Beautiful people are all over the world. But no country has as many of them as Afghanistan. Not only are the people there beautiful on the inside, they are also stunning on the outside. Green eyes are generally quite rare, especially in combination with dark skin, which is my favourite combination, but not in Afghanistan. Everywhere we went, we saw everything from young girls with bright green eyes to elderly men with tired green eyes. Every one of them were beautiful in their own way. While all Afghans have this certain look of innocence in their faces, many of the girls have that classic beauty look, while the beauty of the men is in the stories that the lines in their faces tell. We met several men who were a lot younger than we would’ve guessed. It was like time had taken its toll on their faces, making their struggles in life visible to the world.
While I was travelling in Central Asia, I discovered a new hobby; Photographing people! In the west, I wouldn’t dream of doing this, as I would feel like I was intruding. But in Central Asia, people would come up to me asking for their photo to be taken! They didn’t want me in it and they didn’t even want to see it afterwards, they just loved the fact that a tourist would take time to photograph them. And why wouldn’t I? When people, and especially young children, ask excitedly for a photo of them, how can I turn them down? In the beginning, I felt awkward whenever I was snapping a photo of someone, but after a while, it just became natural and something that I even expected to do, whenever I stepped outside and onto the streets.
When Steve and I got to the Afghan village of Sultan Eshkashim, I was worried that it wouldn’t be the same as in the other Central Asian countries. And it wasn’t – it was much better! In Sultan Eshkashim, all the locals were very curious about us and seemed to love getting their photos taken. Often, when I would be photographing one person, more and more would come over, stand in a circle around us, and stare with curious eyes, while awaiting their turn to go in front of the lens.
I spent ages photographing the people of Sultan Eshkashim, who became more important than anything else during our time there. Just by being their lovely selves, the people there taught me some important life lessons and helped me appreciate the life that I have back home more than I did before. Here are my favourite photos from the hundreds and hundreds of photos that I took of the villagers in Sultan Eshkashim and the nearby village of Khirmani:
The working men at the bazaar in Sultan Eshkashim
The young boys that curiously followed us around the bazaar in Sultan Eshkashim
The school children in the village of Khirmani
The green-eyed sisters in Khirmani
What do you think? Do you agree with me that the people of Afghanistan are just a tad bit more beautiful than the rest of the world? Personally, I think the beauty of the eyes of those last two girls will haunt me forever.