#1Pic1Day: Hancur Lebur | Devastated (Bam, IRAN, 2008)

Devastated (Bam, IRAN, 2008) 27 December 2003, the small town of Bam – located in southeastern Iran, about 300 kilometers from Kerman – was rocked by 6.8 Richter-scale earthquakes. More than 40,000 were killed. Asides from the human casualty, Iran also grieved the loss of one of their civilization jewels. The ancient city of thousands years old in Bam was nothing but flattened. Five years after the earthquake, rubbles are still seen here and there in Bam, but live starts to get normal again. As it is bordering with the problematic province of Sistan-e-Balochestan, security is still an issue in Bam. Kidnappings of foreign visitors happen sporadically, and during certain period of time, foreigners have to be accompanied by armed guards while traveling around the town. Hancur Lebur (Bam, IRAN, 2008) Pada 27 Desember 2003, kota kecil Bam di Iran tenggara, dilanda gempa dahsyat berkekuatan 6,8 Skala Richter. Lebih dari 40 ribu orang tewas dalam bencana itu. Selain korban jiwa, Iran juga meratapi hilangnya salah satu permata peradaban mereka. Kota kuno Bam yang sudah berusia ribuan tahun hancur diratakan oleh gempa. Lima tahun sesudah malapetaka itu, puing-puing kehancuran masih terlihat nyata di Bam, walaupun kehidupan sudah mulai normal. Bam berbatasan [...]

September 18, 2013 // 0 Comments

Bam – The Flattened Civilization

From what is left, you still can be amazed by the grandeur of an advanced ancient civilization 27 December 2003, the small town of Bam – located in southeastern Iran, about 300 kilometers from Kerman – was shocked by 6.8 Richter-scale earthquake. More than 40,000 were killed. Asides of the human casualty, Iran has another thing to grieve, as one of its civilization jewels was nothing but flattened. The ancient mud city of Bam used to be one of the strongest tourism magnets in Iran. People claimed it has 3,000 years of history, at least from the Sassanian period. Thousands of interesting old mud houses, sprawl under a giant mud citadel, giving exotic fairytale impression. I adore the old pictures of Bam, which are still hanged everywhere to remind how majestic the place used to be. But, the view of Arg-e-Bam (the ancient citadel surrounded by the mud city) today makes me weeping. The place is in severe desolation. The citadel which was appraised by Marco Polo and other ancient travelers now turned to be rubble. The old town become sad crumbling remains and debris. Workers are everywhere, hoping to restore the old town to its ancient glory, but not [...]

June 14, 2008 // 0 Comments

Muzaffarabad – Good Bye Noraseri

April 4, 2006 Time to say goodbye The day to leave Noraseri had come. I had spent quite a month here, and I felt it was already my second home. The people, now I prefer to say, the friends, were so deep in my heart. Farman said that Noraseri had been my second home. He might be right. I would like to return back here to meet again the friends in this village. But now I had to leave to continue the journey. The farewell was not easy. I had such a limited time, because Rashid from the NGO had called earlier in the morning, saying that I had to return to Muzaffarabad before one, so I may copy the photos of the project. He was leaving to Islamabad and brought the computer back from the office. The office was going to be emptied. And I had to rush. It was impossible to say farewell to everybody. I started in Doctor Shahab’s house. Together with Junaid and his cousin, Mubasshar, I went to Mubasshar’s house. Mubasshar father was coming a little bit late, after some work in the dispensary. Like Doctor Shahab, Mubasshar family was quite a rich family before [...]

