2005-04-03

 

Bazaars

There are bazaars every week in different coalition bases where hundreds of vendors sell their stuff. It helps those vendors who don't have shops - they go to different bazaars. There are bazaars almost 4 days a week. The bazaar schedule is different in every base. In some bases there are bazaars every Friday. In some, every Sunday you can find many different items like handicrafts, old coins, old British and Russian medals, Afghan jewellery, all kinds of gems like rubies, emeralds and lapis, rugs and carpets, leather coats, decorations like wooden boxes and marble, CDs and DVDs. It's very helpful for vendors and soldiers because they dont need to drive to down town and buy from the shops. Plus they don't have time to go there. So they buy stuff from these bazaars every week. All soldiers from different countries are happy with their shopping in Afghanistan because it's much cheaper than their countries. Especially gems, carpets, and DVDs. They can buy a 2 by 1 meter handmade carpet for $100 to $120 while back home it costs $600. Also the same thing with DVDs. The price of one DVD is $2.50 at the bazaars, but back in the US or Europe it costs $15 to $20. And all DVDs come with 5 movies on one disk. So you can buy 5 movies on one disk for $2.50, so that is why almost every soldier has bought almost 300 movies. In this list American soldiers come first. They buy more than other countries' soldiers. Also US soldiers buy carpets too. The Germans buy carpets and jewellery while French soldiers are mostly interested in buying gems and carpets. Some of my friends that are soldiers bought carpets from these bazaars and appraised it for much more back in US. So all coalition forces are happy with these bazaars. Also Afghani vendors can make enough enough money at these bazaars in order to support their families and improve their business. Two years ago I saw some guys that didn't have much stuff to sell, but now some of them have got new cars and some of them have got new shops too. Afghanistan's handicrafts are very popular around the world. Afghan carpets got first postition during an exhibition in Germany this year and Afghan carpets sold over one million Euro. Almost 70% of Afghan carpets are produced in the northern provinces. The carpet of Mazar-E-Sharif and Herat provinces are very attractive. Except for diamonds, Afghanistan has got almost every kind of stones. The Afghan's precious stone emerald is one of the best emeralds in the world and the Afghan emerald price is almost equal to diamond, as well as Afghanistan's ruby. The biggest mine of the blue stone lapis lazuli is also in Badakhshan province. Afghanistan lapis is the birth stone of January and is only found in Afghanistan. During the war our mines were not safe and our stones were sold dirt cheap by local commanders, but now is the time to control our mines. Our government badly needs money to rebuild the country.

Comments:
Waheed,

That was a great post. I am so glad that the vendors are improving their business. I'd love to buy a carpet from Afghanistan one day, I am sure it would be very good.
 
The "Afghan Rug" is still very popular in the United States, though I suspect many of the rugs sold as "Afghan Rugs" might be made in China.

I really liked the part about the DVD movies. In the States, music and movie companies are prosecuting people who buy and sell pirated music and movies. Even if they read your post, I doubt they would be stupid enough to go after American soldiers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq.
 
Yeah. But it is pretty obvious those are not legit movies, but pirated ones. You can't fit the full DVD content from 5 movies on one DVD. There is just too much data. And even if you strip it down to just the movies, its possible some re-encoding is involved, so the quality won't be the same. It only encourages the damn companies to keep the price at $15-$20 dollars, so they can claim its to regain losses. And in this case, they are losing money, since there is no way in hell they are getting any money back from such sales. There are a lot of 'reasonable' arguement for why they are priced to high and companies are robbing us, with both movies and music, but while music has some benefit in exposing people to new music and encouraging real purchases, theft of movies is just that, *theft*.
 
It's nice to see that commerce is growing and thriving; it is the necessary foundation for a strong society.

It's true that the movies are pirated, and that the people who put the work into creating them do not get paid for their work and financial investment. And really, that is theft. But I do disagree that the pirating is why the prices are so high from the movie producers. Unlike medicines, which have a short lifespan of patent protection, copyrighted works are protected for the life of the author + 50 years. The movies are expensive because most of them are hype-of-the-moment and not very good quality of storytelling! The producers know that in a few years nobody will care about 95% of the movies made in 2005, so they try to gouge as much money out of people as they can. Higher quality would result in longer lifespan for healthy sales; I wonder how many YES, Rush and Led Zeppelin CDs sell more copies every year than the newest CDs from today's bands...
 
Great post, very informative. Keep up the good work. It's always a pleasure to visit your site and learn more about Afghanistan.
 
In Afghanistan there's another problem with full-price DVDs, of course. The percentage of a day's or month's wage each represents is impossible to sustain. This difference in incomes etc. is a problem/fact for many products, and it will be long before it evens out enough. MS has made some token efforts to price locally, e.g., but it's very hard to isolate markets for digital goods, especially.
 
Waheed:

Take this to the next level and help your country sell the goods overseas.

I would be happy to help you in this project. The internet is an excellent place to sell your goods in a mass market of not just the bases but the whole world thru the power of the internet.

I have sent you a few e-mails you haven't returned yet but I'm the guy who agreed to send the digital camera to help you out. All I need is an address to send it. E-mail me back at bryankerwick@comcast.net or call me on the toll free phone number I gave you and we can start somethig to help the econimic situation greatly for your countrymen and the goods they wish to sell. People in the US and elsewhere would be more than happy to support a good cause in Afghanistan.

Like I said, call me or e-mail me and we can get this done real soon.

Bryan Kerwick
 
I just went to a bazaar yesterday at the local stadium. They use the parking space for sales. Because San Diego is near Mexico, leather goods, knives, used games, and Chinese toys are inexpensive.

My guess is that our friend might be a little busy with the translation work to go into business--but you never know which cousin may be interested...

Bryan, that's a pretty empty blog you've got there!
 
Afghanistan has some beautiful stones. I have a friend who is a minerologist and one of his prized possessions is a large, full crystal of Lapis embedded in white calcite, recently imported from your country.
 
Some photos of a bazaar in Kabul. Skip the DVDs made elsewhere, native Afghan goods can stand on their own.

As you mentioned, the only good (or better) lapis lazuli on earth is from Afghanistan. Lapis from other places is often dyed, I've seen some that washed out in water! There's still a lot of Afghan silversmiths doing handwork too. Excellent prices on a vanishing art.

Waheed, you forgot to mention the fine Afghan woodwork, especially carved wood boxes. They're simply beautiful. Many are still made with inlay of the geometric patterns that were typical of the old Mohammedan school.

Also rare in the rest of the world are good quality muzzle-loading firearms at decent prices. Since they're reproductions of antiques, they are legal to import.
 
subpatre: The pictures of those wooden chests are incredible. I can't even imagine what they'd go for in the States. From the pictures alone, the detail is fantastic.

Waheed: I am happy the merchants are making money. The soldiers are getting really amazing items (well, maybe not the movies!) and your countrymen should be proud of their crafts.
 
There's been some evidence-- though I have not seen anything definitive-- among the US intelligence community (civilian and military) that the proceeds from the pirated DVDs are actually going into Al Qaeda's coffers.
No one wanted to believe it while we were in theater, of course, because we wanted the cheap DVDs, but that didn't make it any less possibly true...
 
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