And it would make me homesick if I lived in Afghanistan too.

Oh diaspora Afghans. Especially the German Afghans. This is both so diaspora and so Afghan.

Afghan = Groups of Afghan men calling each other up just so they can laugh and sing.

Diaspora = Instead of meeting up at someone’s house, they meet up in a shiny restaurant in their European clothes.

You watch this video while I go do the attan in my little living room. And no, I have no idea what they’re saying.

2 jeribs = 1 acre.

I had a conversation with some mid-ranking Afghan government workers from various ministries and one of them ruthlessly interrogated me on my father’s profession, my lack of a wife, why I did not marry my ex-girlfriend (yay!), if I was Catholic or Protestant, what the differences between Catholics and Protestants are, and how much land and livestock my family owned. It went like this, halfway into the conversation:

Me: My family has a house in a small town. But I do not live there, I only visit sometimes.

Interrogator: How much land does your family own?

Me (not sensing the significance of this question): 20 acres.

Interrogator: How much is an acre?

MRRD guy: 2 jeribs.

Interrogator: Do you have animals?

Me (not sensing the significance of this question): Three horses and 20 cows that belong to our neighbor graze on the land.

Interrogator: You do not have any animals?

Me: No, not anymore. It’s too difficult without any children living at home.

Interrogator: Yes, that is true.

At this point I was rescued from the interrogation by a tailored suit-wearing Western educated guy from one of those ministries where everyone seems to have visited Dubai recently. He was highly amused with the conversation and the questions directed by his comparatively “rustic” counterpart. The gist of the whole incident was that, out of a group of ten, one guy had, in his mind, ranked me socially based on my family’s land and livestock ownership. Or maybe he was just politely making conversation.

This is a rather interesting museum exhibit: “Australia’s Muslim cameleers: Pioneers of the inland, 1860s-1930s” (link). Some were Afghan, some were from British India (Pashtuns? Others?). Here is an immigration document for one of them from Peshawar:

The story of these cameleers and their role in “opening up” the inland areas of Australia can be read here.

Here is photo of one of the cameleers in 1896 (source):

And here is one of his grandson today, William Bejah, showing his grandfathers compass:

At the suggestion of Q. A. Shah I took a look at an article about Australian skateboarders teaching Afghan kids to skate. You can read the article here.

kabul skateboarding

The groups organizing this is Skateistan. Check them out at Skateistan.org.

Afhgan skater kid

And finally, you can check them out on video as well.

Here’s a trailer for a new movie about the son of a gunsmith in the Northwest Frontier Province.

The director said that the young boy who starred in the movie quickly went from respectful young boy to disrespectful egomaniac during the filming of the movie.

“You’ll never work in this town again!”

Safrang thinks swimming in Lake Qargha is serious business? I say he is over exaggerating. Afghanistan is a veritable swimmers’ paradise. Why, just look at this photo of swimmers in the pristine Kabul River:

Kabul river

This photo, taken by Bill Podlich, was not taken in 1967. Honestly.

Just give me a minute to find another pic of the crystal clear healing waters of the Kabul River. Um….OK…here! Just look at Tamer Ali’s photo:

Kabul river bad

Uh, whoops. Wrong picture.


This spring, i visited Badaxan (Badakhshan), in northeastern Afghanistan. Even in Afghanistan the province stands out for its uniquely harsh terrain and remoteness. Badaxan has traditionally been one of the most under-developed provinces of the country, and remains somewhat the same even now (the province has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world.)

There are districts of Badaxan that are off limits to all motorized vehicles, and during the ‘open’ seasons it takes upwards of a week to reach from the province center -often involving long treks on horseback. For much of the rest of the year, these parts are closed off from the rest of the world.

I took this picture in Argu, a district close to the provincial capital of Faizabad. The boys of the village had gathered around to take a good look at the team of visitors. This boy had an intense gaze and sense of purpose about him.

From Afghanistan with love,
~Hamesha/Safrang

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