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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Lockdown hampers shopping

So, I'm busily preparing for the trek to Nuristan and also manoeuvring around the chaos that is Kabul. Somehow we had neglected to realise that by bringing the trip forward by a few days we were then slap bang in the middle of the Kabul conference; the massive international meeting of world powers being held here in Kabul to discuss the future of Afghanistan. The whole place is in lockdown and here, where we are in Wasir Akbar Khan, there are tanks, armoured gun vehicles and soldiers on every corner, there are NDS, ANP and ANA all in their different uniforms and nobody is going anywhere - except for to Spinneys, that pinnacle of supermarkets which is staying open despite everything. Rock on those groceries!

Last night I had to be rescued from my place by PM and Tariq who drove across town on a mission to spring me from my place and bring me back here. I was sad to leave my rose garden, the five kittens, two tortoises and multiple rabbits who were out and scampering about on the volley ball court. S and M and Leg Roll were discussing which of the rabbits would be subject to the cull that they were planning; several of the rabbits were pregnant and a veritable bunny population explosion was threatening. It was a shame to leave the tranquility of the garden, a freshly white washed wall was to be used as a screen for showing films and the guys were getting ready to enjoy the lockdown with a film or two, comfy cushions spread out on the lawn, a barbecue and some good wine. I, on the other hand, was headed for the compound and a paddling pool on the roof...

I'd foolishly underestimated what would happen here with nobody travelling and the shops being closed for two days. Being all so very last minute I've got a ball gown being made in Qualaifatullah and some ethnic tops I wanted for the trip. One day I'll learn not to leave things to the last minute.... I hear what you're saying about priorities and seriously, I probably shouldn't be worrying about a ball gown right now, but still, what's a girl to do? It's certainly been an interesting process having a dress made here, as I mentioned before, they just don't do natural fabrics so my cunning find of some raw silk in AWWSOM was a precious one. My first round at the tailors produced a reasonable skirt, it fitted well and my only criticisms were that they'd glued a random panel into the front of it (heaven knows why) this had marked the silk at the front, and from where they had been working there were dusty paw prints all over the white silk and it would need a thorough dry clean. It wasn't bad. The top however was more of a circus with a bust that would have fitted Diana Dors and some handy ruched panels at the sides that they were very proud of but which I could see would need to be instantly unpicked as soon as I got it home. I wondered why they didn't go for the concept of making the item in rough, having a fitting with me and then making the final fitted product. I felt bad that they'd made it all but would now have to unpick and re-sew a lot of it having grossly overestimated the size of my bust, it was either that or the fashion here was totally 1980's bustier - given the dresses that I'd seen displayed (brightly coloured nylon creations that would have had pride of place in a Barbie doll's fairy princess wardrobe - I imagine that this was one of those clashes of style moments that I should have anticipated.

PM told me last night that he had heard several loud bangs in the distance - apparently I was engrossed in the computer and heard neither the bangs nor him telling me about them. Repeated rocket fire on the airport... and us waiting to fly out of there. I'd had several email updates on the progress of the vehicles and thus far all was going well, they'd not had any problems and we were still on target for our rendezvous up North. We found out a couple of days ago that there is still a lot of snow on the pass and the horses won't be able to go all the way over. We had planned for the horses to carry the bulk of our kit (and there's a lot of it) so now, when their little hooves can go no further, we'll be lugging it over the pass ourselves. The image of a straggly band of people labouring through the snow at 16,000 feet comes to mind but seems so very remote and painless as I sit at my desk in Kabul - I know it's going to hurt but I just can't imagine it right now.

In deference to the Kabul Conference, the airport and roads surrounding are completely closed, so many important people arriving, amongst them Hilary Clinton, who, when I saw her on the TV, looked ever so much like a man in drag. PM had horrified me with stories that she was partial to a little reverse action, especially with young men, and I just couldn't get those images out of my head when watching her despite the fact that what she was saying was reasonable and not totally outlandish. Most of the time I listen to politicians on the TV with an autistic head on, you know the kind of head where you can instantly tell when someone is lying through their teeth or is simply delivering a foil of bullshit, liberally peppered with terms designed to disguise that there is absolutely nothing inside the hot air that they are spouting. If you squint your eyes a little and just listen to the words, the child or the dog inside you, the bit that is innocent and can still tell the difference, will raise it's ears and say, "That person is offering me what looks like food but when I go to eat it they will grab me by the paws and squeeze me til it hurts, best I don't listen to them". So I am torn but find myself switching on the TV to listen to various puffy people talking shit.

