by UNA MOORE
The only peaceful activity in Afghan society rougher than politics is buzkashi, Afghanistan’s national sport. Buzkashi is vaguely reminiscent of polo, but instead of a ball, players on horseback vie for a headless calf or goat carcass.
I had the opportunity to see part of a buzkashi match earlier this month when my housemate H needed to deliver computers to a village school in Panjshir, one of Afghanistan’s northern provinces, for the NGO he works for. Having been confined to Kabul for two months, I jumped at the chance to see more of the country. On the way back to Kabul, H and I spotted a buzkashi match in progress in a dirt field across a river from Panjshir’s main paved road.
We climbed down a steep incline to a small footbridge and gingerly made our way across. Afghan women don’t typically attend buzkashi matches, and few expats are permitted to venture beyond their offices and guesthouse nowadays, so the spectators stared at me.
I took my camera out and started photographing the riders and their horses. H coaxed a shy pre-teen player into posing for me. As I crouched to get a shot of hooves kicking dust into the blue sky, a horse rode up in my blind spot and side-swiped me. I slid against the dusty hill and my camera flew out of my hands. The spectators roared with laughter.
Luckily, no damage was done — to me or my camera. I laughed too, and left Panjshir a little while later with a few bruises and some great shots of my trip.
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