Afghanistan 32

This wracked body is battling to keep going, with problems still arising from whatever it was that nearly killed me in Tahskent in 2003 (if that sounds mysterious, it is – read Murder in Samarkand). I have spent most of the last week acting as a pincushion for the local hospital.

All of which thoughts of mortality remind me that I need to travel to Afghanistan in January to finish my research for my biography of Alexander Burnes. This is fair notice to anyone in Afghanistan who might want to kill me – which is a pretty broad range.

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32 thoughts on “Afghanistan

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  • writerman

    Going out in blaze of glory, when one has still got balls that work, is a rather romantic view. Nodding off under a shady tree at a ripe old age isn’t to be sniffed at.

  • Ingo

    Hope you are OK for further romance after the hospital check up. Good luck with Afghanistan and Burnes biography.

    Take some whiskey, lots of bugs about, especally sandflies.

    Off subject:

    heard that vodaphone was let off paying 6 bn, yes billions, of taxes, by Osborne. Protests against such blatant bias against normal taxpayers in front of their Oxford Street store was not carried by papers, so the source says.

  • harpie

    Craig [hopeless romantic]

    Sorry you’ve been ill and hope you feel better now.

    You may be interested in this report…don’t know if you’ve seen it yet, so:

    “US Military Aid to Central Asia 1999-2009; Security Priorities Trump Human Rights and Diplomacy”; Open Society Foundations; 10/10

    I got the Report from this Scott Horton article:

    “The Whitehouse, the Pentagon and Central Asia”; Scott Horton; Harper’s; 11/2/10

  • Anonymous

    Remember that long needle, the last one administered by the accupuncturist you saw in Uzbekistan, plunged deep into your chest, as described in Murder in Samarkand. Your current doctors may need to know about that.

  • MJ

    Very sorry to hear of your health problems Craig and I wish you a speedy recovery.

    I trust you will be seeking the advice of your doctors before undertaking any trip to Afghanistan.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    See, Craig, even the ‘ Chanel Handbag’ spambots are wishing you good luck! I do too. Pace yourself and don’t run yourself into the ground, man (metaphorically-speaking, of course).

  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq

    Travel indeed – see the ghosts of the insurrection, the cold case murder of Burnes and the disastrous retreat from Kabul – you must have the John Murray line in your blood Craig.

    Remember the 80 quid borrowed for a payoff and Nadira’s belly filled with toast? – keep that time in mind.

    You are a survivor.

  • glenn

    Take a lot of care, Craig. And maybe, if you get the chance, consult another doctor that comes from around those parts – maybe some Russian doctors too, who might be more familiar with the condition.

    On a much more trivial scale, a nail condition pretty much ended my promising career as a musician. Strike that – it _did_ end it. It confounded every medic in the UK and America that attempted to treat it, from NJ to CA. I’d given up on ever playing again, until upon finally – by chance – meeting a doctor from Sri Lanka who recognised, diagnosed and treated it. I’d picked it up while on honeymoon there, by the seem of it. My first wife much later pointed out a photograph of a fellow who had the same nail problem (and I very much doubt he was a maestro of plucked, stringed instruments).

    Are you still in touch with any former KGB staffers, who might have heard of methods with which to dispose of awkward personnel? All avenues are worth exploring – it’s the final diagnosis which counts the most, after all.

  • somebody

    I had spam in my inbox overnight from Replica Watches. The e-mail address ended with .ru which originates in Russia. I have never clicked on their spam here or elsewhere so how have they got hold of my e-mail address?

  • ingo

    Thanks for that excellent link harpie, a good update.

    It is somewhat worrying to see so much ‘walking around’ money dispensed by troops, not diplomats. I knew that regimental commanders alwaqys had some slosh funds, but the Dep. of Defense is spending three times more on Afghanistan than the State department, a worrying trend, it shows who is pulling the levers in congress which has now gone over to the republicans.

    I second and turd the advise from others here, its a cauldron and many of them will know you or heard your name, especially in the northern parts.

    I feel obliged to advise for a cervantes acompanying you, to hold pens and carry the ‘medicine bag’, but also to watch out for those tell tale sigsn of IED’s, ideally someone speaking pashtu/Dari.

  • Frazer

    Are you NUTS ! Afghanistan in January!!

    I had better start making some arrangements for you. Nadira would never forgive me if you came home in a box. E mail you later. Bloody romantic loon. Sometimes I wonder what part of the family you inherited.

  • angrysoba

    I liked George MacDonald Fraser’s portrayal of Alexander Burnes. If I remember rightly he said something like, “The Scotch lunatic tried to take over the whole country” and at another time Flashman mocked the idea that it was worth invading a country in order to convert it to the theories of Adam Smith.

    Flashman is considered a bit too un-PC these days but anyone interested in reading about Afghanistan and its wars would do well to read the first volume.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    I was informed by William Dalrymple (and he should know) that Mountstuart Elphinstone caught gonorrhoea in India. This seems to me somewhat hilarious, probably because of the stiff Victorian front they seemed to put on. But they were great adventurers. These guys – most of them were Scots – wrote amazing books, period pieces, really. They’re still in print in South Asia. Not so much because of their factual accuracy, more because of their anecdotes, the vanished world they depict and the tone which they assume. Have you heard the story of the quest for the ‘golden bugs’?

  • technicolour

    yes! angrysoba’s a fellow Flashman afficionado! Explains a lot. And he’s quite right, George MacDonald Fraser was an excellent researcher, as well as outstandingly funny.

    Kipling’s Kim, as well, actually, for a one-sided and dangerously entrancing view of ‘the Great Game’.

    ‘Quest for the golden bugs’? Off to google.

  • technicolour

    Different mindsets, often bizarrely barbaric, like that great Victorian explorer (not Thesiger) who crosses the desert blasting every animal he sees out of existence for no reason whatsoever. There’s something moving! Bang!

  • Suhayl Saadi

    The only complete (proper) translation of Hafiz Shirazi’s massive ‘Diwan’ was undertaken by H. Wilberforce Clarke, an officer in the Royal Engineers (I think). It’s very scholarly but not particularly poetic. Coleman Barks’s translations, while more poetic and very well done, are updated, ‘creative interpretations’ for predominantly a C21st North American market; they have phrases such as ‘summer holiday camp’ in! The best (most faithful and poetic) translation, I think is be A.J. Arberry, but it’s not anything like complete, just selected poems. I lent that last book to someone (a relative, though now they deny ever having had it) and never got it back! Just like the book on labyrinths written by a nun (lent to a C of E vicar), and another Sufi book (likewise), and a CD with great 1960s songs in, and a CD with songs by the trobairitz (female troubadours), both lent to a left-wing theatre director…

    It wouldn’t be so bad if these were cheap and easily available, as they were when I bought them; because they’re out-of-print/production, they’re now expensive!

    I never lend anything – I mean books, CDs, etc. – to anyone nowadays.

    The moral of the story? You can’t trust vicars, leftist theatre directors or sundry relatives with your gnostic tools.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Oh yeah, there’s also a cassette with unusual Greek Orthodox chants which I lent to another relative – gone. When I tried to get another from the famous Greek music shop, ‘Trehantiri’, Green Lanes, London, even they no longer had it.

    ‘Greek, Arabic and Eurovision Music’. It’s a super shop! I’m very saddened to hear of the death of one of the lovely brothers who ran it.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    And the best of British spook-luck to you too, old boy!

    The best of British most certainly is not situated on the south bank of the Thames at Vauxhall.

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