fredag den 14. marts 2008


At the End of the day I finally arrive at the theatre. In that grey and yet luminous light of Kabul dusk, exhausted and covered by the dust of History I stand before those huge old battered rusty gates. The growing train of jeering dirty children with swollen-red frost-bitten hands now dissolving behind me in the vanishing light. For the last time in The History of The Democracy I have these native children polish my boots, then I knock at the gate. I wait for a while, an eternity, and then the mythical hundred years old Mongolian guard living alone in the ruin opens and enter I do. Silence. The distant murmur of traffic, barking dogs, weeping mullahs, God’s holycopters ...

According to the Masterplan that brought me here from old Europe, I will, at the End of the day - after five years of restless wandering the political world stages, from Europe through Kuwait, Iraq, Jordan, across the US to Dubai, Iran, from the Afghan mountains so white and down through Kabul - I enter the stage of the National Theatre ...

Now, at the final rehearsal of the Parliament and in the good old colonial fashion - without informing the natives en avant - I enter the stage exactly when the last word (in Dari!) has been said, the Archictect on his knees the popular crown on his head covering his eyes, two trains of singing children arriving from behind the audience to form that final traditional “jirga” circle. I put the flag to a stand at my side, and so, here I am, nothing more to say, after five long years on the roads of reality I am back home in that good old and safe fiction.

- No! the actors said, in unison, and pointed me out!, - we cannot have this person on our stage! - But, I said, - I don’t say a word, I come with peace, friendship, I come with the best intentions! - No! they said, - we don’t care about his intentions, maybe they are good, maybe they are not so good, we don’t know, the audience don’t know, what they see is a white man with a flag. - The Flag of Friendship! I tweeted, - Bajrache Dusti! - Just another foreign invasion! they said, - we want this person out, now! this is our performance, this Parlaman belongs to the Afghan people! - But I wrote the script, I schrilled, - the vision is all mine, the words that you oh so pathetically utter through your little puppet mouthpieces are all conceived and written down in Europe, how could History ever become yours?! - Out!

And the flag? - We keep the flag, said the director, Qadr Faruq, that Afghan Don Corleone. And so they did. My flag! Well, luckily they didn’t get that very far with it. As soon as the censors from the Ministry of Information (and Culture) saw the flag they imposed their veto: - Stop! they said, - that flag, there is a hole in it! Something is missing! You have to fill in the missing symbol, what does it mean? - It means Dialogue and Peace! said the director. - Then you must write this on the flag, so that every Afghan will know the meaning of the flag! - But it is a symbol, I said, - a flag is a symbol, you don’t write the meaning of a symbol onto the symbol, because then it is no longer a symbol! I said. They didn’t answer. I guess they never heard me. They filled out the hole in the flag and wrote the supposed meaning, UN-blue on white:


Fortunately it was a copy. - Here you are! they said and handed me the original, the good old white flag with it’s circular lack of meaning.

And so. Here I am. Still alive. In Kabul, Afghanistan. Of all places. They didn’t want me here. - Out! Homeless. Back on the road of world History. Older. Skinnier. Lonelier. Colder. Without destination. - Where do I go from here?

It is dark now. The stars above. The barking dogs. The weeping Mullahs. The helicopters. Above all.

- So, where do you go next? said one of the few female actors among the new generation of “Aftab”. - I don’t know, I said, - I’m just so cold. - Why don’t you go to Pakistan, she said. - Pakistan? I said, - you think I’d be killed there? - Go to Pakistan! said one of the young female artists of CCAA working in the monastery ambience of a shotgun shack behind crumbled walls somewhere in the outskirts, - they really need it in Pakistan! - Need what? I said, still far to cold to think. - Freedom, she said, - Democracy, you!
- Me?

