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100 People, 100 Places: The Boys of Chicken Street

For some reason I often found myself either on Chicken Street or nearby, and it always mesmerized me. It was not dissimilar to a modern day version of the ancient Silk Road with all its glorious goods. There were sheepskin coats, tacky souvenirs, beautiful old Turkman jewellery, lapis lazuli carvings, scarves, carpets and antiques.

The first time I stepped foot on its bumpy surface, I was met by the little boys of Chicken Street, who promised to be my bodyguards. They were adorable and that was what the standard line they used to captivate foreigners who came to shop.

Jenner, who is the star of Chapter 5 Nine Hundred Kalashnikovs, loved those kids, and he would regularly take them out to the country or for lunch. In various ways we all tried to help either by buying the maps they sold or just contributing financially to their wellbeing. They were all bright and always cheerful.

One of the boys, Fawad Mohammadi, was picked off the street to star in a movie called Buzkashi Boys, about the Afghan style sport of polo. It went on to be nominated for an Academy Award. It didn’t get the Oscar, but as they say it’s not whether you win or lose but how you play the game. Pretty amazing.