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Monday, February 24, 2014

Testimonial: How was Afghanistan?

This is the question that people have been asking me for more than a year now. It's a very reasonable question indeed.

Afghanistan, being a red zone country, may not be a very lucrative destination for most people. People might think that me being a woman has completely lost my head to choose that country as career destination. Some other people would give me a jaw-dropping look and say that I have steel balls or steel gut. Well, steel is destructible so I prefer Adamantium actually (if you are an X-Men fan, you would know what I am talking about) ;).

The core question that people ask me all the time is "WHY?" - "Why did you go there? What was your consideration?"

I can't answer that question from only one dimension. There are various dimensions to enlighten someone of why I chose to go there.

Relativity
I am a fan of Einstein's theory of Relativity. Every single thing which is happening within or in our surrounding is relative so it all lies in your perspective. Now, I want you to look at this picture and tell me what you see. 

Some people would see a "Duck" while others would see a "Rabbit". It all depends on YOUR PERSPECTIVE.

The same with me when it comes to Afghanistan. Nothing is 100% bad or 100% good on this earth; everything has its own side. During my study in India, I have met people from Afghanistan and indirectly, they have been the ambassador of their country who have made me believe that it is indeed a country with beautiful culture and good people.

There are adorable kids too, there. There are wonderful women, too. There are extremely gallant, heroic, and charismatic men, too out there. Just because their country is in conflict, it doesn't make them any less human.

There are many countries on earth which exist without conflicts. They are the so-called the safe countries, but does it mean that they are COMPLETELY good? No. It's all about scale. Everything has its own portion.

On one side of the coin, the conflict is going on while on the other side of the coin, the kindness is still flourishing.

When I set off there, I prayed that I shall see the good side of it and I did. God granted my wish.

The People
The people I met there are the people who take care of each other's back. They have an extraordinary understanding level towards others which made me surrender to their kindness. It is impossible to reject people who accept you as a whole. I see polite people there who respect women. I see people who are warm. I see wonderful courtesy towards guests.

Being thousands of miles away from home coming to a country that I have never set foot on, those people really made me feel at home. I was treated as a family member with all the ridiculous jokes, debates, and mockery that we shared together.

The Food
The food is excellent. Personally, the only issue I faced with the food was the lack of spices. Afghan food is very less spicy and for a person who loves chili like me, it took some time to adjust. Other than that, they have various excellent food that you could cherish.

Afghanistan has been the only place til date where I have seen a cauliflower with the diameter of 30-40 cm and weight 7-9 kg. It has been place where watermelon comes in the size of a 4 or 5 year old human child.

And apple trees, peach trees, almond trees, grape vines all come in one front yard. You could wake up in the morning seeing all the fruits on the trees and that was incredible.
Leek Bolani and Potato Bolani

The Whole Set of Lunch

Chicken Kabab & Fries

This is Dogh --> Curd (fermented milk) mixed with water, salt, cucumber, and a bit of leek.. Usually drunk during the summer for cooling the body!

Leek Dumpling with minced meat curry and curd

Chicken Palau --> Something like chicken biryani (without many spices) garnished with glazed raisins & shredded carrots

Some kind of berries that you could get in the trees in almost every street
Fussili with minced meat curry, curd and garnished with coriander leaves

Sheep Kabab
Roasted Corn, Sugar Cane Juice and a "Romance" novel that once accompanied the evening :)

Apricots

Cherries

Prunes
Grape Vine outside the bedroom window :)
The Weather
Afghanistan has 4 seasons and during winter it would be snowing. The temperature would go to -20 degree Celcius but during my stay there, the minimum was -14 degree. I was freezing there. And during summer, it could go to 45 degree Celcius. You would really need lots of cooling food to deal with such weather. The spring is excellent as you would see all the flowers blooming. It's like seeing the birth of nature.

Unfortunately, I wasn't there during the autumn but I believe it would indeed be a beautiful scenery.

The Bombings
I never saw a live bomb explosion during my stay there and I am grateful I didn't... BUT I heard several explosions which took place not very far from the place I resided. There would be times when the first sound I heard in the morning and the last sound I heard before I slept was a bomb explosion.

