Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Asalaam Alaikum

Yesterday, I worked all day at the college and then saw clients in the evening. I was hungry and ready to relax when I was done for the night and Jerry was out giving a music lesson to a friend so I headed over to one of my favorite downtown restaurants, sat down at the bar and ordered a glass of pinot noir and a roasted beet, avocado and cucumber salad. Then I pulled out Three Cups of Tea, determined to finish it. What a lovely book. I believe it is a powerful catalyst to promote peace in the hearts of everyone who reads it.

Inshallah--God Willing
Asalaam Alaikum--Peace Be With You

Here is the Three Cups of Tea website that I encourage you to check out. If you purchase books through this site 7% of the purchase will go toward a girl's education scholarship fund in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Pennies for Peace is another website to check out. It is designed to get schoolchildren involved in promoting peace.

You can make a tax-deductible contribution to Central Asia Institute. Available for download on this website is an in-depth publication called Journey of Hope which documents Greg Mortenson's and Central Asia Institute projects.

Three Cups Of Tea

Chapter 10 Building Bridges
In the immensity of these ranges, at the limit of existence where men may visit
but cannot dwell, life has a new importance...but Mountains are not chivalrous;
one forgets their violence. Indifferently they lash those who venture
among them with snow, rock, wind, cold.--George Schaller, Stones of

"Will you marry again?" Mortenson asked.
"Oh, for me this is very easy," Twaha explained. One day I will be nurmadhar and already I have a lot of land. So far I don't love any other woman." He lowered his voice slyly. "But sometimes I...enjoy."
"Can you do that without marrying?" Mortenson said. It was something he'd been curious abut since coming to Korphe, but had never felt confident enough to ask.
"Yes, of course," Twaha siad. "With widows. We have many widows in Korphe."

Chapter 11 Six Days
There is a candle in your heart, ready to be kindled. There is a void in
your soul, ready to be filled. You feel it, don't you?--Rumi

Tara Bishop poured two glasses of wine and gave Greg Mortenson a first, lingering kiss. Tashi, her Tibetan terrier, ran between their feet, barking wildly at the stranger.
"Welcome to my life," Tara said, pulling back to look Mortenson in the face.
"Welcome to my heart," he said, and wrapped her in his arms.

Chapter 12 Haji Ali's Lesson
It may seem absurd to believe that a "primitive" culture in the Himalaya has
anything to teach our industrialized society. But our search for a future
that works keeps spiraling back to an ancient connection between ourselves and
the earth, an interconnectedness that ancient cultures have never
abandoned.--Helena Norberg-Hodge

Haji Ali clapped his hand on Mortenson's shoulder. "No one else has every come here to help my people. I've paid you money every year but you have done nothing for my village. This man is a better Muslim than you. He deserves my devotion more than you do."...After dark, by the light of the fire that smolered in his balti, Haji Ali beckoned Mortenson to sit beside him. He picked up his dogeared, grease-spotted Koran and held it before the flames. "Do you see how beautiful this Koran is?" Haji Ali asked.
"I can't read it," he said. " I can't read anything. This is the greatest sadness in my life. I'll do anything so the children of my village never have to know this feeling. I'll pay any price so they have the education they deserve."

Chapter 13 "A Smile Should Be More Than A Memory"
The Waziris are the largest tribe on the frontier, but their state of
civilazation is very low. They are a race or robgbers and murderers, and
the Waziri name is execrated even by the neighboring Mahommedan tribes.
They have been described as being free-born and murderous, hothead and
light-heard, self-respecting but vain. Mahommedans from a settled district
often regard them as utter barbarians.--from the 1911 edition of the
Encyclopedia Britannica

The scruffiest of the smugglers, who smelled as if hashish oil was seeping from his pores, offered Mortenson a mouthpiece of the hookah, which he declined as politely as possible. "I probably should have smoked some just to make friends, but I didn't want to get any more paranoid than I already felt," Mortenson says...