April 4, 2006 // 0 Comments

Kandar – The Land of Fighters

April 3, 2006 Helicopter bringing aids to Harama. Imagine how those angry fighters hijacked the flying copter First, the rumors. The name of Kandar is full of myth, ask every villager of Noraseri, and his face will be filled by fear. Not only villagers from Noraseri, but the fame of Kandar had reached areas as far as Pattika and Muzaffarabad. The people of Kandar had made their popularity around the hills. Kandar, located on the top of the hill just behind, is visible from Noraseri. Seemed as close it was, the real four kilometer distance was somehow an unreachable gap for the villagers from Noraseri. It was the image of Kandar which put down the people of other villages. I have heard the rumor about Kandar for the first time from Rashid who told me how ‘nonsense’ these people were. Rashid said that no NGO was working there, as the NGOs were afraid of Kandari. Kandar, accidentally the name resembled “Kandahar”, one of the most dangerous areas in Afghanistan. It was a joke that Kandar was Kandahar of Kashmir. Once upon a time in history, somewhere in a time dimension after the disaster, there happened a helicopter was hijacked by [...]

April 3, 2006 // 0 Comments

Noraseri – Homesick

March 29, 2006 Totally devastated, but life has to go on Time passed very fast, and it had been my thirtieth day in the NGO camp in Noorasery. I was reading some printed material from Andreas Harsono blog ( which explained about some basics of journalism. This weblog was recommended in the photographer website. It was indeed enlightening. The posts were mostly in Indonesian, and the articles about investigative journalism, how to write in English, some basic elements of journalism, the narrow Indonesian nationalism in tsunami disaster, and the literal journalism were very well-written that I thought deeply about my country. He was right, Indonesia, our country, was full of problems. It was not difficult to see injustice, suppressed people, poverty, mysteries, struggles, and so on. I felt that somehow I wanted to dedicate myself deeper to the journalism world. But I still had too much to learn, as my educational background was not exactly fit with this new life I am trying to start. There is no reason to complain. Live here is much harder. Reading the articles in Indonesia made me really homesick. I dreamt about Indonesia, and somehow wanted to be there soon. I missed the food, [...]

March 29, 2006 // 2 Comments

Noraseri – Where is the Bride?

March 26, 2006 A night before I started to suspect the so-called ‘sexy gabshab’, sexy conversations of the boys, which included physical jokes like touching, hugging, and kissing. Yesterday a boy successfully reached my bed and found his way to hide under my blanket, and gave me massage. I thought it was just a normal massage of friends. But his hand always tried to guerilla to ‘that’ place. I prevented him to. And accidentally touched ‘his’ and I was surprised that he was erected. I jumped. I cursed, “Harami!”. End of joke. It was raining the whole day yesterday. It was a sudden, like weathers in mountain areas, changed drastically in minute basis. It was terribly hot day the day before. But the radio forecast that the rain would be for three consecutive days. For sure the main road which connected the village and the outside world was blocked by the landslides. See my cupboard! For today, after doing a short time of documentation of eighty shelter homes in Harama village (no obvious relationship with ‘Harami’), I went back to Noraseri, hearing that there would be a wedding to be held. I was invited by Vicky’s brother. Vicky was a [...]

March 26, 2006 // 0 Comments

Noraseri – The Hajji Shahab Family

March 23, 2006 Tajjamal and his cousin The relation with Taj Mahal brought me back to the Hajji Shahab’s house. Hajji Shahab, an old man who died recently, whose funeral was photographed by me in my first day in Noraseri, was quite a reputable person in the village. And Tajjamal, or Taj Mahal, was his distant relative. Taj Mahal didn’t come to the funeral day, as he was in Muzaffarabad. This was the first time he came back to Noraseri so it was essential for him to visit the family again to deliver some prayers. A daughter of Mr. Hajji came late in the funeral day, so she didn’t have the chance to evidence her father’s face for the last time. Samera, the name of this daughter, asked me to show her the pictures of the face of the dead father. Samera was in Lahore, and due to road blocks (very common in these rainy days due to the landslides in Kashmir, and the day when Hajji Shahab passed away was also a rainy day) Samera came a day later. Due to my customs, I didn’t take the close up pictures of the face of the dead man. I had [...]

