For more than half my life, I've been a self-appointed one-woman ambassador for Afghanistan, pointing out to anyone who would listen that there is more to Afghanistan than kalashnikovs, burqas and poppies. In no doubt sometimes irritating persistence, I've tried my level best to convey to fellow outsiders the Afghanistan that I know, a country where resilient, brave, complicated people just go on living their lives amidst the calamities that have befallen them, when our media in the West tends to focus more on their victimization, their hostile deviants, or the spectacular break-down of their state. Both pictures are valid parts of the story, but the shrouding of Afghanistan's beauty as embodied in its people, landscapes, history, arts and rich culture, is a deficit in our understanding of Afghanistan, and it's one of some consequence. It's an imbalance I believe has helped fuel indifference towards a people we can more easily then say, hardly exist.
War is woven into the fabric of everyday life in Afghanistan, but so are dinner parties, over-the-top weddings, giggling school girls, men on the street bickering over endless cups of chai sabz, students bustling in and out of university classes, families watching generator-powered Bollywood soap...More >>