Here are Engineer Dehyar and Sabri, whom I worked with in 2003. At that time one of my tasks was to go through the International Building Code and identify passages for translation from English. The two sections that seemed useful were 1) the approach to exiting design, and 2) post-construction testing of concrete structures (a lot of buildings were going up at the time with no oversight at all!). We also discussed land use regulation, although I warned the team away from adopting American-style zoning. When I visited this last week, they had just completed a zoning plan for Kabul. I look forward to seeing the result!

On the day that I visited, Eng. Dehyar and Sabri were working on accessibility design standards for public and commercial buildings. In a city with so many disabled people, I really hope this policy gets implemented.

Khwaja Muhammad Nader was one of the bad-guy leads in the movie “Osama.” He is a total sweetheart!

And just an odd note: this is an image from the Roshan Mobile-phone company website (see here). Separated at birth? At least you can see why so many Afghans think I am Afghan. It isn’t just the beard! One explanation is that Alexander’s army left a lot of Greek descendants in what are now northern and eastern Afghanistan.

It is hard for tourists to resist photographing women in burqas. As I mentioned in week one, their meaning is very ambiguous now. And elimination of burqas (and chaduri for that matter) might mean very little in terms of gendered power-relations. For the outsider, even though these women were just conversing as they walked with their children, I feel a strong sense of uncertainty being near people whom I cannot see. Venice must have felt like this before Napoleon banned the capes and masks that were worn by men and women alike until 1798. Members of the Revolutionary Association of Women of Afghanistan found burqas to be very useful in the 1990s, an perhaps still are using them now.

Images and text (c) 2006 Pietro Calogero.

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