Cables From Kabul - ...And All They Brought Me Back Was This Lousy Shotgun
Every cloud has a silver lining. Afghanistan may not have working sanitation, reliable electricity or a judicial system you’d ever want to turn your back on, but you can buy anything you like here. So we did.
The obvious one is guns. The country has been at war for thirty years. There is no shortage of kill tools to be found here. As a foreigner you can only buy a basic shotgun or a semi-automatic weapon. But if you have Afghan friends, you can pretty much put down a payment on a tank without paperwork. Our friend bought this pump-action shotgun, modelled by the lovely Henry. It cost him $150. He keeps it by the front door for protection, although it fits quite snug under his shalwar kameez if he needs to go outside.
It’s been a real hot summer in Kabul. Everyone who lives in this city’s a little bit paranoid. And most people with anything to lose are armed. Horribly wrong is the only direction this can go.
In a land with few doctors, pharmacists don’t bother with prescriptions. It’s very easy to just walk into a pharmacy in Kabul and come out with very cheap medicine.
Ketamine costs $4 for 50mg. Viagra costs $10 for 30 pills and Valium will set you back $5 for a pack of 30 pills. You can also get Ritalin. But we figured being bandy-legged and drowsy, with whole day hard-ons was enough for now.
We bought our meds then jumped into our car. A policeman pulled the car over and asked our driver if it was worth his while arresting us or not. Our driver told him not to. In Afghanistan your driver is often the only thing standing between you and a stretch in prison.
There’s money out here. And if it’s not being spent on flights back and forth to Dubai, then it’s probably going into the tills at Finest. Finest is a supermarket chain in Kabul. There are two. The second Finest recently reopened after a long hiatus. A suicide bombing forced it to close. Finest is one big soft, Taliban target because homesick internationals can’t resist the place. They stock foie gras at Finest. I live in Berlin. I’d probably have to drive all the way to France if I wanted foie gras, but in a town like Kabul where you actually can’t spend the money quick enough, it’s readily available.
Afghanistan may be a basket case. And Kabul might be as safe as nuclear waste, but when you can eat duck liver for breakfast, balance a book case on your erection and light your cigarettes with a flame thrower that fact fades quickly into the background.
WORDS: CONOR CREIGHTON
PHOTOS: HENRY LANGSTON & CONOR CREIGHTON