And the dogs they bark, the mullahs weep, God’s holycopters never sleep.

søndag den 9. marts 2008


Went on a one-day mission eastwards through the mountains and down into the delta of Jalalabad. Stood up like soldiers most of the way, our heads and torsos right up through the skylight of the vehicle as sunday-leisure-targets for the Talebans hiding (according to the ANSO warnings) somewhere out there between cliffs in the caves, - colonel! I said to our Norwegian ally, - ‘tis better to die standing as a free man under the sky of blue than getting crushed in a banal car-crash like herrings in a tin can, isn’t it! From deep below the enormous and overloaded and carnival-clad Pakistan trucks slowly, feet by feet, crawled upwards and here and there had a total breakdown causing tailbacks and here and there a head-on collision, bits and parts of metal and meat spread out over the Swedish sponsored tar, a couple of bypassing gypsies staring into the steaming remains, and then, once of a sudden, the grey crack in the mountains opened widened spread out a valley of sudden spring, colours, the crisp green of grass and rice fields among clay huts, castles of clay erected on shells of missiles from the war, far out a native like a heron in the low waters, and still standing we entered Jalalabad in the good old colonial style like superior beings, the natives looking up at us as if in disbelief, their feet in the roadside mud beside their sugar cane sellers carts or mandarin sellers carts or on their slow way home from the Fridays prayer, their holy days clothes squirted with mud, our Norwegian ally blank like a king on a coin, like general Patton on his victorious way through Europe, - colonel, I said, - which of these natives staring at us from down below would thou consider as Talebans? - Don’t know, he said. And somewhere high in the sky above us the airplanes carrying all the European aid-workers who no longer are allowed to drive through this scenery of late afternoon glooming colours because of the threat from road-side bombers, suicide bombers, kidnappings or mere old fashioned road pirates, - Talebans, I said, - what Talebans, where?!

On our way there and back we did quite a few scenes, stopped the car and just stepped out, I carrying the flag bottoms up like a crutch under my right arm until, once of a sudden, I turn I a let the wind unfold it and carry it for a while along the sea bank among the grassing camels, their gypsy owners staring from somewhere outside the frame their faces mere masques of dirt, or I appear from above descending through a bare rift in the mountains, or just appear out of nowhere over a dune in the bronze glooming desert, the mountains everwhite shining in the distance, - let’s stop at this rice field! I said to our native driver. - This is Nuristan, our native driver says without slowing down. - Interesting, I say, - let’s bring out the Flag! - Most of these peoples are Hezb-a-islami peoples, he says and continues, - the peoples of Hekmatyar, you know. - No, I say, - I don’t know, let’s have a look at them! - Hekmatyar is the leader of Hezb-e-islami, our Norwegian ally sayd, - he was responsible for seventy percent of the destruction of Kabul. - Aha, I say. - They don’t like any foreigners! our driver says. - One never knows! I say, - let’s give it a try!

But they wouldn’t and so we didn’t and I had to settle for the hooting of bypassing cars stuffed with natives staring out at the first spring mirage: I white man in suit and tie coming down from the mountains carrying the flag of the Talebans, a missiles hole in the centre.

