#28 Life in Afghanistan :: My First MealPosted: October 29, 2013
Sorry, sorry, sorry. I decided to take Saturday off, for many reasons… and then Sunday just kinda followed suit by accident. Now here I am on Monday (which is technically Tuesday now) finally posting. But, let me tell you this – it is well worth waiting for.
Today I get to introduce you to the amazingly talented Alyssa Hollingsworth, award winning writer and beautiful lady inside and out! She is guest posting for me here, and I am SO glad that she is. You are in for a treat!
Alyssa visited Afghanistan in 2011, and I think it is safe to say it is an experience she will never forget. I’m excited that we get to hear from someone who has a heart and love for these people, but the freshness of a visitor. Someone who was blown away by the reality she found in Afghanistan. Alyssa is the sister of one of my dear friends with whom I don’t think I could get though life in Afghanistan (of life in general) without.
Upon arriving in Afghanistan, I was worn out from travel and the stress of being in (what felt like) a completely alien world. My journey had been hitch-free but not easy—from the splendor of Dubai, through terminals where I only saw a handful of women amongst crowds of bearded men, all to arrive at a tiny airport where I had to walk past numerous security points to exit, each one guarded with men holding guns almost as tall as me. My throat was caked in dirt before I even got to the car, and the drive to my sister’s house—where I was staying—overwhelmed as much as it awed. My initial impression of the capital city: Brown. Brown and crowded and bewildering.
But no sooner had I arrived in the safety and quiet of my sister’s walled-in house than she was dragging me out again to have lunch with our Afghan driver’s family.
We were greeted with wide smiles and ushered inside. I sat down on a toshak against the wall, trying hard not to point the soles of my feet at anyone, or let my chadar slip off my hair, or trip on my long skirt, or make eye contact with the man of the house or his son… I had counted all the rules carefully, but I hadn’t counted on the hospitality of this Afghan family.
I came steeped in prejudices and, frankly, fear—fear of offending the family and of being in that country at all. But no sooner had I sat down than my expectations—my prejudices—were blown away.
The grinning mother and daughter laid out a generous meal for us—rice, salad, french fries, naan, chickpeas and beef in a sauce. The father of the house sat and chatted with my older sister in Pashto. While he talked, his young daughter came to perch on his lap. Eventually she got bored of that and began crawling over him, playing with his beard, eating her feet—just being a little girl. He would grin at her, tickle her, encourage her. Watching them play—watching how much he loved her—was one of my most touching experiences in Afghanistan.
When my chadar kept sliding, they insisted I take it off and relax. When our legs began to cramp from sitting on the floor, the wife brought out a cloth to cover our feet and, laughing, joins us. When we finish eating, we are presented with family photo albums, and linger to pour over the pictures and drink tea.
Here was I, entering the country with my head full of textbook knowledge and an unhealthy dose of the news, expecting it to be a completely different world.
But it wasn’t.
It’s not all war. In Afghanistan, there is a driver who loves his daughters and his wife and his son, and while I sat and ate with them I was welcomed as part of the family—I felt like part of the family. It wasn’t alien. It was like coming home.