The economy here is totally out of whack. One of the most obvious illustrations of this is housing. The money flooding into the economy through the illicit drug trade, black market (more gray than black for for things like alcohol and pirated dvds), and donor support certainly creates an opportunity for the enterprising land or home owner. However, everything in Kabul is behind a wall, which usually consists of thick concrete and razor wire rolls along the top (definitely should have bought into those companies 5+ years ago).

But the walls don’t hide the tops of the houses, which can often be seen from the street or from the roof/balcony of other houses. And, like an ice berg, what you can see is only the tip of the high life in Kabul. Rooftop bars, green houses, hot tubs, pools, courtyards with waterfalls, rec rooms, and the like make for a great party-scene; one that feels strangely out of place along the unpaved and pockmarked road (with pot holes so large that the sturdiest SUVs bounce like a crazy amusement ride).

Washington Post had a decent article on this subject. I’ve seen the red brick house in the pictures.