fredag den 7. marts 2008


I have a child, I said, I have a little daughter. I want my daughter to grow up in a world, where she can travel all over the planet and walk the streets and meet the people and greet the people without having to fear that she would be killed for something that she has obviously not done, something that she hasn’t got anything more to do with than the people who would want to kill her (although she, contrary to me, has a talent, she can draw, paint, give form to the world, whereas I ... I can’t even draw a bomb, or a pig, not to mention the Prophet, I honestly don’t have the faintest idea what he looked like, was he tall and handsome like my father? or was he just a skinny control-freak like me? was his beard (he had a beard, didn’t he?) long like a curtain all the way to his waist, or was it rather the kind of beard that Mickey Rourke had in “9½” or “Barfly” (I mean, the Prophet made quite an impression on women, didn’t he? Somewhat of an attractor wasn’t he!)? And now we’re talking pigs, I don’t understand why people get so offended when compared to a pig, I like pigs, they are so intelligent, so human, and not any dirtier than the most humans. But I do understand the Muslims, really, I’d never eat a pig. They are too human. It’s the same thing. I wouldn’t eat the Prophet, would you.) I pointed the video-camera at them while I talked. This time I didn’t want them to have any chance of escape. I knew that what they wanted and what they had planned and what they thought they also would manage to do, was to escape out of this little piece of world history and go back in their little safety-black-box to make sweet and pretty and maybe sad-beautiful scenic representations of life in Afghanistan. But no. Mahmud was there too, my former favourite amongst the natives, Mahmud who had told me that he would go to France this Monday and so had absolutely no chance of being with me on my planned second and direct-into-Kabul-chaos walk although he “really would have loved to”. But I caught him. He hadn’t gone anywhere. And now he was sitting there in front of the camera besides pretty-boy Khalid and that mongolid Reza. You know, Mister Nielsen, he said, just two days ago this famous professor of mathematics who has his own Islamic institute here in Kabul announced that he and his people have started a hunger straik right out there on the other side of the street in the park, and they have been on the television the last two nights, and almost all people in Kabul know about them, and they won’t start eating until the government of Denmark has apologized for the cartoons, and they told the people two look for any foreigner here in Afghanistan, so, Mister Nielsen, said Mahmud, maybe it was okay for you to go the other day, because the other day there was only maybe 20 percent chance you would be killed, but today and the next days until the Danish government finally gives apologize there is 80 percent sure that you will be killed. - We made an appointment this last Sunday, I said, you gave me your words, Khalid and Reza, and pointed the camera at them and looked them straight into the eyes, you said you wanted to go with me and film me on my walk through your city. I want to be able to move freely in this world, and also here in Kabul, I don’t want some inferior professor or mullah or cartoonist to set the rules for my ability to move and live and speak in this world and in this city. In two hours the sun will be down and there will be no more light today, so in five minutes, I said, in five minutes I will raise up and take the flag and walk out of here, out into the streets of Kabul, and then we’ll see what will really happen, how the Afghan peoples will react, in reality and not in your imagination, not in the collective media stirred state of paranoid mind that we all are world citizen in, but in reality, and you will be free to come with me, but if you won’t follow me, I said, and not even from the safer position in the car, if no one is going to follow me, then also no one is going to know what really happened, if something is really going to happen, and no one will be able to tell, I need an eye from outside, I said, just an eye. I looked at them, and they looked down or to the side, and no one said a word, and for a moment there was only the distant buzzing of people and cars from the streets and the helicopters somewhere overhead. Okay, said Mahmud and nodded towards the two others, you asked them, he said, but if they don’t want to go, then I’ll go. Good, I said, and looked at the two others, so, I said, you wanna come with me? Okay, they said, okay. And off we went.

The plan was to walk the Darulaman Road past the enormous new blue Iranian mosque, through the roadside bazaar and southwards out of the city to the spectacular ruin of the palace at the foot of the mountains. But on the way out we were stopped by our Norwegian ally, no! he said and put down his veto, you’re not going that way, Mister Nielsen, that is the area where we live, where we are going to drive and walk everyday for a long time after you’ve gone, we are the ones who are going to pick up the pieces after you, Mister Nielsen, no way! So what did I do, where should I go? It was half past four, only one and a half hours before the dark of the sudden night. We got into the car and started driving, and our native driver took a turn to the right into an area where I had never been before, - here, our Norwegian ally, said, if you get out here you can start to walk, and if you follow the road to the left there is going to be shops and more people, but one thing, Mister Nielsen, he said and grabbed the mini-bus-mike and his voice sounded like a Big Brother cartoon, we’ll have the same rules as last Friday: If anything happens, he said, then we don’t know anything about you, we don’t know you, we’ll just get into the car, and off we go. Okay?! he said. - Okay, I said.