March 23, 2006 // 0 Comments

Muzaffarabad – Chehlum

March 21, 2006 It’s real blade The mourning of the death of the Prophet’s grandson, Hazrat Hussain, who was killed in a war in Qarbala, 1400 years ago, still continued until the fortieth day after Ashura. It was 20 Safar, 40 days after 10 Muharram, the final day of all of the mourning. I had experienced the Ashura celebration in Lahore, which was an astonished experience. For Chehlum, I had it in Muzaffarabad. I came quite early in the morning, 12 noon, to the Shia mosque near the chowk of Medina Market. The mosque itself was not big, signified by the black huge flag, distinctive of Shia mosques. An attendant there said that before the earthquake, the mosque was always crowded during this time of the year. But now, many of the believers had gone. Indeed, the majlis was not crowded, the people who came was only about a quarter of the number the space can handle. The majlis speech, delivered in language more about the same as Urdu, also brought the listeners to hysteria. Ya Hussain e The mourning parade in earthquake zone I was escorted by Hamdani, claimed himself as a policeman, to go around the mosque while [...]

March 21, 2006 // 2 Comments

Noraseri – A Story from Basyir’s Family

New home, new hope March 18, 2006 After five consecutive months living in emergency tents, finally, Mr. Basyir had the chance for a celebration: a move to the new shelter. The Danish Muslim Aid, an NGO from Denmark, had provided the family with the building material, and three men from the family worked hard every day to build their new home, the new place to shelter the hopes and dreams remained after everything was devastated by the disaster. Mr. Basyir was a typical example of the suffering victims of the disaster which rocked South Asia on October 8, 2005. The family, once consisted of the parents and ten children, now was smaller. Basyir had had six sons and four daughters. Three died. All boys. And the boys were the youngest in their family. The scars of the tragedy still rooted very deep on Mrs. Basyir. Her youngest boy looked like a Chinese boy, when he was alive. That youngest son was only two years old, and he was not recovered under the rubbles of the house. Mr. Basyir said that his wife cried on the first day she saw me, due to my Oriental face which reminded her to her [...]

March 18, 2006 // 0 Comments

Gilgit – The Story of My Visa

Some tricks are needed to get a new visa extension March 9, 2006 Sorry for being snobby about visa, but I dont know why I have to be the poorest creature to be created to always have tragedies with visa, especially in this trip. From the Indian visa in Nepal, Pakistan visa in India, and now, Pakistan visa extension. As what I was believing, Pakistan visa was easy to extend, as the country is promoting tourism now. My visa was about a week left when I was in Muzaffarabad, and Rashid, the guy from our NGO, said that if that possible, than it would be very easy to extend. He just came back from Islamabad Monday 6th, and on Tuesday we started our ‘visa extension struggle’. First of all, instead of directly went to the DC Office where the extension and passport paperworks are done, we visited the Muzaffarabad SSP (I dont know what this stand for), the man with highest position in police department in Muzaffarabad. U know, in Pakistan you can go anywhere with connection. Knowing someone in the high position is always a good thing. Mr Kurshid, the Muzaffarabad SSP, is a very friendly man with very [...]

March 9, 2006 // 0 Comments

Muzaffarabad – Sea of Tents

Sea of tents March 4, 2006 The city of Muzaffarabad, the capital of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, sprawls along two important rivers in Pakistan, Niilam and Jhelam. The two rivers meet in the heart of the city, where the economic activities of the city concentrated. The main road stretched from the north through Chella Bandi area until the ‘Secretariat’ area, of total 4 kms of length. Muzaffarabad is hilly city, the roads are all ‘uupar niche’ (up and down), with several steep cliffs (many were collapsed due to the earthquake 5 months earlier) and ladder provided to pedestratians to up the hill. Was the main landmark and tourist attraction of the city, the historical Red Fort or Lal Qila is now a bunch of red stones. The remains of the fort, walls now not more than 2 metres tall, are still standing on the top of small hill near Chella Bandi. The shops and houses are also still showing the scars of disasters, with orphaned children beggar sleeping on the street, exhausted of waiting alms from the pedestrians. The shop owners are apparently going back to their shops, despite the risk that the shops may collapse at any single possible [...]

