Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Afghan men actually like having their picture taken by random strangers. Afghan women, not so much. Anyway, it's an odd change of pace from most of the rest of the world. Something they have in common with next-door Uzbekistan. This guy was the guard, of sorts, at a relatively swanky little shop/restaurant in a converted house in Kabul.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Fruit Cart 2

You don't see as many grapes here as melons. But this guy scores points for a more sincere cart, plus he has rented out the side of his cart for election advertising to make some extra money.

Sorry to those of you who also follow the Holla Flickr photostream. We used to post to Flickr simultaneously with publishing here to avoid reruns. I don't really remember why we thought that was important.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Fruit Cart 1

This is one of my favorite car-window pictures yet. The reflection on the window almost helps it. Almost. Ok, no it doesn't, but oh well. To add some local commentary, there are more melons for sale in Kabul than you can possibly imagine. This is a watermelon city.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Nuristani Woodworking

Nuristan is the craziest part of Afghanistan. It's a fascinating place, and not just because it's the theoretical setting of The Man Who Would Be King. Without going into the details of the Nuristanis, suffice it to say that their detailed woodworking is one of the arts that Turquoise Mountain is working to preserve. This picture is from a doorway at the Turquoise Mountain site, which is a restored 19th-century fortress/royal hunting lodge. Nowadays, the Turquoise Mountain people are apparently selling the services of their master woodcarvers to posh hotels and others who would want such fancy doorways. Wouldn't your front porch look better adorned with Nuristani Pillars? For those of more modest vision, they also have a nice variety of small wooden trays and doo-dads for sale in the gift shop.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Turquoise Mountain

Turquoise Mountain is an organization created to preserve and pass on some of the Afghan artistic traditions that were in danger of fading due to the years and decades of war. Sadly, your faithful correspondents could only visit on a Friday, which is our day off - and of course is the day off for the woodcarvers and calligraphers and such at Turquoise Mountain, too. Fortunately, there were a few intrepid students from the miniature-painting class who were practicing their skills on a Friday. Impressive stuff from some young artists - boys and girls alike.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Other Side of the Mountain

From our recent hiking trip -- looking back from the mountain (hill) one way, you see the gridded sprawl of three million people stretching on to the horizon. And over the other side, nothing.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Yes, hiking! In Afghanistan! Please, blood relatives of the correspondent, fret not. This was pretty much like hiking up a private hill adjacent to a U.S. Government facility. And one of the hiking party had a big gun, and the only people we saw on the hike were other Americans (also with big guns). It was a short hike up one of the small hills in Kabul, but it was still great to get outside and enjoy some fresh air and get the heart pounding from walking straight up the side of a hill at 5800 feet of elevation.

The sign, by the way, warns that on the other side is a former minefield - and "former" only means they've done their best to clean it up, so probably best not to go running around out thee.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Tajbeg V

One last picture from the Queen's palace. Good times.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Tajbeg IV

Since the barbed wire was not placed in any way that really kept people out, your faithful correspondent took it to generally mean "this stairway is not structurally sound, please don't use it." And given the relative sturdiness of some of the parts where one could walk around unimpeded, I felt no need to test it.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tajbeg III

Urban decay is kinda cliche as subjects of photography go, but I can't help it. My traveling companions nearly left me behind in the Tajbeg palace.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tajbeg Continued

Crumbling walls inside the former palace, and multi-lingual graffiti. I can't translate, but I'm sure someone is saying something very nice about ISAF in Dari.

Monday, August 09, 2010


We've not been good about carrying our camera and therefore have to return to milking an old trip once again. This is the "Queen's Palace," next to Camp Julien. Read all about it. Now if you happen to be in the neighborhood you can wander in for a stroll.

Friday, August 06, 2010

VVIP Visitor

We get so many important people coming through Kabul that the term "VIP visitor" is no longer sufficiently descriptive, so we've had to add the term "VVIP visitor" for the really high-ranking types. I wish I was kidding.

Anyway, somehow the Embassy Public Affairs Section decided that the picture of the Secretary of State actually shaking my hand didn't make the cut for public distribution. But this picture just moments before did. It was a pleasure to meet Secretary Clinton, however briefly. Sadly, discretion indicates that I should refrain from further commentary here.

(For those who actually pay attention to the Secretary's travel schedule, this was a couple weeks ago at this point.)

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Blue and Pink

Another random car-window photo from a while ago. No exciting trips lately.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Old School Diet Coke

There are abundant free sodas here in the cafeteria (known by the somehow more martial term "D-FAC" for "Dining Facility"). I've probably had more diet soda in the last month in Afghanistan than in the previous five years. Maybe that's because there's no beer to be had. Or maybe it's the nostalgic cool of all the soda bottled in Afghanistan being pull-tabs rather than pop-tops or whatever you call the opening mechanism on every canned beverage sold in the U.S. in the last twenty years.