Friday, November 18, 2011

The real Afghanistan

The photo essays about daily life in Afghanistan, here are local people and culture in Herat.

 The 'Green Fairy' of Afghanistan
A street merchant bags a few grams of naswar -- Afghan snuff -- in Herat. The fine, moist, green powder -- typically taken sublingually -- is derived from tobacco treated with lime for its alkaline capabilities. It produces a dizzying high that quickly gives way to nausea and oral-esophageal burning. 

 Restaurant Manager
Ahmad, the manager of the Brothers Mohabat Gaznavi restaurant in Herat 

 he Hotel Jaam
A view from the roof of the Hotel Jaam in Herat. For under twenty bucks you get a semi-secure room with two beds, a view of the rear wing sweatshop; cold showers; squat toilets covered in broken glass; 

Safir, 12, flies a kite on a Herat rooftop. Legend has it, three Heratis laid down their lives protesting the Taliban's decade-long kite ban.

The kebab cook or 'kababi' at the Brothers Mohabat Gaznavi restaurant in Herat. This guy was beaten daily by Ahmad. Over the two weeks I witnessed these confrontations, the kebabs never changed. I don't think it was a question of his skills on the grill. Perhaps a turf war...

Amusement Park
A group of women watch the attraction park spinning in Herat. A groups of children gather to smoke hash.

Kushti contests are tournament style events that draw several teams. Individual matches usually take less than a minute.

 The Power of Allah 

 Chillin' on a Tank

Former Taliban fighter Nagibullah teaches methods of memorization and interpreation of the Qu'ran at the Herat Madrasa. A traditional Pashtun, he may invite you to his family home for a meal. 

 Hash-Loving Breadmakers
Herat breadmakers' hard at work in the shop before their evening smoke. Located between the Hotel Jaam and the Friday Mosque, Herat's favorite sons will offer you a two-for-one deal on flat bread and hits by the dozen from the fattest fatties I've seen anywhere in Afghanistan.

A boy walks the street that runs between Herat's Five Minarets. 

Panhandlers in Herat often beg with children nearby. Don't forget that giving alms, Zakat, is the fourth pillar of Islam.

 Friday Mosque 1
A covered woman enters the female section of Herat's Friday Mosque.

 Friday Mosque Reconstruction
A man sits in a room undergoing reconstruction in Herat's Friday Mosque. The retiling is a custom job. The tiles, mortar and glass are handmade on site and the labor is homegrown. The process is open to the public most days.


 Leather Shop

 The Citadel
The oldest building in Herat, the citadel grew out of a fort built by Alexander The Great in 330 b.c. It was used as a military barracks and prison until its restoration began in 2005. It's 10 dollars for a ticket but you're free to run amok through it's narrow passageways and all 18 towers.