June 15, 2007


En Francais : ICI

I am alive. In Kabul, but alive.

Honestly, Afghanistan, is better than what is shown on TV.

I went to Herat last week, a frustrating trip, almost a waste of time because it took 48 hours to travel, the vast majority of my time waiting for delayed flights.

It isn’t easy to be a woman in this country. It may be a stereotype, but it’s true. Our group included of:

A. Two women and 5 men, or,

B. Two Caucasians and 5 Asians, or,

C. Three nationals and four expatriates, or,

D. Three North-Americans and four South-Asians.

The two girls? Me and a Chinese-American, covered both from head to toe, and abandoned on a bench by the men, our migration a story in itself:

- I sat with a colleague, male, a Sri Lankan who passes for local. Killer glances mortals from the Nationals, I migrate to sit with the other member of the weaker sex.

- The two chicks sit and chat with a colleague male seated behind them, a bearded American. Killer glances, take two. The chicks tune it down and await the flight impatiently.

- Take three, killer glances. Afghanis hate us for occupying a bench (oh, would it be reserved for the stronger sex?) and a national colleague (adorable) warns us of our necessary migration towards the girl section, a tight space with missing seats, and or a soldier-guard who directs Afghani women like cattle. Lip bitten and sour comment plastered, we migrate.

I sit on a step, and wait for the flight. Nearby, an Afghani woman sit by me, her superb tailorsuit hidden under her veil which goes down to her ankles. I smile, she smiles. She speaks to me in Dari, I reply English, both try to be understood. Not easy, and not the last time it happens. It should be said that the women of Afghanistan are eager to speak to the foreign women, but the language is both barrier and insulation. My frustration is large. If I return here, I will learn dari, to be able to communicate with my Afghani sisters.

In Kabul, my life is a long river of boredom. One would say that nothing really works, or happens. It’s Liberia, Haiti, it is imprisonment of both body and soul, the meals in communities, the shared office, common commuting, the absence of a personal life, of personal time. More than the veil, it is the feeling of being in a fishbowl that stifles me.

Rare moments of happiness are felt, laughing around a clandestine bottle of wine, risked teasing, but the essential is the boredom, which I accept with Aldous Huxley’s philosophy.

Your true traveller finds boredom rather agreeable than painful.
It is the symbol of his liberty - his excessive freedom.
He accepts his boredom, when it comes, not merely philosophically, goal almost with pleasure.

My down time, I spend it reading, watching movies, writing. What is hard, is to write about what I experience here. To confront oneself with this reality, to write it, is both tedious and vaguely painful.

I stifled a tear when my plane, on the way to Herat, made a stopover in Kandahar. The Canadian flag floated high and strong at the airport, and the feeling if generated in me, the sight of the CAF planes, remains confused in my mind. A mixture of sadness, regret, and anger, I believe.

I don’t hate Afghanistan, nor the Afghans. But this country fills me with a great sadness with I can’t wait to forget a little by returning home.

The Beaver

My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !


Salt Water said...

Dearest, Beav.
This is good, brave, stuff you do. But!!!, it worries the previously eaten out of your older friends. All the news I read and hear is not good about the areas you work in. Then to hear you make clear in detail small female persecutions makes the shame and pain grow. I find hope in the general story of your work, but not the details. This does not mean I do not want to hear them. I definitely do. It means I do not like you being abused by any person or culture, even as a profession. Please take care of our favorite Blogger, our favorite World Savior, our favorite Cyber Friend.

shayma said...

it is so cheering to read a post like this about Afghanistan. hats of to you. x shayma

Beaver said...

Thank you for reading, Shayma. Coming from an Afghan lady, it goes straight to my heart. <3 <3 <3