William Harvey's thoughts about the ability of the arts to cross cultural barriers, including diary entries from his job teaching at Afghanistan National Institute of Music; news about Cultures in Harmony, the non-profit he founded in 2005; and general thoughts about cultural diplomacy.
- Name: William Harvey
- Location: Kabul, Afghanistan
Friday, February 28, 2014
Iconic pictures: Afghanistan
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
By an odd but delightful coincidence, I will probably be able to attend the performance in May by some students from Afghanistan in Argentina! It will be quite a feeling to welcome students from my second home country to what is about to become my third home country.
Sunday, February 16, 2014
Friday, January 31, 2014
Restaurant Review: Intercontinental Hotel
The location is certainly spectacular: a hill with a 360-degree view of Kabul and the surrounding mountains. But I always get a sinking feeling walking through the lobby, with its faux elegant decor that tries too hard to imitate class without possessing any. The Serena is fancy but tasteful and beautiful; Afghanistan's other high-class hotel could do with any of those three qualities.
Some of the items in the buffet are not bad: the qabele pilaw has more actual carrots and raisins than other examples of Afghanistan's signature dish found around the capital. But they are poorly advised if anyone has told them to keep offering a serving dish full of limp, oily pasta that has as much to do with the real thing as the cheap landscapes hawked in front of the Duomo in Florence have to do with actual Italian art.
The trick is in knowing what to get: the fresh bread and kebab that they will bring to your table (if asked) are quite good, and in summer, sit outside and ask for the Afghan ice cream that they will make to your order. In general, the price is only fair because it is, after all, an all-you-can-eat buffet in a location that historically offered an atmosphere that the present garishness can barely hint at.
Sunday, January 26, 2014
Restaurant Review: Caravan
Caravan need not really print a menu, in my view: just ask for the "Special Dish," and for a little over $7, they'll give you approximately 76% of all dishes ever associated with Afghan cuisine, in adorably presented tiny portions, on one beautifully decorated plate. With presentation that memorable, flavor might come in second, but their rice, heavily accented with orange peel, almonds, and raisins, is among the best in the city. The mantoo (meat dumplings) are fine but not great, and the quarter chicken is well-prepared. The small salad of fresh vegetables is clean and trustworthy. A kebab-onion mixture and french fries round out the plate, but they also serve you a lemony vegetable soup, crusty Afghan bread, a soft drink, and firni (milk pudding) for dessert.
As an added bonus, the decor is lovely: plush, darkly-colored carpet-like handicrafts that more typically hang over doorways seem to be a theme. I gave a good tip, feeling bad that the four waiters had come to work for just the one customer. So if you're ever in or near Kabul, beat a path to Caravan, and ask for the "Special Dish."
Friday, January 24, 2014
Restaurant Review: Serena Hotel
What is the best way to respond to this attack? Fear? Cowering in our homes? The Taliban wanted to define a new normal for foreigners. They wanted to create a new reality in which foreigners would be too afraid to live here.
I think the best response is to insist on the normality of the experience of going out to eat with friends. And what better way to reinforce the mundane and quotidian nature of this experience than by inaugurating a series of reviews of restaurants in Kabul? Restaurants in Kabul should be just that—restaurants, not targets, evaluated as one would evaluate a restaurant in New York or London. So from now on, I will publish in this space a review of each restaurant I visit, reviewing each restaurant once, only the first time I eat there after the attack. Isn't this dangerous, you might ask? How could it be? Just like we civilians never know where the Taliban will strike next, they will never know which restaurant will be the next subject of my critical epicurean appraisal.
Friday, January 17, 2014
Attack in Kabul
The Guardian article
Washington Post article