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In my best third grade written Dari I wrote a note to my boss asking for permission to go on a shopping spree with Steve, leaving the office an hour before the end of the work day. He wrote me back, in handwriting that I couldn’t quite read on my own, in poetic Dari, that it was OK. My next goal in my lessons is to be able to read handwritten Dari. I can already read some of the graffiti on Kabul’s mud-brick walls.

The reason for this workday shopping trip was the appointment I have made with a shipping company to come and survey my household goods that will be shipped back to the US soon. I wanted to make sure that some last minute purchases would be included in the estimate. Just like the books I have been bringing home from the office.

Canadian friends followed us in their own car to Chicken Street where Steve took them around to his favorite shops. Of course now that he is no longer living here he had to rein himself in and not buy more stuff himself, just being a guide and making social calls. But my upcoming shipment is a great opportunity for him to add a few things to his own collection which, after I gave him a positive nod, he is now enthusiastically doing. It’s a win-win: I have room, he wants to buy the stuff and the shopkeepers need to save up for Eid.

Some of his acquisitions (from last December when he was here for a few weeks) were already waiting in another guesthouse and have since been moved to mine. The small room where his treasures are stored is filling up slowly, just like his room did when he lived in Kabul. I am sorry I did not chronicle it more closely – I could make a flip-book of the expansion of the stuff.

I would have liked to buy lots of the Nuristani carved wooden furniture, some brightly painted, some old, some new. But I have to remember that we don’t have any space for more stuff back home and I don’t have a guaranteed income after October 1; so I limited myself to two things I have been eyeing for a long time.

In the Central Asia jumble shop I priced several instruments – a last opportunity to bring some home for the musicians in our family – these things are either too large or too fragile to carry home by myself. I expect Sita and Jim to say they want me to buy all of them. I don’t know whether they can be restored to full use – something I assume our musicians have in mind. If not they are certainly magnificent pieces of craftmanship.

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