Monday, August 20, 2012

In the Beginning...

As I embark on this blogging adventure, a little historical context seems appropriate.  I write these words from the Zabul Province in southeastern Afghanistan, a bit east of Kandahar.  Far closer and within view are the city of Qalat, and the fortress first built by the Macedonian king Alexander the Great over two thousand years ago during his push to India.  The remnants of this “castle” are visible in the distance over the author’s left shoulder, on the right bank of the river Tarnak near the road between Kabul and Kandahar.  Alexander was reputed to have died shortly after the consumption of a large quantity of wine for reasons still debated, but at least he died happy.  Given this propensity for wine in his life, it is doubtless that he consumed it at his nearby fortress. 

Fast forward to the mid-nineteenth century, when the wine-loving British Army occupied this same fortress, then known Kalat-i-Ghilzai.  In 1842, a British garrison was held under seige at the fort by the Ghilzais for six months, as seen in the painting by Lieutenant James Rattray, courtesy of the British Library.  I can only hope for the sake of my former military colleagues from the mother country that they had an ample supply of wine to carry them through those long months of siege. 

Sadly, I don’t have that same luxury of a nearby wine cellar as enjoyed by militaries past, but these musings on matching wine with MREs in the coming days will surely fill the void.  Cheers!


  1. Great beginning and very interesting, John! I look forward to reading the rest of your blogs, even though I know nothing about wine except there is red and white!

  2. Shipmate: Thanks for the history lesson. I had on occasion young allegedly smart sailors that thought they could drink wine more than Alexander the Great, but they always fell short. No of them died, but wretched sufficently to wish they were dead! I never made another sailor clean-up a shipmate's puke, always saving for when the culprit had his head on straight to field day his own mess. Love, Gunner

  3. Outstanding work! Perhaps when you transition back to civilization you can shift your focus to the various just-add-water camp foods sold to backpackers -- perhaps a monthly column in one of the targeted magazines.

  4. John, this is a great read. I look forward to joining you in the modern world and sharing something perhaps a bit better than MREs and some non-virtual bottles of the nectar of the gods.

    Be safe; I'll see you soon!