Shelter from the storm

3 June 2007 / 13 Jauza 1386

I have been learning the transit system around Kabul. Taxis from the University to downtown, for a foreigner, can cost 120 AFS ($2.40). But if you catch a shared taxi or a minivan (Tunis), it costs only 10 AFS; bigger buses cost 5 AFS; and the National Bus Service costs 2 AFS (1 cent). Of course you need to know destinations in the city in Farsi, and exactly where they are in relation to where you want to go. So it took a while for me to learn the routes in a city with only about ten named streets and no address system.

Today I took the bus to Deh Mazang intersection, and I was going to walk the 3/4 km to the Aga Khan office. It started to rain just as I got off the bus, and then it started to hail. At first I was marveling at the puffs of dust as the hailstones hit the ground ahead of me, and then I realized the storm was intensifying. By that point I was walking next to a construction-supply area, and men were starting to scurry for the inside or underside of their trucks. Two guys motioned me to hop in their cab, which I thankfully did.

Soon the hail started coming down in golf-ball sized clots of slush, making a deafening thunder on the roof of the cab. We laughed and pressed our hands against the windshield, in the hopes of preventing the extension of an existing crack in the glass. The hail lasted for a full twenty minutes, and shifted to a downpour for another ten before is was sensible to venture outside.

My shelterers were Hafizullah and Aminullah, if I remember correctly (I will check later). They had been eating watermelon, so Aminullah had a big knife for cutting it. I found that distracting, and it added to the interest of the conversation. The following is a testament to my bad but functional Dari.

Shoma Musulman as’?

Ne, Isawi astum.

Ah. Az koja ‘s?

Shahre San Faransisco. Aale ustad dar Pohantun-e Kabul astum.

Amerikaie? Amerika kharob as.

Pause. I looked at the knife Aminullah was cleaning with his scarf.

Mardom-e Amerika khub as, ammo Bush kharob as. Daulat kharob as.

Bale, bara bisyar mardom-e Amerikoie Bush mishkel as.

Mmm. Aolad astin?

Bale, yak dokhtar wa yak pesar astum.

Khub as. Man arusi as, ammo aolad neistum. Hafizullah char bacha as.

Mubarak! Chandta bache mikhoayi?

Shash, haft. Inja farq as… Shoma tarbuz bukho!

Tashakor…

The watermelon was excellent.


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