Afghanistan scores first-ever bowling alley, reopens golf course
(CBS News) People in the capital of Afghanistan have limited options when it comes to creation. But now, some popular pastimes enjoyed in the U.S. can be enjoyed in Kabul.
The bowling alley in Kabul has all the hallmarks of bowling alleys across the world -- fluorescent lighting, heart-clogging snack food and lots of people having fun, but at the Strikers Bowling Alley, the security is tight and the rules are a little different. They don't allow any sort of weapon inside the building.
Meena Rahmani, 28, was inspired to open Strikers when she returned to her native Afghanistan from Canada for a visit in 2010. Rahmani said, "This one-month stay here really made me so disappointed because I really didn't find any means of entertainment, especially for families."
So Rahmani sold some of her family's land and spent $1 million building Afghanistan's first-ever bowling alley.
At $35 an hour, it is not a pastime that every Afghan can afford, but Strikers has become very popular with Afghanistan's young middle class.
And bowling is not the only Western sport that Afghanistan has embraced. In 2004, Mohammed Afzal Abdul re-opened the Kabul Golf Club, which had been closed for some 25 years.
Abdul said, "I don't like weapon, you know. I don't like to go mountain take weapon to hit people. Golf is good."
The fairways are not exactly manicured. The course is played entirely in the rough. But that doesn't stop American golfers like Fred Haywood and Jim Armstrong from coming to play. Hayward said of the course, "It's just a nice day out of the city -- fresh air and a good walk. Just fun to play with these guys."
To play, you need a caddy -- and someone to chase your ball. There are no water hazards or sand traps but there are dogs, cars, and on the day CBS News visited, an angry mob in the street.
Asked if he's learned anything from playing on the Afghanistan course that he could take back to the U.S., Armstrong said, "Oh absolutely. You play in this kind of rough terrain there will never be a terrain as rough as this wherever we go in the U.S."
For Afghans, use of the golf course is free. Foreign businessmen pay $20 a round. But Abdul was willing to give CBS News' Clarissa Ward, a first-time golfer, a lesson on the house. (Watch her lesson in the video above.)
Both Rahmani and Abdul have concerns about what will happen to their sporting ventures when NATO troops pull out of Afghanistan in 2014. But Rahmani says she is proud to have made Afghanistan the world's 91st country with a bowling alley.
Rahmani said, "Now that I see customers when they enter the alley, you know, a smile came into their faces, and that's, you know, a positive sign that, you know, it's a ray of hope for them, that (our) country is changing for better."
Watch Clarissa Ward's report in the video above.
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