Friday, January 07, 2011

The Good Things about Being Back in Kabul...

Hadi and his adorable sisters.
Where the magic of language acquisition takes place...the closer to the wood stove I am, the more Dari I can speak.
The view of Kabul from inside of my lungs...Really, Kabul on a rather dust-filled afternoon (Darulaman Palace in the background).

There are a few good things about being back in Kabul...

First, the best thing about being back in Kabul is seeing my students again. As soon as I returned to the city, a few of my students visited me at my house and brought over a Christmas tree! Better than a real tree, I will have this plastic reminder of their love for the duration of my stay here. At the ELF house it'll be Christmas until our fellowship is over. Sparkling lights and a stocking dangling form our space heater will remind us of the spirit of the season even after it passes.

Today, the thoughtfulness of my students continued. In the morning they, along with their uncle, picked me up at my apartment. We drove past Darulaman Palace and bumped along some new (but unpaved) roads towards one of their family's homes. Upon arrival in the "suburbs" we sat around drinking tea and talking about school and life. I noticed that there were no mud-brick structures in this part of town. My student told me that the building codes said that there could be no such construction in this neighborhood; they were trying to keep it nicer-looking than other parts of town.

After playing a couple of games of cards, we made our way to another room for lunch. The food consisted of the steadfast qabali palaw (rice with raisins and carrots), naan bread, and a variety of meats and vegetables. Absent of family members other than children, an uncle, and a cousin, I asked where the rest of the family was. My students told me that there were other guests in a different part of the house. I was both impressed by the mother's ability to host two "sets" of guest at the same time, and honored that I was invited during another family event. This just goes to show how utterly amazing Afghans are. Being hospitable and welcoming is definitely one of their strong suits.

The second good thing about being back in Kabul is learning Dari. Although, upon returning to Dari class I realized that I had forgotten most of what I had learned in the last 4 months, I was still happy to be back in the humble school. I sat next to the wood-burning stove with my teacher and constructed a sentence about how much I didn't like potatoes. I used the Arabic word for potato, "batata," and when my teacher corrected me with the proper word in Dari, "kechalu," I thanked her and assured her that, "lo," I would not make that mistake again. She laughed and asked what "lo" meant. I realized I had told her no in Hebrew.

The last good thing about being back in Kabul is that I am returning healthier (minus my lung infection) and to a relatively cleaner city. I think there was some mass trash pick-up while I was gone. Each day last week as I drove through the newly clean streets, I wondered where all of the trash went...then I saw the river. The Kabul River doubles as the dump. Unfortunately. Also, the air is much thicker with pollution, so I can't help but think that the trash has been burned somewhere and it is all actually particles in the air now. But I am digressing from my optimism.

So, you see, there are some good things about being back in Kabul. In a few days I will start my winter class. Yes, I actually do teach here. More on that soon...



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