Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Soviet Resort

We had a meeting the other day with some UN representatives, and had to travel to their small base nearby. The chopper ride lasted 4 minutes and 12 seconds, but the differences were profound.

There were trees and old hotel buildings, gardens filled with fragrant and colorful flowers. I could smell savory Afghan cuisine being carried by the breeze. There was an old drained swimming pool, and the sounds and smells of livestock just out side of the gate. Turns out, this is an old Soviet R&R base. The hotels were for the higher-ups, and I heard a rumor that the Russians used to throw mujahideen into the pool and watch them drown. When the Afghan fighters took over the base, they said the pool was empty, and some Soviets were marched into the deep end and shot. "There were still bullet holes and stains on the concrete in 2001," someone told me. It's probably untrue, but I still strained hard at the walls looking for any trace of previous atrocity.

I found it odd that the godless Communist Soviets almost 30 years ago had more sense of the aesthetic than the leading world's power does now.

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