A sudden wind had risen over the plain, dust whirling in the narrow street, the sun just a pale coin over the ruins, I got out of the car and the wind grabbed the flag and unfolded it and almost carried me ahead in the side of the street between cars and mechanic workshops, fruit sellers carts and a roadside butcher standing between his bloody headless animals, not that many people, I thought as I greeted the staring butcher, and I had a vague feeling of being mislead, that our Norwegian ally maybe just had wanted to get rid of me, as I turned the corner, and once of a sudden I was in the middle of a chaotic bazaar, cars and carts and donkeys fruit sellers, old metal, meat, beggars burkas and men with dirty faces and dark beards in contemptuous staring two begging children had gotten hold of my right arm, hang on! and I turned to look for my camera man but

onsdag den 5. marts 2008


Every morning I wake up to the weeping of mullahs from the nearby mosques, crackling, rattling cartoon-voices, that is what I hear at the break of another dust-day. That’s why they got so offended by the Mohammad cartoons, not because of the bomb in his hat, not because of his pigs head, no, because he suddenly was seen exactly the way they sound: a cartoon.

The thing is I planned another walk under the Flag of Friendship through this city of dust, I just haven’t been able to tell you (do you listen? art thou there?), because I promised my Norwegian allies not to mention it on my head-on-the-blog. So now you finally know you don’t know and even why. I even promised them not to walk alongside any of the seducingly attractive swarming roads that they drive along every morning on their way to the theatre and every late afternoon on their way back again, because, as they said, we are going to drive this way every day for a long time when you (the one or the other way) have gone. I promised them. I’ll even try to keep my promise.

My favourite native Mahmud has gone to Paris (to go to Brasil (yeah, those bloody natives have an easy way to fame, they have a history, the come from an oh so spectacular warzone, and that’s what they like the curators and producers and agents in the arts-scene hot-spots in London, Venezia, Sao Paolo, Tokyo and Paris)), and so I had to replace him by this sweet wannabe-actor boy Khalid, soft as milk, I might have known, yeah, but I had to have someone, so I made an appointment (can’t tell where, can’t tell when, due to the risk of being cartooned) with him and Reza about an additional filming of an additional walk through a bit more spectacular and populated swarming exotic part of the city. And then last night as I sat on the balcony overlooking the darkened city of dust under the glittering stars, I called them, just to confirm, and then of course, - Mister Nielsen, there is new problem. - What problem? I said, turning the white out of my hard boiled eggs, - what bloody problem? - The cartoons, you know, sir, from Denmark... - Nobody knows I’m from Denmark, I said, - I’ll say, I come from Iceland, or Patagonia, I don’t mind. - Oh, no! he wept, - it is all foreigner, you know today this professor (I guess he meant mullah or mufta or kufta or Kafka or whatdoIknow) announced that all foreigners in Afghanistan must be killed until Danish government apologize. - Christ! I said. Cowards. That’s what they are. Don’t tell me (they do!) they are afraid, I am going to get killed by the mob, it is their own soft milky skin, they are afraid of having scratched, - come on, I said, - tomorrow at 3:30!

tirsdag den 4. marts 2008


Went for a bike ride
into the twi light
on the dusty road
south westwards
out of Kabul
towards the mountains so oh so
passed the pushcart shops
their owners sitting huddled-up in the corner of the
counter between peanuts chewing gum tobacco sweet bread and chili
the ministries and Pakistan style palaces
behind scarred war-wounded walls and the armed guards who
are the plural in this ruin
of a city
the peasants
the push-cart pushers
the bakers crouching in six-packs on theirs stoves behind greasy windows
the six year old girls carrying brushwood on their backs along Darulaman Road
the mechanics painted black in oil head-down into a once-was-a-motor in the shade of their rusty shotgun shacks
the native and illiterate and chewing-gum-chewing drivers of UN-cars carrying towering antennas as radiator mascots
the shepherds driving their flock into the dustwhirling hell of a traffic of third hand yellow cabs, Toyota trucks, Hazarian bike riders on Chinese bikes, Tadjikis on horsebacks, and piebald cows rolling still upright ahead on truck backs, human barrows and barrows ever so human collapsing under tons of firewood, sheepskins, bricks and brac, Afghan apples and Pakistan cauliflowers the size of a parasol, broken, burned or exploded metal tres tres fatigue, barrels of vegetable oil, naked steaming meat from cows sheep goats hens or maybe a human
like me
arriving at the gate of the palace
“ISAF & Canadian Military Compound” but
except from that
the most melancholic and wounded and grey-brown and but still ever so proud towering
End of History
I ever saw

