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
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
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
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