In a unique initiative to reach out to the people of war-torn Afghanistan, an Indian diplomat in Kabul participated in the "Mr Kabul Body-Building Competition" to express solidarity with local body-builders.
Sandeep Kumar, a senior Indian diplomat, took part in the Competition last Thursday and called it a "personal" initiative.
"I participated in the Mr Kabul competition with the sole objective of reaching out to and expressing solidarity with my Afghan body-building mates," Kumar said in a statement.
Kumar, who is ranked after the ambassador, said body-building competitions, art exhibitions and music festivals constituted "the other layer of reality" in Afghanistan.
It is not common for diplomats to be prominent in sporting circles in countries to which they are accredited.
However, on most occasions, Indian Foreign Service officials have shown their talents only in the field of culture, particularly writing.
Given the security concerns in Kabul, diplomats of all countries tend to follow a fairly narrow social routine which only allows them to meet people at the top, and interactions at the "local" level are few.
It is in this respect that Kumar's foray into body-building arena marks a departure. The diplomat said body-building has been a "passion" from the time he was at St Stephen's College in Delhi.
The diplomat is also an avid painter and hopes to put together an illustrated recollection of his time in the war-devastated country some day.