Afghanistan Diary
Saturday, February 05, 2005

Khalid, an afghan man who works at DACAAR volunteered to take me and others visitors on a tour of Kabul, which was very nice of him. I wasn’t sure he would come because there was 30cm of snow but he did.

There were perhaps less shelled houses than I expected, but mudjahedeen looted the whole city shamelessly. The communist period is not one that is remembered fondly because; the government did nothing for the people in rural area. However, in Kabul the regime did build a lot of the housing (many of which still exist today) and infrastructure. Once there was a great public transportation system. Today all that remains is a heap of busses, from which every mechanical part has been taken and sold on a market in Pakistan or Iran. There was a tramway system and good phone infrastructure, but looters have removed until the last cable. We also saw the remains of the palace, the newly remodeled Olympic stadium (infamous in Taliban time as public executions took place there), the University, etc. We saw a lot of houses. People seem either to live in Soviet style apartments, in squatter settlement build on the mountain (but there is no running water there) or squatting the remains of shelled building.

Khalid asked me why I wasn’t married (a topic I wasn’t very keen to discuss). No satisfied by my unarticulated answers, he said “You [Westerners] just worry too much about compatibility. You wait and try to see if you will get along. You should just go ahead and get married. I didn’t say a word to my wife before our wedding and we don’t have any problems.” Marriage in Afghanistan is a family affair. Traditionally, the groom’s family ask to the family of the bride to be and the proposal is either accepted or not. In progressive families, the girl is asked whether she wants to get married or not. I would imagine that in Kabul’s urban middle class, things might be a little different. But even among Kabul’s middle class division between the sexes remains. In my workplace, men and women share the same office space but I have seen women eating on their own table during lunch.

A plane from Ariana Afghan Airline flying from Kabul to Herat, crashed today. All of its occupants are presumed dead. One of Lyn’s friend was in the plane and somebody else from DACAAR should have been in the plane but wasn’t. Lyn’s face is swollen from crying. It is painful to look at her and I feel powerless about it.

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This is my diary. My name is Lev and I work in Kabul for a non-governmental organization (

Location: Kabul, Afghanistan
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