“how long has she been in Afghanistan?”,
“and she is already in such a shape!?”, asked the surprised doctor….
… and my trip starts here.
At the Afghan Embassy in Paris:
– Do you sometimes refuse tourist visas for travelers? – I was very curious to know.
– No, those who go there, know WHY. – The only answer I received, short and informative.
One Afghan living in Europe recommended me to his friends, and they took care of me. I’m not sure now if it was a good idea or not, but I know one thing at least, that it was a huge experience to be able to see local life from both negative and positive sides. In my story, I wanted to mention negative side of what bad could happen to a solo traveller, specially girl.
This country is really full of everything, and everything is possible here. It is hard to explain using just words, you would have to feel it, but I’ll try to describe in writing just what happened to me and what I saw (all given names are fake).
Hob asti – How are you?
Friday – Saturday overnight flight.
As I mentioned before in my Tajikistan story. I had the biggest stress in my life the night of my arrival in Kabul. At the airport, because of my stolen migration papers, they wanted to keep me few days longer without any visa and money and later to depart. So when I finally got to Kabul I was quite happy. Happy as a baby. Afghans didn’t understand my joy – they are usually happy leaving this country, but not when coming here.
From a moment of my arrival to Kabul, I was surrounded by afghans and my life went different way. From day to day I became hostage of the local hospitality, characterized by a multitude of various shades.
Fear that an European girl will not get into any mess and won’t bring any trouble to her hosts. Dignity, ordering that a guest be maintained at the expense of household members even if they are not so rich. Convinced that they will take care of a guest and take responsibility to choose for him: places worth visiting, people who are trustworthy, dishes worthy of a real feast.
Weather is dry here, so take some hydrate cream for your skin and some antipain medicaments for your stomach if it’s sensible (if no, you can buy it at local pharmacies). Kabul is situated high 1.791 km above sea level so you can feel here more tired than usual.
Nazir came to pick me and brought me to the Share Naw district hotel where he used to work. There were lots of security, checkpoints and barriers to pass by until we get to our place. Hotels in Afghanistan have a good reputation and all the proper stars, especially if they provide good security. Outside my hotel they had even two pole barriers at a 50 meter distance and lots of troops nearby. It looked really like a war zone. Hotel? Where? There were mainly high-stacked barbed wire walls and big sandbags at the entrances. Before entering the hotel, there is a small cabin where a lady will check your bag and you from top to bottom, even twice if needed and if required, before letting you go any further. It’s just like at an airport. After she did her job, the military opened the first metal door and let me into another space where they checked bags. They didn’t check my bag as I came with their boss. After this bag checking space, there were 3 more metal doors to pass by. Finally inside. I saw it. It’s a hotel! Nice. This cute space with a green yard and big comfortable rooms couldn’t be called a “hotel” from the outside.
“I need to find a bank”, “what for? You have everything here already” told Nazir, “I need money” and without any word, he gave me some thousands of afghanis for small purchases, at the beginning. I am not used to receiving money like that, but this is Afghanistan, and it’s normal. They were really helpful. They gave me everything I needed (almost 🙂 ). Guys usually don’t let girls pay. When I wanted to go to a town, they accompanied me, and if they couldn’t, they would find someone else to go with me. A kind guy Jones accompanied me to the shops. For the money I had, I bought tunic and 2 silver rings, which keep till now their most important place on my two middle fingers.
There is lots of street-level restaurants and small shops with antiques, jewelry, cloths, household stuff. Some shops were out of visitors, but it was enough to enter it as Afghans had a need to buy something in there too or just to check. Afghans are very curious, specially when they see a traveler what is very rare on the streets of Kabul. I could take some walks alone in the downtown as there are lots of cameras, and a military presence, but not for too long, as news spread fast and unpalatable types could come over to try and kidnap me. I really loved Chicken Street. That is the street for tourists with lots of antiques and jewelry shops. The sellers are cool, friendly and easy to negotiate with. They often kept me for conversations and proposed a tea. As far as I know, this street has such a sexy name because in the past they used to sell chickens here. And that is how they used to name the streets. Need to buy flowers? You go to Flowers Street. Easy. I didn’t see so far a Books Street but it’s easy to see street sellers peddling different types of books. Fruits and vegetables are easy to buy outdoors, even very late in the evening without having to get out of your car. Almost all kind of services you need are easy to find on any given street. There is plenty of street-food, plus repair services, jewelry shops. It’s possible to bargain in the shops. In some cases they lowered prices without me even having asked for it. I love when people facilitate my life…
If you hear a ‘happy birthday’ tune, it doesn’t mean that someone is having a birthday. It means that an ice cream seller is passing by your area announcing his product.
The best restaurant I ate at is called Sufi. Here you can eat delicious Afghan food. It has a nice garden, and a super cool terrace decorated in authentic Afghan style.
The US has their banks here, so if you need any money, you can easily take it out. In the middle of a big food shop in Share Naw there are two ATM machines where you can take out money in dollars or Afghanis. If you need exchange money to local currency, you can easily do it in a street even without getting out of your car.
