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Kabul Korrespondence

Fresh, factual, and funky view of Afghanistan and the surrounding Central Asian region

Kabul Nightlife: News feeds

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

About the only thing that keeps me "entertained" at night here, is the diversity of news feeds that I receive from the different news agencies operating out of Kabul. This weeks number one:

Islamabad, Dec 20 (ANI): The Taliban militia have fixed 2010 as the deadline for the complete takeover of Afghanistan from the Hamid Karzai government.

According to officials, the Taliban are making a strong comeback, launching an average of 600 attacks against the US, NATO and Afghan troops every month.

"Currently, they are focusing on country's south and once it comes totally under the control, the former ruling militia will turn the guns towards the other parts of country. They now have 2010 in their mind as deadline to reoccupy the Afghan lands that they lost after the United States attacked Afghanistan in pursuit of al- Qaeda," The Nation quoted a source as saying.

According to officials, over 50000 diehard Taliban fighters have now fully regrouped under the leadership of Mulla Mohammad Omar and taking on US, NATO and Afghan forces almost everywhere in the southern provinces.

Looks like ill have to come back here in 3 years from now!
posted by Travis, 8:11 pm | link | 3 comments |

"Taking the bull by the horns"

Sunday, December 24, 2006

If my photojournalism class is the bull, then my students will be the kings and queens of Pamplona.

In the first week, my assistant Fardin and I have bombarded the students with the full arsenal of camera operation techniques and photographic theory. These enthusiasts have digested it all at an amazing pace and keep asking questions about subjects I have planned for next week class! From custom functions to white balance, they have not only grasped the concepts and put them them into practice, but they have understood it all in their second, third and sometimes forth language: English!

We also had the satisfying news that my shipment of cameras equipment arrived from Australia. After only 17 days in customs, finally Afghan bureaucracy operating at its best released the cargo. So armed with new Canon cameras, an assortment of lenses, flashes, camera bags and accessories my students have only one thing stopping them........electricity.

Yes, Kabul power supply fluctuates more than G.W. Bush's theory on the current Iraq situation. The results are regular power blackouts that blow up computers, we currently have only two computers working for a class of 12 students. They start Photoshop tutorials next week and I am trying to scrape together some parts to repair the old computers, so they will be able to learn this valuable tool of the photo-trade.

Besides this, the future looks bright for our photojournalism (P.J.) students. After the white Christmas tomorrow and their Muslim holiday "Eid", they will get straight back into it with advanced photography and I will give them their first assignment!

So stayed tuned, have a relaxed festive season and see you all in 2007. Where you might notice there will be some new kids on the P.J. block.

photos by Fardin and Noorbakhsh
posted by Travis, 10:20 pm | link | 2 comments |

First day at school

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Aina Media Centre is proud to announce that today we commenced our latest training course in photojournalism. The course being run by Australian Travis Beard, will last for 8 weeks and will cover everything from camera operation and Photoshop techniques to editing images and codes of ethics in today’s media industry. Travis has been developing this course for the last year and managed to collect 25kgs of photo-equipment, (worth $8000) to donate to the photo department of the Aina Media Centre. From the 70 applications received, 30 were short-listed and after their interviews, we chose 12 students.
The students were chosen on their experience in journalism and photography and more importantly, they were chosen if they showed enthusiasm for photojournalism and a longing to improve Afghanistan’s media industry.
The selection process also took into consideration diversity in ethnic backgrounds, students from a multitude of provinces and numerous journalism faculties. Once the class has finished, the students will present their work at an exhibition in Kabul.

Photographic trainer Travis Beard and AinaPhoto Chief Editor Dimitri Beck interview a young lady for one of the 12 positions in the December Aina Media Centre photojournalism course.

Travis teaches the students on their first day of classes.

Photojournalist Travis and his new 12 students on the first day of their photojournalism course.

For more information please contact Travis on the details below:

Travis Beard
Chief Editor of Aina Photo

+93 (0)797367856

Aina Media Centre,
Malik Asghar Crossraods,
Next to Ministry of Economy,
Kabul, Afghanistan


posted by Travis, 7:59 pm | link | 4 comments |

24 hrs in kabul

Friday, December 08, 2006

As I hoped, my blog has already morphed into a mainly visual based portal. Kabul being the dynamic melting pot that it is, has provided me with more than enough content in the little time i have been here so far. This is what i saw in the last 24 hrs:
7:32 PM last night: an hour after dark, Kabul turns into a ghost town, the streets are deserted and only the occasional speeding taxi verifies signs of life.

9:49 AM this morning: Aina Media Centre is situated in the centre of the 'NGO hood', fortresses of concrete and barbwire intimidate even the hardiest passersby

12:33 PM today. The mixed few from Asamai Mountain in central Kabul, In the foreground a man ponders life on his shanty roof, then the view of Kabul's metropolis fades off into a haze of brown smog.

4:12 PM today. A crowd gathers as a man tries to revive his companion who has O.D.ed on the infamous riverbeds of Kabul. He did not make it......

7:55 PM tonight. Aina Media Centre sleeps under a blanket of snow. Good night.

P.S. We completed over 30 interviews and have chosen 10 students to commmence the photojournalism course next week!
posted by Travis, 7:38 pm | link | 2 comments |

Welcome to Kabul

Saturday, December 02, 2006

After flying over massive mountains swimming in chunky white clouds from Urumqi, China, I landed at Kabul airport. Dotted with choppers and men who resemble the Incredible Hulk in both colour and size, the only difference is these ones have guns. I was met at the airport by director, Dimitri and taken back to the Aina Media Centre, where things are very comfortable and I was given a warm introduction to my new home.

We did a quick excursion round town, didn’t look much different to any other Muslim city, few more guns, but that was about it. Security here is pretty tight we have a guards at the entrance and we must sign in and out anytime we go anywhere, I don’t think that’s because it is so unsafe, its just a precaution they use with most NGOs and foreigners......

Had a better walk round the yesterday, you don’t realise how much security is really presednt, until you look closely. Every important building that has any significance to the West or Afghan Government has huge concrete barriers lining the perimeter, razor wire and guards with AK's.

Kabul is soothingly erratic, there seems to be no system or infrastructure that people follow, more ordered chaos, it makes China look like Switzerland, so much has changed since I was last in Afghanistan in 2001.

Our first step is to do the interviews, to choose which students will do the 3 month course. We have about 40 applicants and we must select between 10-15. Once we have our students we will commence the course immediately.

Got a taxi home last night after dark, the city were empty, there is no official curfew, yet the only men out this late, had a Kalashnikov’s keeping them warm as the first years snow fell on desolate streets. Weird, there is a war going here, you don’t see it, but you can definitely feel it.

My first photo (of many) from Kabul: boys playing football next to the Qala Amir Shir Ali Khan Fort that towers over central Kabul

Im looking forward to posting more news from the Aina Media Centre very soon, stay tuned.
posted by Travis, 10:31 am | link | 2 comments |