mandag den 3. marts 2008


There is no Internet in hell. Or in the Taleban cave. Or in the Afghan jail. How do I know? Because I’m there? I wouldn’t be able to post this then. And if I’m not in any of those places? Yeah. Sorry. I made it. And I’m still alive. A triumph? It ought to be. It is! And against all odds. All. In the last 24 hours before take off everysingleone tried to back out and steal away from me and my European profile and my Flag of Danger & Death. In the morning my most faithful native Mahmud called and told me he had forgotten to tell that he was going abroad and had to prepare for his travel. - No! I cried, - you gave me your word! And so he (in a very low an cold voice, as if obeying a white master) agreed to at least show up. And he did. But as he stood in front of the inaccessible iron gate he called me once more and asked if we maybe could talk a little before we would set off for the Bemaru Mountain. Me, him and Reza. I asked the gate guard to let them into the courtyard. And there Mahmud told me that within the last 24 hours he had called a lot of (older) people, “people who know Afghanistan”, and Reza had talked to friends with relations to the police, and every one said that if I wouldn’t be killed or kidnapped or just beaten the white out of my skin, then I would at least and for sure be arrested by the police and thrown into jail. And so would they. And whereas I, as a foreigner, with a back up from my embassy, would sooner or later get out again, no one would know about them, Reza and Mahmud. Alas, they wanted to go home again and spend their holy Friday on the couch. - No! I said, - please, don’t leave me alone with this, I said, - at least go with me to the mountain top and film the very beginning, as we planned, just me and the mountain, you don’t need a permission to film Man and the Mountain, that’s pure nature! Do that, please, and then I’ll ask my Norwegian ally to join us and take over from there, let’s go! I said. And off we went. To the mountain! As we arrived the otherwise deserted top was swarming with natives waiting for a dogs fight to begin. At every single larger object, car, even at the picturesque tank, a big hungered seemingly desperate dog with eyes bloodshot stood tethered, and our Norwegian ally reminded us that last weeks suicide bomb in Kandahar had gone of exactly at a dogs fight and killed more than a hundred. And so he disappeared in the crowd to have a look at it all and maybe ...

At 4 p:m sharp I appear from below a cliff and walk the ridge carrying the flag, just me and the mountain. I pass by the first dogs enthusiasts and they comment on the flag, and then I start descending followed by the camera men. In that very moment my native driver Naimullah turns on the car radio - the local Voice of America - the news speaker announcing that a crowd of 200 plus has set out on a demonstration against the Danes and their Muhammad Caricatures in the Microaryani area of Kabul. And as Microaryani happens to be at the foot of the mountain, the angry crowd will most likely come upon a lonely Dane walking under a strange white flag in less than half an hour. My driver immediately calls our Norwegian ally who is somewhere on the hillside between the Dane and the car. But the Dane walks too fast and struck by his late afternoon laziness the Norwegian gives up, sighing Inshallah, we’ll see! And so the Dane just goes on. And on. And on.

In the early evening our Norwegian ally receives a telephone call from one of his informants - the Blackwater expert. The informant has lunched with a group of international journalists and aid workers living in Kabul. Several, among them an Australian NGO, have received an e-mail from ANSO (the security office in charge of keeping the terror alert on HIGH LEVEL among the NGO’s in Kabul) warning that a Dane is planning to walk through Kabul carrying “a white flag with a bullet-hole(!)”.

