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Friday, December 08, 2006


Najib, Fahid and Pam's fixture shopping adventure.

Farid, the carpenter, his brother and Najib pour over Pam's fixture photo.

Our list: A cabinet that will function as a wrap station (the place where your purchase is wrapped in tissue and placed in a bag) that is multi functional so can serve as storage, display and so forth; pedestals or tables for displays and merchandise; another functional piece such as a table or desk for the store manager that will also be the sales transaction point; furniture for the tea area; coat stands; decorative hooks; and anything else we could find to house or display merchandise. Our objective, find one or two beautiful pieces that are identifiably Afghan as focal points and make do with the balance on the cheap.

The ever courtly Najib inquired if we should stop by the expensive or cheap furniture store first, as the expensive one was closer that's where we started. Unfortunately since today is Friday (the equivalent of our Sunday only more so) not all stores are open, this being one. (Looking forward to returning tomorrow since what was visible beyond the window looked ideal, also expensive. Kate suggested we scout without Najib, so he can return later to negotiate, as a national he most likely gets a better deal.)

Off to the “cheap” market, and it was. Store after store of pressed wood, Formica, modern, non-Afghan stuff. For those of you in the northeast, think Bob's without the cheesy commercials. Pam said, "no dice", Najib always quick on the uptake got the idiom and agreed this would not work. In the interim, a carpenter had been called who took a taxi to the “cheap” market to meet us. After joining us there in a nice green plaid headscarf whirling around, we proceeded to “cheap” market #2. So Najib, Fahid, the carpenter, and Pam traipsed through the market, which was wildly interesting since it was completely populated by locals. Ugh, more of the same. We threw in the towel, and the four of us headed back to RKA to begin working with the carpenter on the fixtures. Eventually his brother, who was clearly in charge, arrived in a fabulous Afghan wrap (pattoo), and after what seemed like hours (Kate’s notes: it was hours) we finally had defined all the specifications for the requested fixtures and it was time for the price quote, which coincided with sundown. Which meant prayer time for Najib. So he borrowed Fahid’s scarf, said to Kate, "I'm going to pray this pricing discussion will end soon", and ignoring the commotion, kneeled.

Simultaneously, after hearing the initial quote of $1,000, Bahktnazira and her husband Khan Aga, taken aback, began to chatter away at the brother carpenter in charge. Bahktnazira was not backing down. Najib soon rejoined us as the store became darker and darker (no electricity) to add to the excitement, while Kate, Steve and Pam listened, with an occasional translation. It was truly great seeing Bahktnazira in action, what a ball of fire wrapped in that under 4.5' frame of hers. FINALLY we reached an agreement, $650 for a window display unit, three racks for apparel, several shelves, accent carvings, and a bracket and rod for hanging carpets. Time for the deposit, it was so dark a lighter was used to count the money.

What fun . . .what an interesting day in Kabul.

GREAT PROGRESS team -- CONGRATULATIONS!!! And way to go BN and Khan Aga!! Having watched both in action, I loved the thought of being vicariously there --real Afghan theater!
Enjoy, stay warm and someone please have a plate of rice for me!
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