Luckily for me, instead of boring politicians, the headline story is of a love sick baby platypus: it's the BBC reporting from Sydney, Australia, where a lonely platypus has swum into a sewage plant, "This duckbilled juvenile had taken refuge in a large pipe attached to a tank and it was feared that this amorous semi aquatic, egg laying mammal might have suffered hypothermia...." but then it's back to the Kabul conference and Hamid Karzai is there swishing by in his distinctive striped chapan. From a hotel room in Kabul, Lyse Doucet is there doing her best to level out the crap and get some straight talking from the various bigwigs. Bernard Kouchner is with Lyse and as ever, she has my admiration for being there, brilliant and professional, I can only hope to follow in her footsteps.

118 comments:

  1. RIP Karen. Your commitment to humanitarian issues is an example we should all follow. What a tragic situation.

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  2. I do not know Karen..... she does not know me, but I have followed her blog with interest, admiration and humility at her sincere concern and desire to improve the lives of her fellow humans on this planet.

    I hope the people that perpetrated this crime are held to account by not just their God, but by the people in their midst for whom Karen showed so much love and caring.

    I am not religious, but whatever God looks down upon us, Karen is now receiving all the bounty of that Divine countenance

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  3. Sad that there are people in this world so willing to throw away any semblance of human decency.

    Thank God there are people willing to do what the rest of us (myself included) are too afraid to do.

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  4. What terrible news. I knew nothing about Karen, but she was a Doctor and a humanitarian for God's sake!! No one deserves this!!

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  5. Karen and her fellow humanitarians are saints. I'm not religious, but that's the only word I can think of. These are the people who make our world a better place.

    Rest in Peace.

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  6. I have been very moved by the news of Karen and her team. I knew nothing of them before this, though I wish I had.

    I hope their families will find a way through this difficult time.

    Greg
    Austin, TX, USA

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  7. You gave the world your love and your talent and you were a shining ray of light in the darkness.
    Thank you for your example. Rest in peace

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  8. Rest in Peace. "No good deed goes unpunished". It's so very sad the state of this world that even the best of us are not shielded from the evils of it. God Bless!

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  9. For Karen, her family, friends, colleagues, and those of whom she touched in her lifetime, I offer my sincerest condolences to all of you.

    May the spirit of Karen's altruism continue onward, and may YOUR spirit carry on doing its part in the larger plan of life.

    Peace and Prayers,

    Brent (a.k.a. "trollcrusher")
    U.S.A.

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  10. I just saw the news and found Karen's blog. My wife is an eye doc too, and we've talked about taking humanitarian trips to do eye medicine in the future. The courage and compassion of Karen and the others on this mission was enormous. What a tragedy.

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  11. This is simply heartbreaking, made even moreso by how senseless an act this was. My deepest condolences to Karen's family.

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  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  13. I follow Jesus and I feel a real affinity with Karen, as she was compelled to altruism much in the way that Jesus was and his true followers are. She also liked 'Soca' music which gets me dancing every time. Karen died living. I mean truly living. Not like the proverbial ostrich, but as one striking at the Goliath of social injustice with whatever she had in her hands. The "blessed in the West" are self-trained to be blind to the needs around them. May her example awaken us from a banal slumber and cause us to live simply so that others might simply live; and foster selfless ideals that demonstrate love in action.

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  14. It takes two moments to realise that Karen is a lovely woman, someone who will be missed by all she knows, all the more from the pride they must feel for her.

    It's hard not to hate the low life criminals that killed her, and hope that none follow her. But it would not be the reaction she would support.

    'getting' them and all those similar who infect every country of the world has to be the aim. No stone should be left unturned, be they religious or criminal, to remove these kinds of people from the planet.

    No good person want them or their cowardly souls.

