J, M and I took advantage of a light work day to head off to the KAF bazaar. Most Saturdays there’s a market on base to which local Afghan merchants bring their wares. One can’t always rely on it opening up on time or at all. Anytime there is a heightened alert level on base, it doesn’t open. All the merchants also have to go through an intensive search and screening before they get on the base and how long this takes varies considerably. After more than two years here, I still don’t know if the market will be open at 11 am, 2 pm or any time in between on any given Saturday.
While some people get quite excited by Market Day, I’m consistently underwhelmed. The most popular items tend to be pashminas (don’t be ashamed to click the link, I didn’t know what the hell they were either), “designer” purses, and DVDs of TV shows and movies. A significant percentage of the DVDs won’t work and some of the movies were recorded right in theatres which is great if you want that whole movie theatre experience (i.e. people talking, the guy in front’s head in the way etc) at home.
The worst thing about the place, which other people seem to like, is that you are expected to haggle. During my first visit a couple of years ago, I spent 10 minutes talking a guy down from $15 to $10 for a necklace for one of my daughters (who, coincidentally blogged about a different market the other day). I had to hear about how he won’t be able to feed his children if he gives me a deal…blah, blah, blah…but as I begin to walk away, he suddenly doesn’t give a shit if his kids eat as he calls me back and accepts $10. I then went to get another necklace for my other daughter from a different guy. Having honed my haggling skills, I was ready when he said “$15”. I said “$10”. He said “$15”. I quickly thought “Hmm, would I pay $5 to never have to talk to this guy again?“. I handed him $15 and we both went away happy.
There’s also rugs, jewelry and assorted other bric-a-brac including a lot of “antique”-like items. Pretty much all of it appears to be mass produced crap from China or Pakistan. If I want that kind of stuff, I can buy it at Walmart.
The KAF Market is worth a visit.
“A market is never saturated with a good product, but it is very quickly saturated with a bad one.” -Henry Ford