Voices from the past


In the Aug. 31 issue of Travel Weekly (Memories of Kabul), I described my 1970 visit to Kabul in Afghanistan and mentioned two people. That brought two phone calls.

I mentioned Travel Weekly's Fran Durbin, who, coincidentally, was living in Kabul at the time I visited.

This got her a call from Kenn Glave, who owns a small ($3 million to $4 million) corporate agency, Kenn's Executive Travel, in Houston. He worked for Pan Am in the Afghan capital around 1969 and took the opportunity to gleefully reminisce about friends and experiences in common with our Washington bureau chief.

In the column, I also recalled my meeting with Timur Shah Hamid, then sales manager for the local Inter-Continental. Because he was a grandson of one king and relative of the sitting king, I had figured he would not be too popular with the communists when they took over in the late '70s, but I had never heard of his fate. About three weeks after my column, I got a call from Timur--and a pretty quick dinner date, too. (I had heard by fax and e-mail from two readers who told me he lived in the U.S. and where.)

There are so many people we meet in our travels, many we might want to know better, but they live far away and we get a chance to spend only an evening or a few days together. Then, we go our own ways, and we may never know anything more. It is a treat to get the answers to the "whatever happened to him/her?" questions and, especially in this case, to learn that the news is good.

Indeed, Timur was on a communist hit list, but when they came for him, he was already living outside Afghanistan. His royal connections weren't the problem (his six siblings, with spouses and children, survived and eventually escaped). In the early '70s, Timur worked for Pan Am in Kabul. He said the Russians incorrectly assumed all employees of the U.S. carrier were CIA. He had gone to the Middle East with Pan Am, worked for Swissair and then became resident manager at the Sana Sheraton in Yemen.

But for who knows what flukes, we might have met there. I visited Sana on a day trip in spring 1982, when Timur was in town, but when I returned a year later--and stayed at the Sheraton--he had moved to his next hotel.

Timur, now known as Tim, came to the U.S. with Sheraton, then moved to Holiday Hospitality. He was vice president of corporate sales worldwide when he, now a Princeton, N.J., resident, opted not to take a transfer to Atlanta this year.

That puts him in the job market. He describes himself as a global marketer with interests that stretch beyond the hotel business. He has done a pretty good job of landing on his feet so far. I am betting he will again.


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