I didn’t see any women working in shops so far. The curiosity in locals eyes was burning bright but they never pumped too much. Sometimes I felt like a superstar walking on a runway. So much attention. From one side I understand it. It’s really hard to see any European taking a walk on the streets. It was just very strange that when I was having a walk with a local friend, lots of Afghans came to talk or beg for money, making a huge bazaar around us but when I was walking three times alone (which my Afghan friends didn’t appreciate at all), nobody bothered me and kept distance respecting my privacy.
Security is everywhere, specially in the downtown area – at the entrances to shops, restaurants, on the streets, but most of it is at the entrances to high-end hotels and important government structures.
Lots of buildings look the same from the outside – high concrete walls, behind which are hidden restaurants or private houses. There are no addresses either. Each time one needs to describe clearly where to go, when to turn, which side and which building on a street to pass by in order to find the right one. I heard that Arabs decided to arrange all addresses in Kabul. Hope soon it will be much easier to find needed ones.
Watching the students it’s easy to guess where is a school. Each school has its own style of uniform. During the summer time students bring some colours to Kabul grey streets. Yes, summer days I told. Afghans have summer holidays during the winter. The main reason of it is that the Afghan government has no money for school heating during the cold winters.
There are lots of beggars on the streets, specially kids. “Don’t give money to them” – Afghans told me, “these kids don’t ask for themselves, but for a mafia which is probably much richer than any of us here”. I was disappointed. I brought toys for the kids but seeing them, it was clear that they didn’t want any toys and they didn’t even have an idea what to do with them. I got advice to dress in a modest way to soften the beggars and dissuade the unwanted attention of individuals.
There is one story I heard in Kabul that I would like to share:
One Don Juan was on his deathbed, and told his son – “when I die, dress me in the poorest clothes you can find and cut my penis off”. When he was dead, his son did exactly what his father had asked him to do. Then angels came down. They checked his past and told him that he can’t get a permit to get into Heaven, because as a man used to live a rich, careless life. Then the man told them that he wears poor man’s clothes. The angels didn’t believe him and told him that they heard he used to be a bon-vivant. Then the man insisted in saying that couldn’t be the case, because he didn’t even have a penis. Angels believed him then and let him into Heaven. As a conclusion the storyteller told me “Afghans manage to fool even the angels, so be careful who to trust and who to believe, but if you have a real Afghan friend, he will always do his best”. For sure, I have doubts if that afghan was happy in a heaven surrounded by so many beauties :).
I never saw any foreigners on the streets of Kabul. It’s because it’s not what you would think of a touristic country at all, and the foreigners who do come to work here have a huge list of forbidden places to avoid. During the conferences for example, foreigners can hardly get a permit to go out by themselves on the street. Even in the company of Afghans it can be difficult to obtain. In my case, I had full freedom. I came by myself so I could go whenever I wanted. I didn’t depend on any tourist or any other administrative organization. My only security was the people who kept me company and myself.
In the evening Hamid (another ‘recommended’ guy) came to take me out to a restaurant named Quargha for dinner (it’s situated outside the city at a lake); and that place is in the list of forbidden places for expats. On our way there, we passed by the Pole Sokhta bridge, which is in the western outskirts of the Afghan capital. Here hundreds of homeless drug addicts live in squalor, they sleep on the pavements and by the road. The smell of human waste and smoke from opium pipes fills the air. Some people who do not live in the filth cannot resist their curiosity, so they come by to take a look. From 9pm onwards it is best to avoid the area. I was there at around midnight. I saw poor Afghans sleeping everywhere, even on the road.
Some Afghans, sleep on the rooftops when it’s warm. These sleepy bodies give some charm to a night city’s panoramic views. “Why do they sleep there?”, you may ask. You will fast find the answer when you sleep in a hot, closed place without any working air conditioner.
Even having possibility to stay for free in a hotel, I avoid it. I come to see and feel the real life and to stay as much as possible just with the locals what in a hotel is hardly possible to do. So I did after the dinner being hosted by Hamids friend. If I would know what was waiting for me, I would stay in a hotel (but after thinking twice…, it was a good idea to stay there for a night, I have a wonderful story to tell now 🙂 ). I was simply involved to a stupid couple drama. It happens when immature people don’t know what to do with their lifes and create just complications on empty place. That guy had a girlfriend who used to cheat on him so he broke up with her. This guy didn’t know how to break up with her adult way. I have no idea how they broke up but that girl understood nothing and followed him. at 6am she broke in into her ex appartement to check on him (with a pink artificial rose) that moment when I was hosted. For sure I was attecked and accused of being a German bitch (no idea why German, but let it be) who came to seduce innocent Afghan men. The only thing I wanted then, is to stay calm and continue sleeping in my bed. I understood that it was impossible to get her out a flat as she would make a public drama and there would be much bigger problems. Here, life is going on like in other countries in the world but hidden. People here specially hide their ‘unmarried’ relationships to avoid unnecessary dramas that could destroy the reputation, complicate to make a carrier or put to a jail for sometimes. I just tried to ignore and tried to do what I was doing while she tried to hit me with her rose. Then I saw some stars in my eyes. That girl attacked me and scratched my forehead with her nails till blood! My patience started to get its limit. Lovely, sweet couple went to continue their intellectual debates to another room while I tried to stop my blood. After I daubed my face, scratched with her nails, I just wanted to get out from this flat but where to? It’s not Europe anymore. Impossible to get out to have a walk like this in a street in a city I don’t know at all. Even to take a taxi is dangerous. Taliban friends can be everywhere. Maximum what I managed is to get out to a building hall. Finally maybe after 2 hours, from their date beginning, that girl got out. I thought that she would kill me and I would kill that guy who wanted to kill that girl ! In one we match at that moment. They were so generous. They spread their love line to love triangle including me, a traveller, who just arrived to this country and had no yet idea what was going on there! I heard that this country is dangerous but never expected it this way and get a portion from a girl! I was just 3rd person in wrong place and wrong time or maybe they just wanted to change that geometrical figure and bring some ‘flowers’ to their routine. I’d rather call it cactuses. Damn these afghan love stories. Hamid came to pick me and my first 24 hours of staying in this sweet country was finished!
