Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Buddhas of Bamiyan

I went back to De Afghanan today for a farwell-to-Fremont meal.  I almost don't want to leave it without photographs but I wasn't carrying a camera and I am also frequently frustrated by my inability to truly capture places because cameras have limited dimensions. Either ways, I did the next best thing, I ordered a memorable Firni. Gorgeous dessert and its familiarity then and memory now lingers on.

Sitting by myself at de Afghanan made me look around at their artwork and I realized I was sitting in front of the Buddha of Bamiyan (yeah, singular). An artist had recreated it on one of the walls of the restaurant. I was reminded of how when people recreate Afghanistan in the U.S., they pick up what they want to showcase as Afghan. And I felt warm in the realization that for someone the Buddhas were worth re-creating. The Buddhas were relics from Afghanistan's ancient past, relics that were destroyed by a government that tried to fit the multidimensional Afghanistan into a singular space identified purely by their narrow definition of Islam. The destruction of the Buddhas were the most visible example of the Taliban's relentless attack of all symbols. But there is someone in the U.S. today who represents Afghanistan in its wholeness as a country where myriad cultures mingled (and empires didn't just go to die.) 

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