Sunday, July 6, 2008

Just Some Pictures...With Commentary

Here are just a collection of Kabul area pictures. I'm including some commentary beneath the pictures.

Donkey-power is still important even in Kabul.
In addition to all the cars, trucks, buses and bicycles; carts pulled or pushed by donkey, horse, or man are still an important means to move products.

A close-up of the Kabul "cliff-houses".
These are not the poorest residents of Kabul.


Burkha'd women shopping at the bazaar.
Note how the woman on the left is in the process of raising her burkha.
Note that the younger woman to her right is not wearing a burkha.
You see quite a mix at the bazaar.


Three school girls. This is the standard uniform for school girls in Kabul.
These girls are departing one of the local high schools.

The newly opened Kabul-Dubai Wedding Hall on the outskirts of downtown.

One of several new mosques going up all over Kabul.

This is the Kabul headquarters of the Dubai-owned Etisalat (telecommunications company).
The U.A.E are a major financial contributor to many construction projects in Kabul.

Look carefully at the signs above the shops. COKE...it's everywhere.
Even more significant is the attractive young woman with uncovered head smiling and holding a coke bottle.

Some fashion news.
In this picture you see several men. Three are wearing Western-style cargo pants with "safari vests" and short-sleeve shirts. Two of those are wearing baseball caps. The others are attired in more traditional clothing. The key point is that the choice of clothing here, like just about everywhere, is generational. The three dressed in Western attire are all young men in their twenties. The others are older men.

20 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

What an interesting mix. I like those cliff houses. Glad to see some loosening up of the dress code for women.

J. L. Krueger said...

Charles,

More on the women. Afghanistan has the largest body of women in parliament than any other Muslim country. (Closest competitor is Iraq. Gee, I'm sensing a pattern here.)

In fact the Afghan Constitution guarantees that women will hold 25%of the seats (they currently hold 28%).

In the upcoming Presidential elections, a woman is the leading candidate with a shot at unseating Karzai.

Things, they are a changin'!

Travis Erwin said...

Great stuff. hope you don't mind, but i linked to this post on my blog as part of My Town Mondays.

Terrie Farley Moran said...

I followed Travis over here. Thanks for this series of blog posts.

Terrie

girl with the mask said...

It looks so hot, and very dry. What temperatures are you getting over there?

pattinase (abbott) said...

Those women look powerful. Their posture suggests it.

Linda McLaughlin said...

I followed Travis over here, too. Great photos and commentary. It's nice to see buildings being built instead of destroyed in Kabul. I like that clause in the constitution that guarantees women 25% of the seats. Very cool. Think we could get that passed here in the USA?

Linda

Barbara Martin said...

I came via Travis as well.

My favourite is the cliff houses, followed closely by the donkey pulling the improvised cart. It's good to see natural photos of the people, and thank you for your observations.

J. L. Krueger said...

Travis,

Thanks for the plug. My goal is to present an "unspun" vision of what is going on here...at least in Kabul. I hope that this "forgotten war" can be brought into better focus. The fight is about the people.

J. L. Krueger said...

Terrie,

Thanks for stopping by. Most of my posts for at least the next year will be about what is going on here.

Girl,

Here are the weather statistics:

Kabul this time of year ranges between 88 and 96 Fahrenheit (31-35C) during the day and 58 to 68 (14-20C) at night. Kabul is a veritable oasis of cool compared to most of the rest of the country. The Panjir and the Hindu Kush are much cooler.

Throughout most of the country the daytime temperatures range 100 to 120 with lows in 80's at night.

Yes, dry is a good description. It is a high desert. However, they do have good aquifers below ground. Kabul is well-supplied with underground water. At one time the country had a good irrigation system, but that was destroyed in the wars.

Sam said...

I don't know much about Afganistan except from what I've read in fiction books (Kipling and Khaled Hosseini). How accurate are Hosseini's books to your mind? Do the Afghans look back at the Soviet communists time with regret?

J. L. Krueger said...

Pattinase,

I think that the burkha's face screen requires an erect posture for visibility. However, an interesting fact is that it is really the women who decide on whether or not to wear the burkha...with some exceptions. The ones who work in our safe house wear the burkha until they are inside the compound...then they remove it.

