On our first walk towards the Blue Mosque of Mazar-e-Sharif, we pass street stalls, shops, and small underground shopping malls. When we get out at the north side of the park surrounding the Blue Mosque, we realize we have arrived at the main bazaar of this northern Afghan city. We find ourselves in a chaotic, noisy, busy, and utterly interesting marketplace, with stalls selling anything you could imagine. The more we walk around the streets and alleys, the more we realize we have only seen a small part of this bazaar. After every turn, another street appears, full of stalls, of people, of wares for sale. What is even more exciting, is that people are very open to foreigners, showing us something, expressing their gratitude that we are visiting, showing off for a picture.
Are we looking to buy something? Not at all. We are just looking for entertainment, in watching people walk by, watching people looking for a deal, watching sellers screaming their offers to the crowd, watching fruit carefully piled up on old wooden carts, watching a boy press juice of pomegranates (OK, I admit we bought those rich juices frequently!), watching women in burqa scan the selection of shoes in a stand, watch an old man repairing shoes on the sidewalk with a thick needle, watching young men pushing carts heavy with boxes through the holes in the street, watch men waiting for customers behind their decorated naan, watch an old man sitting behind his cart full of exotic spices.
All the while, we ourselves turn out to be a sight for all those at the market. People stare at us, giving us a thumbs-up, smile at us, greet us with a Salaam, with the right hand on the heart, trying to talk to us. Boys run towards us, wanting to shake hands, often asking to be in a picture. After that first day, we come back to the bazaar time and time again, exploring new streets and new sections of the bazaar, making new friends. And even after three days of exploring various parts of the bazaar, it still feels we have only scratched its surface: there are so many more backstreets, inside alleys, underground parts where shoppers probably go in winter, that we pass by but did not go into.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Mazar-e-Sharif Bazaar (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 Mazar-e-Sharif Bazaar. Read more about this site.