After we have managed to cross the busy street next to Ka Faroshi market, where cars try to move forward as best as they can, it immediately feels like we are stepping back in time. No more traffic in the dark alleys of Ka Faroshi. Instead, people rushing by, guys pushing wooden carts loaded with wares, street vendors standing at their stalls, shop owners dusting off their produce. It seems that every step we take, we go back another ten years, until we reach the period before Afghanistan became the playground of external powers, the Great Game. Right here in Kabul, this scarred city, still unsafe, with a large military presence, heavy security, six-metre high concrete walls, blocked streets - this is the other face of the Afghan capital. The real face.
Nearly all people here are men, and most of them wear the typical Afghan attire, shalwar kameez of different colours and designs, many with pakols, some with turbans. Then, we spot the first cage with pigeons: the start of the bird market. When we stop walking, we quickly draw a crowd around us. A few speak some English, pose the obvious questions, share the answers with the others. Men come out with their cage with a yellow parakeet, trying to sell it to us, to others. Others are just curious, look at my camera, invite us in for chai. It almost feels like we have become the sight of the market, and the birds are all but forgotten. It is not only about birds, though: there are also men sharpening knives here, or stalls where you can buy empty cages.
The more we walk into the market, the more diversity we discover among the birds. There are pigeons and parakeets, but also sparrows and even peacocks. These are held in small aviaries in the back of shops. We see an old man inspecting a cage with a small bird. Men pass by, proudly holding a cage with a bird they just bought. It is quite a sight: an impressive Afghan in traditional clothes, dark hairs, beard, holding a cage with a tiny bird. What will happen to those birds? Do they buy them for their daughters? Something else: why are these birds so quiet? I had imagined a cacophony of birds at the market, and while there are indeed many birds, they all seem silent. We walk the meandering alley to the far end, passing dark passageways, old wooden arches supporting crumbling houses under which people pass, and then, we find ourselves in the big open street market near the Pul-e-Khesti mosque.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Ka Faroshi Market (Afghanistan). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Ka Faroshi Market.
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