The burkha's are actually more common right now in the cities, where you run into more strangers, than in the villages where everyone knows everyone.

Also, it seems to be a bit tribal/ethnic. You are most likely to see a Pashtun wearing a burkha as compared to a Tadjik, Uzbek or Hazara.

Linda,

I think the telling statistic is that they surpased the minimum Constitutional requirement. Which means that LOTS of men had to have voted for the women. A good sign.

Don't know about a mandated minimum representation in the US. That would probably open a can of worms since we are much more heterogeneous than Afghanistan and have too many minorities we'd have to account for.

Barbara,

Thanks for stopping by and please come again. I'll be posting about Afghanistan a lot in the coming year. I think the cliff houses are neat too. They are also more secure than houses on the valley floor. No car bomb will get you on those slopes!

J. L. Krueger said...

Sam,

Khaled Hosseini's books are a fairly accurate picture of Afghanistan in the context of when the stories take place. Although things are changing, there are aspects of the culture that will remain uniquely Afghan.

How an Afghan regards the Soviet era depends upon whether they are urban or rural. In the country side, the Soviets are widely hated. In the cities, they tend to look back with nostalgia. During that time, women had important jobs in government, they went to university and had equal rights. The streets were clean and people had jobs.

People in the city had it pretty good when the Soviets were around. Now once things got heavy-handed, it wasn't so good, but some people blame other Afghans for provoking trouble.

So really it all depends upon the person's experience during the era and where they lived.

Right now people flock to the cities because there is greater security and more jobs. That creates problems as well as opportunities. It makes our job easier as far as providing security having the masses concentrated. Also the folks in the city are generally not sympathetic to the Taliban and readily rat them out.

Of course a car bomb in a crowded market creates a bigger media splash for the bad guys. And this city is REALLY crowded!

Robin said...

First of all J.L., just want to say thank you and let you know how much I appreciate what you do.

Very interesting and it's nice to get an "unbiased" view of what's up "over there". Can't help but see some historical renderings though..."Right now people flock to the cities because there is greater security and more jobs." Sounds like the urbanization of America during war time.

Isn't history cyclical and continuous? It's like each and every country is on some fantastical time line so that every thing that can happen is happening, somewhere or another.

Thanks JL, will keep checking in, and thanks Travis for hooking me up!

preTzel said...

I would be frightened to live in one of those cliff houses. They look almost scary.

You take great pictures J.L. Love the shots that help bring a little bit of their world in to mine. :)

J. L. Krueger said...

Robin,

Thanks for stopping by. I would not say that my view is entirely "unbiased." The view I'm presenting is as I see it where I am...which is Kabul. Kandahar may have an entirely different dynamic going on.

However, we do get daily reports and several of the Afghans I work with have family elsewhere in Afghanistan. So I rely on them, but their view could be biased.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that there is no simple explanation for anything here. There are a lot of factors in play.

J. L. Krueger said...

preTzel,

Every time I go to a war zone, my wife questions the fact that I take my good camera. But the results speak for themselves.

Back in the days of film cameras and Desert Storm, I took a cheapie camera because I didn't want to risk my good one. NEVER AGAIN.

Now I ALWAYS take my good camera whenever I travel.

Mary said...

Such interesting pictures!

It looks like a tough climb to reach a cliff-house.

The Muse said...

Spectacular images! Keep them coming.

With temperatures like that I'd be donning shorts and T shirts if I were those women. I could not imagine wearing a burkha. I'm glad to see things are changing.

Do take care!

J. L. Krueger said...

Mary,

Thanks for stopping by.

Yes, I've watched people hauling their water up the hills early in the day, though I've also been watching new pipes being laid.

Afghans are a hardy people. I've seen maybe two who were fat. Most live a fairly active lifestyle. Anyone on the pudgy side is most likely rich.

Muse!

You bet I'll keep them coming. I'm hoping circumstances will allow me to get further afield in coming months, but the Army isn't paying me to be a photographer, so I have to take my "shots" whenever and wherever time and circumstance allow.