Kabul, Afghanistan: and a shopping tale -- part one

Oh it was a little wearying.  All this talk of the Taliban.  The endless warning messages in code from the security company of where not to go.  The obligatory clearance of all meetings in advance.  The bodyguard's surreptitious patting of his loaded pistol. The reminders to wear the personal tracers at all times, just in case....just in case you should disappear.

But beyond the barricades, beyond the barbed wire, beyond the checkpoints and badges and flak jackets....there was beauty.  The kind you could touch and feel.  The kind that you could pay for, pulling crumpled bills out of your wallet.  The kind that you could pack in your suitcase and would remind you -- perhaps for forever -- of this place.  A place that was unlike any other, forgotten but yet on the nightly news. 

It was a handmade beauty.  Stitch after stitch, bead after bead, gem after gem.  An assurance of all that Afghanistan was and all that it could be.  A hidden detail.  A secret promise.  A whispered sign of better days to come, if you could manage to see it (somehow) through the smog that shrouded Kabul.

Just squint your eyes.  There, there (!) it is.

 Intricately crafted pom poms in the prettiest colors, made by hand.

Hand strung carved beads made from stone.

Hand beaded silk blouses.

Metal vessels etched with birds and deer by hand.

Intricate wool tassels hand tied with tiny shells.

 Hand woven scarves with long fringe.

  Hand knotted Afghan carpets.

Hand embroidered little bells.