KABUL — Young Afghan hipster Hesh Gul is making a name for himself in Kabul with his locally-sourced artisan bombs.
“Those big Pakistani bomb factories use their mass-produced fireworks to try to put the little guys like me out of business,” Gul commented as he rolled out a fresh batch of homemade explosives. “They may have started small like we did here at Improvised Explosive Delights, but they’ve really sold out. Their bombs have no heart.”
The IED facilities are located in a newly-gentrified section of Hesh’s village next to a Hole Foods outside of Kabul.
“I don’t deliver by goat because it’s faster,” Gul said, adjusting his horn-rimmed glasses.“I do it because it’s better.”
Mo Jahani, Gul’s assistant, says what they do is really about social justice. “Did you know that ninety-nine percent of Afghanistan’s bombs are owned by one percent of the population?” Jahani sneered, sipping a glass of fair-trade chai. “Sounds like a system rigged to blow at any time if you ask me.”
Gul, an unassuming figure in his skinny jeans and ironic Osama bin Laden t-shirt from Turban Outfitters, casts a big shadow in his community. When he’s not running operations at his shop, his sister says he lives green and is an outspoken feminist.
“Hesh was zero-emission before those Taliban posers destroyed all the roads and infrastructure,” his sister claims. “Hesh also supports equal employment for women in jobs like law enforcement. When I am killed for speaking with you because you are not my husband, Hesh will insist that more women and less men do the stoning.”
Hesh shook his head. “Fewer men,” he corrected as he put on a vinyl record of Arcade Fire.
“And ignore that bag of industrial-grade fertilizer,” Gul remarked. “It’s strictly for making bombs. I wouldn’t be caught dead eating anything grown with that poison.”
USAID administrator Gayle Smith predicts that boutique, socially-conscious businesses like Gul’s will lead to a more prosperous Afghanistan. “Hesh’s business uses over fifty percent reclaimed materials, such as landmines and mortar shells left behind by the Soviets,” says Smith. “And the shop’s bombs are so ineffective, they leave hardly any carbon footprint.”
In addition, Smith noted, using cruelty-free ingredients ensures that no animals are harmed in the production of the bombs.