Yes, that is a pelican. In the middle of Kabul’s Koti Sangi market. And beside it, there in the left of the picture are several dead pelicans. The little bottles are full of…. wait for it… pelican oil. You see, pelican oil is good for curing everything! Sickness, impotence, all kinds of disease.
I hate this stuff. Somehow the deceit, the foolishness, the exploitation of the exotic really riles me. I got in a fight in Bangladesh in 1999 (en route to Afghanistan, actually) with a man selling lizard oil. His speil was that the penis of a lizard is three times bigger in proportion to its body than human penises. So, lizard oil is naturally virile and the application of it will give you a giant penis. He actually had a little brochure that demonstrated this.
I told the salesman yesterday he was being foolish and crazy and he should let the pelican go (effective strategy, I know). He laughed at me. It is his profession, after all. His income. He told me I could buy the pelican off him. $500US.