March 4, 2006 // 0 Comments

Muzaffarabad – Missed Call

It was a real call, not just mere a ‘missed call’ March 2, 2006 After the major earthquake disaster on October 8 last year, up till now there were already 2,000 big and small aftershocks, of which the people called as ‘missed call’, as the shocks resembles the short vibration of the mobile phone when a missed call comes. I was not shocked by the small earthquakes, as we also live in earthquake area in our homeland. But the people here, covered by the trauma from the disaster, were all running to the street. Still most people chose to live in tents instead of inhabiting the house buildings; no matter how good and untouched the house was, as everybody was still afraid. I was sleeping in my room at that time, when the young boy in the office urged me to run away immediately. It was a missed call anyway. No [...]

March 2, 2006 // 2 Comments

Muzaffarabad – Farewell Party

A lavish farewell party in a ‘hotel’ (aka restaurant) in Muzaffarabad March 1, 2006 The NGO work is almost to an end. It has started since the disaster, and now everybody in the relief team was going to go back to their life. Most of the team members were temporary members, working for 1 month or so, but some like the Gillanis, were here since October last year. As today was a new day of a new month, the members were reducing again. The guys planned to have a farewell party in Muzaffarabad to say good bye to some of leaving members. The transport to go back to the province capital was not easy, and after waiting almost about an hour, we successfully ‘hijacked’ a Suzuki bus. The lunch was in Muzaffarabad Cantonment area, with splendid fried rice, roti, mutton curry, and the pink coloured Kashmiri tea. I really regretted to come very late, that the work is almost to an end. The NGO would be still in the area up till the third week of this month, and there would be still some work to do to make documentation of the shelter homes in Patikha. But for these some [...]

March 1, 2006 // 1 Comment

Noraseri – An Exhausting Day

New development in the earthquake zones February 28, 2006 Mahmood Gillani, who possesses a strange habit to only spoke Urdu when there was the sun and spoke other strange tribal languages to me in other time, just came back a night before from Islamabad. The road was open. The work of clearing the road from the blocks was done very rapidly, thanks to the heavy machine donated by ‘the people of Japan’. Electricity was supposed to come yesterday, as the weather was clear. But it came very late, so that the plan to watch porn movie with young boys from neighborhood was cancelled. And I also met a young guy who was very desperate in kissing and hugging me. I gave my palm for him to kiss, but not my face (yet). The porn watching plan was replaced by sexy gabshab (sexy talk), where the goftgu (conversation) was dominated by sex topics. The boys here not only put sexual jokes verbally, but also physically, like hugging and kissing. It was really hard to determine their sexual orientation somehow, lol. Our work is to distribute the so-called CGI sheets to the survivors As yesterday there were not many shelter homes that [...]

February 28, 2006 // 1 Comment

Noraseri – From the Rubbles

Tent school February 27, 2006 The discussion about Playboy magazine somehow had brought strange dreams to me. I dreamt of some Indonesian girls wearing traditional transparent kebaya dress, unbottomed, half-naked, and … . Hmmm …. Somehow, living too long time in Pakistan had made me more wilder in sex fantasies. Next to our camp there was a rubbles of collapsed school building. There was another blue tent with huge Chinese characters: For Disaster Emergency Use. This is the temporary school tent for the students. The students started their class at 8:45, singing a chorus outside the tent, and then got into the big blue tent. Today I started to visit the project of the NGO with Mr Ijaz Gillani and Mr Manzoor. Our NGO, an NGO from Denmark, bearing the name ‘Danish’which might be hated by the fundamentalists due to the red hot Danish cartoon issue. We prefer to spell ‘Danish’ as DUN-NISH, to avoid misunderstanding, as ‘Danish’ with this spelling is a popular Pakistani name as well. The NGO project is to build 500 shelter homes in these mountainous areas. Now some projects were finalized and our work was to make documentation of the homes. The track up the [...]