But the warning comes to late. I have long since gone.

They almost promised me I would be killed. Kidnapped. At least have that I beaten out of my shit. Finally. At the End of the day. To end all days. And here it is: I. Still. Unstilled. Lonely as ever. Without any reason. And so what? Kabul. Where do I go from here?

fredag den 29. februar 2008


In the morning my two young cameramen picked me up at the theatre in a battered once red, now just dusty dented car, a younger cousin behind the steering wheel. The sun was shining and a caravan of twenty military police vehicles passed by at full digital siren song whirling up a mile long cloud of dust and for a minute everything was just grey mist and the scent of blinking blue lights sailing by and then slowly the cloud would dissolve sinking down dust to dust and again the day would be clear and the sky was blue and Kabul lay before us scattered dustbrown bits and parts blown over the plain all the way to the foot of the mountains and even climbing them as hardly visible patterns made of wood sticks, bricks and clay towards the steep and seemingly imperturbable and blinding peaks hovering everwhite over History and we got in the car and drove through the southern part of the city centre to the foot of Tapae Bemaru where the car gave a short try banging like a tractor and then gave in and rolled backwards and we stepped out in the sharp light and as a minor expedition of one white man and his two younger natives we slowly mounted the Bemaru and stood overlooking the city that had suddenly multiplied seemingly endlessly, behind each mountain yet another grey desert lay scattered with human destruction and I produced the forty years old, but classy “An Historical Guide to Kabul” that I had bought at the famous “Bookseller in Kabul” and unfolded the map and showed my two native boys the ideal route for the Walk and they translated it to reality pointing out roads and streets from up here to the central square and from there in a semicircle out towards the theatre at the foot of Tapae Maranjan and - quite exceptionally - I asked for their opinion, - okay, I said, - let’s do it!? - Well, one of them said (or the other) and pointed out the straighter way from Tapae Bemaru to Tapae Maranjan and the theatre, - maybe, sir, he said, - maybe you choose this road instead.

Alas, we have agreed on carrying out the controversial walk the American way - in this case being the Way of the Cowards and certainly not that of the European with the his aristocratic sense of the endless variety of urban structures and everyday life that one might encounter on ones way through a city like Kabul - we just go straight for the goal: Tomorrow at 4 p:m Afghan-Persian time Nielsen will set out on his (first) long walk from the mountains to the stage.


PS: On top of it (the Bemaru mountain) I had my portrait done: There in the dust balancing on the ridge the distant mountains in the background the shell of a military tank lay left behind by History (or more probably: it had been brought there dangling under a helicopter and dropped as a wish for the tourists that are so absolutely absent in this country) and on the tank a poor lonely ragged and hungry (etc. etc.) native sat silently and patiently and probably thoughtless and definitely unproductive mourning the failure of his people, - tres pictoresque! I thought and took my position in the picture and asked my boys to ask the man to please stay exactly as he had been when we found him, but of course he immediately turned and started to reel of his rigmarole of Afghan courtesies and even asked if I wanted him to tell the sad story of his life. - No, I said, - I just want a picture; please ask him to sit and remain exactly as he were when we came here! And so they did, but too late, he was already rattling ahead, and so I got another endless and certainly sad story about the peaceful Afghan who haunted by wars and foreign interventions had fled over the mountains to Iran and lived there peacefully and hard-working as a cook serving the Iranian people, until suddenly and without any warning the Iranians had thrown him out of their country and so, there he was: on top of nowhere with nowhere to go. - Sad, but not that bad, I said, - at least he has a nowhere with a viev! - He offer you to be your cook and make the best Danish food for you, said Mahmud. - No, thanks, I said, - teshekor! and finally he shut up and the picture was taken.