By Abhishek Srivastava, 16 Jan, 2012
As part of a USAID project, Abhishek Srivastava worked in Kabul, Afghanistan on AMDEP (Afghanistan Media Development and Empowerment Program). The principal goal of the project is to train and assist Afghan journalists and students of Kabul University on the nuances of reporting. Abhishek tells us stories of people and places in Kabul using his photos as a medium. This is the second in a series of photo-essays on Kabul.
Part I can be accessed here: Stories from Kabul – Part I
1. The Projection Room
The projection room of Park Cinema in Sher-e-Naw, Kabul
2. Cinema Paradiso
The distorted sounds and scratched prints of Bollywood films mostly, plays in this cinema hall.
In 1996, Taliban banned cinema halls in Afghanistan, but after they were outsed in 2001, the cinema halls were back in ‘action’, playing Bollywood action flicks. This picture was shot during the screening of ‘Jimmy‘, Mahakshay Chakraborty’s (Mithun‘s son) debut film.
3. Made in Russia
The film projectors are from the Russian era. I think that ‘war’ has been a major part of Russian cinema. It must have been part of spreading communism.
4. Afghanistan’s Starbucks
A common sight on the streets of Kabul is of people – with their friends and families – sharing endless conversations over cups of hot green tea. The smell of cardamon in the air arrests you, and attracts you to these smoke emitting aluminium containers, which contain the boiling tea leaves.
In Afghanistan, the tea drinking tradition is part of life.
5. Afghanistan’s National Sport – Buzkashi
Afghanistan’s National Sport is the brutal Buzkashi. Traditionally, horse riders would fight over the carcass of an animal, usually a goat. This one, however, was being played with a sand bag. The Taliban does not approve of this game, and has targeted such games with several suicide attacks in the past. As a rule, women are not allowed to watch this game.
6. A Tourist in Afghanistan
At the time of the civil war, when the warlords could not handle free Afghanistan, they left the country in shambles. A young man, Naveed, migrated to Karachi, Pakistan, where he fell in love with a Kashmiri woman and married her.
After eighteen years, their son, Ibrahim, visited the land of his father to trace their footsteps and learn the history that forced them out of this country.
7. Street Cricket
Although football is the most popular game amongst the kids, street cricket is a common sight on Fridays (Jumma).
8. The Birth Lottery
Being born in Afghanistan can indeed be difficult. Imagine the trauma of war that these innocent minds have to grow up with.
Only a quarter of the children get to start their school education, that too at the age of 7, while the others are found ragged on most of the streets tapping on the car window, begging for money. They sometimes ask for specific dollar amounts, or swirl cans of burning charcoal to rid your life of evil spirits. Unfortunately, the war has been brutal and several children often get killed in drone attacks.
9. Forgotten Waistlands
Belts, circa late 1980’s. The Russian army had invaded Afghanistan and were in a war with Afghanistan’s Mujhahidin fighters.
Mujhahidin fighters, with the help of Americans, brutally defeated the Russians. Some 15,000 Russian soldiers died fighting the war, many of them killed by American surface-to-air-missiles.
Today, in 2012, an antique shop in Kabul, Afghanistan, sells dozens of belts of those dead Russian soldiers, for American dollars.
This, to me, is symbolic of the intention of every American intervention.
10. Mellifluous Markets
One of the oldest quarters of the Afghan capital, where a bazaar that caters especially to bird-keepers is located. The bazaar is known as Ka Farushi – the “Hay Market”.
The entry to the market is very small, so no vehicle can enter. Hence the air of the bird market – housing some of the world’s most sonorous birds such as canaries – is filled with the melodious sounds of birdsong.
The copyright of all photos are with Abhishek Srivastava. Please do not reprint without permission.