the wrong stone, and you explode. Landmines, millions of which scatter the country, are hidden enemies to bring unwanted nightmares to people. But you also may mention dozens other evil things that come along with the war: rocket, bomb blast, gun fire, malnutrition, until polio virus – which bring more and more Afghans to physical disability. It was fate which brought Najmuddin Hemal, 43 years old, to his current position. In 1988, when he was just 24 years young, he drove his car through a river bed. What a fate. He went out to the sand, stepped on the wrong stone, and blasted. He had his two legs amputated. But [read more]

July 17, 2007 // 0 Comments

Ishkashim – Bodurbekov Family

Alisher (a.k.a Muhammad Bodurbekov) with his cousin “Now you are not guest anymore. You are part of our family. Welcome!” – Muhammad Bodurbekov Since the first minute I arrived in Ishkashim, I was impressed by the hospitality of the people in the Wakhan Valley. I was invited by Muhammad Bodurbekov, 29, to his house in the village. Muhammad, alias Alisher, worked in Dushanbe in Aga Khan’s NGO, MSDSP. He had classes in Khorog and he then had chance to see his family in Ishkashim. He spent a month in the UK for his higher education, and he still maintained his British accent. Alisher was an educated professional and he had so many things to discuss. So before starting, let’s sit on the ‘kurpacha’, the guest welcome matress, which Alisher laid between the pillars of Ali and Muhammad. Sitting on the kurpacha symbolized the acceptance of the welcome gesture from the host. In this house there were Alisher’s father, mother, sister, and some [read more]

October 22, 2006 // 1 Comment

Kabul – Life of Afghan Police

Two Afghan police (or soldiers) guarding the ex-palace in Kabul My experience yesterday, being beaten by police, is actually nothing new in life in Afghanistan, and especially for journalists. Rights of journalists, as any other civilians, are not yet observed by the police, the guardian of the people, in Afghanistan. Najeebullah, a Pajhwok journalist, was kicked on his chest by a police when he made the coverage about the bomb happening last Saturday. Violence like this is not news anymore. “Why dont you write about the police atittude,” I asked him. They have written so many times, but the police never care, nor change their behaviour. “They are uneducated. They have low salary,” said Wais, telling me the reason for the bad behavior of Afghan police and soldiers. Inspired by this, I would like to learn more about the life of Afghan police. I traveled to Darulaman Palace, at the western part of Kabul. This is a palace built by Amanullah King and now resembled [read more]

October 3, 2006 // 3 Comments

Garmao – The Minaret of Jam

The legendary Minaret of Jam “What was illegal has to be legal now, but what is legal is still illegal.” – Mohammad Yousuf Nassir Ahmad, a driver from Heart, owned a Mazda truck. His Mazda served as a public transport to the villages along the Central Route of Afghanistan, especially for those in Heart and Ghor provinces. From Garmao, some traders from the Jam village hired his car to transport their trading goods, and Nassir offered me a ride to the historical minaret of Jam. We departed from Garmao at 5:30 in the morning, delayed an hour from the initial planned time. Garmao, literally means ‘hot water’, seemed got its name in mistake, as the morning was extremely freezing. The truck had been loaded by goods of the traders, from rice, wheat, until strawberry jam and carbonated drinks Zam Zam from Iran. We, the hitch-hikers, sat on the open truck on the trading goods. The wind was very strong, and chilled. The rugged hills of Ghour province. Transport in [read more]

September 14, 2006 // 0 Comments

Balkh – The Passed Past

The ancient civilization of Balkh “I am not a communist. I am a Muslim” – Khan Agha Arvin The present day tiny town of Balkh, 30 minutes away from Mazhar e Sharif connected by high speed highway, was before a glorious capital of the Bactrian empire. Today, for the locals, the name Balkh maybe more better translated as pilgrimage sites, where hundreds of holy saints’ mausoleums are located and pilgrims came for blessing and prayers everyday. One among the pilgrims was Khan Agha Arvin, currently worked as vice director of one of Afghanistan’s most famous high schools, Lycee Istiqlal in Kabul. I met him accidentally in the pilgrimage site of Rabia Balkhi, a great Persian woman poet who died in name of love. Arvin, now 47, offered me to go with him and his colleagues around the old town. Offering prayers in holy sites which populate the whole city of Balkh The city walls of Balkh, once walls which protected the great capital of the great empire, now was rubble of history. [read more]

August 11, 2006 // 0 Comments

Kunduz – The Remnants of Guerillas

Security is still a main issue in Afghanistan “Why those commanders haven’t surrendered the weapons yet?” Kunduz is the capital of the Kunduz province, located just 60 km away from the Tajikistan border. Despite the high mountains that lead one to Kunduz from Kabul, Kunduz is a very hot place. The road from Kabul passed through the Salang Tunnel, passing through the stomachs of high mountains that once isolated northern Afghanistan from its central. The tunnels were built in 1960s, before the decades of wars in the country, one of the proofs how prosperous Afghanistan was. The long tunnels, resembled never ending dark caves, were not something to be built by a poor country. When I visited Afghanistan in 2003, the Salang tunnels were closed for reparation, apparently done under foreign reconstruction programs, for several months. The hot weather of Kunduz is comparable to that of Kandahar or Jalalabad, notorious of their heat waves in unforgiving summer peaks. The [read more]

July 22, 2006 // 1 Comment