Of cats and cars

29 April 2011

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Tiger on the camera obscura

Meet Tiger. We’ve been cat sitting Helene’s cat while she was away in France. Tiger is lovely by day, but beware when night falls. This cat can do a lot of things, from playing ping-pong, to opening doors. Most nights, when we are falling asleep in our common bed, we hear some banging on the entry door, which is always a bit scary - Taliban, is that you? Tap tap tap…Tiger is trying to get in. And he succeeds, no door is a problem for him. Don’t ask us how he does it, but he does. And then he sneaks into the kitchen closets (which are locked, again don’t ask us how he does), pokes his dry food bag, and eats the falling bits until he feels satisfied.

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One early morning, he woke us up in a rather odd manner. Tiger was fighting with his mother (or maybe it was some kind of matting behavior?!) on top of our bed while we were asleep: hissing, howling and spitting like crazy. We looked at each other, astonished and half asleep, before vigorously clapping in our hands and yelling to chase them out of the bedroom. It didn’t seem to phase them, as they started over their chants in the room next to us (if you want to hear how it sounds, check that http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RC-R.... )
Let me tell you that it is not the best way to wake up.
But we love Tiger anyway. When he goes to nap in his red chair and curves like a little armadillo, he’s hard to resist.

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One of the few non toyota cars in this country. Here, an old russian cab.

As the title of this post mentions, we’re now going to tell you a bit about cars in Afghanistan. First, you need to know that 95% of the cars in Kabul are Toyotas. I don’t know why, maybe because they are reliable cars and the spare pieces are fairly cheap. The remaing 5% is made out of a few Suzukis and some old Russian cars from the late seventies. The Toyota corolla is everywhere, declined in minivan, break, sedan taxi and what not.

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Driving in Kabul is quite hectic. People go round roundabouts the wrong way (which is allowed!), make u-turns anywhere, slalom between handcarts and bicycles, and never yield to pedestrians – get ready to run fast when you cross the road. It’s a funny chaos, that seems to be masterfully controlled in its disorganization.

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Cars in Afghanistan are taken very seriously. They stand for social status, so locals pimp them with stickers in English (“It’s my style” “love killer,” most of the time with misspellings), and some random equipment (like ski racks on the roof even if the owner doesn’t ski). The more the merrier.
We went this afternoon to the car bazaar to buy some tools, tubes and random accessories for the bus. This place is car paradise, with hundred of stores selling all you would need for your set of wheels.
The bus is now staying for a couple of days at the mechanic, for some little repairs – hopefully the windshield wipers won’t be plugged on the blinkers, the dynamo will be running smoothly and there will be no more leaks on the rear wheel axle.
Our little bus is being handled by a very handsome fellow. Lucky you, little combi!

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Our mechanic.

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