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  15. Karen, Your kindness and good intentions will pervade the universe despite the misery and violence in this world. God bless and keep you.

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  16. Rest in peace Karen. I will never forget you.

    Christian

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  17. What a tragic waste - so many years of training, so much knowledge, so many good intentions. All wiped out by inhumane killers who have no interest in the suffering of the needy around them. My condolences to Karen's family and to those of all the other aid workers involved. My heart is heavy at this terrible news.

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  18. This is unbelievably sad news, an overwhelming loss. Just reading this one post reveals what a smart, caring, gentle, and altruistic woman Karen was. Why is life and the world so unfair? What does a senseless killing like this create, except grief and anger? My deepest condolences to Karen's family, friends, and coworkers.

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  19. RIP Karen. I wish I was writing here for another reason - because you were inspiring, because you went out and did something that so few others would even think of, because your smart and funny comments about life in Afghanistan have made me think, and they have made me smile. Not because you are gone. My condolences to your family and friends, and those of the others who were killed. What a terrible loss.

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  20. Now I think I know what you tried to say to me,
    How you suffered for your sanity,
    How you tried to set them free.
    They would not listen, they're not listening still.
    Perhaps they never will...This world was never meant for one
    As beautiful as you.

    RIP

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  21. I just wanted to extend my condolences to Dr Woo's friends and family. I am truly sorry for your loss. What a tragedy. I am truly sorry.

    RIP
    x

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  22. We'll all die some day.... not all of us will live such a rich. committed life as you did. Rest in peace.

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  23. Rest in peace, dear brave lady.

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  24. you are such an inspiration, ms. woo. thank you for everything you did for the people of Afghanistan and for all the great writing about it that we got to read. much love to your family and friends.

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  25. A martyr. She never should have been a martyr.

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  26. Thanks for what you tried to do -- I am deeply sorry for all the loss all who loved you have incurred.

    Rod Smith
    Indianapolis
    USA

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  27. this is sad.

    i've just read a few of the blog entries here - and i have to say it's some of the best i've read about life in afghanistan.
    intelligent, insightful and darkly funny at times... i'm sure i'll read them all. i just wish i found this blog in happier times :/


    my condolences to friends and family - just from what little i know its obvious karen was someone very special indeed.

    .

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  28. Karen, your life truly does shine, and is further evidence to me that we have a good God. I pray for your family and all those who will miss you so much.

    "Let your light shine before people, that they may see your good deeds and praise your father in heaven."

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  29. I don't know Karen, either, but she's in my heart, now. My condolences to her friends and family. She loved Star Wars! She was clearly someone very special. :)

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  30. May her memory be for a blessing.

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  31. These doctors that sacrificed their lives should really be given Nobels Peace Price IMO....

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  32. RIP I am in awe of people like you, I hope you know this wherever you are now and I hope there is a special afterlife for you that deserves your presence. I didn't know you but feel that you have made the whole human race proud and I mourn you.

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  33. Lord have mercy.
    I thank God for Karen and for her radical, noble love. With God`s help may we learn how to be more caring, alive, and brave just as Karen was.

    There is so much darkness in this world but light and love will prevail.

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  34. Just read all of Dr Woo's posts in this blog and gained an insight into a remarkable person, who lived her too short life to the full.

    Lessons for everyone here.

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  35. Rest in Peace, doctor. Though I cannot understand how a liberal female doctor, who gave up a life of comfort to go serve the poor in Afghanistan, could say such horrible things about Hilary Clinton. Sounds more like something a Republican male, maybe a soldier, would say. But that matters not. What matters, was your service, and your noble death, which reminded us that we still have much to fear from the evil ones. May we never forget.

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  36. Having read her entire blog and various associated articles, Karen is clearly a complex, beautiful, humourouos, caring and dynamic lady. Sex in the city meets Medicins sans fronteieres. As a fellow Doctor I can relate to her undoubted dilemmas and admire her grace. Her informative, humanisitic and well written blog surely will inspire others. I salute and honour her.

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  37. My respects to the friends, familiy and colleagues of all the medics.

    I don't use the word "heros" lightly.

    Martin.

