Sunday, September 20, 2009

#23: Most-Interesting Story Behind a Great Postcard From Afghanistan

he back of the postcard reads: "Afghanistan: Tattered clothing and fear-filled eyes of an Afghan refugee reveal war-zone trauma".
It is an old vintage postcard of the era of Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and as far as I remember the above photo of a young Afghan girl with hypnotizing deep sea-green eyes was featured on the cover of National Geographic magazine, June 1985 issue. Photographer Steve McCurry took the shot at Nasir Bagh Refugee Camp in Pakistanduring December 1984, while Afghanistan was still at war with the huge Soviet Union. She was among the many faces that McCurry photographed.

Her photo was later selected for the magazine's cover. There was NO name to the fa
ce though.

Seventeen years later, McCurry joined a National Geographic Television crew on a journey through Pakistan and Afghanistan to search for the ‘cover girl’. There were questions to be answered: Did she survive the war? If she’s alive, she’d probably have returned to Afghanistan and be in her late 20s or early 30s.

The name of the girl was a secret till now. The team started their journey from Nasir Bagh refugee camp in Pakistan where the initial photo was shot in 1984. The team found her to be living in a remote region in Afghanistan. Her identity was confirmed using Biometric technology which matched her IRIS patterns to those of the photograph with almost full certainty. She vividly recalled being photographed.

The fame and symbolic character of her portrait were completely unknown to her. Modern pictures of her were featured as part of a cover story on her life in the April 2002 issue of National Geographic and was the subject of a television documentary entitled Search for the Afghan Girl, which aired in March 2002. In recognition of her, National Geographic set up the Afghan Girls Fund, a charitable organization with the goal of educating Afghan girls and young women. In 2008, the scope of the fund was broadened to include boys and the name was changed to Afghan Children's Fund.

So here is the photo of the cover of National Geographic Magazine, April 2002 Issue just for your interest:

Saturday, September 5, 2009

#21: Winter Scene in Shogran; Kaghan Valley; Pakistan

Picture 116








Another nice postcard from the “Forest in the Sky” – Shogran. It feels nice to see such a postcard in summers only. The postcard says that it is a winter scene in Shogran where as I am sure that it is nothing but an “Early Summer” view of the hotel in Shogran. It is almost inaccessible in winters due to heavy snow fall and strong winds.

#20: Mist in Shogran Forest; Kaghan Valley; Pakistan

Picture 123

Here I have another lovely postcard to share with you. A misty postcard from Pakistan featuring the beautiful pine forests of Shogran in Kaghan Valley. Shogran is one of the most beautiful tourist attraction in Pakistan in general and Kaghan Valley in particular. Located at the daunting height of 2,362 meters (or around 7,000 feet) above mean sea level. From Kiwai, you have to travel on a 7 km long steep road climbing towards the sky to reach the magnificent plateau of Shogran. The plateau offers mind-boggling views in all directions. Shogran literally means “Forest In The Sky”. The road further leads to the summer settlements of Paya and Siri.