Thursday, May 12, 2011

McKinleyville's Got Some Oddballs Too

When you heard that Osama bin Laden had been shot in Abbottabad, did you wonder, like me, what a Bottabad was?

("The terrorist leader was shot in his customary long, flowing leopard-print Bottabad...")

That oddly English-sounding bit of the name of bin Laden's last stand, 'Abbott-', is English indeed -- Abbottabad was named after General Sir James Abbott, KCB (1807--1896), an officer in the British Army, serving in colonial India (that is him above).

The cooler temperatures in summer in Abbottabad appealed to Abbott, as well as to generations of Indians and now Pakistanis, and also perhaps to bin Laden, hiding in plain view since 2005.

Let us hope that bin Laden did not further trouble the world by writing poetry, as Abbott did, about the place. The Guardian newspaper referenced the poem as one of the worst poems of all time. Brace yourselves...:
That Sweet Abbottabad Air
I remember the day when I first came here
And smelt the sweet Abbottabad air

The trees and ground covered with snow
Gave us indeed a brilliant show

To me the place seemed like a dream
And far ran a lonesome stream

The wind hissed as if welcoming us
The pine swayed creating a lot of fuss

And the tiny cuckoo sang it away
A song very melodious and gay

I adored the place from the first sight
And was happy that my coming here was right

And eight good years here passed very soon
And we leave you perhaps on a sunny noon

Oh Abbottabad we are leaving you now
To your natural beauty do I bow

Perhaps your winds sound will never reach my ear
My gift for you is a few sad tears

I bid you farewell with a heavy heart
Never from my mind will your memories thwart

Bleagh! ("Bin Laden's last words were believed to be: 'Is this poetic justice?") Below, local kids looking at bin Laden's compund in Abbottabad, and below that, Abbottabad in 1907.