Day 4, Thursday March 17

Friends on Chicken Street: Went for a walk down Kabul’s well-known Chicken’s Street today, once the tourist-drag of Kabul, now a busy, pot-holed road with dim antique and curio stores selling faded rugs, gemstones, brass vases and teapots, etc Over the years Chicken Street would have done a roaring trade, but now the sellers stare out of their dark stores or stand in the doorway with hope that someone might walk by. As Martin and I have been walking around Kabul the last few days, we haven’t seen any other foreigners, so unfortunately we can’t imagine there’ll be much business at the moment.

Chicken Street sign

One eager seller, a short elderly man, called us over for a chat, he’s a kind-of English speaker and a bit of charmer and soon we were cross-legged on the carpet inside his shop drinking tea.

“I’m learning English and I’m a poet,” he declared with a flourish. “Listen.”

Seller on Chicken Street

 He quickly rattled off a poem, which I didn’t really understand and get to write down, but then he quickly announced that he has known many Australians over the years. I assumed these were journalists so I asked for names. He reached for a tattered brown envelope full of business cards. “I know many.” Indeed. He found one card, 30 years old, with the name of an Australian film maker named Jill. He’s obviously been around for a while, so I asked how long he’d had he’s store here on Chicken Street.

“You have many questions,” he replied. “I need the energy to answer, so first we need another 20 cups of tea,” he declared.

“Who are your customers,” I asked. “You are,” he said with a big grin.

“Um, anyone else?” He thought for a while, “I had a New-Zealander, and a Turk from Ankara, they were soldiers on leave.”

“How is business now?”

“Business is down, and when business is down, life is down. Have another cup of tea.”

Drinking tea in Chicken St shop

“Why is business down?”

“Because there is no security, it is not safe here.”

“How do you feel about the new year?” “Please, more tea, you are taking all my energy. If you have a good economy every day is a new year, without security it’s not a good year.”

“What do you think of the political situation and the future?”

“How can I tell the future? If the Russians knew what would happen to them in Afghanistan, then they would not have come. Nobody knows.”

“You saw many changes in Kabul.”

“If it’s not changing then it’s not Kabul.”

We left with a silver goblet in our hands, wishing him the very best for the future.

Trader on Chicken St

Flower shops on Flower St

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New friends from Afghanistan and the U.S:
This evening we met our hosts, the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers, and Open Society and were greeted with wide smiles and hugs. We also met our fellow participants on the delegation – an impressive bunch of activists from various parts of the United States (and Simon Moyle from Melbourne!). We listened intently as our new Afghan friends introduced them themselves with wonderful welcomes: “your coming is like the coming of spring, making this place green”, and invitations: “we hope you take our voices back to where you are.” And they shared with us a poem:

Now that you’ve come please don’t feel strange

This poor-house of ours also belongs to you

It’s not only things that are glittering that have value

Poverty also has beauty and value.

The group told us about their amazing walk for peace today in Kabul. More than 40 young Afghan men and women walking peacefully and courageously on the streets of Kabul with banners saying: “We wish to live without war”.

The riot police turned up in numbers but were greeted only by wide smiles, one policeman remarked: “I wish to live without war too.” This was a powerful and significant event for Kabul. There are rarely peaceful demonstrations on the streets here, but rather political protests that become very aggressive and call for revenge and death.

Our new friends are truly a light in the darkness, they, and others like them are the hope of this country. Please watch this short Youtube clip, you will be moved and amazed. What a special week ahead I have, spending time with these remarkable young people.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Andrew McAlister
    Mar 23, 2011 @ 17:01:38

    Thanks Donna……quite a character on Chicken St! Poetry seems to be more a part of everyday expression there?

    I found the video quite moving…i am conscious of the fact that i am here in a comfortable study, while you and they are not….

    Andrew.

    Reply

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