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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

"Did You Mean: Afghanistan’s Drug Industry?"

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Wed, Apr 17, 2013 at 10:59 AM

"Did you mean: Afghanistan’s drug industry"

That's what Google asked me when I plugged in the phrase "Afghanistan’s rug industry." Um, no Google, rugs not drugs. And hugs. Anyhow, it's some kind of dismal indicator that the industry that is second only to agriculture in providing income to people in cities like Kunduz has been overshadowed by those sleep-inducing poppies (which technically counts as agriculture, but still). It's an industry that perhaps makes for less grabby headlines, but the struggles faced by this traditional, and threatened trade (due in part to high tariffs imposed by countries like the US, as well as competing cheap, machine-made versions) are of concern—and hey, if the idea that a rug maker might be forced into a new career in the drug industry gets your attention, so be it. Although perhaps more compelling is that the rug industry is one of the only options for female employment in the country.

God, they're beautiful. I bring this up because next Thursday (April 25), Kush is hosting a talk given by Zubair Ahmadi, a member of a legendary rug making family who relocated to Los Angeles and capitalized on the cultural exposure to expand on traditional designs, landing his company spots in publications like Elle Decor. He'll be lecturing on the history and culture of Afghan rugs, including the current struggles. It's totally free to attend, and will be followed by hors d'oeuvres and refreshments. RSVP here for the 5:30-8:30 affair.

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