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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

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