Rami Elhanan’s license plate is yellow. Bassam Aramin’s license plate is green. It takes Rami fifteen minutes to drive to the West Bank. The same journey for Bassam, down the same streets, takes an hour and a half. Both men are fathers of daughters. Both daughters were there, before they were gone. Rami and Bassam’s lives are completely symmetrical. Rami and Bassam’s lives are completely asymmetrical.
When Indian journalist Taran Khan arrives in Kabul in 2006, she imagines it as a return – a journey to the land her forebears hailed from centuries ago. She finds an unexpected guide in her grandfather who – despite never visiting the city – knows it intimately through books and stories, poetry and myth. With his voice in her head, and falling in with poets, doctors and other Kabulis, Khan uncovers a place quite different from the one she anticipated. Her wanderings reveal a fragile city in a state of flux: stricken by near-constant war, but flickering with the promise of peace, a shape-shifting place governed by age-old codes but experimenting with new modes of living. These walks take her to the unvisited tombs of the dead, and to the land of the living: the booksellers, archaeologists, intrepid film-makers and entrepreneurs who are remaking and rebuilding this ancient 3000-year-old city.