Kabul Journal: Delivering a Package Where the Address Is the Nearest Mosque

The package was from Sweden, addressed only to “Atta Mohammed, next to Sajadee Mosque.”

But where was that, exactly?

Deliveries are almost never simple in Kabul, Afghanistan, which has about five million people but few street names or addresses.

I followed the local postman, Mohammed Rahim Khaksar, as he tried to deliver the notice for the package. He is a detective on a bike.

He knew the mosque, but there are many Atta Mohammeds in Kabul.

He biked from neighborhood to neighborhood, patiently asking shopkeepers if they knew where to find Atta Mohammed.

Some were helpful. Others tried to stop him from parking his bike in front of their shops.

Kabul’s dirt roads can resemble obstacle courses. The temperature this summer day reached 90 degrees.

“My big wish is to have a scooter bike,” Mr. Khaksar said. “In these hot days in Kabul, it’s difficult to pedal all these roads.”

He examined the mosque’s register, which listed the congregation members. Mr. Mohammed’s name wasn’t there.

After about an hour, Mr. Khaksar got a lucky break. A shopkeeper knew Mr. Mohammed’s cousin and pointed him in the right direction. The postman set off.

The notices of packages often have the recipient’s phone number on the back. But Mr. Khaksar doesn’t call, because the government will not reimburse him for the expense.

He reached the neighborhood and asked young boys where to find Mr. Mohammed’s house.

“This way,” one boy said.

But when he arrived, Mr. Mohammed wasn’t home.

A woman opened the gate and signed for the notification.

Mr. Khaksar is paid about $ 88 a month. He makes 100 deliveries a day. If he cannot make all the deliveries, he starts earlier the next day.

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NYT > Middle East

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