When he opened his eyes he saw two of his abductors squatting on their hells beside his bed and daylight trickling through the slatted window. "Chai," the nearest one said, pouring him a cup of tepid plain green tea.

His second morning in the room, when the guards roused him with tea, he was ready. "El Koran?" he said, miming a man of faith paging through a holy book. The guards understood at once, since Arabic is the language of worship for Muslims the world over...It wasn't unti the afternoon of the third day that an older man, whom Mortenson took to be the village mullah, arrived holding a dusty Koran, covered in green velvet...Mortenson brought the book to his mat on the floor and performed wudu, the ritual washing when water isn't available, before he opened it reverently.
Mortenson bent over the sacred book, pretneding he was reading, quietly peaking the Koranic verses he'd learned uner the eyeless gaze of a dressmaker's dummy in Rawalpindi. The grizzled mullah nodded once, as if satisfied, and left Mortenson alone with the guards. Mortenson thought of Haji Ali, likewise illiterate in Arabic, but tenderly turning the pages of his Koran just the same, and smiled, warming himself over this ember of feeling.
He prayed five times a day when he heard the call form a nearby mosque, worshipping in the Sunni way in this Sunni land, and poring over the Koran. But if his plan was having any effect, he noted no changed in the demearnor of his guards. When he wasn't pretending to read the Koran, Mortenson turned to his Time magazine for comfort.

Chapter 14 Equilibrium
The seeming opposition between life and death is now cut through. do not
thrash or lunge or flee. There is no longer a container or anything to be
contained. All is resolved in dazzling measureless freedom.--from the
Warrior Song of King Gezar

After the midwife left, Mortenson lay in bed, cocooning with his wife and daughter. He placed a multicolred tomar Haji Ali had given him around his daugher's neck...He felt a happiness so expansive it made his eyes swim. It just wasn't possible, he thought, that those eight days in the kerosene-smelling room and this moment, in this cozy upstairs bedroom in a house on a tree-lined street, snug in the embrace of his family, were part of the same world.

..."the smell of putrid flesh was overwhelming," Mortenson says. By the light of an oil lantern, he examined Rhokia, who lay on a blood-slick bed of hay..."Her placenta hadn't come out after the birth and she was in danger of dying from septic shock."
Rhokia's grief-stricken sister held the barely conscious baby girl. The infant, too, was near death, Mortenson realized..."I knew what I had to do," Mortenson says. "But I was very worried abut how Ibrahim would take it." Mortenson pulled the porter aside. Ibrahim was among the most worldly of Korphe's men...But he was still a Balti. Mortenson explained, quietly, that he needed to reach inside Ibrahim's wife and remove the substance that was making her sick...While Ibrahim held a kersosene lantern, Mortenson washed his hands with a kettle of hot water, then reached into Rhokia's uterus and pulled the decomposing placenta out.
The next day, from the roof of the school, Mortenson saw Rhokia up and walking around the village, cooing to the healthy baby girl she carried bundled in a blanket. "I was happy that I'd been able to help Ibrahim's family," Mortenson says. "For a Balti to let a foreign man, an infidel, have that kind of intimate contact with your wife took an incredible leap of faith. I felt humbled by how much they'd come to trust me."

Chapter 15 Mortenson In Motion
Not hammer-strokes, but dance of the water, sings the pebbles into
perfection.--Rabindranath Tagore

"This mullah is not about Islam!" Parvi bellowed. "he is a crook concerned with money! He has no business pronouncing a fatwa!

Greg Mortenson felt that his life was speeding up. He had a house, a dog, a mily, and before he'd left, he and Tara had discussed having more children. He'd built one school, been threatened by an enraged mullah, assembled an American board and a scruffy Pakistani staff. He had fifty thousand dollars of CAI's money in his rucksack and more in the bank. The neglect and suffering northern Pakistan's children endured towered as high as the mountains encircling Skardu. With the fatwa dangling over his head like a scimitar, who knew how long he would be allowed to work in Pakistan? Now was the time to act with all the energy he could summon.

