So many jeans!

September 4, 2007

I have an urgent proposal for the Afghan government: in the interest of national security, make it mandatory for all its senior employees to take crash-courses in the art of public speaking, with an emphasis on brevity. This morning…

But alas! I am not allowed to dwell on the negatives…

So we are back to gloating over Herat. It is so easy to take electricity for granted here, but thinking back to Kabul, the fact that Herat has regular power supply with no, none, zero blackouts in my three days here -thanks to separate deals with both Turkmenistan and Iran- seems such a blessing. Remote villages located at distances of as great as 40 kilometers from the city have electricity on a regular, round-the-clock basis, even if they don’t have paved roads all the time.

Both today and yesterday afternoon a group of us visited the shops in Bazaar-e-Malik (roughly “The King’s Bazaar”.) This is like Herat’s equivalent of the Chicken and the Flower streets -put together; except that here you can find the real stuff, at prices a lot better, and with the green tea and sweet “Halva” flowing non-stop to, literally, sweeten the deals. And of course the streets are a lot wider, which, only if you have ever been to the Flower street, you could appreciate. The main trade of the Bazaar-e-Malik in Herat is in carpets, waistcoats, shoes, and Burqas. Upon seeing a couple of the latter as we were driving past them yesterday, a Khareji among us wondered aloud: “So how come so few people actually wear jeans if there are so many shops selling them?”

(to be continued… )