Everyday, dance Karo deewana,
Everyday, romance karoo deewana (Judge Mujrim – a bollywood movie that is on TV right now)
It’s our second day in Mazaar. Hubby had to come for business and I decided to accompany him, taking 2 days leave from work. We left the house at 6am and it was -4 degrees Celsius.
We took the early a.m flight. The flight was delayed which is normal for Pamir! The flight was 25 minutes!!
The plane landed around 9.30am at Mazaar, our poor driver was waiting for an hour. It was cold. 2 degrees Celsius.
The terminal looked no bigger than one of the houses in Sheerpoor in Kabul. There wasn’t a luggage carousel – a small pick up truck pulled up just before the exit gates with our bags at the back. A guard stood at the exit gate collecting the tickets and checking that it’s the same number on the bags. We had lost ours. So the guard asked us to ‘identify’ our bag by telling him one of the items in there. My hubby mentioned his green toiletries bag. We got sent through. We made our way to the ‘car park’ through the gravel roads. Rickety trolleys were being pushed by old men to help those with lots of bags.
I was too tired to laugh or find it amusing but looking back now, I think it’s hilarious but amazing at the same time. So simple!
We drove to our guesthouse, the roads were much bigger, smoother and less crowded. It was more modern than Kabul, newer buildings. There were less of those ugly gray concrete barriers that have taken over most of Kabul – I guess it’s because Mazaar is much safer and not exposed to suicide bombings etc. A convoy of tanks drove by.
It felt good being away from the hustle bustle of Kabul. We passed the Big Blue Mosque – Ali’s shrine. It wasn’t as crowded as I expected. The mosque was huge, much bigger than I expected. We dropped our things in our room, my hubby went to work and I unpacked making myself comfortable. It’s a small room but snug.
I took a shower and ordered pizza from Everest Pizza. They delivered within 20 minutes. Impressive, huh? I caught up with work, responding to emails. Before I knew it, hubby was home again.
We went to the mosque. It was beautiful, the mosaic tiles. We went inside the shrine, there were Mullah’s sitting around willing to give taweez and do voodoo. I wondered if they do black magic as well. A long time ago a Mullah dreamt that Caliph Ali (also Prophet Moh’ds (PBUH) son in law) was buried there. It was ordered for a city to be built around the shrine. So it was.
The next bit was typed at the VIP lounge at Mazaar Airport while waiting for the delayed Pamir flight.
The floor was cold but I was so taken by the beauty of the mosque, I forgot all about it. There were white doves everywhere, it is believed that the mosque is so pure that even black feathers in the doves eventually turn white. My lovely hubby took out a wad of 20Afghani notes and gave one to the streetchildren. Almost instantly we were mobbed with street kids wanting money. He had called for trouble. They followed us like a swarm of flies to our car where H gave them each 20Afs and we drove away as they clinged to our car wanting more. Wanting dollars.
That evening we had dinner at Delhi Darbar – an expat Indian restaurant. The food is great, it’s opposite the Military hospital (dosadd bestar) and at an awesome price – not the over priced menus that you find in Kabul expat restaurants.
The next day (2nd Day) we spent the day walking through the markets. All stocks were brought in from China and Pakistan – mum told me they used to import things from Russia but I guess that’s from a long time ago. We went to a busy marketplace, one thing that was convenient was the lack of attention! No boys/men staring –or at least not as much as Kabul. It was very easygoing and relaxing.
We visited the shrine again. This time a large pot caught my attention, it was my height and had lots of padlocks on it. People were kissing it and touching it. Later on I asked mum what it was and she told me it was the pot which Caliph Ali would cook in and give to the poor.
Some were running their hands across the Quranic writing that was engraved on the doors and kissed it. A bit too much, I thought. It almost became as if they were worshipping the shrine. The mullah’s were still there. I hoped those children wouldn’t recognize us and we won’t get mobbed again.
Off we went, dinner at the Indian restaurant.
Day 3: Friday
My hubby’s birthday and so off we drove with our Hazara driver to Hairatan! It’s almost an hour away. We had brunch at the Everest Restaurant before we hit the road. It was a straight road all the way that was repaired by the Koreans. On the way we stopped at the Aabeh Ganda spring fountain (rotten water). The reason it was given that name is because it smells really really off. But it’s a fountain spring of hot water – smells almost like bore water, if not, worse! It had been dug almost 40 years ago and has been flowing since then at full pressure. And it’s hot water. It’s believed that this water cures any skin disease one may have or scars. My mum went to a similar one in Peshawer, Pakistan when she was very young. She had eczema on the inside of her arms. She didn’t want to go because the place stunk and was crowded with people but my grandma made her rinse her arms with the water. A few days later the eczema worsened, it got infected and began to swell- this continued for a few more days and then began healing and disappeared. Since then, no more eczema.
Anyhow, there were men bathing in it so I didn’t get out of the car but I saw the spring fountain. It was amazing how the water continued to flow, too bad the areas around it weren’t green at all, they should have fixed some sort of irrigation to help the plants around it but oh well.
The land was flat, no mountains only a few sand dunes along the way. But mainly flat, dry land. Not even trees! Such a contrast from the mountainous Kabul. The ride continued for another hour and we arrived at Hairatan. We got to the Amoo River, the divide between Afghanistan and the other Stans (Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan). Across the river from us was Uzbekistan. Green, developed Uzbekistan.
A bridge adjoining us and them stood strong. I wished for two things right then – and Uzbeki visa and more time! People apparently go to Tashkent (capital of Uzbekistan which is only 2 hours from where we were now) in the morning and come back in the evening. It’s that easy! Ah well, maybe next time. We had fish by the river, in the car because it was too smelly outside.
I wanted to see the old Balkh too but we were a little too late and the way isn’t very safe. Perhaps next time. I wanted to visit Rumi’s house and Rabia Balkhi’s grave.
We had dinner at Hotel Renaissance – an expat gueshouse/restaurant.
And then hit the hotel room and just spent the time to unwound and chill out.