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  38. RIP karen.
    Many condolenses to family and friends.
    x

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  39. safe passage Karen.... your good light and life are eternal.

    your kindnesses will not be forgotten.

    carol carter
    USA

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  40. RIP Karen... My thoughts are with your friends and family and colleagues who have been affected by this terrible incident.

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  41. my deepest condolences to Karen's family, it's people like her that make the difference in this forsaken world.

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  42. Rest in peace Karen. You are an inspiration.

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  43. R.I.P Dr. Woo and thank you for all you have done to improve the lives of Afghan people. I wish I had found out about this blog much earlier.

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  44. Rest in peace, Dr. Karen. You were an example to all of us.

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  45. Karen was our upstairs neighbour for two years. She was a genuinely lovely person and the news of her tragic death has shocked us both. The work that she and her colleagues were doing showed a genuine care for humanity and those in difficulty. Our thoughts are with her family, friends (and those of her colleagues), as well as those who continue to do the most difficult work in the most challenging of circumstances.

    Becka & Paul

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  46. My heart goes out to Paddy and your family - the world has just lost one of the good 'uns x

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  47. This is just so unfair.

    Rest in peace.

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  48. As I read this, the radio is knocking on heaven's door.

    What heart-breaking news.

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  49. While respecting the rules not to proselytize Karen has given the greatest of all witnesses by not lacking the courage to give up her life for those in such great need. Those who committed this act don't know either that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.

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  50. I hope I can be half the doctor Karen was. I cannot hope to be so compassionate and brave. Best to those who loved her. So sorry you had to lose this inspiring woman.

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  51. RIP Karen, for ur deeds in past and I commemorate u forever.../Dino

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  52. Thank you Dr Woo for making the world a better place! RIP

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  53. RIP Karen...though we didn't know each other,as i read about you today,i find you to be such an inspiration.I have a lump in my throat as i write this.....

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  54. dear karen..

    you were a lovely amazing woman, full of sass, bravery, beauty, brains, and heart..you inspire me.

    rip.

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  55. The world's deepest condolences to family and friends of yours and those of others like you Karen. What senseless and heartless idiots they were who ended your life, your life spent trying to improve theirs and their children's.

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  56. I was very fortunate to know Karen (having trained in dance college together years ago) and she was one of the most smart, talented and beautiful girls I ever met. This is such a tragic waste of a life, and my thoughts go out to her family and other loved-ones at this horrible time.

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  57. R.I.P, Karen. You enlightened our sights and thinkings.

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  58. I wish I was lucky enough to have followed this amazing woman's life earlier, just reading a few of her posts now I can already get the sense of what amazing courage and commitment she must of possessed.

    It is safe to assume that her efforts made the world a better place for many people, she will be missed.

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  59. I'm struck by how much I would have liked you. I would have loved your spirit to help others, cats, your rose garden, your pets, your intellectual prowess, and even your toe nail polish.

    I am very sad over your passing. I am forever grateful for you to have left this blog so that we can all knock wood, and carry on with your spirit.

    God speed.
    Condolences to your family, fiance, and friends.
    Kanani Fong
    The Kitchen Dispatch
    A Military Blog

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  60. Memory eternal, Karen. We must all press on to love even our enemies. Hate has no place in such sacrificial acts of charity. We are all blessed by these who gave their lives helping the Afghan people in the face of danger. They knew the risks and gave of their talents; what courage!

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  61. RIP Karen. You are a beautiful person, and will be our angel forever.

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  62. You are our great inspiration for love. Our world just suffered a great loss. RIP.

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  63. May your light and legacy continue to shine for many generations to come. Rest In Peace, Karen!

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  64. Karen, God bless your beautiful soul... Heaven must be billion times more pretty with you in there...

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  65. The angels do not belong to this world. Father, now all these wonderful children are go back to your home. I know only you can take good care of them since you love these kids so much. Dear Karen and all of these aid workers along with you, my hart go with you. May all of you rest in peace in heaven.

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  66. I don't usually pay too much attention to these awful news stories, other than to shake my head and feel bad. But somehow this time I was motivated to learn more about Karen, and I wish I had known her--such humor and compassion, such joie de vivre. I am so sorry and feel for her friends and family and fiance, the searing pain of her loss. The world is a little darker now.

