Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

May 26,2015

KABUL— When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul.

On Fridays, the traffic stretches for kilometers. Groups of young men, couples and families make their way to the lake on cars and motorcycles as street vendors sell their wares.

“In the past, business was bad. Now it is picking up. I work here every Friday and go to school the rest of the week,” said one vendor.

This could be any popular place, anywhere. Except Qargha Lake is on the outskirts of Kabul, a city that regularly faces deadly violence. A city where men in uniform with guns are the most common site. Out here, a policeman directs traffic, carrying a whistle, not an AK-47.

Zaminullah is glad to be here with his family.

“There is nowhere for a vacation, for meeting, as you know, because Afghanistan is a war torn country and Afghan people, they lost everything during ... [inaudible] wars,” he said.

Three decades of war coupled with the strict rule of the Taliban destroyed almost all recreational facilities in Afghanistan. That is why people flock here, despite the dangers.

The glass restaurant had an attack one year ago but today, you would not see it with all the people that are sitting there. Obviously security is not the only thing on people’s minds. They do not want to waste any opportunity to have fun.

Boat rides on the lake are popular. Visitors are sometimes rewarded with unexpected delights. Like a famous Afghan comedian performing his act live.

Out here, one can almost forget this is a war-torn country, unless you pick up on subtle signs. Afghanistan’s only golf course, once a popular place with foreigners, now stands deserted.

But Afghans still come here to forget about the war, and indulge themselves in the little pleasures of life.