I first met Steve Masty in a club in Peshawar. He was managing the Khyber Club. It was late 1993, Steve was lounging in a wicker chair, wearing white Shalwar Kemeez, looking like a young Hemmingway. I used every drop of charm and decorum I had to try and get club membership as I knew I was going to work some years in Afghanistan and wanted membership badly, as it was the only place in this fundamentalist frontier city one could have a wee dram when visiting.
“No problem, “ he smiled. This was the start of a friendship that has lasted ever since.
What a talented man: Song writer, movie director, singer, author, artist, poet, development specialist, cartoonist and raconteur. He once was a speech writer for Ronald Reagan, Steve studied for a PhD at St. Andrews in Scotland and his thesis lies there unmarked.
In 2006 he published a book called The Muslim & Microphone: Miscommunications in the War on Terror (Social Affairs Unit, London, 2006). An astounding book.
Our relationship bonded strongly during the tough winter in Kabul in 1995 when the Taliban were relentlessly bombarding the city. I recall spending many winter evenings with Steve discussing literature, history, local savagery and world politics. I would often prompt Steve to get out his guitar and sing one of his songs about Afghanistan. Steve and I spent the year of 1994 in Afghanistan together midst death and destruction. We saw in the New Year of 1995 together and celebrated with a bottle of cheap Russian vodka and sang Auld Lang Syne, a version that Steve had modified.
Since 1993, Steve dropped in to see me in Delhi and Dhake where I was living at that time, and I visited him in London in 1998 with my wife to be, Naila. When we arrived at a posh hotel in London, Steve had told the manager that a very famous and beautiful Kazakh Princess was arriving from Kazakhstan, and that they should address her as Princess Naila or H.R.H. Naila was amazed at the Royal treatment she received.
Steve, Kees Rietveld, Naila and I went to the London Musical 'Showboat' and a few days later went to Grenwich where we discovered a bookshop with a run of over one hundred Central Asian Journals that Steve and I divided between us. I have many cartoons that Steve drew for Naila and I.
When I heard that Steve died on Boxing Day 2015, I hoped someone would write a decent obituary of his life. Just recently I found the Daily Telegraph did that on 06 January 2016.
It is below.