Back to Nazir hotel. Sleep ! Finally a big comfortable bed just for me in calm and the first sleep after 2 sleepless nights without any assholes surrounding me and talking about love.
Afternoon I felt huge pain in my right side. I panicked. Is it an appendix? Shit. The second day in this country and a surgery? I tried not to think about it. Hamid came as soon as he could to pick me to a doctor. Here I was informed that that was not appendix at all. I was released. But had to stay in a hospital till 1am. At 7am I wake up from pain at new host flat. I was dying. I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t move, I couldn’t breathe. Hamid reacted fast. Helped me to dress up and reach a car. Soon after I was in CURE hospital. I don’t remember clear how I’ve got to a hospital. I was losing my conscious time to time. I remember being brought like a queen on a wheelchair through a long corridor full of sick afghans sitting along the walls. At a bed in a private room. 6 doctors stood around watching me curiously. I looked as after a war – twisted like a snail with bloody forehead (because of the pain I was unable to put a make-up) and repeating nonstop just one wise word f.ck.
“how long she is in Afghanistan?”,
“and she is already in such shape!?”, asked surprised doctor
“what she is doing here? She is military, doctor? Teacher?”
“no, just traveler” , that guy really didn’t know how to answer all these questions as he took responsibility of me and after 2 days brought me to a hospital all broken.
“how long is she going to stay here?” – that doctor really seemed to sincerely care about me.
“1 month….” – the doctor answered nothing to this looking at me like if he was thinking “poor girl, what will be left from you after that 1 month”, but I survived!
I couldn’t help myself. They made some analyses. I was unable to sit. I still remember seeing poor Afghans sitting on hospital floor waiting. Kind of war refuge camp for disabled as me, but nobody looked so disastered as me! I had stones in my kidney!!! This is it ! Afghan doctors reacted fast. They gave me an injection (don’t remember exactly what they did, I still kept losing consciousness) and after 15 minutes I opened my eyes. It passed away! Golden doctors ! My friend in Lithuania was jealous telling that I was better served in Kabul hospital than she in Lithuania when she had the same problem and doctors made her suffer for 5 days telling that it will go away by itself.
I had to stay one day in here and drink 3 liters of water. After making selfies with me dying on a bed, Hamid went to work and kept calling to check on me. Doctors kept coming to check on me too. Cleaning lady kept coming checking on me. One hospital worker kept coming checking on me too. He wanted to help if needed but his priority was to find an European wife so I had to tell that Hamid is my husband, just to stay calm and not involved again in love story at least in a hospital. The main doctor gave me his visit card to contact him just in case if the pain come back (it was so strange to see a date of 1397 year and I had to proof being back home the truth of my story in aim to be reimbursed). As I don’t like keep waiting others, I had to use his number next day and come back to a hospital to see again my doctor. The pain come back. At least I could walk this time. In the hospital I had to deal by myself this time. There was some kind of disorder in a hospital, but if insisting, possible to arrange everything. I didn’t knew yet that it was the last time I was in a hospital in Afghanistan. Enough.
Long after my trip when I was back home, a doctor asked me if I had any big stress, because just this could provoke such stones explosion in my kidneys. And I remembered what happened in Tajikistan airport…
“how is your stay in Kabul? What did you see so far?” – my friends kept asking.
“two hospitals”, I murmured. They found my joke funny. If they only knew……
Afghans live with lots of strict rules controlling their social life. In principle, separate wedding parties for men and women, no kissing and touching in public, secret dates, staying reserved about matters of sexuality. Young Afghans found their way how to live with this phenomenon. Young people are usually so witty and courageous in overcoming any obstacles between them and love.
Friends usually kiss twice, just like the French when meeting (but not in public). Young couples in love go out for a date. You can see them in specific places such as parks, restaurants but mostly in Share Naw as it’s the safest district for dating in Kabul. Holding hands is acceptable in public, but there are some limitations regarding their behavior in public places. In Afghanistan, the government doesn’t care what you do with your private life, but people are strict about it and they can create problems. Contrast that with Iran, where people don’t care what you do, but the government can check on you. Kissing and hugging in public is not acceptable. I had chance to see guys often holding other guys’ hands. For us foreigners they could really look like gay couples, but Afghans don’t see it that way, so never ask them about it. They just behave so with good friends.
