Now that NATO’s exit strategy from Afghanistan is clear, I am reposting an earlier blog entry showing scenes from Afghanistan in 2002. I hope that the hard won gains and the progress made by the Afghan people are not eroded as nations head to the exits in 2014.
In 2002, I was able to spend time in Afghanistan between August and October and to travel to Mazar-i-Sharif and Bamyan. The Taleban had gone (as it turned out, temporarily) and there was relative peace in most of the country. The security threat was considered to be low and commerce had begun to flourish, at least in Kabul.
These pictures were taken in Kabul and in Mazar-i-Sharif. The Kabul photos were taken in and around Chicken Street and on a road just outside the city. They show a baker across the road from the Mustafa Hotel (I think), a roadside grilled meat merchant and general street views.
Chicken Street is a market street which focused on the foreign market—Afghan carpets, furs, and “authentic” souvenirs like ancient Greek coins, or old rifles from the British Afghan wars. Before the Afghan war with the Soviet Union, Kabul had been part of the hippy trail.
Kabul is an incredibly dusty and polluted city and it shows in the photos. The dust comes from unpaved roads, large numbers of cars and generators and open fires. The Mazar-i-Sharif photo shows the man who looks after the shoes of worshippers at the Blue Mosque. Sadly, he is squinting into the sun—not the best, but you have to take what you can get.
The pictures were taken on Tri-X with a Nikon F-90, 24mm lens and a 35 to 135 lens. They were developed in a dusty bathroom and much Photoshop energy when into removing the dust spots. The F-90 was a good camera and one which I regret selling, but it funded my entry into the digital world. The 24mm lens lives on and does great work on my other Nikons.