Images of Afghanistan 1971

In 1971-72 I traveled from Australia through SE Asia, India and then overland to London. I had very little money,
and a fairly naive understanding of what I saw. It seemed above all that I would need to come back with more
leisure and income to grasp the full meaning of these glimpses of other worlds. Of course, life and time have
crossed these good intentions. Afghanistan in 1971 was, in a way, a relief after India. In spite of its bleak
landscapes I found the people hospitable and open to accepting a man for his simple human worth before
the pretensions of wealth, education or status. Maybe I was just lucky. There was no doubt about the Islamic
cast of the country, and others warned me against photography. These prints were taken surreptitiously with
an 8mm subminiature Minolta - extremely hard to get film for (and now impossible though I still have it
somewhere). Click to enlarge. For a longer written account of this visit see "Memories of Afghanistan"

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Street photography in Herat. Note the black backdrop for clients. These incredible cameras were common all the way to Istanbul. They were the poor man's Polaroid, containing within the box wet- plate film,developingdishes etc. After shooting the photographer would prepare a contact print on the spot. 

The castle of Pai Hesar in Herat was supposed to have been built for Alexander the Great. It looks as if it could be washed away by a water cannon, but then it doesn't rain often. The recent war has not helped though. 
Herat. An old minaret. The mezzuin must have been a man with strong legs and strong lungs. Nowadays they've gone soft with loudspeakers.
Herat. Strange minarets of antiquity. They were originally faced with tiles.

 Shopping in Herat. These open-fronted cubby holes are the emporiums of the East. and each one sells the same stuff. The streets of Herat were lined with cornifers, which helped shut out the dust, the heat and the desert.
 Kabul architecture
Downtown Kabul. The cart in the foreground is for drinks, in old Pepsi Cola bottles at about US one cent. Any colour you like. They all tasted the same - like boiled sweets dissolved in muddy river water.
"Temporary" accommodation near Kabul. What a miserable life in winter when the temperature falls below freezing.


Photography copyrighted to Thor May 2002; all rights reserved