No matter how long or hard my day has been, I know it’s been better than Ghulam Nabi Farahi’s. He has what is surely the toughest job in the world: Deputy Minister for Administration, Finance, and Tourism, working in the Afghan Ministry of Information and Culture.
#10 Afghanistan: Not bad, except for the giant flesh-eating wasps. In your bunker. Even though “giant flesh-eating wasps” sounds like something from a REALLY bad movie, they’re real. In fact, watching them pull small chunks of chicken from your plate was just one of the many things that made Kabul dining an adventure. But building a nest in the bunker closest to my office? Well, that was just going too far…
#9 Afghanistan: Cool, in a Mad Max sort of way. Anyone who’s ever driven Highway 1 knows exactly what I mean.
#8 Afghanistan: The world’s toughest story problem. Inspired by this classic Far Side cartoon by Gary Larson.
#7 Afghanistan: The crossroads of everywhere. The graveyard of everyone. People have been trading and fighting in Afghanistan for over 50,000 years. From the original Silk Road to the Modern Silk Road Strategy, and from Alexander the Great to tomorrow’s news, Afghanistan has a well-deserved reputation as a formidable trading partner. And the graveyard of empires.
#6 Afghanistan: Where the kids are friendly. And have AK-47s. Eid Al Fitr is a three-day holiday at the end of Ramadan (‘Ramazan’, in Afghanistan). Traditional gifts for children include dresses for girls and toy AK-47s for boys. Which means a bunch of boys standing at traffic circles shooting airsoft pellets at convoys…from REALLY realistic toy guns. In general, they’re not being mean-spirited at all, that’s just what boys DO in Afghanistan. All’s well…as long as the boys run out of pellets before a Coalition member in a gun turret gets spooked or an insurgent figures out how to exploit it.
#5 Afghanistan: Where the only law is the law of unintended consequences. Intervention in a complex system — and nowhere is more complex than Afghanistan — ALWAYS creates unanticipated and often undesirable outcomes. Like this.
#4 Afghanistan: In a horror movie when the music shifts to a minor key and you’re all, “Don’t open the door!!!”? Well that door leads here. Loosely based on the opening lines of this article by Eugene Robinson.
#3 Afghanistan: The major historical sites are expected to be landmine-free! A quote from the this article by Heidi Vogt about tourism in Afghanistan. Really.
#2 Afghanistan: That’s not debris. That’s just air. Overheard after a rocket attack. Really. It’s funny until you find out it’s too true to be funny. During my time in Afghanistan, exactly zero NTM-A members died from rocket attacks. Two died due to respiratory disease. Not surprising, since Kabul has “the highest amount of fecal matter in the atmosphere in the world,” according to Pushpa Pathak.
and my number one recommendation for an Afghan Tourism slogan…
#1 Afghanistan: At least we don’t have evil flying attack squids! Which makes it better than San Diego. Really.
Bottom Line: All joking aside, Afghanistan has much to offer; with victory we’ll being able to enjoy it. And as I’ve written, that’s worth fighting for.
* Photo by Paula Bronstein of Getty Images, from USA Today
** Photo by Stephon Sterns