A young man's strange, erotic journey from Milan to Minsk...and apparently, back again.

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Location: Denver, Colorado, United States

The details of my life are quite inconsequential, really. Summers in Rangoon...luge lessons...

Sunday, September 05, 2010

ANCOP homecoming

The unusual concert crowd awaits with bated breath...

Important note: I wrote this text and managed to post these 2 photos four nights ago.  Then the wireless failed, before I could even get the rest of the photos up, and looks like it's down for a long count once again.  So my fabulously firewalled network -- which will not permit me to post a single photo, no matter how small, to this blog -- does permit me to post to Flickr...therefore I will give that  a try, and post the link to the page below.  Hope it works, and I'll just pretend that this was able to go up as the companion piece it was intended to be.  I added as many wise guy captions as I could to the photos on Flickr, so please check 'em out!

Flickr photos: ANCOP Concert 6-12-2010

A few weeks after the sendoff ceremony, I got to attend a special "welcome home" ceremony and concert for an ANCOP (Afghan National Civil Order Police) kandak which just returned from a combat deployment.  There was such a palpable difference in collective attitude...relief instead of preparation, joy instead of apprehension.  As much as anything, there was the sense that these guys now had experience.

The first item of business was a solemn ceremony, led by the mullah's prayer at the outset, which featured speeches by commanders of the unit and the entire force.  Also speaking was Canadian Maj. Gen. Ward of NTM-A, who blew away another audience with his Dari...he delivered his entire remarks in their language.  This had a tremendous affect on the audience, as you might imagine, and he got a huge ovation before assisting in the presentation of awards and recognition to those who distinguished themselves in the deployment.

Music, laughter, the sniper on the rootftop...

The concert itself was a first-rate show from the first act to the last.  Kicking it off was Aryan Khan, a theatrical performer whose flag-waving entourage included costumes from various regions, emphasizing the solidarity of Afghanistan.  A side note: Something many Westerners don't realize is that ethnic divisions aside, most Afghans are fiercely proud of their history as a nation and have no desire to see it split in any way.  To that end, the unity display went over very well.

Next up was a wildly adored singer, Wajeha Rastgar, who sang a "love song" to the police for the selfless manner in which they offer their lives to protect the people.  She had an amazing voice, and the audience began to seem like a concert just about anywhere at that point (to be fair, the scent of hash wafting from somewhere contributed to that effect!). 

The comedians Ibrahim Abed and Mohammaed Nabi Roshan, who spliced their routine into the show between musical sets, were hits...I must admit, that was a helluva lot harder to follow than the music was for us foreigners, but my boys were busting their guts laughing. 

Theatrical costume was in force again when Ustad Gulzeman took the stage in elaborate Pashto regalia.  His music held deep appeal for a number of the cop-soldiers, some of whom began a sort of Afghan dance-off which then turned into more of a choreographed pack.  It was a riot!  At this point I also noticed that it was really a 'house band' keeping the music going all evening...the same guys were backing each one of the entertainers.  Hopefully my man Derek Trucks knows where to look to plug in any gaps the next time he needs a new sound to step in and jam for 6 or 8 hours.

Closing the show was the charismatic Zafir Jawid, who began his set seated on the stage with strictly traditional instruments, and before long had roused the rows of police-soldiers back into frenzied dancing...this time it was all of them.  That may have been the highlight scene above all: silhouettes of whirling fans against the colorful backdrop of the stage -- fans who could have been any ol' concertgoers, but were actually elite policemen celebrating their safe return home.

For a full recap, my fellow advisor for the Interior Ministry wrote an excellent summary attached here...

Afghan song and laughter after the mission


Anonymous 2LT Braadar said...

Excellent pics and commentary, Jagran! Looks like the ceremony was a helluva time...see that? You got your very own version of Mountain Jam, Afghan style!
And aside from the amusingly accurate comments about bizarro Cousteu and the like- you're right: it is great to see pictures of the sheer joy in those policemen's faces as they celebrate their return!

September 6, 2010 at 10:13 AM  
Anonymous Al-Slappeh said...

Bummer! 2LT Braadar beat me to the "Mountain Jam" reference :)

At times it also resembled a Fidel Castro lookalike contest ... but loved all the pics & the commentary ... again, to echo the 2LT, nice to see such genuine exuberance and for you to experience such a cultural fest. Definitely had some "Makhi Madni" running thru my head while imagining the sound!

September 10, 2010 at 10:34 AM  
Anonymous LCDR Braadar, USN, Ret. said...

Oy vey. I just realized that "2LT Braadar" is Goo. I'm a little slow today ;)

September 10, 2010 at 10:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice Blog you have going here. To bad your not on Facebook. Took me a while to figure out how to communicate with you on this! Glad you enjoyed the coffee. Beth Mitchem

September 17, 2010 at 12:01 PM  

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