October 9, 2011

Shopping in Afghanistan is largely disappointing. I overdosed with the nuts and dry-fruit buying yesterday, because there was not much else to purchase for them-who-expect-presents-back-home. One of the problems of Islamabad being flooded with Afghan bits-and-bobs is that nothing you see here is very new. With the exception of a tag in large-print that says hand-embroidered by Afghan women there’s not much to distinguish the keychains, bookmarks little-useless bags and other products from those sold in Supermarket. Add to that the dismay one feels when entering attractive bling-y jewelry shops to find that the most things are run of the mill Thai designs with Chinese crystals attached on top. Pretty to look at - but available almost everywhere. I have come to the conclusion that globalization has taken a lot of the pleasure out of shopping. Next trip (if and when it happens) I intend to see a little more of Afghanistan proper – which basically means venture out of Kabul. Perhaps the shopping will be more interesting then?

10 comments:

Maddyh said...

It is rather depressing if one cannot find something spectacularly exclusive in an exotic location. What about looking for the weaving associations and stuff? That you might be able to get to the authentic stuff.
Tell us about the food. What awesome Kabuli things have you been eating...

Aneela Z said...

Kilims? Carpets? Lapis?

Salman Latif said...

You surely will have better options to shop from if you venture out of Kabul.

Anonymous said...

Well, disappointing but in a way not surprising; those weavers who weave 12 hours a day for 14 generations have probably siphoned their transferable skills towards more pragmatic and contemporary efforts...

amnakausar said...

Clearly, Afghanistan is no fun. I can't help being curious as to what kind of business/work purpose you actually had there.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, waddya know, little-miss-know-it-all is going to save all the women and children by getting them a cow or something.

Xeb said...

M: A post on the food and Kabul International Airport will follow as soon as I make a dent in the work I'm swamped with now that I'm back :S

Aneela: Actually did manage to get some (very-overpriced) local handicrafts, but since we get a LOT of Afghan stuff in Islamabad - and much cheaper - there wasn't a lot of choice.

Anon1: Possibly. The stitches are also largely similar though - so the fault could very well have been mine.

Amna: I was working on a consultancy assignment for a project of the Afghan Government. Development-work in Afghanistan is fascinating. They have so many issues - some cultural, some contextual - and the challenge is to promote enterprise despite the issues. It's good work, and rewarding, but let's see how it goes :)

Anon2: Not a cow. Most definitely not a cow - methinks.

Siddhartha Joshi said...

I agree with the globalization bit...its sadly bringing in this sameness in everything, not just products, but also food, buildings and so on...sad indeed.

Anonymous said...

Well, as Friendly Western Neighbor says, "O new sleeve, eat Pulao.". http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afghan_cuisine
assuming they still *have* real food in Afghanistan...

WordWeaver said...

Interesting comment about globalization. It truly has taken the joy out of shopping.

So we need not to waste our precious time shopping if we r ever on the wrong side of the border?