Saturday, January 07, 2012

Cheers! Kabul

New subject, same students. Many of my old students are attending my new class; I guess they have missed me!
Graffiti on crumbling buildings with no plans for reconstruction.
Haven't I seen this guy somewhere before?

Being back in Kabul after a 4 month long hiatus is interesting. During this trip back, I have had many bouts of Deja Vu; the guards at my old apartment are the same, my driver is friends with my former driver, so he knows that I like to lift weights, the policeman at the gate at school remembers that I don't eat bread, so he didn't offer any to me when it was lunch time and I walked by (he offered chick pea soup instead), the old beggar lady in burqa outside of the grocery store told me she hasn't seen me in a longtime, the biting cold is still unbearable, the walk to Camp Eggers still haunts me, I can still smell the wood stoves burning across the street from my place, my students ask me how Chris is, and the azan (call to prayer) still shakes me from my slumber before dawn.

Through all of these encounters, I can't help but think that I am Norm and Kabul is my "Cheers."

For those of you who are too young to remember, "Cheers" was a television show in the 80's about a bar in Boston. Norm was a regular at the bar and whenever he walked into the place, everyone would yell his name "Norm!" to greet him.

The theme song to "Cheers" went like this:
Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got.
Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.
Wouldn't you like to get away?

Sometimes you want to go

Where everybody knows your name,

and they're always glad you came.

You wanna be where you can see,

our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows
your name.

As funny as it may seem, I have been singing this song in my head ever since I got here. Though I didn't necessarily want to "get away" from the happy life that I live in the states, I did want to come back here to remember how wonderful my life really is. Just as I have written before, I think it is necessary for us to leave behind what we love in order to realize how amazing the things that we have are. So, I have gone away to Kabul to remember how lovely my life is in America.

It is ironic that the place I have to go where everybody knows my name is Kabul. Afghans are awesome like that. They have the best memories of any people I have ever known. If you tell an Afghan something, they most likely will never forget it. But you have to be careful, Afghans expect the same from you! I remember that one student told me how many siblings she had, and what all of their names were. She felt bad later on when I asked her again about her siblings and what their names were. Testing her, I asked if she remembered all of the things I had told her about my family, and she proceeded to repeat all of the information I had mentioned the week before. So this, it ends up, is the place in the world where everybody (who has met me!) remembers my name. Go figure!

And finally, here, everyone's troubles are the same. It is true, our troubles are all pretty similar in Kabul. From the poorest person on up, we are all cold, we all are hoping for clean air, clean water, and clean food, we are all hoping for peace. Though the foreigners here have all of these things outside of the country, temporarily they have to live alongside their Afghan counterparts and experience a fraction of their suffering. We all worry about suicide blasts, inclement weather, illegal checkpoints, and kidnappings. We all worry about money and time. We all go to sleep hoping to wake up to a better day tomorrow.

So, as I wander through these familiar streets, consistently being greeted by people whom I know, always seeing things I have seen before, I can't help but think: I am Norm and Kabul is my "Cheers."

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At 2:27 AM , Blogger Manizha Khan said...

Well written ♥
Both pictures remind me our uni, my class and efforts v made to make it a memory. Love to have u around with nice feelings 4 us :) In fact it is the care v've 4 u nicely return from ur side.

At 3:05 AM , Blogger Bushy said...

ok norm - but you also have the charm of sam, the brains of frasier, the looks of rebecca, the presence of woody, and the wits of carla.

miss ya kid!

At 5:03 AM , Blogger Jaala Thibault said...

Ha ha! Thanks Bushy. Miss you too!
And thanks Manizha, you are so sweet!

At 11:28 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Kabul, your words make me wanna take a trip to find who I really am.

At 10:51 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sometimes, living in there the life could be harder, but also could be easier and no pressure. In contrast, we have better lives in our home country or America. All in all, we should appreciate what we have now.

At 11:30 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now since I know how the people are in Kabul I'm interested to take a trip to that place.

At 12:43 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope the people of Afghanistan to have a better tomorrow. Actually,lots of Terrorist attacks or crimes whatever serious or not are happen anywhere in the world everyday. because our world still have lots of poor people need please help the poor people you know if you can.

At 12:07 AM , Blogger Hamad Alajmi said...

After reading your post, I wish to had a chance to visit a place such as Kabul. Hope you had fun


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