Alexander, 54, can often be seen around University metro station in Moscow. He said he grew up near Saratov on the Volga to a Jewish mother and Russian father. Alexander said he served in Afghanistan and now works as a security guard. ''There are three nations you can't conquer: Afghanistan, Vietnam and Russia,'' he said, as he discussed global politics.
She was smoking a cigarette with a middle-aged red-haired woman outside the Mall of Dubai. They were speaking Russian and I figured that she was probably from Central Asia and her friend from Russia. The next day, as I passed the mall again, she popped out for another cigarette break and I walked over to find out where she was from. She said she grew up in Kyrgyzstan and worked in Afghanistan before coming to Dubai. ”Afghanistan??,” I asked in disbelief.
Islam grew up in Afghanistan in a family of 10 children. A good student, he was sent to study in Russia for six years during the 1980s just as USSR troops were in his country. He returned to Russia in the 1990s as the Taliban took power. He now works in trade at a massive Moscow market that feels like a Asian melting pot. He counted off several countries where his siblings live - Austria, Norway, Canada. Of the 10 children, only two are in Afghanistan. He says he is getting to the age where money is less important and the desire to do some good greater. Islam says he would like to return home someday to help young people looking to start their own business.