Afghanistan Today by Damian Bird
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Early morning bustle in Mazar i Sharif in Northern Afghanistan. No women in sight. An Afghan jail. Inmates are very well fed and cheerful. Mazar i Sharif. Children collecting water in plastic containers for their families from the communal water pump. Mazar i Sharif. Midday bustle in Mazar i Sharif. Most Afghan men wear beards and have their heads shaved.  Under the Taliban a man who shaved of his beard would risk being beaten as an official punishment. Elderly Afghan lady wearing her Burkha and walking next to some mud houses, the most common building material in Afghanistan. Afghan fish and chips being fried up fresh. Surprisingly this photo was taken in the morning which suggests that Afghan fish and chips are breakfast food. Horse and cart. Afghan horses are small, compact and very strong. Afghans are very good with their horses and even though a horse may be worked hard in Afghanistan it will be cared for well, respected and fed well. This cheerful boy walked up to me in Kabul and wanted to be photographed in his Groucho Marx face gear. I wondered if he had ever seen any Groucho films? Proud Afghan holy man wanting to be photographed.  Mazar i Sharif. This boy was clearly very pleased with his pet camel. Camels are often used in Afghanistan for carrying heavy loads (when fully grown). School girls in Kabul, enjoying their class. Pot being transported the hard way. These pots are fired in huge kilns and then used for grain storage. Kabul. Wellington boots and a mule are good kit for eleven year old Afghan boys. Mazar i Sharif. Tea in Afghanistan is often drunk from small glasses, with lots of sugar. Kabul. Afghan holy man. Mazar i Sharif. Afghan women wearing Burkhas. Kabul. Kabul classroom. Under the Taliban women would be beaten for showing their faces in public. The lady on the right is exercising her right to expose her face in public now that the Taliban have gone. Kabul. Afghan men enjoying the morning sun in Mazar i Sharif, before starting their working day. Under the Taliban, kites were banned and highly illegal. For a child to fly a kite in today’s Afghanistan is an act of freedom that is new and exciting. An Afghan National Army sordier practicing shooting with an AK47. The military vehicle in the background with no wheels was used by the Russians to police the Afghans during their occupation of Afghanistan. A Russian tank left over from the occupation of Afghanistan forms the backdrop to this portrait of a subsistance Afghan farmer who has just been to his field to harvest a turnip or two for his lunch. Northern Afghanistan. Afghan National Army soldiers eating their lunch after a heavy morning of training. Kabul. Most housing in Afghanistan is made from mud. The perfect low-tec, thermo efficient, infinitely available building material. . These (Russian) tanks were brought back to life by the war lords of Afghanistan (gentlemen such as General Dostum and General Attar) following their dessertion by fleeing Russin troops.  These war lords used them to fight the Taliban and to keep their own people in line. The most recent action they have seen was during the US invasion of Afghanistan when, with the support of US special forces, they were used to liberate Afghanistan from the Taliban.  They have now been confiscated and are being left to rot. Early morning in Mazar i Sharif and this Afghan girl is enjoying the fresh morning air and sunlight in the doorway of her mud house. Hindu Kush mountain range seen from a Herculese. Somewhere between Kabul and Mazar i Sharif. An Afghan farrier shoes a well dressed horse in Mazar i Sharif. Afghanistan’s very practical answer to the family car. Afghan public transport. Mazar i Sharif. Afghan lady at the butchers shop. Mazar i Sharif. The industrial revolution has only begun to arrive in certain parts of Afghanistan. However Afghan farmers are very often slimmer, fitter, less stressd and carrying far less debt for expensive farm machinery than western farmers. The mud-brick kilns in Kabul. Early morning. Mazar i Sharif.