Saturday, 18 July 2015
07 December 2023

Dry Kabul Genuine Wine

2013 December 16

Delbar Tavakoli

Translate by Maryam Mouezi

The man looks out through a slot. Abassi says, “Open up. We have a foreign guest.”

Glancing round, the guard asks, “Where from? Does she have a passport?”

“From France,” replies Abassi, “Yes, she’s got a passport.

The Guard removes the bolt, opens the door and stands in the doorway. There’s a big shawl wrapped around his head, a machine gun in his hands and an ammunition belt circled around his waist. He takes a look at the five of us. The air is frigid. A fire burning in a metal barrel is dying down. He moves the kindling around. The flames are revived.

I reach inside my coat pocket and when the guard glimpses a corner of my passport he says, “Please come in.”

We enter a large courtyard. Everything is covered in snow.  Lights from a renovated building in the middle of yard beckon us. As we walk over, my eyes fall on the surrounding rooftops.

Armed men wearing traditional clothes are guarding the adjoining buildings. The faint sound of music reaches us. So far nothing about this is like a French restaurant, I tell myself.

The music grows closer. A young man standing outside the building welcomes us with a smile and another greets us from behind a counter as we step inside.

The cigarette smoke, smell of alcohol and dim lights can make me believe I’m in French restaurant.

I follow Abassi and the others toward a big table where young people from different nationalities are sitting. Everyone claps for Abbassi and wishes him a happy birthday. He introduces me as he greets each person.

They’ve come from all over the world to Kabul for the news, films, photographs or humanitarian projects.

The introductions over, we sit down and the waiter arrives instantly. I look over the menu. Sometimes it seems impossible to not eat.

Like always, I’m looking for something without meat and then remember a friend’s warning to be really cautious about consuming water and vegetables in Afghanistan.  Never mind the food, but maybe a little bit of wine won’t hurt.


Everyone’s talking when a young man carrying a tray arrives.

He puts a big white teapot, a teacup and saucer in front of me and leaves. He’s followed by another waiter carrying trays of food. Soon, conversation is replaced by the sound of forks and knives.

Abassi picks up the teapot and fills my cup. I wanted wine but okay, I’ll drink tea instead.

I pick up the teacup and before I’ve finished my first sip, the astringent taste of wine fills my mouth. Surprised, I ask Abassi, “Is this tea or wine?”

“Delbar dear, you ordered the wine yourself.”

“Wine in a teapot?”

Abassi laughs, “You know drinking wine is forbidden in Afghanistan. It’s only permitted in these restaurants in teapots and cups for foreigners so it can’t be seen. So drink your tea.”

I fill my cup a second time. Conversation around the table has picked up. Looking out the window, I feel a little warmer with this “special” tea but seeing the guards on the rooftops makes me cold again. It seems the Taliban could appear at any moment.

I don’t know why in the middle of all this I remember the three young men I saw in an Iranian court a few years ago. Their crime was carrying alcoholic beverages.

Even if it is in this closed off place and in a teapot and teacup, young Afghans can have a taste of wine while sitting in a restaurant chatting with friends. Their Iranian counterparts don’t even have that minimum amount of freedom.

لینک این گزارش به فارسی

«نوشته فوق می تواند نظر نویسنده باشد و الزامن نظر رادیو کوچه نیست»


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