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  67. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  68. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  69. In another time before the Internet, we would not have had the chance to get to know someone posthumously, as some of us have with you, Karen. I have just finished reading all of your blog entries and I only wish I had discovered your writing when you started last December. I can't help but feel sorrowful that you now have so many comments on here, after your death. Where were we until now? Your death saddens me beyond my own belief, because I never had the pleasure to meet you, but as some others have echoed, you displayed such grace, such selflessness, such courage and such optimism in a place that seems so difficult and often hostile, strangers cannot help but love you and miss you now that you are gone. May you have found peace at last and may your loved ones find the strength to go on. Thank you for your example. You have inspired me more than you will ever know. love, Margaret

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  70. Dear Karen
    I just graduated for usyd as a engineer and I am intersted in social science as well. I am so sad to hear this from new. Your story is inspired me.I have decided to pursuit my dream to join NGO and do something to help people with my skills. Sorry, I am not good at writing.
    RIP

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  71. Karen
    I find it hard to comprehend... my thoughts and wishes to your family who I always remember from way back in the days of Stevenage, Dancing and Kimeara. You never did things by halves, good on you and thank you.

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  72. Dear Karen, You were so inspirational and graceful. What a wonderful person you were by helping others and trying to make the world a better place. Thank you Karen. Rest in peace. We will never forget you.

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  73. so sad to hear of you & your teams passing.....what a brutal world we live in....

    your courage & humanitarian actions are an inspiration...

    my heart goes out to your friends & family.

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  74. Dr. Woo's tragic death reminds me that the word "hero" gets thrown around too readily nowadays, as per the following quote. But she qualifies.

    Thanks for your example, Doc:

    I was not the only one in the section guilty of suppressio veri over the night’s work, but Stanley had a much more creditable reason for his reticence.

    He had been in the o.p. [observation post] with Wells, and when Jap arrived they had cut out for the [barbed] wire. Stanley had made it into the perimeter, only to find that there was no sign of Wells. So he had slipped out again, without a word to anyone, when the fighting was at its height, into the Jap-infested dark, to look for him. By sheer luck he found him, near the o.p., dying of bayonet wounds; there was no way of helping him, but Stanley had stayed with him; he could have sought cover himself, but he didn’t. I supposed he brought the dead man in at dawn, but my informant – who was not Stanley himself – wasn’t sure of all the details: he had only learned the bare facts months later.

    I lost touch with Stanley after the war. We served together for most of the rest of the campaign, and he is one of the few men of whom I can say that we literally fought side by side (that came later), but I never knew him well; the picture of the tall, quiet, fair youth is not as sharp in my mind as that of Grandarse or Nick or most of the others. But whenever I hear the word “hero” loosely used, as it so often is of professional athletes and media celebrities and people who may have done no more than wear uniform for a while, I think of Stanley going back into the dark.

    George MacDonald Fraser
    Quartered Safe Out Here – A Recollection of the War in Burma

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  75. RIP Karen, you are finally there, somewhere quiet and peace, somewhere no wars and diseases:)

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  76. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  77. I just read the sad news from a blog, it shocked me... Thankful to have humanitarians like Karen who make our world a better place and feel so sad to lose them.

    She inspired many people like us, knowing Afghanistan needs more help. That's what you did to the world, Karen. I am not a religous but I truly believe if there is god upon the sky, you are on his side.

    R.I.P

    Becky T. fr Hongkong

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  78. Neither am I, I just know Dr Karen about a week before she's gone :( I can't believe it when someone you just know suddenly gone in this world. I can't

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  79. Got a shock when heard the news. I know nothing to Karen before, but now I know what's hero, kindness and selfless.

    Andrew

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  80. Love from China! So sad, RIP~~

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  81. we appreciate your service in Afghanistan.

    Quote:
    "Jean and T-Shirt is not cultural of Afghanistan"

    ----
    Kabul Afghanistan
    Afghanistan Photos

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  82. I just happened to be thinking about you today although I don't know you nor have we met. Re-reading you blog makes me wish you were still around.

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  83. May God bless her kind soul - simple, selfless, benevolent, compassionate and lively. No words can do justice to describe the magnitude of kindness in her...

