Reporting Afghanistan

John Wendle

fortress and prison

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Here are some pix from around the NGO’s compound, which, like other Western compounds in Kabul is a mixture between a fortress and a prison.

The street of the compound through the window of one of the palaces.

The street of the compound through the window of one of the palaces.

The NGO rents one building for office space and two and a half others as guest houses.

Lavish

Lavish

The houses are known as poppy palaces because across the country many of them are built using money from heroine sales – as well as for their garish and outlandish designs.

About a dozen of these sit on a short street, all occupied by NGOs. Each end of the street is blocked by heavy gates and each palace is protected by high walls, gates, armed guards and loops of barbed wire – so much of it that it almost seems to be a decorative choice.

A winding staircase inside

A winding staircase inside

Through the reflective, emerald green windows the sound of the generators drowns out everything but the sound of the call to prayer.

A gate and the small mosque next door that plays recorded prayers during the day

A gate and the small mosque next door that plays recorded prayers during the day

Although Kabul has been relatively safe recently, kidnappings and being in the wrong place at the wrong time are still threats.

To get from one palace to another you have to go through two layers of Afghan guards just to cross the street.

A guard - I learned how to say, "1, 2, 3" in Pashto taking this one

A guard - I learned how to say, "1, 2, 3" in Pashto taking this one

Outside, life seems to go on. Roadblocks and slaloms of concrete make travel slow. All of the SUVs are up-armored – weighing more than 7 tons with bulletproof glass and thick skins.

All of the guards have either military or police experience

All of the guards have either military or police experience

Even to go to the shop down the street, an SUV has to be reserved five hours in advance and an armed Western contractor has to go out with you – even if you’re just buying toothpaste and chocolate.

A shop

A shop

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Written by johnwendle

August 28, 2009 at 7:30 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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