February 27, 2006 // 0 Comments

Noraseri – Tent Life

Morning ritual of the volunteers February 26, 2006 The rain which was started the day before yesterday and lasted for more than 30 hours had just stopped at midnight. The sky was still dark in the morning, and I had problem with my camera lens. I don’t know how to clean the lens, and because of overusing under the rain, the lens had vapors on it, and the pictures taken were not sharp. Any input from other photographers is expected. The morning life is always hilarious in our camp. Everybody started the day by shaving the moustache (the Pakistanis prefer to use the plural form of the noun – moustaches, possibly mean the upper and lower part of the moustache, as it indeed means ‘two different parts’ – the men tend to preserver the upper and clean shave the lower), washing faces with the warm water, and brushing teeth with a stick of a certain tree. I prefer not to do anything to clean myself in this cold weather (learnt this bad habit from China), and pimples appeared in every single millimeter of my face. The rain has brought some landslides. Yes, we are living in landslide area, where the [...]

February 26, 2006 // 0 Comments

Noraseri – Funeral

Haji Shahab just passed away few hours earlier February 25, 2006 Here, 17 kms away from Muzaffarabad, is hilly areas surrounded by snow-peaked mountains. From here, the glorious snowy mountains of Nanga Parbat can be seen in clear days, flying in the blue sky, towering and dominating the atmosphere. Here is the mountain area of Noraseri, where the NGO I am working with has several projects of building permanent shelters for the earthquake victims. And my work is to take documentation pictures of the projects. But the rain has started since yesterday night, not so big, but continuosly. The weather in the morning was very cold, that everybody in the camp had to halt any works. The rain has made the trekking path in the villages dangerous. And indeed, this is the best weather to just stay lazy and sleep in the tents (not intending to be lazy though… but given chance by the weather ). Gool Muhammad, the cook, who has experience of working in Greece (Urdu: Yunan, Indonesian: Yunani) was a very excellent cook, and he deserved to boast his ability. I was staying in a tent together with some ‘seniors’ of the team. Aslam Shahab, a Pakistani [...]

February 25, 2006 // 0 Comments

Muzaffarabad – Five Months after the Disaster

Muzaffarabad, 5 months after the disaster February 23, 2006 So, at last I am going to Kashmir, the earthquake affected area. The departure was with an NGO, Dannish Muslim Aid. The organization name bears the name of the country mostly infavorable in many Muslim countries. Rashid, the guy from the NGO told the driver, a Pakthan from Peshawar, to say that we were from ‘Ganesh’ instead of ‘Danish’ whenever anybody ask. Muzaffarabad, the capital of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (Azad= Free), one third of Kashmir which is under Pakistan control, is a winding 4 hour journey through the Murree Road. For Rashid, the trip was extremely unbearable. He tried to make himself fall asleep instead of tortured in the “uppar-niche” – up and down journey. Murree itself is among popular place for vacation for locals, as there are several tourist buses passing the area. And the Punjab province meets its end in the border town of three provinces: Punjab, NWFP, and Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK). In Daval, the main road runs between two big rivers, on the left is the NWFP and on the right is AJK. The road goes until the end of Punjab, just before a bridge connecting [...]

February 23, 2006 // 0 Comments

Rawalpindi – Earthquake Relief

Margala Tower, destroyed by the earthquake February 4, 2006 As trusted before, my visit to Pakistan is to be a volunteer for the earthquake relief. But due to the sickness I got, I still havent started any single movement. I felt guilty myself, when my friends asked start asking, hey, when you go to the earthquake areas, or you look like also a tourists. Nobody to blame, but being late is always better than nothing. I got several contacts of NGOs working in earthquake areas since my arrival in Pakistan. And today I just got the first chance to visit Dannish Muslim Aid, which was happily received me to be a volunteer and go to Muzaffarabad. The manager, Mr Syed Abid Gilani is just a friendly and helpful man, showed me the pictures of the victims of the earthquake and the work they are doing. The happening was quite similar to that in Indonesia, the tsunami in Aceh, but the terrain here is much more difficult as it happened in the mountainous areas, while Aceh terrain is much more plain. The high mountains, those over 6000 m, just bumped into the villages, swept everything on it, and the scars are [...]

February 4, 2006 // 0 Comments