Chapter 16 Red Velvet Box
No human, or any living thing, survives long under the eternal sky. The
most beautiful women, the most leaarned men, even Mohammed, who heard Allah's
own voice, all did wither and die. All is temporary. The sky
outlives everything. Even suffering.--Bowa Johar, Balti poet, and
grandfather of Mouzafer Ali

While the Supreme council had pondered Mortenson's case, they had dispatched spies to inquire into the affairs of the American working at the heart of Shia Pakistan, Parvi says. "From many, many schools, I began to get reports that strange men had visited, asking about each school's curriculum. Did the schools recruit for Christianity or promote Western-style licentiousness?..."Finally, an Iranian mullah visited me..."have you ever seen this infidel drink alcohol, or try to seduce Muslim ladies?" I told him truthfully that I had never seen Dr. Greg take a drink and that he was a married man, who respected his wife and children and would never Eve-tease any Balti girls.

Inside stood the eight imposing black-turbaned members of the council of Mullahs. From the severity with which Syed Mohammed Abbas Risvi greeted him, Mortenson presumed the worst...With due ceremony, Syed Abbas tilted back the lid of the box, withdrew a scroll of parchment wrapped in red ribbon, unfurled it, and revealed Mortenson's future. "Dear Compassionate of the Poor," he translated from the elegant Farsi calligraphy, "our Holy Koran tells us all children should receive education, including our daughters and sisters. your noble work follows the highest principles of Islam, to tend to the poor and sick. In the Holy Koran there is no law to prohibit an infidel from providing assistance to our Muslim brothers and sisters. Therefore," the decree concluded, "we direct all clerics in Pakistan to not interfre with your noble intentions. You have our permission, blessings, and prayers."

"I don't want to teach Pakistan's children to think like Americans," Mortenson says. "I just want them to have a balanced, nonextremist education. That idea is at the very center of what we do."

Chapter 17 Cherry Trees in the Sand
The most dangerous place in the world today, I think you could argue, is the
Indian Subcontinent and the Line of Control in Kashmir.--President Bill clinton,
before leaving Washington on a diplomatic visit to, and peacemaking mission
between, India and Pakistan

Halfway down the hallway to his room, a skinny read-haired apparition with bulging blue eyes burst out the swinging kitchen door and clutched Mortenson's sleeve. Agha Ahmed, the Indus Hotel's unbalanced kitchen boy and baggage hauler, had been watching the lobby through the door's slats. "Doctor Greek!" he shouted in waring, loud enough for the entire hotel to hear, a bubble of saliva forming, as always, at the corner of his mouth. "Taliban!" "I know," Mortenson said, smiling, and shuffled down the hall toward sleep.

The refugees had been shunted to the only land in Skardu no one wanted. Their encampment in the middle of the dunes had no natural water source, and they were more than an hour's walk away from the Indus River...

The first uplife water scheme in the history of northern Pakistan took eight weeks to the men of Brolmo could start building mud-block houses and transforming the desert wastes into a green new home for their families...

And shading these homes, where the unrelenting dunes once stood, cherry trees, nurtured by an uplift water scheme, grow thick and green and lush, blooming out of the sand as improbably as the students who walk home after school beneath their boughs, the girls of the Gultori.

Chaper 18 Shrouded Figure
Let nothing perturb you, nothing frighten you. All things pass. God
does not change. Patience achieves everything.--Mother Teresa

