Well folks…it was a lovely sunday in Hawaii. the waves were perfect for boogie boarding this morning and this afternoon I grabbed my bike and took the bus to the East West Center at the University of Hawaii to hear Anne Wright speak about Central Asia.
Ms. Wright was a Colonel in the U.S. military and former Ambassador to Mongolia who resigned on the eve of the war with Iraq. Wright was also a diplomat for fifteen years and the Deputy Chief of Mission in the U.S. Embassies in Sierra Leone, Micronesia, and Afghanistan as part of the rebuilding team after the recent war. She has also had assignments in Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Grenada and Nicaragua. Wright continues to speak out through TV, radio and newspaper interviews against the war in Iraq and other Bush administration policies including the lack of concern and effort to push the peace process along between the Israeli and Palestinians.
So as you might guess, it was interesting to hear her speak. In Wright’s parlance Central Asia is key in the “Great Game” of diplomacy. Interesting to hear about the machinations of nations as Russia, China, the U.S, and the Stans all try to achieve a victorious footing in the great game of war and peace. Kyrgyzstan seems to be the greatest pawn hosting both Russian and U.S. airbases and recently upping the rent on the U.S. base under pressure from Russia. Kyrgyztan is after all, a former Soviet held state and as Ms. Wright puts it, the Russian’s aren’t going anywhere but the U.S. probably is. So anyway, sounds to me like Central Asia has become a hidden flashpoint with Rumsfeld, Bush, Rice, and other U.S. bigwigs working overtime in the region. Meanwhile Russia, China, and the Stans have demanded the exit of the U.S. from the region as the Shanghai Group. Stan, incidentally, means home of…i.e. home of the Kyrghs…home of the Turkmin…etc except for Pakistan which it turns out is an acronym for the five tribes in the region Punjab, North-West Frontier (Afghan) Province, Kashmir, Sind and Baluchistan, and was coined in 1933 by Choudhary Rahmat Ali (1895-1951). However, according to the World Book Encyclopedia (1976), Pakistan means “land of the pure” in Urdu.
In any event the lecture was interesting and took place in the East West Gallery which was hosting an incredible Suzani exhibit. Suzani are rectangles of cloth embroidered in seductively colorful patterns — that are still a strong tradition in Bukhara, Uzbekistan.
After this I rode down the road and found the New Years Ohana Festival at the Japanese Cultural Center. It was at the tail end of the day but I caught the drumming. I especially enjoyed the Bonsai display and the oddities for sale in the All Things Japanese Sale. Fun. Then a bus ride followed by a bike ride home. On the way to get a gin and tonic at the Creekside Bar I passed a zen moment of homelessness as a man sat next to the water with his shopping cart and possessions around him. He gazed calmly at the water as he slowly combed his hair while sitting on an old blanket. I wanted to take a picture, but to do so would have taken the moment away.
That’s about all for now. Classes start for me tomorrow. I am excited and don’t know how much time I will have to dedicate to Fukn.us Hopefully Bernest and Mink Hippie ( who has also spent some time in Kyrgyzstan and Sierra Leone and many other places) will keep us all entertained.