Monday, December 08, 2008

A bloody day in Kabul

The "gutters" of Kabul (yes, that narrow dirt ditch you see above is a gutter) ran red with blood today, as families across Kabul slaughtered sheep and other cattle for Eid al-Adha -- the festival of sacrifice.

The pile of blankets next to this bloody streamlet is a sleeping homeless man. He's also in the first photo above, the little hovel in the shadows by the pillar on the right.

Here I nearly stumbled into torrents of blood. The source...

... was a big cow that was still kicking when I walked through the door to have a peek. This was obviously the home of a man with money because not only did he buy a fat cow, instead of a cheaper sheep, but also because he also owned a phat Lexus SUV.

Furthermore, he had two more sheep waiting in the yard.

But the butcher was just starting on the still kicking cow. Families will buy their cattle live, keep them in the yard for a day or two, and then hire a butcher to come over with all his equipment for the halal slaughter.

Now back to part two of dog vs. sheep -- oh, poor sheep. (See dog in background.)

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Pup in the dumps

I found a pup!

Background: In Kabul, trash is dumped in certain known areas on the streets. For example, say there is a dumping spot on 1st street between avenues A and B, then each family within a few blocks will load a wheelbarrow of trash each day and then some young chap in the family will haul it over to that street dumping spot. Shepherds then pick through the contents of the trash bags and pull out leftover goodies for their flocks of sheep and goats to munch on before they head to the slaughter -- which is on a street aptly named Butcher Street.

My friend and I were walking to this yummy bakery when we passed one such street trash pile, in the middle of which I spotted a pathetic shivering little pup. I immediately exclaimed, "A puppy!" And then, employing increasingly pathetic whines myself, I said, "Oh, poor puppy, it's so cute! Poor little thing!" knowing full well that my friend has a mega-soft spot in his heart for dogs and would take her home. He scooped up the filthy thing and took her home. Afghans, who think dogs are dirty untouchables, stared at us along the way and commented in shock and awe, "A dog!"

My friend named her Edie -- after "Eid" (Eid al-Adha), the holiday weekend when we found her, and "Eidy," which is a gift given on said holiday. Home from the rubbish dump, she immediately got her first ever bath. She then got her first ever clean meal. Then her first ever hug. Then her first ever nap in a warm place -- her mattress was a warm jacket in the Heineken box in a supposedly dry country. Three cheers, hurrah!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

dog vs. sheep

The Muslim holiday of Eid is upon us, when families buy sheep to slaughter and to give the meat to the poor. This is the sheep my neighbor bought, and a friend's dog taking it on.

Dog loses.

She gave out a horrible yelp and limped around for a few minutes, but she then went back for some more kicking around later that evening.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Betty Crocker in Kabul

I wrote a nice simple story for the Abu-Dhabi based newspaper, The National, about two women who started a bakery that caters to expatriates in Kabul. They learned the trade from an American woman, and for their business, A Taste of Home Bakery, they use recipes straight from a 1970s Betty Crocker cookbook, seen in the foreground of the above photo. In the background, a huge batch of cookies. I've been known to eat almost a full dozen date bars within a half an hour.

They also make excellent breads.