Hear more more stories of Afghanistan before the fall on our podcast, Overheard at National Geographic.
Young male professionals with well-groomed beards and mullet cuts, slumped in plush chairs, sipped espresso drinks beneath flat-screens that pulsed with racy Turkish and Indian music videos, the bare midriffs of women blurred by channel censors.
This was still Afghanistan, a conservative Islamic society. But the patrons belonged to a more permissive, urbane generation that came of age after the fall of the Taliban, with vague to no memory of the oppressive, fundamentalist regime, born in this southern city, that banned television, music, and cinema; forbade men from trimming their beards; and forced women to wear head-to-toe burkas.
Café owner Ahmadullah Akbari returned from two years in cosmopolitan Dubai in 2018 to start his business in Ayno Maina, a sprawling modern development