Even though they young generation is not following the common traditional rules that much, the expectation that the bride should be a virgin is still prevailing. They don’t go to the doctors to check the truth, maybe because they trust. But if they have suspicious, a girl can have huge problems, in some super radical families, even being killed. In general, rules for the girls here are more strict than for the guys. However, there are some quit opposite examples as well. Some young Afghans date for many years without getting married. Still, they can’t move to live together if they are not married.
Some afghans don’t know their birthday dates and they are not really curious about knowing it. One friend grew up with his grandmother as his parents were dead when he was small. I was sorry for him but he protested saying that it’s not so bad because of it he could decide by himself what kind of life to live and nobody forced him to marry. In nowadays Afghanistan, specially in the towns, little by little appear more families who let their kids to choose their own life. Sloooooooooooooowly it’s changing to better.
In Afghan families in power stand men. When a girl marry, she has to come to live at her husband family house which she has to take care of. Some afghans work in other towns leaving their wives with their families coming back home once per month to see family and to bring money. Some prefer to live in a city without a wife as a marriage was arranged by their parents and a guy prefer to live alone having a girlfriend he loves or lots of them. Some don’t bring wife with themselves telling that their wives would have nothing to do here, sitting just all day long home waiting for a husband while he is overcrowded by work.
Matchmaking for marriage usually start the mother of a guy. Proposal can’t be accepted immediately to avoid opinion that girls family wants to give her away as soon as possible. It’s always possible to say that she is already proposed to someone else. When mothers finally do their mission, men enter this game. They create marriage conditions, the rules in case of divorce, they negotiate the value of future husband gift.
It exist divorce, but afghans don’t usually do it. One of the reasons is – reputation and what “others say”. They are connected to family community and a divorce could destroy the reputation, carrier, contact with family. Some families give freedom to their kids to divorce if they want without any complications.
In some radical families, people can be killed in a name of honor. Angry guy can spill acid on a girls face. It already happened so 5 times in the last 6 months in 2016. Some families are open-minded and let their kids decide by themselves about their own life. Country is improving but it will still take lots years for main results.
There are too, guys who cheat on their girlfriends and girlfriends who cheat on boyfriends, just like everywhere. Some married guys have a girlfriend because they really love them. Some married guys have few girlfriends and lots other girls for one night stand fun plus coming back time to time to see neglected wife and to make 1 more kid.
Unfortunately, lots guys there lie to foreigner girls in aim to sleep with them or just to impress creating incredible stories. They think that if in Europe it’s not forbidden, means that all girls are like this and sadly, lots saw in me (just like in other foreigner girls) just an object to f.ck. When a girl smiles, is talkative, jokes, is out going it’s a “clair” sign to them that she is “like this”. It’s so rare being trully polite that people confuse it with flirting. Sadly. They feel so proud having seduced a foreigner. Once one afghan hosted me for 1 night. Later he told to his friends that he slept with me while in reality nothing happened. Some really need to show off in front of their friends just to increase their ego. The most original “compliment” I received there was – I like you, I would like to fuck you. The only answer I could give was – I’m flattered. 🙂 Usually guys think of this no matter a country but just in Afghanistan they told this to me directly. Some were even begging what was really disguisting.
Some guys I met were really great and respectful and didn’t look for any love affair or girlfriend, just for the one they would like to marry or a cool friendship. Unfortunately, this type of guys is rare to meet there. There are too, girls with small kids without ever being married and they still have love and support from their families plus have boyfriends who love them and their kids, just like in Europe. It’s very rare but it exist.
Certain local friends told that lots local girls who look for a husband are very possessive and have big requirements what makes guys feel too much pressure and that’s why some of them prefer to find a girlfriend abroad. Marriages with foreigners happens rare as Afghans prefer to marry the one from their own culture.
Some Afghans are married even at 17 (arranged marriages). Lots met guys were married but lied talking that they are not married and have a choice of their own life or that they bought they freedom paying to their parents. Lots just lied to impress foreigner girls. Lots lied without any logical reason, just to create stories for stories. Some lied even while it was evident that it’s a lie pretending being heroes. Everybody knows everything but they still keep lieing even if everyone know the truth.
Afghans hide carefully their private life. They avoid showing their families. Maybe because of the trust destroyed while this stupid war or to hide the truth that they are finally married or whatever? But even these who told that they are married, hidden their families and didn’t like to talk about it. I couldn’t say the same about the girls. Afghan girls introduced me their families, siblings and they used to talk much more openly about it.
Afghan always take care of you (even if they speak bad about you behind your back), protect and come to help but it doesn’t mean that you can trust everybody.
Afghans have their own opinion but don’t impose it on others. They say once and then it’s your choice to believe or no. Not everyone here deserves your compassion and time. Some somehow famous afghan faces talk and write great things about women rights and aspects of developing this country, but sadly, when you see these guys how they behave in real life, then you see that it has nothing to do with their sweet words.
