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Guide to Afghanistan: The Adventures of a KL-ite (Part 5 – Rambo is alive and kicking in Afghanistan!)


This week is part 5 of my multimedia documentary, Guide To Afghanistan: The Adventures of a KL-ite, which includes video, still photos an text. As you would know, this is concurrent with the 10-part feature on The Malaysian Insider website, of which you can view part 5 here:

Finding Rambo in Afghanistan!
By Zan Azlee

JAN 9 — No matter how much I read and watch the news about Afghanistan, the one thing that always frames my perspective when it comes to the country is its Islamic extremism. And I know that this is how many people around the world perceive it as well. So, during my time in Afghanistan, one of the issues that interested me was the fact that so much of the country’s culture had been suppressed, or even eradicated, by the Taliban during their rule.

And now that the United States has blown the Taliban out of political power, a lot of this culture, which was deemed haram by the Taliban, is making a comeback. I spoke to Ahmad Bilal Raghbat, my local fixer, about this and the first thing that came to his mind was movies.

“I love watching movies but during the Taliban time, cinemas were shut down,” said the big Bollywood fan.

After days of driving and walking around Kabul with Bilal, I noticed that there was actually quite a big cinema in the middle of the city right next President Hamid Karzai’s office. It’s called Ariana and you can hardly miss it due to all the brightly coloured movie posters adorning the walls on the outside. [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]

Guide to Afghanistan: The Adventures of a KL-ite
Part 5 of 10
‘Finding Rambo in Afghanistan!’
Zan finds Rambo, Nicholas Cage and Dolph Lundgren in the mountains of Afghanistan.

Full Synopsis:
Zan Azlee, a Malaysian KL-ite journalist who has lived all his life in non-conflict zones, travels to Afghanistan to see if he can come up with the best travel guide for the country. With no idea what he is getting himself into, he dodges suicide bombers and IEDs, and even gets embedded with the army, to plan out the best tourist route in Afghanistan. This is a multimedia documentary produced by Fat Bidin Media and directed by solo-journalist Zan Azlee.

To view all the episodes, head to FATBIDIN.COM/AFGHANISTAN.

Click the thumbnails below to launch the photo essay (Part 5).

Sponsorship and advertising opportunities are still available… just give me a buzz if you are interested and we can talk! If you would like to own original FAT BIDIN MEDIA documentary films and books to enhance your coolness factor, visit the FAT BIDIN e-STORE!

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Guide to Afghanistan: The Adventures of a KL-ite (Part 4 – The Last Jew in Afghanistan)


(Last week, I received news from my friend and fixer, Ahmad Bilal Raghbat, that his father, Abdul Baqi Raghbat, an advisor for the Afghan Ministry of Tribal and Border Affairs, was assassinated by the Taliban in his hometown of Kandahar. May God bless his soul.)

This week is part 4 of my multimedia documentary, Guide To Afghanistan: The Adventures of a KL-ite, which includes video, still photos an text. As you would know, this is concurrent with the 10-part feature on The Malaysian Insider website, of which you can view part 4 here:

The Last Jew in Afghanistan
By Zan Azlee

JAN 2 – I had heard rumours that there was a Jew, apparently the last Jew in Afghanistan, living in Kabul when I was planning my trip there. I knew that I had to make sure I meet this person. Pursuing the story about the last Jew wasn’t meant to be a scoop since it’s been reported before.

But what I was really interested in was to just meet him and listen to his story first hand and to shake his hand myself. So, when I finally arrived in Kabul, and all the 9/11 anniversary hype had died down, I told my fixer, Ahmad Bilal Raghbat, that I wanted to look for Zebolon Simantov.

We walked around Flower Street where Simantov was reportedly living and started asking the people there if they knew of such a person. After a few false alarms, we finally found a restaurant owner who just pointed to a flight of stairs at the back.

We walked up one floor and marched through a narrow and dusty corridor. We arrived at a pastel-coloured wooden door. I knocked. A slightly overweight, middle-aged Caucasian-looking man opened the door. I asked him if he knew Zebolon Simantov.

