Window-shopping

Traffic, traffic and more traffic.

And roadworks and dust.

Everybody in Kabul talks about traffic and roadworks, roadworks and traffic.

Of its disruptions and the many inconveniences they cause and the absurd logic that seems to drive the idea of refurbishing a city all at once.

Not to be the one who always looks at the bright side of things, but there may also be some bits of opportunity that spring out of the hours that you spend stuck in the middle of a traffic jam with piles of rubbles and deep ditches on either side of your car.

One of those is definitely window-shopping.

 

You can look around, check people out and fantasise about the glamorous – if plasticky – dresses that stand, a little dusty, in the windows of the tailors’ workshops.

Wigged or headless manequins sport sleeveless gowns of impossibly bright colours and sequins and deep, provocative cleavages.

Your eyes wander from the brightness of the tailors’ windows to the colourless surroundings. And what strikes you is the contrast between the austerity, the visual (and moral) constrains of the public dimension of daily life and the garishness of these dresses, which clearly allude to a comfortable space of private-ness.

Weddings, engagements, and other celebrations – in most cases strictly gender-segregated – are the occasions to break the monotony of the gray-blue-black colour range. Burqas and abayas fall on the floor as soon as the threshold of the wedding hall is crossed – and they reveal canary yellow tulle netting, turquoise and golden silks and complicated embroideries and heavy make-ups and henna tattoos and pancake makeup to turn the skin tone of arms, necks and (sexiest of all the objects of desire) collarbones fairer. A triumph of sensuality, glamour and provocation: limited in space and time, but existing nonetheless.

 

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