Letter from Afghanistan — From the February 2013 issue

Kabubble

Counting down to economic collapse in the Afghan capital

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It was a Monday in November, the second day of Eid al-Adha 2011, and the streets of Kabul were free of their usual knot of honking vehicles. In Taimani, a residential district of tree-lined avenues and walled courtyards in the center of town, groups of young boys ran down the road in sandals, calling happily to one another. Older men in pale, starched robes stood in pairs, murmuring salutations as friends passed by. A boy on a bicycle carried a stack of flatbread wrapped in a black-and-white scarf; the aroma of the baker’s oven lingered in the air after he rode by.

“This area is interesting because it was never poor,” Jolyon Leslie said to me as we left one of Taimani’s main roads and headed toward a hill called Kolola Pushta. Leslie, a slight, ruddy-cheeked South African architect with a widow’s peak of closely trimmed white hair, first came to Afghanistan in 1989 with the United Nations; he has been working here ever since. “I’m absolutely staggered how things have changed,” he said, gesturing at the half-built homes around us. “Almost every compound is having, or has had, construction done.”

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is a freelance writer based in Afghanistan. His article “Disappearing Ink” appeared in the January 2011 issue of Harper’s Magazine.

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  • disqus_uErxGw6a5W

    I always thought they should manufacture beautiful tiles. They have long memories printed on their brains in the form of patterns and designs. The hand knotted rugs are beautiful, can a machine really equal the craftsmanship of those carpets? I would like the homes to be made of concrete, and tiles of true blue to accent the white homes. I also think a tiles sidewalk is nice. Oh, and roads white cement pavers – they seem easy to replace when needed. This writing was very well written or seen through special eyes. It is a constant reminder to me about how I would like the men and women in this country to be known for manufacturing more and more.

  • disqus_uErxGw6a5W

    We should be cleaner and not pollute the fertile soil around the Nile.

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