[Today’s entry on haggling in Kabul’s shops conjured up the Life of Brian episode where the prospective buyer just didn’t get the hang of it! I ended up with leather soled socks that reeked of animal till their dying day. Our meal with the students that evening was one of those golden moments on the trail where you stumble into the local life because of the friendship of strangers]
MONDAY 22ND NOVEMBER, 1976
“Felt better! Had hot shower, heated from old boiler. Jan, Pam and I dashed around looking for open bank. Got money eventually (tried apple pie – not very good).
Went jumper hunting – instead bargained for thick leather soled socks from barrow in the street (didn’t really want them but boy was so aggressive I was determined to knock the price down!) Then helped Jan knock down price of carpet saddle bag from 600 afghans to 340. Still felt we’d been ripped off because they seemed so pleased and sat us down, gave us cay, chips and sweets! Somehow I don’t think we’ve got the haggling touch.
Went back to buss and met Fred – went to hotel for coffee and lunch. Neva bought 2 nice quilted jackets, so dragged her out to help me buy one. Went to shop in Chicken Street – Neva had had an argument in there already with stroppy little boy – tried to buy one but he wouldn’t bring down price. Then he got other boy in different shop to refuse us entry too! Really sick of this haggling lark! – some of them don’t seem to want to even sell their stuff. Went to arcade by hotel and got one there!
Paul, Julie and Neva had met 2 Iranian students the night before who had arranged to meet them next evening. They asked for another girl and so Julie asked me. They took us in this taxi, quite far out, to a suburb of Russian built flats, where one of them shared a flat with a medical student. Sat us down in small bedroom with carpets on floor and fed us grapes and pistachio nuts and cay while they cooked an Iranian meal for us. Both very lively. Third one came in later.
Hassan taught us this card game. The meal was lovely – kebab meat (delicious) with chips, cauliflower and raw onion (medic said that it was an anticeptic to prevent bad stomach) and beautifully made rice – they burn top with oil. More cay. They were very amusing practising their english with us – medic was the translator. Hassan positioned Paul so he could see out of the window at Afghan girls in opposite flats. Others teased Hassan that all he did was watch girls – he’s in love with the medic’s sister!
They walked with us until we got taxi (driver was wrapped like a monk – blanket over head – Hassan said it was a woman driver!) Drove like a maniac – passed a crashed taxi and truck!
Had sticky cake because Neva was fed up with their comments about being fat – so made her feel like eating more! Coffee in hotel then went to bed.
(Graveyards in Afghanistan – rough stones, many with big poles over them with coloured flags at top – purple ones supposed to denote violent death – lots of them)”