Going out shopping here on HQ ISAF is always interesting – at least compared to what it would be like back home. Here – over at the Carnaby Street shops, there are several shopping places – a few jewelry shops, rug shops, a tailor, etc. Today, Ken invited us to go have lunch with him at the Bahktar Jewelry shop with Ishmatella and Abdul. I wasn’t sure what to expect – but how cool could that be – having some traditional Afghan foods with a couple local merchants – that sounded really great – so I told him I was in.
When we got there, the shop was very small – about 10’ wide, about 20’ long – so not very large – and with cases on all 4 walls and a standing case at the back – we used that as a table. The guys were very nice, and immediately offered us hot tea and seats, as they got out the feast. The meal consisted of ishmish (raisins – room dried, not sun dried), pistachio nuts, and another nut I’m not sure of, the main course was kabob’s – both chicken and steak, a rice dish, cooked with Chicken in it – almost like a fried rice, but it didn’t seem fried, and then another dish that was kind of like a ravioli, with a meat in it, and sour cream on top. Everything was absolutely delicious! What wonderful flavors – and as we sat, our new friends were very friendly, talking about their culture and families and asking us about ours. One thing I noticed was that there was no mention of business, no questions about what we were going to buy – or how we in some way were indebted to them for the meal. None – whatsoever. This was such a foreign way to do business! It made no fiscal sense – at all….. but I think that is the beauty and charm of it. I felt a kinship with these guys just due to the fact that they made us lunch, expecting nothing in return. Why would I not shop with them!?
Needless to say, I don’t shop at any other jewelry shops. :)