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Positive Bumper Stickers Light Up Worst Traffic City


It doesn't matter where you are in the world, pretty safe to say we all hate getting stuck in traffic. Some places, though, are more difficult than others. NPR's Philip Reeves sent us his thoughts on the gridlock that plagues Kabul, Afghanistan.

PHILIP REEVES, BYLINE: You can easily waste hours in Kabul just crossing town. The traffic jams are among the world's worst. Motorists don't seem to care if they're on the wrong side of the road. They drive around traffic circles clockwise and anticlockwise at the same time. Every day, Kabul ties itself in gigantic knots while cops watch on helplessly. Sometimes the traffic is so slow you can shop as you inch along. You can buy bananas or a blanket or a boiled egg. Men with wheelbarrows piled high with eggs patrol the lines of cars, hoping frustration makes motorists hungry. Kabul has plenty to worry about these days. People are angry about Taliban attacks, the lack of jobs and the many thousands of young Afghans migrating to Europe. Living with terrible traffic jams ought to make them even angrier, but I saw a lot less rage than I expected and a lot more love. People in this part of the world like decorating their vehicles with stickers. These are often about Islam. Kabul's different. You see stickers with a moral message. "Always be honest," says one, doubtless referencing Afghanistan's rampant corruption. There's a lot of car worship. "My Toyota is fantastic" is popular. But the most common theme plastered on the scratched and dented cars of Kabul is very sentimental. It's about romantic love. "I want to live in your eyes and die in your arms," says one car sticker. Another says, boastfully, "don't cry, girl, I'll be back." "The first love never dies," says a third. How pleasing that the '60s slogan, "make love, not war," lives on in spirit, preserved in Afghanistan by some of the world's worst drivers. Philip Reeves, NPR News, Kabul. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Philip Reeves is an award-winning international correspondent covering South America. Previously, he served as NPR's correspondent covering Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India.