Rain, rain. A slow and cold rain. The dull grey sky paints an eerie atmosphere that looks like one of Giorgio De Chirico’s paintings.
Kabul is strangely beautiful in this light.
Mud softens the sound of our steps, I have the displacing feeling of looking at myself from the outside.
The camera is set on black and white.
Pierce and I walk on the street trying to avoid puddles. It feels like stepping into the Afghan version of a Fellini movie.
Quasi Amarcord. Including Nino Rota’s soundtrack.
Below the hill of Tappeh-ye Maranjan sprawls the whole of Kabul. This is where people go to fly kites on a Friday afternoon. In a makeshift market of improvised stalls, car booths are full of colourful kites and children crouching next to torn rugs balanced between a stone and a puddle sell spools of bright red, blue, green string. There is a cart selling strawberries and one selling popcorn, a cart selling ice cream, one dates and one sunflower seed.
A group of kids with extremely long brooms pointing at the sky run around trying not to trip over the colourful strings.
– What are the brooms for?
– Look over there.
In the kite war, kids use the brooms to get hold of the falling kites – these are the kite runners, bedraggled and with broken shoes. They run and laugh and shout.
A few steps away there is a merry-go-round: a green pole with green arms and small dangling planks of wood. Boys and girls get hold of ropes and planks – when they are all ready, a man grabs one of the arms of the merry-go-round and starts running in circles. Round and round; faster and faster. Feet lift off the ground, legs get a tighter hold of the rope, a hand brushes the ground. Round and round; faster and faster.
A black, menacing cloud surprises us from behind. Rain coms fast. People start running to avoid getting soaked in the storm. We look at each other and smile with a shiver. It is time to go.
A different afternoon, a different hill. The ame black and white photos, the same persistent rain.
On Wazir Akbar Khan hill, in the north of the city, there is a swimming pool. Empty but freshly painted, it has three diving boards with bright yellow ladders: a strident contrast to the infinite shades of brown and grey of the city and the sky. Empty, but full of memories: it is rumoured that the Taliban used the highest diving board to execute political prisoners. A deadly jump with a stunning view and the city and the mountains as witnesses.
Outside the swimming pool there are reels of razor wire and a military barrack.
A girl walks past eating chips; she has a sailor’s hat and a coat of the same shade of blue as the pool.
Fellini. Amarcord. Nino Rota.
A few steps and a few puddles away, beyond the soft mud, there are the carcasses of two Soviet tanks; rusty, derelict, abandoned.
We look for the right angle for a photo.
In the background on the top the silhouettes of the diving boards, then the razor wire, the military barrack, the tanks looking over Kabul.
Untitled. Landscape with Soviet tank.
Rain becomes colder. We look at each other and smile with a shiver. It is time to go.
Dedicated to Pierce O’ Broin