By 7:30 Mortenson was still staring at a sea of empty chairs...Two sales people in green vests, having completed their inventory, took seats in the last row. "What should I do?" Mortenson said. "Should I still give my talk?"
"It's about climbing K2, right?" said a young, bearded employee, whose blond dreadlocks, stuffed up into a silver wool hat, made his head look like a cooked package of Jiffy Pop Popcorn.
"Sort of," Mortenson said.
"Sweet, Dude," Jiffy Pop said. "Go for it!"
...Mortenson noticed a professorial-looking middle-aged male customer leaning around a corner, trying to unobtrusively study a display of multifuction digital watches. Mortenson paused to smile at him, and the man took a seat, letting his eyes rest on the screen...Mortenson wrapped up the evening by paraphrasing one of his fathvorite quotations from Mother Teresa. "What we are trying to do may be just a drop in the ocean," Mortenson said, smiling warmly at his audience of three. "But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop."...Mortenson appreciated the applause, even from six hands, almost as much as he was relieved to be done speaking...The bearded boy with the dreadlocks fished into his front pocket and handed Mortenson a ten-dollar bill. "I was going to go out for a couple beers afer work," he said, shuffling form foot to foot, "but, you know..."On the seat of the last chair in the last row, next to the display of digital watches, Mortenson found an envelope torn form the back of the CAI newsletter. Inside was a personal check for twenty thousand dollars.

"In times of war, you often hear leaders--Christian, Jewish, and Muslim--saying, 'God is on our side.' But that isn't true. In war, God is on the side of refugees, widows, and orphans."

Chapter 19 A Village Called New York
The time of arithmetic and poetry is past. Nowadays, my brothers, take
your lesson from the Kalshnikov and rocket-propelled grenade.--Graffiti
spray-painted on the courtyard wall of the Korphe School

"What is that?" Mortenson said. "What are we looking at?"
"A madrassa, Greg Sahib," Apo said..."Wahhabi madrassa is like a..."Apo trailed, off, searching for the English word. He settled for producing a buzzing sound.
"Bee?" Mortenson asked.
"Yes, like the bee house. Wahhabi madrassa have many students hidden inside."
Wahhabism is a conservative, fundamentalist offshoot of Sunni Islam and the official state religioun of Saudi Arabia's rulers.

In December 2000, the Saudi publication Ain-Al-Yaqeen reported that one of the four major Wahhabi proselytizing organizations, the Al Haramain Foundation, had built "1,100 mosques, schools, and Islamic centers," in Pakistan and other Muslim countries, and employed three thousand paid proselytizer's in the previous years...our resources were peanuts compared to the Wahhabi. Every time I visited to check on one of our projects, it seemed ten Wahhabi madrassas had popped up nearby overnight."...I don't want to give the impression that all Wahhabi are bad," Mortenson says. "many of their schools and mosques are doing good work to help Pakistan's poor. But some of them seem to exist only to teach militant jihad."...Lahor-based journalist Ahmed Rashid, perhaps the world's leading authority on the link between madrassa education and the rise of extremist Islam, estimates that more than eighty thousand of these young madrassa students became Taliban recruits...Rashid recounts his experience among the Wahhabi madrassas of Peshawar in the bestselling book Taliban. The students spend their days studying "the Koran, the sayings of the Prophet Mohammed and the basics of Islamic law as interpreted by their barely literate teachers," he writes. "Neither teachers nor students had any formal grounding in maths, science, history or geography."

That morning, Mortenson was shaken awake..."Dr. Sahib! Dr. Sahib! Big problem," Baig said. "Up! Up!"... "Uzum Mofsar," he said after a long moment of locking eyes with Mortenson. "I'm sorry."
"Why?" Mortenson asked. He saw warily that his bodyguard, whose bulk had always been enought toward off any conceivable danger, had an AK-47 in his hands.
"A village called New York has been bombed."

Chapter 20 Tea With The Taliban
Nuke 'Em All--Let Allah Sort Them Out.--Bumper sticker seen on cab window of
Ford-F150 pickup truck in Bozeman, Montana

Days afater the terror attacks on New York and Washinton, the two countries other than Pakistan that had maintained diplomatic relations with the Taliban, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, cut them off. With Afganistan now closed, Pakistan was the only place the Taliban could make their case to the world.

...Mortenson gave interview after interview to reporters who rarely ranged beyond the Marriot and the Taliban Embassy for their material..."I tried to talk about root causes of the conflict--lack of education in Pakistan, and the rise of the Wahhabi madrassas, and how that led to problems like terrorism," Mortenson says. "But that stuff hardly ever made it into print. They only wanted sound bites about the top Taliban leaders so they could turn them into villains in the run-up to war."

