kabul’s super swank

the place where i am working is rapidly expanding and we are in need of looking into some real estate to accomodate all of the staff. so this past week we have been looking at houses in this part of town not usually known (and derided) for its lavish properties as say wazir akbar khan and the narcotectural monuments of sherpur are. but things have changed here too, as we are learning, and property owners and developers have invested in the hundreds of thousands of dollars to build massive houses with price tags and rental costs that would be the envy of any property developer anywhere in the world. refreshing that some of the newer places feature better and more urbane tastes and a more sophisticated use of interior space and less of the psychedellic effects of their yesteryear’s predecessor whose looks and pinks and greens and glass panels probably reflected the source of the cash that paid for them. don’t get me wrong: these houses are still lavish and grand and as we concluded, a bit too much on the opulant side for office space. we saw a house that featured colonades two storey high carved of solid red standstone and brought into the country in one piece. another had a massive jacuzzi on the 4th floor featuring what seemed like a greek-influenced mosaic of a mermaid in a sea itself assembled out of hundreds of pieces of the semi-precious navy blue lapis lazuli. a bit over the top, as you would agree. this other one had a regulation size swimming pool as a basement, complete with showers and towel rooms, and a stone sauna. another came with furnishings that featured some of the best buzkashi and persian miniature artwork and nooristani woodwork, but the owner had an aversion to renting it out for office space. he preferred for it to be an ambassador’s residence. all houses came with standard issue manicured lawns, rich garden of roses and patonias, double-glass panelled vacuummed windows (ideal insulation for kabul winters), complete internet installations or at the very least lan wiring to all rooms, plenty of parking, and the ubiquitous fences over the walls complete with concertino wiring. one had an automated fire alarm and sprinkler system (unheard of in kabul) and central heating and climate control mechanisms. we did not see any voice activated mechanical curtains and lights though -yet. refreshing still that from the looks and trappings and attitudes of the owners that we dealt with, it was hard to conclude that any of them had earned the cash in dubious ways. true to what they professed, they were honest business people who had prospered mostly in trade in recent years, or through contracting and logistics with the american military, i.e. dividends of local procurement championed so strongly by the american embassy nowadays.
peter bergen writes about a number of hopeful trends in his recent piece here that mostly have to do with the civilian sector. i would vote for including the construction boom in kabul as part of that general trend.

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~ by safrang on September 6, 2009.

4 Responses to “kabul’s super swank”

  1. […] trying to find a new office building outside the gaudy, rich districts of the capital, and how incredible some of the buildings are: Another [house] came with furnishings that featured some of the best […]

  2. […] trying to find a new office building outside the gaudy, rich districts of the capital, and how incredible some of the buildings are: Another [house] came with furnishings that featured some of the best […]

  3. It’s…..interesting that the pingback above turned your into a woman.

  4. It’s…..interesting that the pingback above turned you into a woman.

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