Most of locals like to put their noses inside other lives. Everyone was so kind to me but then I found out some idiotic rumors hanging above my head. Before finding friends here, need always ask local friends opinion and make check who to trust and who no. Need unfortunately to spy a bit all the time if want to survive. “Have 2-3 trustful friends, no more and don’t tell others anything about your life if you don’t want to be hurt and have problems”– advice that I receive from some afghan friends. 1 month experience taught me a lot. Had some painful disappointments of fake friendships, but I’m super happy and proud to meet few great, local friends who became my family. No matter what happens, I know, they will be always here to support or help as much as they can. I hope our friendships will last long happily ever.
My local friends told that afghans don’t like to admit being wrong and this is one of the reasons why there are so many fights as everyone protect their information even if it’s not right.
Some situations that happened to me just in Afghanistan…..
One rather famous afghan activist, who has lots followers in social media for his local and international activities, introduced me to his friends in Kabul who could help me and protect me. He was always so sweet to me, helpful, called and asked everyday if everything is ok. I was so happy, naïve, stupid girl believing cool friendship. While being so sweet friend to me, behind my back he told to the others that I am his girlfriend and kind a slat that his friends can enjoy being with. I asked him what’s going on and what are these rumors about, which I heard when this information finally got out. He got angry accusing me of daring thinking such nonsenses about him, him who call me his friend. How dare I doubt of his friendship. He told that he had no time for such dramas and fake friends as me. I was that bad person in his eyes who has no idea what friendship is. Finally he blocked me in social media and ignored me. …. . After few weeks he tried to come back like nothing happened and never apologized for spreading fake information about me and such nonsensic behavior.
A Social Activist who writes a lot in media about women’s rights and writes guidelines on how to respect women in fact, disrespected me, lied to me, and accused me of things I never did just because he was in a bad mood.
Another guy was friendly to me. He looked so cool and down to earth. He was upset of his afghan friends who he couldn’t really trust as he used to but he still kept friendship with them like nothing was happening . Then it happened that I made one mistake. That small detail was not even worth any particular attention. I apologized but he even didn’t want to listen to me making an elephant from a mouse. He never forgive me this misunderstanding and I was thrown out from friends list though he lied a lot to me about his life and never admitted it….. it seemed that afghans have rights to make mistakes and being forgiven but this rule is not adaptable for foreigners.
One accused me of being jealous and super rude while in a restaurant because I mostly kept silence observing people (what I like doing) and not feeling the best having my own problems in a head that I tried not to expose to public. Then got angry with me just because another, guy (who he heard about from fake rumours) wanted to sleep with me while I didn’t want too. For sure I was called a “bitch just as the other girls” and throw out from friends list too…..
A famous politic activist who work close to the president, tried to be good to me saying that he cares about our friendship and promising that he will prove me his friendship. When I had some health problems, he criticized me that I became ugly and he doesn’t like how I look now …. . I didn’t look so good anymore as while modeling. After I mentioned him that it’s not respectful and polite way he talk to me and it’s low level criticizing people having health problems, he blocked me from social account accusing me being bad friend…..
Afghans tend don’t just accept being guilty. Instead of apologizing, understanding the real truth and talk about it, they accuse and attack others (just what I saw from my experience).
I don’t want to write complaint book but just to share some strange nonsensical stories that happened to me for which I never found any logical explanation. These guys care of their reputation…. If they would just know that their reputation is destroyed long ago as people talk and everyone knows aeverything but pretend knowing nothing.
In a very famous place where they make suits, I ordered one too. I suffered. First they loost my sketches, then they did completely different design. I made a new design, explained again on a papr and on a body how it has to look like, each time they told that no problem and each time it was a problem. I had to come back 6 times to check on it. Finally they did something similar but still nothing like what I really ordered. Unfortunately yes, good tailors in Afghanistan probably don’t exist. In the past, this country had even factories to produce silk…..nothing left. For lots of years people had to learn how to survive first and then they had to think about education, health, security as the priorities. Country is getting better so nowadays is possible to meet people working in fields that didn’t exist for at least 30 years. USA organisations motivate local organisations sponsoring them. For that, Afghan organisations has to integrate more Afghans in new activities, education, sport…. . Had to meet guys from one so called organisation but it was made to make money for the founders, not helping poors. Luckily, I saw more organisations who really cared to do good than ignorant ones.
Afghanistan is known as a country where women have no rights but it’s changing little by little. There are now women working in politics, journalism, media, architects, responsible for big projects as one in charge of renovation project of Darul Aman palace. There is American university where studies cost very expensive while for the girls it’s free, this way trying to motivate them succeeding in their future careers.
First time getting out in a girl company to take a taxi. It’s so super easy to find a taxi as everyone is stopping to help you or just to look at you if they have nothing else to propose, for sure, business matters too. Problem is, can we accept their kindness? Here you never know who you can trust and who no.