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  84. Rest in peace,Karen.
    And may PM recover from this tragedy one day.

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  85. I really admire you... Rest in peace.

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  86. Much love to a great person who only wanted to help those who couldnt help them selves. She was not a warrior, not a fanatic, just someone who wanted to do something good. God has a special place in heaven for people like her.

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  95. Adventure Trek Nepal Paradise Trekking Guide Co-operitive has been a leader in providing high country Travels and adventure activities Trekking in Nepal, Tibet, 'Treknp.com' organizes Trekking Peak , hiking, tours and river rafting for groups and individuals from all walks of life. We can assure that flexible design any program or package to suit your interest, schedule, fitness level and budget travels Service. Our organizing skills are as flexible as the mountains we escort you to.
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  96. Adventure Great Himalaya Treks & Expedition (P) LTD is one of the most widely recognized and respected Trekking Company In Nepal. The company has been forerunner in Trekking, Climbing & Adventure Travel related services for almost 14 years and enjoys an excellent reputation for providing reliable, personalized and professional services.
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  97. I have great pleasure in introducing myself, Jaya Gurung, a freelance trekking guide in Nepal. I became involved in trekking in 1998, when I was a porter for two years. I then completed a guides trekking course through the Minister of Tourism in 2000 and followed this up with high altitude mountain sickness training. Since completing my trekking course I have gained a vast amount of experience with trekking companies. I am fluent in English and I also speak a little French. This experience has allowed me to become familiar with various different Nepalese trekking environments, particularly, Annapurna, Everest, Langtang, Helambu, Kanchenjunga, Dhaulagiri, Manaslu, Upper Mustang, Upper and Lower Dolpo. I can also lead treks to remote and less-touristy areas.
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  98. Trekking in Nepal is delighted to welcome to you tiny but amazing country in Nepal. When you will have boundless adventures, there are attraction sharing and memorable in your life. Nepal trekking company, found by the team of enthusiastic and the trekking specialists is devoted to impart you a fondest memory during your Nepal holiday with us. We have been serving not here in Nepal only, also in Tibet, India and Bhutan as well. No matter, what type of trip you choose in Nepal. Either Nepal trekking, rafting and cannoning, Nepal Tour , mountaineering, Nepal Peak Climbing , jungle safaris and Nepal trekking activities. Nepal traveling with us is more than just a brief to stay somewhere; it is a real connection with the people, the unique countryside, distinctive culture, the Nepali cuisine, the environment and the flora and fauna of the country. Nepal tea house trekking offering for small trekking groups and big trekking groups. We are offering you, as your choice trekking service as well. You will find out our Nepal trekking guide will be the warm hospitality and government trended license to lead the Nepal historical place And Nepal Himalayan ranges .
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  99. Since its inception, we have been persistently providing service and support as a top tour operator in Nepal. We provide global class support for trekking and expedition in giant Himalayas and we are dedicated to make your holiday with us a memorable and worth-sharing. Our main goal is to give you the facility to travel, have fun as well and take in the culture and sights of some of the Nepal's most striking and exciting destinations.
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  100. my very best to Karen family and my deepest respect just was a real character and a one off remarkable person

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  101. Adventure Himalaya Treks is a Nepal Government registered dependable trekking in Nepal, Everest Base Camp Treks, Manaslu Trekking, Langtang Trekking, Annapurna Base Camp Treks, Annapurna Circuit Treks and more tourism related activities Company established by diplomatic knowledgeable tourism competent with over 11 years of perfect experience in the tourism sector. It has been well established as the prime service provider for excursion holidays in Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan. All of our team members are familiar with nature, mountain and the culture of Nepal with most having grown up in the Himalaya. We are committed on environmental friendly tourism activities and we take satisfaction in doing our part to preserve the natural beauty, respect the way of life of compare community, and their local culture and heritage.
    Adventure Himalaya Treks
    Lazimpat, Kathmandu, Nepal
    G.P.O.Box:5981,
    Cell No:(+977) 9841902116
    Email:info@adventurehimalayatreks.com,
    anjan7adventure@gmail.com
    Skype:anjan.tamang7
    Website:adventurehimalayatreks.com

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