Kabuli Days: Travels in Old Afghanistan
by Edward Field
World Parade Books. 148 pages, $15.
IN 1971, the poet Edward Field did the unimaginable: he bought a ticket to Afghanistan, inspired mainly by a photograph he had seen in a National Geographic. He was almost fifty years old, an age when most men aren’t looking for a travel experience involving hotel rooms without water, landscapes thick with the smell of human and animal waste, and local police who tend to regard you as a potential criminal.
But the ever adventurous Field put his fears aside and embarked on a trip that produced Kabuli Days: Travels in Old Afghanistan, one of the most interesting travel diaries I’ve read. For a Jewish gay man to commit to spending a year in a rural Muslim environment took a lot of courage. In 1971, for Westerners the Islamic world was still a place of romance: Lawrence of Arabia and Kahlil Gibran’s “The Prophet,” bejeweled women dancing in harems, and dashing sheiks racing on camels—the stuff of poetry and dreams.