Afghanistan Diary
Sunday, April 10, 2005

In general, there are no that many beggars in Kabul, compared to others places where I have been. Sure, there are some of them (usually with a limb missing) standing in the middle of the road asking drivers for money, but in most places one is not so harassed. Some neighborhoods, such a Flower street are a notable exception. Kids try aggressively to sell newspapers, gums or they asked straight out for money. Sometimes, they hold some thin can that contains coal and some shrub. People spread some smoke it produces around cherished possessions or people to protect them against the evil eye. According to somebody with whom we discussed today, this is an Islamic tradition (clearly it is not). Funny the thing with spreading the smoke appears in many cultures.

At first, I was embarrassed and did not know what to do when kids came to me. I feel a little more comfortable dealing with it now. I do give sometimes but the problem is that if you do, you are guaranteed to have an army of dirty kids in rags following you for money. They are really nice kids for the most part but it is difficult to be followed like that.

The others types of beggars are women, always wearing the burka and often holding a child. They do no only beg, they wail. They are also extraordinary resilient and may follow you for a long time.

The other day an article in the Kabul times (a four-pages English newspaper) read something like “measures have been taken to move the beggars to a previously discussed location.” Frightening, isn’t it? Anyway, when you are eventually done with your shopping, you still have to fight your way to your vehicle. Kids claim they have been watching the car while you were gone and ask for a reward. In addition, no matter how many times and how firmly you say no, somebody is going to wash you car and request payment.

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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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