Friday, June 30, 2006

Kabul 6/30/06

I've been in Kabul for seven days now and I can’t believe what an amazing experience this is.
Here are a few excerpts from my Journal.

6-22 we arrived in Kabul. The city is bigger than I expected. As I walked away from the airplane I traveled back in time into a world of browns, dust, and people with the most colorful eyes I have ever seen. People really make eye contact here, they also really are interested in each other and personal space is a western concept….

Kabul has open sewers, bombed out buildings, and diesel cars. The rawness is attractive however I am looking forward to arriving at the circus and finding the place I will call home..

I open a small green door duck under the and I am greeted by the most amazing children ever. Salom was said so many times, it had a feel of Alice in Wonderland.

The children would shake my hand and then run ahead of me and shake it again with a big grin on their faces. The circus is bigger than I thought, we fallowed the pathway and to a room where all the circus teachers were sitting waiting to eat lunch with us. There are about 12 teachers on staff at the MMCC and each one of them is truly an amazing human being. After showing Hamid (of the teachers) my style of circus he smiled and said, “you will teach us so much”. Coolness traveled all over my body, feeling helpful really felt good after traveling halfway around the world.

6/23/06 today is Friday the weekend in Afghan culture. The work week is 6 days long and Friday is the only day off. Today I managed to get local sandals, a camise or shirt, and a simple white hat for fewer than 15 dollars. One dollar equals 50 afs. Everyone sells things out of carts or just off the street. There are no banks and you change money on the street with an “independent banker”. I decided to get a haircut and a beard trimming for 1,000 Afs and disaster happened. The hair stylist sprayed the spray bottle directly into my mouth. I could not spit.

6/24/06 Saturday

Oh my stomach. I am very sick and I have a 103 degree fever. It sucks and I can’t eat a thing. Its hard enough to drink water. I spend the rest of the day trying to get better, the only answer is antibiotics, syphro- really nasty stuff.

6/26/06 Monday

My first day of class teaching! Everyone says that they are glad I am better and I now have the Kabul sickness out of the way. Before I know it I am in a small room juggling 7 (haft) balls on my knees. The entire space looks like popcorn- kids are juggling everywhere. I suggest that we go outside and a flood of children take to a tented shaded area where there is so much more space. I begin to teach my first lesson and by the end of the day Ustad Ben is a very well liked teacher at the circus.

At lunch the cook Halujuhn asks me why I have an ear ring in my ear. I learn that only women wear ear rings. I tell her it because I like to think of myself as a nice pirate, she does not get it. I take it out of my ear; surprisingly this is one of the only mistakes I make. The circus teachers are doing a great job teaching me what is appropriate in an Islamic culture. Believe me it is very different.

At them moment I can hear singing from the mosque calling people to pray and give thanks to the great mystery. There is so much I could write in these e-mail and want to use the rest of this space to say that thanks to my wonderful friends here in Afghanistan.

First of Renee Rosensteel has traveled halfway around the world with me to document this story and to cover the story of Emergency- a NGO hospital in Kabul. She took the pictures that are embedded in this e-mail. Also my friend Zach Warren is here with me in Kabul, he is teaching circus and collecting Afghan jokes for an article that he is going to write in New York Magazine. You really can understand a culture through its humor. I am in the best company ever, everyone really supports one another; it allows for everyone to help in their own way in a country that really needs help. Thanks for the support and kindness- Best Regards Ben

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