Kabul Antique Rug

Haji Ajmal Shamali 
Afghanistan Presidential Campaign
This is a short story from Keith E. Jones who is the campaign's Press Secretary
The making of an antique rug in Kabul
It was May or June of 2009. I rode in another Toyota Corolla. We were on our way to do some shopping. We also needed to download some files online. The internet connection at our office just wasn’t fast enough for what we needed to do.

All the foreigners I know in Kabul ride around in Big Black Suburbans (military contractors) or Big White Suburbans (NGOs). Me, I’m always in some beat up old gray colored Toyota. But I think it makes my life more interesting this way.

My friend Ajmal Shamali stayed back at the office, but his brother Anwar, and a half dozen other men accompanied me on this quick shopping trip. We convoyed in two vehicles. As always when I’m out in public in Afghanistan, I had on an Afghan style hat. I was slouched low in the seat, so I wasn’t easily visible from outside. For a small city, Kabul has some terrible traffic problems.

From what I could see, the problems with the traffice were caused by various embassies and other big government compounds whose security closed off the roads that at one time passed by those compounds. This indiscriminate closing of roads has left parts of central Kabul heavily congested.

To avoid some of this traffic congestion, our driver was using some side roads. On one of these unpaved dirt roads a large reddish brown rug lay in the middle of the road. All the cars and trucks just drove over it. Puffs of dust billowed up as each car ran over the rug.

I couldn’t understand why someone would throw a seemingly new rug into the road.

Anwar laughed when I asked him why the rug was there. “Keith, my friend, they are making an antique Afghan rug there.”
I joined the laughter, thinking this was a lot like the Chinese vendors who bury newly fabricated swords in the earth to make them into antiques.
Keith E. Jones
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