Jul 14, 2008

INDIA IN KABUL by Manu Pubby

Posted online: Sunday, July 13, 2008 at 1236 hrs.
(click to enlarge image to read more)
THE word 'Hindustani' works like magic in Kabul. It opens welcoming doors, brings out smiles and an odd hug, and even reduces the haggling cab driver to a Bollywood music showoff. For the small Indian community in the Afghan capital—mostly professionals working on major developmental projects—the respected Hindustan tag is reason enough to stick on to Kabul despite an upscale of violence.Of course, the more than comfortable pay packages offered to Indians—more than twice what they would get in the Gulf states—also helps. Kabul is a city being rebuilt from scratch and Indians are deeply involved in its emergence as a democratic capital. Television channels, road construction companies, internet service providers,hotels, civil engineering companies, all have a significant Indian presence.While the embassy blast on Monday sent shockwaves throughout the community, no one is yet thinking of moving back to India. They still feel safe in the capital primarily due to the warmth of the local people. However, most have not brought their families here due to lack of educational facilities or a vibrant social life.Indians employed here are top of the line professionals tasked with setting up new businesses. When a venture capitalist decided to put in the upcoming television sector and take on the leading local network, he was adamant on recruiting an Indian to head it. Afterall, India has the most vibrant television industry in the region andIndian soaps already the rage in Afghanistan.

The bustling market of Kabul...

the famous Chicken Street...