Kabul and the quest for beauty: a tale of the Taliban and a musical interlude

Under the Taliban, we weren't allowed to listen to music, he said.

Oh, I replied. 

If we were found listening to a song, there was a special punishment, he explained.

What was it?  I asked.

The Taliban would would unravel the offending person's music cassette ribbon and wrap it around his neck and then cover his face with black ash.  Then they would tie the person sitting backwards on a donkey.  They would hand out potatoes to all the children and encourage them to pelt him with the potatoes.  The donkey would be led through the city for several hours with a loud speaker that cried out, "This is the punishment for those who listen to music!  And after that, the person would be locked up in jail. "

Oh, how terrible, I said.  And how sad to live without music.

Shall we go to the Winter Festival tonight in Kabul?  They're playing a concert, he explained.

I think we should.  Yes, I definitely think we should, I said.

Thankfully, the Taliban weren't invited.



Lives and music.  Yes, music and lives.  

And music lives on in Afghanistan.

1-_MJM6780Note:  These same Afghanistan National Institute of Music students are about to tour the US (including Carnegie Hall!)!  Read about it here. AMAZING.


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Afghanistan: and a tale of the ending

As I got in the plane, as I fastened my seat belt, as I lifted off the runway, I thought of all that I was leaving behind. 

 I thought about how we all skim along the surface -- how little we ever know, really know,  about each other.  Looking down with my forehead pressed against the glass, I contemplated all those lives, just dots, just points of light from a plane window.  But behind the points of light,  people, real people, who suffered, who were elated, who hoped.   I felt a kind of wonder, a kind of distress, a kind of sadness that I would never know them.  That I would never sit in their living rooms listening to their stories -- of the important things, the things with meaning, the things that counted.  That I would never hear the moments that had changed them, that had made them think differently, that had altered their views of the world. 

Distance would separate us, time would separate us, circumstance would separate us.  Religion, color, culture, politics and fear would come between us.  And we might never meet but for the briefest, most cursory encounters.    And we would stay -- all of us --  just skimming,

skimming the surface.


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