During a day it’s possible to take a taxi alone, but if it’s not a big distance to make and it’s in the downtown or close to it. Other way, need to have guy company or call a special organization that controls all their taxi by GPS. These taxis costs more expensive but at least it’s sure that your ass will be delivered where you want. Problem is just one – need to wait sometimes till 1 hour till they come. Taxi driver won’t go away till he is not sure that you enter your address. They have responsibility for their travelers. I found even a private driver. We became friends. He left me his number so when needed, I called him directly and he never tried to earn from me, cheat, sometimes he even didn’t want to take money. Thanks to him I saw some nice, interesting Kabul spots. Really cool guy.
Once I got out a bit early to wait for my ordered taxi. My taxi driver couldn’t find my exact place, so I approached some not English speaking afghans and asked them to talk to my driver, I mean, I just gave them my phone. They were polite and helped me but from their eyes I understood that it’s not normal this kind of my behavior. But when there is no choice, there is no choice.
Another time I ordered a taxi and got out to wait for it. It was again outside the downtown. Some afghans curiously looked at me then one man came to me and in Dari or Pashto (they sound the same to me) started to explain me something very loudly then came 3 more guys. I was confused. They were really loud. I wish I could understand their emotions. I hidden myself back in a building. From what was explained me later, I understood that these guys told me like “hide yourself stupid chicken if you don’t want to have problems!”. They were so sweet.
Demonstration. This day nobody gets on the streets! The biggest chance to be killed is when you are in a crowd. Everybody knew what bad will happen again. With some people I was obliged to stay in Nazir house where he created his office. That day nobody even let me to get my head out that house. All for security. Even Afghans stayed at houses too. The town was closed, shops, roads were closed . That day the city was almost empty. People avoided to show out themselves to avoid problems or being suspects of terrorism. That day 80 were killed and 231 injured. I was never so close to any killings. It’s too sad that stupid extremists have no idea how to talk to people and what does mean GOOD. Next day when drove that street, everything was cleaned up as if nothing never happened there. Afghans hurry to burry bodies during 24 hours from the death as they believe that a soul can be stuck in a body forever if the body wouldn’t be buried at time.
Nazir friend couldn’t come back home that day so he proposed him to stay in the same house. As there were no more free rooms, he slept in my room, we were friends. Luckily he was no snoring so I had calm night with great dreams. In the morning, from another person, I heard that someone from the same house at 3am called Nazir to tell him that he can’t sleep as I was fucking with that guy too loud nonstop !!!! Everybody ‘knew’ that we made noise all night long without letting others to sleep !!! What news. I was the only one who didn’t know about it. I never expected that sleeping well and staying silence with a guy in the same room could make so much problems to others. Rumours were spreading, but nobody could tell me this looking into my eyes. They just kept behaving as usual. What a hypocrisy. I didn’t understand what was going on and where was a problem, but then I got that people like to create stories from nothing and spread lots of fake dramas. Sadly, but lots locals don’t need to know what is the truth and what no. To spread rumors is more important. It’s kind of activity that brighten their boring days. People just love to comment others lives and tell how they have to live. It was told me – ignore and I was ignoring. I felt good, I did nothing bad, but if people wanted to create a problem, they could make it from whatever, so I had just to continue enjoying my days and let people enjoy it their way.
Guys are outgoing and having much more freedom of movement in this country, so it’s normal that they are always around. Girls usually don’t look for the adventures and really hard to meet them just to get out to have a walk or just a cup of tea. Once 3 guys came to see me and to talk one by one and everybody ‘knew’ that I was ‘this type’ of a girl. Because of lot of relationship restrictions, a girl from abroad gives ideas of an easy target here, unfortunately.
Another story of foreign girl who once was hosted by her friend in Kabul. He let her to stay alone in one of his office room as he knew that she couldn’t be alone during the night on a street. But she didn’t enjoy her sleep long, someone saw her entering that building and finally that guy got aggressive messages and had to ask her out as narrow minded afghans could just create problems.
One guy told me that their office had problems because the neighbors saw women clients entering there. They had to change office place to be in more tolerant neighborhood.
One more story of one foreign hotel worker who went abroad for 1 month holidays and when he came back, he didn’t find any of his 2 suitcases. The cleaning ladies and security of a hotel decided that he is not coming back and shared all his belongings between themselves. Finally few stars hotel administration told that they know nothing and nobody knew nothing leaving this person with nothing at all.
Till today I didn’t get the logic of these dramas and problems. I asked some my Afghan friends to explain and they could tell just one – it’s Afghanistan, there is no logic. Need to ignore and don’t waste time on looking for explanations, because they usually just don’t exist.
How many gaffs were waiting for me. Girls don’t pay in a restaurant. I insulted once one guy and after that accident I never tried to propose paying for any guy. Guys can’t ask about women in a family and specially about his future wife. We can’t appreciate kids beauty as it can bring him bad luck. Invitation for a tea is valid from the third time. In the capital people start to become more open-minded and try to behave more European way.
News spread super fast here. Do something and everybody will talk about it. Need always take care what to talk about and how with people who are not your best friends.
They usually don’t keep animals at home. Specially dogs. Some guys I met tried to have dogs home but neighbors started to threat them and they had to get rid of their pets. I saw big stray dogs there. So far they were never aggressive. Luckily there are still good Afghans who feed them and try to help when they are hurt.
