Afghanistan Diary
Thursday, March 17, 2005
I found more info. on the game of buzkashi. It is said to have been introduced by Genghis Khan. It is played with either a goat or a calf carcass. During the bad all days of the Soviet-Afghan war, one journalist has also witnessed a game played using a living soviet soldier as a goat. There are actually two different versions of the game, but it more or less boils down to the same thing: fight for the goat carcass, do a little dance with it around a flag and drop it in a designated area. Since it became the national sport, there is an Afghanistan Buzkashi Federation that established some rules. They made the game considerably blander by banning the use of weapons, or even that of a whip to intentionally hit an opponent. They also limited the number of players to ten per team.

After tomorrow, a group of us is going to Mazar-e Sharif, a city up North, close to the border with Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. On March 21st, falls Newroz, a large persian festival, rooted in the traditions of Zoroastrian religion. It is one of the main celebration of the year. Mazar-e Sharif is the place to be at that time, and large crowds come to the city to celebrate. I don’t know exactly why people go specifically to Mazar, but I guess it must have something to do with the fact it is historically a Zoroastrian center.

Organizing our trip is not as easy as it seems. Among others problems is the accommodation. It is bad enough that we decided the trip very late and that all hotels are probably booked. But how do you go about booking a hotel anyway? You call and give your credit card number to hold the room, right? Try again. First, I have yet to see a business that accept credit card here. Second, I don’t know the hotels phone number. It’s not like there is a directory assistance you can use to look them up. I managed to find a description of several hotels but no contact details. At any rate, I won't be able to blog or check my email until Wed 23.

I have been learning Dari for a month and half or so, and my progress are disappointingly slow. I probably don’t dedicate enough time and effort to it. There is also not much material available to learn this language. I have yet to find a decent dictionary and I not even sure that one exists. The ones that are available are pretty thin glossaries written in latin script. I decided to learn Dari using persian script, although this turns out to be less useful than I expected. I thought naively that knowing the alphabet would help with me tasks such as reading street signs. Since I have been here, I have seen exactly one street sign.
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This is my diary. My name is Lev and I work in Kabul for a non-governmental organization (

Location: Kabul, Afghanistan
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