French Food and the Bird Market

May 11
2011

I should try and make everyone feel sorry for me, but the guest house we are staying at in Kabul has some of the best food I’ve EVER eaten. The Afghan woman who is the cook was trained to prepare western food for foreigners. Her apple crisp and banana bread are awesome!!! I guess I have good timing in leaving, however, because the orthopedic surgeons that are here from England fixed her knee today and she’s going to be out of commission for two weeks!! So anyway it wasn’t that I was desperate for some good food, but we went to the only French restaurant in Afghanistan for lunch….the food was good, but the best part was the real latte instead of Nescafe. It is in a private house behind locked gates with no sign and only the locals know it is there. I guess I’ve gotten a bit used to going to restaurants behind locked gates, but it does serve as a reminder as to where you are.

After lunch we talked our driver into taking us to the Bird Market which may be one of the most interesting things I’ve ever seen anywhere. A tiny narrow lane filled with bird cages for sale and every kind of bird imaginable along with a few rabbits. I’d been looking for a jewelry component that we could use with some hand blown glass beads. I never expected to find it in the Bird Market, but I think I found a winner!!! You’ll have to wait until the necklace comes out to see it.

Our partner and I finished our work over the weekend. Making the trip to Kabul was the right decision. We have been able to accomplish so much in the last week. Lots of great product ideas for the women to make and good conversations which couldn’t be had over email or the phone. He is very talented in so many ways, but is VERY good at knowing how to take our ideas and get the product produced. We will have to hire a sewing and embroider teacher to travel to the village for a month or two to train the women to have the proficiency they need, but it will be worth it. We will continue to make carpets in some amazing new patterns that we found this week, but we want to employ more women so the sewing and embroidery will be a good option.

Product Development

We also decided that he will find a qualified teacher to take to the village when he travels there twice a week. The teacher that is currently in the village has only a 6th grade education and can only teach through memorization. Taking a qualified teacher to the village will give the children at least two days of good teaching and the current teacher will learn as well. He can also help with teaching the Hoopoe books to the children and adults. I think this is a viable option to try and get some real education to the children…it is the hope for the future.

I did get a few of my questions answered about the latest fashion in Kabul. As you can imagine it varies quite a bit…young women with all the necessary modesty BUT very stylish, women in burqas and everything in between. I did have a double take moment coming out of a restaurant after lunch and seeing a woman in a blue burqa with a blue umbrella. I thought it was so cool that she had an umbrella to match her burqa and was so frustrated I couldn’t get my camera out in time to take a picture. Then I realized, “Wait a minute…what’s the umbrella for???” I guess if you are covered in fabric from head to toe it’s good to have something to block the sun. What a life these women live…but the young ones are making their statements none the less. Something I hadn’t seen before was girls wearing ball caps over their head scarves. I wish I had thought of that. It would be a way of keeping the scarf on and shade your face at the same time. Clever girls!!
Afghan School girls