Photo credit: Najib Bismil
People in rural Afghanistan build their mud houses with thick and high walls, Qalla. They usually tie two or more ladders together to pass the mud to the mason.
Pashtuns like to have a very loose schedule. We spend a lot of time trading jokes with other ‘comrades’, especially if there is green tea and a nice little Hujra(guest room). No matter how sad or troubled we are, we make fun of the misery and laugh about it.
Interesting read in Dawn: The Irrepressible Sense of Humor of the Pashtoons
Part of the article:
‘Where is Comrade Amin, our first Socialist Leader?’
‘He’s dead, Comrade.’
‘And where, Comrade Information officer is Comrade Tariki, our second Socialist Leader?’
‘He’s dead, too, Comrade.’
‘And our fraternal Russian KGB Chief, General Viktor Paputin?’
‘Dead. But why are you asking all these questions?’
‘Because, Comrade, I do so enjoy hearing the answers.’
Jalalagood Geek Squad worked on this open source map of Nangarhar for about seven months starting from June 2011.
I am not bragging but Jalalabad is the most detailed city on open street map. A lot of aid workers and those who are new in town use this open source map to get around in Nangarhar. If you are using it on a smart phone it has navigation as well. NGOs and health workers use it to plan their humanitarian projects. Jalalabad city on OpenStreetMap.
If you go into district level map and zoom in, you can see details of any district. We are planning to create open source maps for as many provinces in the country as possible. We are currently looking into ways to fund this project in the next province. We will have a very detailed map of the whole country some day, Inshallah. One map at a time!
A video posted online last week showing US Marines urinating on the corpses of unknown Afghans was truly deplorable.
America has been trying to hunt the leader of the Taliban, Mullah Omar for over a decade now. Unsuccessful to get him, it wants to negotiate with the Taliban.
Where is he?
What does he look like?
New Yorker Article: Looking for Mullah Omar
Malala is a 14-year-old courageous Pakistani who has challenged the local Taliban that she’d do the opposite of what they’re doing. They destroy schools and Malala who was inspired by her great leaders, will spread education in Pakistan by setting up Malala Education Foundation. Read the multiple prizes winner’s inspiring story here.
Busted! Sometimes, when they try to win the competition they commit crimes against humanity. Millions of people use the open source maps of Open Street Map for humanitarian projects. For full story, link here.
Ali, Faiz and Abdulai are three young and energetic Afghan peace volunteers. They are taking their journey in India this time under, “What would Ghandhi say to Afghan youth today?”
Read what the three youngsters experienced for the first time in life:
First time on plane
First time above clouds
First time having pineapples
First time on elevator, travelator
First time using standing urinal and automatic sink-tap
First time in a big city that’s green ( Delhi )
Read full story here.
There is very little electricity generated by Darunta Dam which is divided between the corrupt officials and a few hospitals and government offices in Jalalabad.
Households in Jalalabad buy electricity from these expensive community generators: $1.25/KW. Most families do not use heaters or air conditioners or anything that use a lot of electricity to save on bills at the end of the month. One generator powers about 60 households. These are private businesses and there are no regulations from the government and the business owners can charge people however much they want.
People mainly use it for lights and watching TV. In hot summer of Jalalabad, there is no way people can save by not running fans. People save up for the three really really hot months of summer when they’re running up the bill. Some people use another trick: If there is a government official who lives on their neighborhood and their power cable goes by their house, they would steal their electricity. It ain’t good if they find out. They have to take chances. The term use for stealing electricity is ‘Changak’ which literally means ‘secret connection’. Some families make a one-time big expense (if they can afford it) and get solar power system for their household.
Community generators are more common in rural areas of Afghanistan. In some areas where people do not have cash to pay, they give them wheat, rice or any other crops for the amount of electricity they’ve used in a certain period of time. Sometimes there is a set prices. Everyone for examples pays $20/month. Conditions apply. An example condition would be, every customer should use 25 watts energy efficient fluorescent lights.
Having seen my mom wear a burqa to school and outside home for several years, I wanted to see how it feels to wear one. I took my mom’s ‘mobile jail’ and put myself in it for a minute. I felt so bored and depressed. Everything seemed blurry and I had no peripheral vision for that one minute. I felt dizzy when I took it off. Then I gave my mom a very long hug to show my sympathy.
The world from under my mom’s burqa:
Burqa and Its History
Worn by women in some Islamic societies burqa is an enveloping garment that has a small eye grid through which women can see. It covers them from head to toes. They wear it when they go out of home.
Clothing that is recommended to Muslim women in Islam is called
hijab. Hijab covers a woman’s arms, legs, chest and hair. By covering her “beauties” (as referred to in Islam) a woman maintains her modesty. These parts of a woman’s body should be viewed by her husband only. Burqa is a stricter version of the clothing that Islam recommends for women.
Photo credit: Chesi-Foto CC
Women in Pakistan have been wearing burqa for over 400 years. “In Pakistan, women are told that men are wolves and women are sheep.” Quoted from this article. A similar perception exists in Afghanistan. Since men and women are taught this from a very young age, most men do act like wolves and women as sheep.
Photo by Lauras Eye
Burqa in Afghanistan
Burqa has been part of the Afghan culture for 200 years. However, it’s been more common and strict in certain times. Under the Taliban regime, women in Afghanistan were forced to wear a burqa. A lot of families could not afford it as it was expensive. More time, effort and material is used to make a burqa. One burqa costs $10-$14 in Afghanistan. Some women wore a chador, which is made out of a large rectangle of cloth. Wrapped around most of a woman’s body, a Chador is pulled across face with a little opening for eyes.
The Taliban did not restrict women’s clothing only but they also required all men to wear a white hat, keep their hair short and leave their beards long.
After the Taliban’s regime, most women in large cities of Afghanistan gradually switched to Chador. Chador is a bit more comfortable than burqa. More than ten years after the fall of Taliban, a lot of women still wear a burqa. In spite of all these layers that they wear, a male member of the family escorts women when they go out of their homes. It’s a lot more common in rural areas where most of the population is uneducated. There, women look at their husbands as their owners. Some men won’t allow their women to have a photo on their voter’s ID card. A male member of their family brings their card home for them for a fingerprint.
How beautiful in this?
In Afghanistan, there is a sense that the extremists are watching everything you do. In many parts of the country, there is a constant fear that the Taliban would retaliate against women who do not wear“modest clothes”. The Taliban poured acid at a group of girls’ faces as they were on their way to school in Kandahar. These students were wearing descent clothes but they were not burqas.
Besides the Taliban, some women feel uncomfortable not wearing it because the rest of the community would judge them. For example, my mom, though she is OK with my other sisters not wearing a burqa, she wears it herself.
Why a burqa cannot protect women or even prove modesty?
Do all these layers and escorts really protect women from other men or does that isolate and degrade them?
Toes and ankles are the only parts of a woman under a burqa that you can see. Even then some men would still try hauling insults at them as they walk by.
My uncle in Pakistan was trying to flirt with a girl under a burqa he described as sexy. She went ahead and acted suggestively before him. He complimented on her nail polish. After an hour of flirting, the “sexy girl” inched closer to him and gently tossed back her burqa over her head.
My uncle blushed and hid his face with his hands when he saw his forty something years old cousin standing in front of her. He was extremely embarrassed. Then my aunt went on sharing the tale with the rest of the family and relatives.
A burqa neither protects women from other men, it only isolates and degrades them, nor is it a proof of modesty. Not to say that it prevents them from enjoying a nice breeze.