"The only way we can defeat errorism is if people in this country where terrorists exist learn to respect and love Americans," Mortenson concluded, "and if we can respect and love these people here. What's the difference between them becoming a productive local citizen or a terrorist? I think the key is education."

He began with William Butler Yeats's "The Second Coming."
"Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold, Mere anarch is loosed upon the world,/The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere/The ceremony of innocence is drowned;/The best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity."

Chapter 21 Rumsfeld's Shoes
Today in Kabul, clean-shaven men rubbed their faces. An old man with a
newly-rrimmed grey beard danced in the street holding a small tape recorder
blaring music to his ear. The Taliban--who had banned music and ordered
men to wear beards--were gone.--Kathy Gannon, November 13, 2001, reporting for
the Associated Press

And at first, Mortenson had supported the war in Afghanistan. But as he read accounts of increasing civilian casualties, and heard details during phone calls to his staff in the Afghan refugee camps about the numbers of children who were being killed when they mistakenly picked up the bright yellow pods of unexploded cluster bombs, which closely resembled the yellow military food pactets American planes were also dropping as a humanitarian gesture, his attitude began to change.

Abdullah introduced Mortenson to his Pathan friend Hashmatullah, a handsome young fixer who'd been a Taliban soldier, until his wounds made him a liability in the field. "Like a lot of Taliban, Hash as he told me to call him, was a jihadi in theory only," Mortenson explains. "He was a smart guy who would much rather have worked as a telecommunications technician than a Taliban fighter, if a job like that had been avialable. But the Taliban offered him three hundred dollars when he graduated from his madrassa to join them. So he gave the money to his mother in Khost and reported for weapons training...But Hash was ecstatic to be free of the Taliban's rigid restrictions and had shaved off the beard he'd been obliged to grow. And after Mortenson dressed his wounds and treated him with a course of antibiotices, he was ready to swear allegiance to the only American he'd ever met.

Chapter 22 "The Enemy Is Ignorance"
As the U.S. confronts Saddam Hussein's regine in Iraq, Greg Mortenson, 45, is
quietly waging his own campaign against Islamic fundamentalist, who often
recruit members through religious schools called madrassas. Mortenson's
approach hinges on the simple idea: that by building secular schools and
helping to promote education--particularly for girls--in the world's most
volatile war zone, support for the Taliban and other extremist sects eventually
will dry up.--Kevin Fedarko, Parade cover story, April 6, 2003

I don't want to be just a health worker. I want to be such a woman that I can start a hospital and be an executive, and look over all the health problems of all the women in the Braldu...Jahan said, twirling the hem of her maroon silk headscarf around her finger as she peered out the window,..."I want to be a...'Superlady,'" she said, grinning defiantly, daring anyone, any man, to tell her she couldn't.

Chapter 23 Stones Into Schools
Our earth is wounded. Her oceans and lakes are sick; her rivers are like
running sore; The air is filled with subtle poisons. And the oily smoke of
countless hellish fires blackens the sun. men and women, scattered from
homeland, family, friend, wander desolate and uncertain, scorched by a toxic
sun....In this desert of frightend, blind uncertainty, some take refuge in the
pursuit of power. Some become manipulators of illusion and deceit.
If wisdom and harmony still dwell in this world, as other than a dream lost in
an unopened book, they are hidden in our heartbeat. And it is from our
hearts that we cry out. We cry out and our voices are the single voice of
this wounded earth. Our cries are a great wind across the earth.--From The
Warrior song of King Gezar

"I can understand shooting men and bombing buildings. In a time of war these things happen, as they always have. But why?" Mohammed said, putting his question not to Mortenson, but letting the unanswerable lament hang in the air between them. "Why did the Taliban have to kill our land?"

When your heart speaks, take good notes.--Judith Campbell

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