Friday, March 13, 2009

Rory Stewart on Kabul

Last night my friend Patrick and I went along to the Royal Institute of Architects to hear Rory Stewart talk about Kabul and his work there for the Turquoise Mountain Project. In a nutshell it's a non-profit organisation that's working hard to regenerate the historical buildings in Kabul. They've also built a primary school (for boys AND girls), have workshops that employ local craftsmen to pass on their (prior to this dying-out) trades, and have removed tons and tons of rubbish from the streets employing practically every unemployed man in the city. This really is a nutshell because they have done and do a lot more and most importantly are giving the people of that city a sense of national pride and heritage.

Anyway, so listening to someone like Rory talk and meeting him in person has a two-fold effect on someone like me; The first is that I think, 'Shit, this guy has done an incredibly meaningful amount of stuff with his life and had some amazing adventures for his age.' (He is two years older than me, so I assume he is quite young, because I don't think mentally I have left 26). Then secondly, and related to this, comes the realisation that Rory isn't actually that young, he's 36, which makes me not that young either. But yes, still relatively young in terms of what he has achieved. Anyway, so I come out of the experience feeling as though I have largely failed to make a contribution to shaping and changing this world for the better, and I feel old.

So all in all an enjoyable evening then.

People like Rory Stewart are also a serious reminder to me of why I do not want to stick my child in front of the television for extended periods of the day, or in a push chair while I peruse the mall for pleasure. These are not conducive things to encourage a child's natural curiosity in the world, or to instill a hunger for knowledge. Unless we are talking about shoes and handbags that is, the importance of which should not be sniffed at.

Rory spoke in a magazine interview of how each morning en route to school his father would take him fencing in the park. Now that is the kind of thing we remember from our childhood - that meaningful time spent with parents where they are engaged with us and teaching us, rather than all the CBeebies shyte. Saying that, I do feel that all those episodes I watched of 'The Smurfs' played an important role in my emerging creative development and later my ability to stay in the room with an argument. But that's by the by.

Which brings me back to the importance of having a non-crack taking ex-con nanny that can also teach my child while minding her. We'll hopefully have reached our decision next week and I can start the serious business of having some time to myself. Hmm, time to myself ...I don't really remember what that feels like, so I don't quite know what I am going to do with it. Watch this space ... .

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