If needed, Afghans will always come to help. This happened when our car had some engine problems. Locals arranged everything rather fast. A friend paid a bit for help. Some help for free, some accept what is given to them, some ask more.
Once a guy made a small car accident. Other car driver was unsatisfied. He was shouting. The guy asked police help but that one was ignoring telling that he has more important things to do. He pretended to control disordered traffic, where nobody kept any attention at him.
I wanted to drive a car but I was told that first I would have to drive it during the night to learn where are all holes and then during a day avoiding all holes try to pass well between all cars. So far, I never had a chance to drive here, but I don’t regret. I was slowly enjoyed getting used to local driving disorder observing it from passenger seat.
The semaphores almost hardly exist here, so it’s your problem how you cross the street. They usually stop cars. Not everyday European girl cross their road :).
in Germany in cars there a sign saying: DON’T SPEAK WITH THE DRIVER! In the UK, the sign said: Please, don’t speak with the driver. In the US it said: We’d appreciate not speaking with the driver, And the Afghan version was: Speak with the driver so he doesn’t fall asleep.
Taxi drivers say, driving in Kabul is like a sword fight. It’s not safer to walk on the pavements neither.
Between a road and pavement are long, deep canalization channels. They used to be covered by metal grilles, which hardly exist nowadays. All is stolen. Why I’m talking about this? Because once a girl was getting ready for a party. It took her 2 hours to get ready and look sexy beautiful, nice dress, high hills, sexy make up. One afghan proposed to accompany her by car to her party place. He was very sweet but he forgot about one. When he parked his car, it was just at a canalization channel so when a girl was getting out a car, after making the first step towards the pavement, she realized that the pavement was just after 50cm large canalization channel, which was without any metal grill for sure. Too late. As a result this girl soon appeared whole in a shit. She was in a shit, real this word meaning. Unfortunately 2 hours of preparations went on nothing and all party time she wasted on cleaning her up. So be careful walking the streets. There are not just bad drivers, kidnappers, killers and holes on a road. For the girls I could give an advice always keep mans arm in case of an accidents, so you wouldn’t fell down alone, but as it’s Afghanistan and people can’t touch in public, men have a good excuse staying away from this type of dirty deal.
You look for some adrenaline during your trip? Afghanistan is the right place for it. There are plenty adventures on every step. Don’t look for them, they will come by themselves.
Afghans don’t have lots time for fun and entertainment. They grow up early to take care at household or earning money. While in Europe a kid receives a toy water-guy, afghan kid learns to use the real gun. It’s hard to think about playing when it’s about “good” reputation and security but they party and know how enjoy their free time filling it with songs and dances.
First party. Dark. I sat on a sofa and felt something hard under my ass. It was a gun ! Some assholes have no any drop of responsibility and they work as advicors for the ministers. They put their guns no matter where. After that I tried to be more careful where to put my ass on.
During the birthday party. Friends meet in a restaurant or at home. Usually friends bring a cake, from which jubilee feed with a fork or spoon a small peace to everyone. After this procedure, a big piece of a cake is given to everyone. Friends bring some gifts or alcohol if it’s a private party. Alcohol is possible to buy here just knowing the right contacts who can deliver it to a given address. It’s an expensive pleasure so not everyone enjoys it. One bottle of vine is 50 dollars and more.
Afghans like to make parties home where they can be free to do whatever they want. If and afghan miss few parties, then his friends often overcrowd him with questions where have he been, how he dare neglect them.
Once I was at birthday party. The jubilee invited lots of guests. Unfortunately from maybe 40 people just 5 were girls. But it didn’t seem a problem for them. They are used to it. They wanted to dance and have fun and they did that. Some more seriously looking Afghans stared at me as I was dressed in a sleeveless t-shirt, red lipstick, free hair. It was not the everyday look for their eyes, but what could they do? We were in a private house party where people felt free.
There was one bar house – a house with a garden where open-minded afghans and expats come to party or just pass by if they don’t want to be alone. This is a place where you always meet someone you know or make new acquaintances. It’s a place where everybody can be whoever he wants without any religious, national separation. Here come, friends of the friends, just trustful people. Here you can find a scene with big choice of instruments, bar, kitchen, big space for dances and outside green space with benches, tables. Afghans love to dance ! I was dancing tango there ! Yes, tango. One afghan knew how to do it. Some afghans know how to dance salsa too as they take classes from expats who come to work to Kabul. I was impressed.
They have public entertainments too. In one I had pleasure to take part and see how it looks like. It was an exposition of the photography in an Old Kabul. Cute building with small green court and facades with preserved old architectural elements. For sure, security had to be there. One armed military guy kept watching the territory from a roof. During this ceremony there were official talks, then snacks, drinks time (no alcohol!) and for sure, lots of selfies. Right moment where is possible to meet interesting people and artists.
During the weekends afghans like to go to hike or to the nature. I was took to visit Paghman – about 25 km away from Kabul to the west. Here come afghans for a picnic it’s a wonderful place covered by green mountains, river and wonderful views. The territory along the river is covered by tents, where friends or families come to stay in a bit isolated zones. I didn’t manage to see any kitchen but these guys appear fast just when you choose a tent and after few minutes bring you whatever you order. The land to buy here is the most expensive as it’s hard to find safe and green land to live in this country.