Once, I heard distant gun-fights. Once, the bomb was so near to the house that when I went to the top of the balcony, I could see the smoke rising. It was not a pretty sight knowing that someone has just died and the smoke that I witnessed is the sign of it, but I had gone through that.

For the first month after I returned to my country, each time there is a fire cracker or tire puncture, I would be alert for a split second thinking that it was a bomb. However, things get by.

Finally...
Sometimes we ask ourselves "What is actually our purpose of being born to this earth? What is the work that God has designate us to do here?" and until today I still don't have a 100% guaranteed answer for that question, but being in Afghanistan, I realize that I could indeed do something. I am a part of something. I am proud to have ever been there. It may not be the best place on earth in terms of security issues, but for me, it was best enough and it has taught me many good things.

If you ask any of the soldiers who have served there, who have been in the front line dealing with the gun fights and bombings, you might get a different story. You might get a story full of blood and heart-breaking events... but again, this is my story. This is my perspective. This is what I see and this is my answer if you ask me "How is Afghanistan?".

And if you ask me "Would you go back there?" and my answer would be "If I have the chance again, why not? I have a family there now."
Sunset of one fine Winter

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Is Homosexuality Taboo?

There have been many controversial remarks made regarding homosexuality. Some people hate the homosexuals to the core, while other people don't care, while the others don't care about it until they encounter homosexuals in their own life and start chiding them.

What is homosexual?
Homosexual is one of the common sexual orientations other than Heterosexual and Bisexual (let's not touch paedophile, necrophile, zoophile, plushophile, masochism among others). This phenomenon could happen due to genetic difference or even environmental force, which means, you could be a homosexual by birth or because the situation in your environment influence you to be one. In some cases of homosexuality which is influenced by environment, this difference could be reversed back to normal with therapy.

Why is it a fuss?
We have the tendency to NOT accept something which is different from us. Not accepting is still fine at times, but chiding it doesn't seem to be a very mature thing to do.

The moment we find out that one of our friends, or one of our daughters, or one of our nephews is a homosexual, we get frustrated. We show our wrath to them in disapproval. Some even show disgust. Why such?

Since when has God allowed us to judge a person from his/her sexual orientation alone?

Is that how we see people? From their sexual orientation?

There are many people out there with the so-called normal sexual orientation (heterosexual) who has strayed from the right path and do wrong things. They polish their looks with wealth, good deeds with ulterior motives, and perhaps beautiful or handsome opposite gender partner wrapped up in their arms and yet we don't feel disgusted with these people. We feel disgusted with the homosexuals just because their sexual orientation is different from us. Some of us treat them as if they had done crime JUST because they are homosexuals. It's not fair.

My point of touching this topic is not to say that heterosexuals are greater beings or homosexuals are greater beings or bisexuals are greater beings. My point today is to tell that judging a person from his sexual orientation is a complete bias. We amplify someone's personal life just because of their sexual orientations. We judge the quality of their souls just because of their sexual orientations. Are we that good? Please let's look inside each of us? Are we that good? Are we that clean just because we bed the opposite gender? Does it make us better from anyone else?

Homosexuals as Parents
Some children who have been adopted by homosexual parents, some children who have been conceived by surrogate mothers for the gay couples, and some children who have been conceived with donor sperm by the lesbian couples are facing difficult times in the society JUST because both of their parents are homosexuals.

Having children is a normal wish. Just because some people are homosexuals, it doesn't mean that they don't have the wish to raise a child. Does it make them worse parents than us? Just because we call ourselves normal parents, does it make us better parents?

You might say that from psychological point of view, children who grow up with both parents (man & woman) have better emotional stability. So how about thousands of children who are raised by single parents? If we can't blame and treat the single parents as if they had done crime, then we don't have any rights to treat the homosexual parents that way either.

As the end note, I just want to emphasize once again. Let's not make fuss of something that we don't understand completely. Accept the difference, try to see things from their point of views and again... let's not judge the quality of a person based on his sexual orientation alone. Sexual orientation is just one small bit of a human, it's not the main determiner. There are still many other things to polish within us despite us being sexually normal. It's not to whom we have sex or to whom we are attracted sexually, it's how we treat other human.