seen on the back window of a kabul taxi

driving taxis must be the professional redoubt of failed lovers in kabul.

on the way back from lunch today i noticed more of unrequited love messages written on the back windows of kabul’s omnipresent taxi cabs.

every cab carries a different message on a similar and old theme. as hafez once said:

یک قصه بیش نیست غمِ عشق و این عجب
کز هر زبان که می شنوم نا مکرر است

i know, i know. nothing less than a dedicated blog or book can do this phenomenon justice (something like “overheard in nyc“), but for now, this post will have to do. i think i will take up cab-watching as a regular hobby and possibly photograph the particularly risqué and creative ones (like this one that a friend captured in delhi).

here are some frequently observed ones:

عاشق همیشه تنهاست
the lover’s is an eternal solitude.

لیوَنَی عاشق
(pashto) crazy in love

بشنو صدای قلبِ من
hear my heart’s call

از محبت خار ها گل می شود
(from rumi) love will turn thorns into flowers

در دلم بود که هرگز به کسی دل ندهم
ناگهان چشمانِ بیمار تورا دیده و گرفتار شدم
(چشمِ بیمار ترا دیده گرفتار شدم)
i have no idea why the second line of this stanza is usually marked by an atrocious abandoning of all rules of poetic meter and rhyme. must be a side effect of the stupefyingly strong love it professes.

فقط بگو نامِ خدا
or one its many variations intended to ward off evil eyes:
فقط بگو ماشاالله
چشمِ بد دور
Masha Allah

مان کی دعا جنت کی هوا
(urdu) mother’s prayer, heaven’s breeze

زمینی طیاره
(earthly aircraft)

مان کی دعا، جنت کی هوا
(urdu) mother’s prayer, heaven’s breeze

no fear
(accompanied by a sticker of that iconic set of eyes)

love, not war
(make love, not war)

دیکه مگر پیار سی
(urdu) look, but only with love

محبت گناه نیست
love is not sin

عشق کمینه

“sirf tum”
only you
(name of a famous bollywood movie)

زخمی عاشق
wounded lover
(this one unfailingly accompanied by an arrow piercing a heart, drawing shapely droplets of blood.)

and more variations on the same theme, using one or more of the following words in various combinations:


last but not least, here i kabul from time to time i spy that tiny fish icon that adorns the rear of many an evangelical christian’s truck in rural eastern kentucky, and that here would fill the heart of many a kabul missionary with glee and joy.


~ by safrang on November 15, 2008.

One Response to “seen on the back window of a kabul taxi”

  1. Hamesha e gerami,
    that is a great idea (paying attention and noting the taxi literature and art!), I think I read somewhere that an anthropologist that a research about similar phenomenon in Pakistan, about the decorated trucks and where do those paintings come from..I have been always fascinated by both taxi and bus writings in Kabul..

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: