Kabul traffic

In Kabul, it’s ‘every man for himself’ on the streets. (An antiquated aphorism but appropriate, as I have not seen any women driving.) The concepts of ‘yield’ and ‘right of way’ and ‘lanes’ don’t seem to exist—nor do stop signs or streetlights. This makes driving quite simple: everyone goes where they want as quickly as they want. The result is numerous accidents; our first day here, our driver pulled in front an oncoming car, which swerved to miss us and smashed into a tree. No one was hurt, luckily. No exchange of papers; the two drivers knew each other and would deal with it in their own time and their own way later on.

Yesterday, en route to Zarif Designs, our cab became stuck in traffic in the middle of an intersection. There were several vehicles vying for the centre: one from the left and two from the right. There was a car right in front of us, another coming straight-on and our driver simply inserted his cab into the middle of this mess. It was like trying to undo a Gordian Knot; none of the vehicles would budge an inch and the drivers all sat glaring at one another. One diplomatic fellow decided to back up – quickly and in a bit of a rage, and nearly took out a bicyclist coming up behind him, who swerved just in time to avoid being squished, all the while maintaining the same calm, benign expression.

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