KABUL, Afghanistan — Behind the black door in downtown Kabul is a place unlike any other in this city, even in the whole country.
Meena Rahmani, 28, started the alley. She has had to deal with gender bias and corruption, she says, but she has been amazed by an unexpected bowling aptitude among many Afghans.
It is an entertainment setting without alcohol — guards inside the half-ton fortified steel door turn away anyone with a trace of it on their breath. Patrons have to surrender even their cigarettes, which are put for safekeeping in lockers, along with the usual array of weaponry carried by some Afghan visitors.
From outside, it is marked only by a simple sign over the door that reads “Strikers.” Beyond the gate, a covered, sandbagged driveway leads well away from the public road — a precaution against bombers.
Inside, though, it is another world. A capacious and fastidiously clean restaurant space greets you. Walking past a wall of cubbyholes with crisp new bowling shoes in assorted sizes, you reach the main hall, with 12 lanes fitted with Brunswick pinsetters and multihued Day-Glo balls clacking out of the return races. A brightly colored sign above the pins shouts “Advertise Here.”
Welcome to Afghanistan’s first bowling alley.