A day in the life

17 May 2007 / 27 Saur 1386

I have just learned enough Dari to ask politely if I can take a picture of someone that might be sensitive.


Due respect and admiration goes to the Afghans who have lost a limb, and need to navigate the streets. It is one reason why I am unequivocally in favor of applying accessibility design guidelines here in Kabul. I think the accessibility guidelines are the most important design innovation that Americans have ever made.

Wheeler with sign

As the gentleman wheeled off, I saw something I had never seen before: he had an advertisement mounted on the back of his wheelchair. I assume he gets some income from this. I was stunned by the audacity of the idea; neoliberals want to make everyone into “entrepreneurs.” Here, rather than the state developing the capacity to help the disabled, the disabled get some revenue from being turned–literally–into part of the expanding advertising market. Systemically, I have a problem with this. But on a human rights level, I guess it is objectionable if it hurts the dignity of the gentleman in the wheelchair.

Inspection mirror

Sorry for the oversize picture, but this one depends a lot upon the composition. It is just a normal thing, like the still-life photo of a shovel laid up against the wall. But it is a truck-mirror and flashlight welded to a stick so that you can inspect the underside of cars for explosives. I like the texture against the rough-plastered wall.

Tired cart driver

Part of my challenge is to show how Kabul in so many ways is modern and ‘normal’ in your reference frame while still being different in some ways. Most of the traffic is cars. But some people still use horse- and donkey-drawn carts.

some fries with your human rights?

I was having a quick lunch with my students when I noticed the wrapping-paper for the french fries. Many foreign publications are funded by international donors and are therefore not only free, but also printed on good-quality paper. I don’t mean to be sarcastic, because human rights are very important to Afghans, as you will find on other pages I write. But just that the environment is a little weird when this is the available wrapping paper.

However, with the following sound clip, I am being sarcastic. This is one minute of a popular show on Tolo TV. Enjoy!

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