“Yes, that’s me,” he said in Pashto, which was translated to me by Bilal.

I was finally meeting face to face with Zebolon Simantov, the last and only Jew living in the entire Afghanistan. I introduced myself as a journalist from Malaysia and said that I would like to interview him on camera. He nodded and invited us in. [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]

Guide to Afghanistan: The Adventures of a KL-ite
Part 4 of 10
‘The Last Jew in Afghanistan’
Zan haggles over an interview price with the last Jew standing in the whole of Afghanistan.

Full Synopsis:
Zan Azlee, a Malaysian KL-ite journalist who has lived all his life in non-conflict zones, travels to Afghanistan to see if he can come up with the best travel guide for the country. With no idea what he is getting himself into, he dodges suicide bombers and IEDs, and even gets embedded with the army, to plan out the best tourist route in Afghanistan. This is a multimedia documentary produced by Fat Bidin Media and directed by solo-journalist Zan Azlee.

To view all the episodes, head to FATBIDIN.COM/AFGHANISTAN.

Click the thumbnails below to launch the photo essay (Part 4).

Sponsorship and advertising opportunities are still available… just give me a buzz if you are interested and we can talk! If you would like to own original FAT BIDIN MEDIA documentary films and books to enhance your coolness factor, visit the FAT BIDIN e-STORE!

Guide to Afghanistan: The Adventures of a KL-ite (Part 3 – Ahmad Shah Massoud and Martyrdom)


This week is part 3 of my multimedia documentary, Guide To Afghanistan: The Adventures of a KL-ite, which includes video, still photos an text. As you would know, this is concurrent with the 10-part feature on The Malaysian Insider website, of which you can view part 3 here:

Ahmad Shah Massoud and Martyrdom
By Zan Azlee

DEC 19 — Arriving in Afghanistan in September, and especially on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, it would be foolish of me not to expect anything to happen. On my first full day in Kabul itself I had already stumbled upon a huge street demonstration opposing President Hamid Karzai’s government.

And now, I was told by Ahmad Bilal Raghbat, my fixer, it was also Massoud Day weekend. It’s actually the 10th anniversary of the death of Ahmad Shah Massoud, the great Muhajideen general who fought against the Russians and then the Taliban. He was assassinated by the Taliban two days before the 9/11 attacks, and that date is now a national holiday.

The morning of Massoud Day, I woke up early and waited for Bilal to come pick me up. I hopped into his car as soon as he pulled up and we sped off into the city.

“There will be lots of people gathering at Massoud Square to pay tribute to him,” said Bilal as he drove without regard of any traffic rules, as is the case with all Afghan drivers. “Security is going to be tight so it might be difficult for us to get in.”

I just nodded as my fingers gripped the dashboard in fear. “Funny. I come to a war zone willingly but I’m scared of dying in a traffic accident!” I thought to myself. [Click to read the rest of the article at The Malaysian Insider]

Guide to Afghanistan: The Adventures of a KL-ite
Part 3 of 10 – ‘Ahmad Shah Massoud and Martyrdom’
And they celebrate a hero like they’re going to war!

Full Synopsis:
Zan Azlee, a Malaysian KL-ite journalist who has lived all his life in non-conflict zones, travels to Afghanistan to see if he can come up with the best travel guide for the country. With no idea what he is getting himself into, he dodges suicide bombers and IEDs, and even gets embedded with the army, to plan out the best tourist route in Afghanistan. This is a multimedia documentary produced by Fat Bidin Media and directed by solo-journalist Zan Azlee.

To view all the episodes, head to FATBIDIN.COM/AFGHANISTAN.

Click the thumbnails below to launch the photo essay (Part 3).

Sponsorship and advertising opportunities are still available… just give me a buzz if you are interested and we can talk! If you would like to own original FAT BIDIN MEDIA documentary films and books to enhance your coolness factor, visit the FAT BIDIN e-STORE!

Guide to Afghanistan: The Adventures of a KL-ite (Part 2 – ’Hidup hidup! Afghanistan!’ Long live Afghanistan!)


