This is Jalalabad Road. As the name implies, it’s the primary road from Kabul to Jalalabad. When I first arrived in the capital, it was not terribly dangerous in the explosive sense. It was and still is a dangerous place to drive from the perspective that Afghans are horrendous drivers. One need not be licensed to drive. One need only be able to afford a vehicle. But you didn’t have to look over your shoulder for suicide bombers. I think there were 5 or 6 hits in 2006. These days, the road gets hit 2 or 3 times in a month and Kabul will get hit a couple more times. Most of it aimed at Afghan forces. Mainly the ANP. By hit, of course, I’m talking about IEDs, VBIED, even bike born IEDs. Yes, these idiots will strap a bomb on their back, jump on a bike and aim themselves at an armoured vehicle.
The road is always in bad shape. When I was in the Capital three months ago, it was not much more than two mud tracks. Now they’ve paved it nicely. It may last a while in it’s new and improved incarnation. I suppose that depends on how many IEDs explode on it.
As you cruise down Jalalabad Road heading away from Kabul, you’ll pass most of the Major Afghan Military installations. It’s equivalent to Arlington, VA or Route 50 where you have 8th and I, the Pentagon, Fort Meyer, Arlington National Cemetery, the Hoffman Building and a whole host of other important US Military installations and buildings.
This video was taken back in August of 2006. I was preparing to leave Afghanistan to take a position in Kuwait. I was getting stir crazy so I decided to take my replacement on a tour of the local area. I took him to a Ciano Supermarket. Those guys had booze at that time. You had to ask for it and you had to be a non-National. You could get all the Jack Daniels you wanted but no Maker’s Mark. There are also a few places down in Wazir Akhbar Khan where you could get a drink or two at that time as well–Paradise, The Silk Road, Crazy 8s, 999 and a few others. You could pretty much get anything you want in the Wazir Akhbar Khan District. You can even spend the night with a little rented company if that’s your thing.
Alas, this is no more. All of the Cianas were shut down. There was a huge crack down on all of the underground funhouses. Some have been re-opened. But they aren’t near as entertaining as they used to be. You used to be able to go out and dance the night away. Now, it’s rare to find one of these places with enough patrons to make an impression.
Also, because of all of the recent bombings, US Forces Command and many of the Companies that hire for work over here have put Kabul, and by extension, all of these places off limits. NATO still frequents them as do many employees from your smaller companies in Kabul. Kabul is not quite the quiet backwater that it once was. At least once a week, you hear of some incident in the capital city. Suicide bombings, local nut jobs, IEDs. They say some of these cats are passing through Iran from Iraq to get here to spread their special brand of hell. You hear rumors. Never know what is complete truth and what is mere chaff in the wind.
It’s always exciting here. Enjoy the vid.
That’s me driving and a billboard of the tea that is a daily part of every Afghani’s life. Imagine the injustice of putting her in a burqa.