It is dawn in Jangalak, and the former industrial park has the appearance of an apocalyptic fairground. The drug addicts melt away at first light, leaving their syringes littering the ground. Schoolchildren walk down dusty paths among shelled, machinegun-strafed buildings. Women in blue burqas or drab headscarves carry pails of water back to families squatting in shacks built out of rubble and tarpaulins.
“This used to be the jewel in Afghanistan’s modernization scheme,” said resident Fazil Rahman, gesturing at the vista of crumbling warehouses and wrecked walls. “Six thousand active workers produced furniture and assembled cars here.”
Rahman, a 70-year-old mathematics teacher at a nearby school, is one of the few old-timers left. He lives with his family in one of the hardscrabble brick huts clinging off the steep hill overlooking Jangalak. When Rahman and others first moved there two decades ago, the area around Jangalak was a prosperous, upwardly mobile neighborhood of western-educated technocrats and civil servants.
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Iason Athanasiadis is an Istanbul-based freelance journalist.