I stepped out onto the dusty street, greeted by the crisp morning air. It was years since I had lived in Kabul, but the city always felt like home. I did not want to miss out on a single minute of my short trip there.
My first mission was to find some breakfast. Of course I could have grabbed something at the guest house, but the atmosphere of the bazaar was much too irresistible to miss out on.
And then I stumbled across the perfect place. A large wooden platform, much like an oversized bed, sat straddling the canal on the side of the road. It was covered in carpets where customers could sit to have their tea. A samovar bubbled and steamed under a tree where an old man kept the fire going and made small pots of choi with the hot water.
I purchased some fresh naan and carrot jam from a shop nearby, then sat on the platform and ordered a steaming cup of choi. The old man filled a tiny tea pot with trembling hands, then handed it to a small girl who brought it to me. What she lacked in size she more than made up for in attitude and personality. Her fiery eyes sparkled with confidence as she traded banter with the customers while she collected cups and cash.
As I sat and sipped my tea I watched the world coming and going down the busy street. Cars and taxis carried morning commuters to their work, hardened workmen sat by the side of the road waiting for someone to hire them for a day’s labour, restaurant cooks peeled carrots for the day’s qabuli palao, boys bashed the seeds out of pomegranates, ready to make fresh juice.
I have never been one to enjoy shopping very much, but I could easily lose myself in an Eastern bazaar for hours on end. The colours and smells, sights and sounds all work together in perfect chaos to create an atmosphere quite unlike an ordered and sterile shopping mall. Perhaps it is the sense of community and humanity rather than the emphasis on individuality and consumerism that makes it so appealing.
Ghor Province, Central Afghanistan
Badakhshan Province, North-Eastern Afghanistan