Another weekend we were riding horses about 30km outside Kabul. Locals told that we were passing by one village situated 2-3 km away from Taliban zone. I was explained that this area was rather dangerous, where some foreigners were kidnapped. I had to keep calm in a car without paying any attention at myself and no pictures !
Riding a horse 1 hour costs 400-500 afghanis but my white face made them ask for not less than 4000 for few minutes of a ride! They made a huge bargain about these money. For sure, it was partly our fault that we didn’t talk about the price from the beginning but we didn’t expect such absurd at all. Finally I don’t know how much my friends paid but really not 4000.
I love fashion and I try to develop myself in that field. My Afghan friends knowing about it, introduced me to an Afghan fashion designer. It was easy to find a common language with him debating about the different aspects of art. Unexpectedly, he asked me if I would like to be a model for his new collection. That sounded interesting. I’m used to create fashion, not being a model, but sure, let’s do it. Local girls don’t do it for security reasons, probably, or maybe because they have no idea how to do it. One day of my trip ended up thus being devoted for modeling.
The most dangerous Afghans are photographers – first they shoot you, then frame you and hang you on a wall. The worst thing is that they enjoy it ! J I had a chance to dress in all kinds of traditional regional clothing items. A little bit ( a lot!) of makeup and even Afghans started to think that I was a local. All that happened at the fashion house. But even here, there were fashion restrictions. I couldn’t show too much bare body while there were local men inside. Soon after, some modeling pictures were posted online and they gave lots of discussion material for Afghans. It had nothing to do with my look. Any other foreigner girl in my place would have provoked such discussions. It was mostly because it was something new for them. It has been a long time since Afghans have had models do modeling work. Everyone who started to do anything new in this country eventually became somehow famous. Afghans are very curious about new happenings around them and usually follow those new trends. There is still lots to do in this country to renew and develop things. Any kind of foreign investments, participation in developing the country and enhancing their overall reputation is much welcomed. My Afghan friends gave me lots of ideas of what kinds of business I could do if I wanted to stay. I was introduced to lots of ‘right’ people in aim to keep good contacts there. All just in case if I would like to ever come back. Some my friends were really excited about my ideas; what I could develop in this country and some of them already did research for me even without asking. I appreciate a lot such care they had for me. Who knows, maybe I will manage to involve Afghan qualities into my fashion creations. Time will show.
Afghans like everything what’s about Afghanistan. The news spreads too fast here. If I were to live in Kabul and start showing my artistic creativity in fashion, I would fast become a new target for kidnappers; but I’m from Lithuania, a poor country which does not pay to have their citizens rescued, soooo.
Twice I had to walk in Kabul alone for 20 minutes. It sounds like nothing special, but knowing that it’s not a safe country at all, it adds some vibes and a degree of risk to the experience. I had to walk fast without talking to any locals in order to avoid any unneeded problem. Walking slowly and looking and talking to people could provoke unnecessary complications. For sure, some Afghans gave me a lecture after they knew about my solo activities.
To quell my curiosity, one finally agreed to bring me to show the old Kabul. Unfortunately I mostly saw it throw a window of our car. It’s not advisable to be here but we did short walks of maximum 15 minutes. That guy told me that in old Kabul you can see mostly just these who live there and it happens that kidnapped people are kept here too, so to avoid unnecessary situations, we spent very little time in each place in order to avoid wasting time, and so that information about us wouldn’t reach the wrong people.
The poorest Afghans live on the hills. They build illegally their houses. The government doesn’t care about it as it has much more important problems to deal with at the moment.
Going to sleep and suddenly BOOM at 1.30am. What was that!!!? It’s just a truck explosion on the other side of the city. What we can do, we go back to sleep. Life still goes on. The other day a building was on fire. New terrorist attack!? No. It’s just a problem with electricity that caused the fire. These Afghans if nobody harms them, then they harm themselves in order to stay in shape. J
After one week, two professors were kidnapped a few minutes before me coming to the same place and not far away from a place where I used to stay. After that moment, I was not welcome to be hosted there any longer. All because of security. People saw me getting out home and coming back so if this information reaches the wrong people, then nobody could protect me, if they were to come for me. It’s easier to kidnap outside the downtown as there is less traffic, cameras and security. I changed my address and stayed with an Afghan girl’s family. The girl had no intention to scratch my forehead or whatever. I felt super welcomed and relaxed there. The first contact with an Afghan family, which was open for any kind of novelty, where kids had the freedom to choose their own path in life and were smiling a lot.
There happened lots of non-logical situations. I tries to find answers and in vain. Usually Afghans don’t know answers either. Little by little I understood that each custom will be explained by itself or will be left a mystery. There are situations that arouse instinctive sensitivity.
Afghans try to enjoy life while there is no war. “The desert is not bad. Desert is good. Talibans avoid the desert, so the water will be back, and with that, greenery, animals and birds”- Afghans believe that while living in the villages. One day Talibans will go away, and not just from the desert…
“Happy birthday to you…” the last time I heard a song of an ice cream seller slowly passing by.