That’s right people! We will release one episode every Monday (for the next ten Mondays!) of my multimedia documentary, Guide To Afghanistan: The Adventures of a KL-ite, which includes video, still photos an text. As you would know, this is concurrent with the 10-part feature on The Malaysian Insider website, of which you can view part 2 here:

 

Hidup hidup! Afghanistan!
By Zan Azlee

DEC 12 — Although it was the 10th anniversary of 9/11, it was clear that many Afghans felt that it was irrelevant to them and their lives. I don’t blame them since, in their country, 9/11 seems to be happening every day.

“Every day, in my country, people are killed. If not by the Taliban, then by the American and ISAF forces. We are looking at 9/11 every day here,” gripes Ahmad Bilal Raghbat, my fixer in Afghanistan.

It seems that after 10 years of the United States’ presence in Afghanistan, the situation in the country isn’t much better. One would think that at least security and safety of the locals would have improved, but no. Attacks by the Taliban still happen regularly. And to be honest, this scared the wits out of me! The first few days sleeping in my room was spent… NOT sleeping!

One of the first things Bilal said to me when I arrived in Kabul was not to wander around Kabul on my own since it is particularly dangerous for foreigners. I had no objections there since everyone in the streets dressed and looked like dangerous Taliban members! You just couldn’t tell the difference.

That’s why, although central Kabul is considered the Green Zone and is safe, attacks still happen almost every week. How do you tell a Taliban from a non-Taliban? They are all Afghans and they all dress the same. And if it’s the beard that you go by to differentiate them (growing one is compulsory for a Taliban), well, most Afghans have beards. [Click to read the rest of the article at The Malaysian Insider]

Guide to Afghanistan: The Adventures of a KL-ite
Part 2 of 10
Hidup hidup! Afghanistan! (Long live Afghanistan!)
Zan meets up with dissatisfied Afghans who want the USA to leave their country and allow them to govern themselves. He also stumbles upon a street demonstration that is opposed to the current Karzai presidency.

Full Synopsis:
Zan Azlee, a Malaysian KL-ite journalist who has lived all his life in non-conflict zones, travels to Afghanistan to see if he can come up with the best travel guide for the country. With no idea what he is getting himself into, he dodges suicide bombers and IEDs, and even gets embedded with the army, to plan out the best tourist route in Afghanistan. This is a multimedia documentary produced by Fat Bidin Media and directed by solo-journalist Zan Azlee.

To view all the episodes, head to FATBIDIN.COM/AFGHANISTAN.

Click the thumbnails below to launch the photo essay (Part 2).

Sponsorship and advertising opportunities are still available… just give me a buzz if you are interested and we can talk! If you would like to own original FAT BIDIN MEDIA documentary films and books to enhance your coolness factor, visit the FAT BIDIN e-STORE!

Guide to Afghanistan: The Adventures of a KL-ite (Part 1 – ’9/11? What’s that?’)


Today is the launch of the online version of my multimedia documentary, Guide To Afghanistan: The Adventures of a KL-ite, which includes video and still photos. This is after TV news reports (for Astro AWANI) and a magazine feature article and photo essay (for Esquire). Radio and TV versions of the documentary are also in discussion. This launch is also in conjunction with the launch of a 10-part feature on The Malaysian Insider website, of which you can view part 1 here:

Guide to Afghanistan: The Adventures of a KL-ite
Part 1 of 10
9/11? What’s that?

Full Synopsis:
Zan Azlee, a Malaysian KL-ite journalist who has lived all his life in non-conflict zones, travels to Afghanistan to see if he can come up with the best travel guide for the country. With no idea what he is getting himself into, he dodges suicide bombers and IEDs, and even gets embedded with the army, to plan out the best tourist route in Afghanistan. This is a multimedia documentary produced by Fat Bidin Media and directed by solo-journalist Zan Azlee.

Click the thumbnails below to launch the photo essay.

Sponsorship and advertising opportunities are still available… just give me a buzz if you are interested and we can talk! If you would like to own original FAT BIDIN MEDIA documentary films and books to enhance your coolness factor, visit the FAT BIDIN e-STORE!