Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2010/01/03

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Subject: [Leica] IMG: Afghanistan followup
From: spencer at (Spencer Cheng)
Date: Sun, 3 Jan 2010 12:43:26 -0500
References: <> <>


Yes it is bleak but much of the same could be said for the whole region or 
many dry places on this planet. Hughes picture accurately reflects that 

People have lived, and, yes, eked out a living for far longer than any 
recorded civilization. Most of them are very poor and want a better life for 
themselves and their children. Many live a dogmatic existence because that 
is how they and all the generations before them was raised. They are no 
different than you and I in many ways. The difference is about 2 generations 
of education.

Our guide from my Karakoram Highway cycling trip in 1998 told me of his 
childhood from before the construction of the KKH. He spoke of poverty as a 
child, of extreme isolation in the winter time, of eating dried apricots in 
every form (soup, stew, dried, shredded,...) for months on end when the 
villages were cut off from the world. He spoke of his hope for his children. 
He has a Bachelor in Economics but chose to work as a guide because the pay 
was better and he got the chance to spend his life outdoors amongst some of 
the greatest scenery in the world instead of being stuck in a office. His 
wife was a doctor. They were Ismaili, more liberal than most. I lost track 
of him several years ago.

Our innkeeper in the tourist town of Karimabad (a spectacular setting if 
there ever was one) asked how to bootstrap his region, the northern end of 
Pakistan, next door to Afghanistan. All I could offer then as advice was to 
educate his people. It's the same advice I would offer today if they had any 
security. They are just too far from transportation hubs.

The desolate landscape makes me think of the moon when I was cycling through 
it but then the road would go around a corner and all the sudden there would 
be a lovely patch of intense green whenever there is some flat area which 
can be irrigated and cultivated. A village or town would form and prosper.

My comment to my wife back in 2002 was that it will be a multi-generational 
effort to bring this strife torn region into the modern world. Ted et al has 
expressed the same opinion. Unfortunately, our cynical leaders are incapable 
of, or unwilling to express this reality because they have to deal with 
their political reality, the next election.

I too admire Hugh for trying.

My main point is really that we should not give up hope but we should also 
deal with the reality that this is a long road which I fear western 
democracies are not willing to walk to the end. The British tried and 
failed. The Russians did no better.

Democracy in this part of the world will look more like totalitarianism for 
50 years (feudalism, tribalism) than our version of democracy but that too 
will pass if there is the will.

To bring this message to back on topic, I took my M4P when I went and the 
wide angles sure came in handy. The scenery is awe inspiring and the people 
are friendly. If you ever get a chance to visit, don't leave your Leica 


On Jan 2, 2010, at 12:01, Nathan Wajsman wrote:

> It is almost pointless to comment on these photos from a photographic 
> point of view. It all just seems so bleak.
> You are a brave man to try to make it better.

Replies: Reply from afirkin at (afirkin at ([Leica] IMG: Afghanistan followup)
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Reply from photo at (Nathan Wajsman) ([Leica] IMG: Afghanistan followup)
In reply to: Message from photo at (Nathan Wajsman) ([Leica] IMG: Afghanistan followup)