Addresses in Afghanistan

Sep 22, 2011   //   by Hameed   //   Uncategorized  //  6 Comments

Nor­mally, in Afghanistan we don’t have street names and street num­bers. There are some streets and almost all towns with names. Funny story how streets and some towns are named but before that: I was dri­ving out­side Jalal­abad city the other day and I needed direc­tions to a friend’s house. I asked a cou­ple of famers with their shov­els on their shoul­ders for direc­tions to a friend’s house in the area. In rural areas where peo­ple live in small towns and closely con­nected vil­lages every­body knows every­body. Even if they live in two geo­graph­i­cally dif­fer­ent vil­lages they will tell you where every­body lives. This man went on and on about the direc­tions. It got so con­fus­ing and I closed my eyes try­ing to nav­i­gate but it didn’t work. He named so many dif­fer­ent col­ors of gates and doors, big and small trees, rights and lefts, nears and behinds, and Ara­bic names of mosques. I apol­o­gized and I had him repeat the direc­tions furtively turn­ing my phone voice recorder on. There was no way I could’ve found the place with­out lis­ten­ing to that record­ing all the way to his door. It’s funny how some streets and some towns are named after some­one promi­nent, rich, or noto­ri­ous who lives on the street. For exam­ple, the street behind ours is called, “Mul­tan Kaka Kosa”. Mean­ing Uncle Mul­tan Street. It was named after the noto­ri­ous fighter, Mul­tan who has been in a phys­i­cal fight or argu­ment at least once with almost every­one in the neigh­bor­hood. Our street, da sarafano kosa, mean­ing the money exchang­ers street, was named after this wealthy sup­pos­edly “money exchanger” who was a night shift drug dealer. Though the “money exchanger” no longer lives in the neigh­bor­hood, it’s still called the money exchang­ers street.

  • Anony­mous

    I love this con­cept of using the recorder and fol­low­ing it’s instruc­tions all the way to the door.

  • sasha

    This is what is known as “nat­ural nav­i­ga­tion” and it is how every liv­ing crea­ture on the planet finds its way around. It is only the silly peo­ple dwelling in over­pop­u­lated regions who rely on imper­sonal street names and num­bers to get around with­out inter­ac­tions with the locals! Even with my smart­phone and GPS I like to talk to peo­ple!! :) I think google maps is devel­op­ing an app to nav­i­gae “like a local” which leads you by land­marks instead of street names…

    • Anony­mous

      I think it’s the nature of human beings that they always like vari­ety. You as a per­son (i am assum­ing) who has lived some­where with street names and every­thing would like it to be nat­ural and with no names or any­thing. I have lived my whole life in Afghanistan and I would like it to be dif­fer­ent now. Some­where with names and phases.

  • Meta

    another inspir­ing story from mid­dle east to westerner

  • T$

    Is there mail ser­vice of any kind?  Also, I’m won­der­ing what I would name our street :)

  • Liam

    I’d like to hear a tran­script of the directions.