When I moved to Kabul in 2013, among the first things I noticed was a giant neon sign hanging across the length of a nondescript building near my house. Lit up against the dark, it read: “BU PAR WEDDI G HA.” I wondered about this sign often—I remembered it for years after—and came to believe that it held some great secret, a mystery which, when cracked, would help me to better understand my newly adopted home.

Then one day, driving past that same building only this time in daylight, I saw that the sign read: “KABUL PARIS WEDDING HALL.”