AFGHANISTAN

Tradesmen Worry About the Sluggish Economy

He was sitting in the corner of his shop under the sunlight shining in through the gate. He had a knife in one hand and was holding a truck tire firmly with the help of his toe and cutting it.

He was overwhelmed with work and did not pay much attention to the passers-by in the alley in front of his shop. I went to the shop and said hello. He nodded and greeted me kindly.

I told him that I was not a customer or a buyer; I just wanted to sit and talk for a few minutes. He greeted me warmly, pushing back the tires inside the shop to find a place for me to sit.

His name was Abdul Khalil and, he had spent 40 years of his life in the profession of “embroidering.” He recalled a time when his products had many customers and, farmers from Farah, Ghor, Badghis, and Nimroz provinces came to his shop in Herat.

Abdul Khalil patiently introduced his products to me, one by one. He produces various products from worn tires.

His white hair and the wrinkles on his forehead showed the years of hard work he had gone through in the embroidery profession. With his fingertips cracked, he was still working with great care and skill; It was as if his fingers got used to it and, he did not want to part with it.

The shop was small, simple and with old architecture. On the old and painted wall inside the shop, some products were displayed. Maybe it was an old way of attracting customers, or maybe because of the small space, the products were nicely placed on the walls.

Sturdy strings, buckets and large water bottles, “guts” of heavy vehicles, and, of course, “chapati” shoes, which are mostly used by villagers and shepherds due to their cheap price and high durability, are produced in this small shop.

In recent years, in Herat, the embroidery profession, like dozens of other old professions, has flourished, and the products of this old profession have not had many buyers. The lack of a sales market has led many to leave this old job.

Although the industry in Herat is in full swing and its market is booming, people like Abdul Khalil have to burn and build their jobs with little income and difficulty and take a piece of bread home.

People working in the embroidery profession buy old and worn tires from drivers and produce various products. Remnants and scrap tires are also sold and used as fuel in some baths and furnaces.

Abdul Khalil, in addition to producing other products, has a special skill in producing Chapat Motari shoes. Some people even order custom shoes according to their foot number and taste, and he also produces special shoes with his handicrafts and skills.

This man remembers a time when during the reign of Zahir Shah, the former king of Afghanistan, “Chapati Motari” had many fans and, grooms wore this type of shoe at their weddings. Over time, this type of shoe became useless.

The increase in the price of worn-out tires has led to a significant reduction in the income of people. In previous years, the price of old tires was around 200 to 300 afghanis, but now it has reached one thousand afghanis, which has reduced the income of the workers in this profession.

Abdul Khalil is waiting for the farmers to come to the city after the end of the winter season and the beginning of the wheat harvest, and for his business to flourish. In recent years, with the advent of spring, the embroidery business has flourished.

The man had an interesting description of his work situation in the cold season, and with a Herati accent and a smile on his face, he said: “I came to the Sunlight myself to warm up.”

Although the clients of the embroidery profession are rural, the political developments and economic problems resulting from the fall of the previous government, like other occupations, have also affected this profession.

Abdul Khalil, whose eyes and face was covered with concern, said that his most important concern was the economic situation of the country and specifically his family.

I asked him to share a memory of 40 years working in the embroidery business. He laughed and said, “One day, a man came and wanted me to make him a pair of slippers. I said you have to pay some money. The man did not pledge but said he would come and take the product. I made slippers, but he came three days later. He told me to give him. I said you did not pledge and, I will not build until you pledge. When the man got angry, I gave him the slippers. He was very happy and, we became friends after that.”

In Arg Alley, one of the old and famous alleys of Herat, right next to the magnificent and strong walls and towers of the historical castle of Ekhtiaruddin or the ancient citadel of Herat, like Abdul Khalil’s shop, several other shops are still operating.

These days, if we listen to the heartache of businessmen and people in bazaars in Herat, everyone is complaining about the unprecedented stagnation of business. From a small shopkeeper in the most remote part of the city to a large and experienced businessman, everyone is worried about the country’s turbulent economic situation.

In the profession of embroidery, the words and concerns of all businessmen are the same; They suffer recession and, no one is willing to learn and continue this old profession. As a result, everyone is worried about the destruction of one of the oldest professions in Herat.

The post Tradesmen Worry About the Sluggish Economy appeared first on Hasht-e Subh Daily.



Source: Hasht-e Subh Daily

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