Afghan joke 2

A teenage girl and  her sweetheart were having the sinful walk of romance in a Kabul park. All of a sudden the girl noticed that her father is just coming towards them from the opposite side. She was scared to death and looked at the boy.

– “Oh… dear God, what should I say if he asked me who you are?”

– “Just tell him I’m your brother”!

………………………………………………….

If this joke doesn’t make sense to you, read this recent report in NYTimes.

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SlutWalk in Kabul

Afghan women rally in Kabul july 14, 2011 / Photo: UNDispatch

On January 24, 2011 Michael Sanguinetti a Toronto police officer was invited to speak at a York University safety forum about crime prevention. He said among other things: “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.” This classic blame-the-victim tone outraged the women activists in Toronto who initiated, a now worldwide, movement known as SlutWalk.

The first SlutWalk took place on April 3, 2011 in Toronto in which hundreds of women dressed half naked as prostitutes rallied and carried signs protesting the sexual harassment of women in public spaces.  Soon women in other cities in Canada, United States, and some European countries organized their own SlutWalks and it became officially an international movement.

Last week a group of young girls gathered in Kabul city and rallied for the same cause of protesting sexual harassment on streets, however they avoided to call their event a SlutWalk. The rally which was well-reported in international press was composed of about 30 men and women. Although the girls were all decently clothed and no one looked sluty, the rally itself was probably a discreet response to the international SlutWalk movement.

They carried signs which read “the street belongs to me too” and “we won’t be silent anymore”. There were some religious signs as well, which made me uncomfortable. One said “street harassment is a sin” the other held a hadis, quote from the prophet: “only the inferior people insult the women” – visible in the above picture. Well, my question is how do you promote gender equality among Afghan people by religious rhetoric? Religion doesn’t work here, for two reasons.

One, people of Afghanistan is fed up with religious hypocrisy, everybody knows what is wrong and what is right in Islam, but still keep doing all the robberies, murders, bribery, lies, deceptions, …. Look at the corrupt mullas, officials and the public; this people are sick and dirty in all possible levels. So religious preaching is meaningless to them, although they are considered Muslim fundamentalists. The second reason is that you can’t fight Islam with Islam. The mullah in the following video says exactly what the Canadian policeman in Toronto said: women should stop dressing provocatively in public in order to remain safe.  He cites Islam for that, luckily he is a Shia mulla from Hazara ethnic group who have a more moderate stand on women. If it was a Sunni mull, he would repeat the true Islamic Sharia, the kind we experienced during the Taliban.

It is very hard to accept it, but what Taliban did to women in terms of appearing in public was actually based on Islamic teachings. Today, if the Afghan women are genuinely in pursuit of equality, they would not acquire it by hypocritically chanting religious quotes on streets and demanding Islamic Sharia; in contrary, they should fight this Islamic-infused misogynist culture by all other means. I wish them best of luck!

Kabul Shit by Lily Allen

I really like Lily Allen’s Fuck You, a beautiful and funny song in support of LGBT community.  Her other song called Kabul Shit is also very captivating and meaningful. The song is not relevant to Kabul city, but it’s not irrelevant either (see the definition of “Kabul Shit” ). I thought it would be good to share its video and the lyrics here with you.

Lyrics:

There’s a hole in our logic
There’s a hole in the sky
And one day just like magic
We’re all going to die
‘Cause we didn’t turn the lights off
And we didn’t take the bus
Even though we know we should have
Oh, silly old us

Well we should have recycled
And saved our resources
While there’s still someone elses
Someone call the armed forces
And we’ll blame it on terror
Also known as religion
But we shouldn’t feel guilt
For protecting our children

Excuse me, sir
But is this what they call denial
Just to carry on regardless
We’ll only do it for a while
We’ll carry on straight down the line
Down the road to nowhere
Do you know where it is leading us
And do we even wanna go there

I don’t have the answers
I don’t know where we start
Start to pick up all the pieces
Of everything we’ve torn apart
Now, you’d think that we’d be grateful
For the fact we’ve got a choice
Instead we throw it back at people
Who don’t even have a voice

And the teachers always told us
Told us we should love thy neighbor
And my mother always told me
Told me I should vote [new?] labor
But I don’t know who to trust
And I just find it all confusing
All as useless as each other
Past the point of being amusing

Excuse me, sir
But is this what they call denial
Just to carry on regardless
We’ll only do it for a while
We’ll carry on straight down the line
Down the road to nowhere
Do you know where it is leading us
And do we even wanna go there

Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Excuse me, sir
But is this what they call denial
Just to carry on regardless
We’ll only do it for a while
We’ll carry on straight down the line
Down the road to nowhere
Do you know where it is leading us
And do we even wanna go there.

The tragedies of Karzai

In 1999 Taliban killed Hamid Karzai’s father and now his brother. This is too much for any person, especially for Pashtuns.

Like so many others, I also have a hard time figuring out who was really behind the yesterday assassination of Ahmad Wali Karzai, the powerful brother of president Hamid Karzai in Kandahar. The Taliban say they did it, but there are doubts about it. A number of international and national media imply that this incident has something to do with family issues within the Karzai clan.  ……the real story behind this murder may never be uncovered, as usual in Afghanistan.

I think the following quote from Khan Abdul Ghani Khan (better known as Ghani Khan) arguably the most important Pashtun poet in 20th century can help us understand the Pashtun sprite when it comes to power, murder and rivalry:

Every Pashtun imagines he is Alexander the Great and wants the world to admit it. The result is a constant struggle between cousin and cousin, brother and brother and quite often between father and son. This has proved his sole undoing through the ages. They have not succeeded in being a great nation because . . . [he] would rather burn his own house than see his brother rule it. 

(quoted in Misdaq 2006, p. 52)

Source:

Misdaq, N. (2006). Afghanistan: Political Frailty and External Interference. London: Routledge

Dubai-Kabul air traffic

There is a surprise in the number of international visitors to Kabul during the last year. According to a new study by MasterCard the outbound passengers from Dubai to Kabul rose from 80,396 in 2009 to 261,063 in 2010. Dubai is the principle gateway through which the visitors to and from Afghanistan connect to other destinations. This year Kabul is expected to attract 390,041 air passengers from Dubai, which makes it the UAE’s third ranking destination following Kuwait and Doha, and ahead of London.

I just can’t understand this, from one hand the security is getting worse in Afghanistan, people are loosing hope especially after the NATO solders have started to pack up, on the other hand there is a flight rush to Kabul. Even Turkish Airlines, which according to the “World Travel Awards is Europe’s Leading Airline Business Class”, has began flights from Istanbul Ataturk Airport to Kabul three times a week.

This is probably part of the paradoxes of all post-war cities. I can see a thick air of hope and despair in the dusty sky of Kabul, with planes wandering around. I wish things go well for this city after all.

After Kabul Bank, this is the turn for Azizi Bank

Some Afghan MPs have revealed that Azizi Bank the second largest private bank in Afghanistan is on the edge of collapse. However the Bank executives try to downplay the whole thing. Haji  Zaher Qader on the Sunday session of the parliament said: “On breakfast time, they brought me $1 million and told me Haji Zaher be quiet! but Haji Zaher is not born from the kind of mother who would shut up for  money.”

According to 8 Subh newspaper, Azizi Bank had bought $450 million worth of properties in Dubai before the 2008 recession, now the value of this huge investment has dropped up to 60 percent. Also the real estate investment inside Afghanistan by Azizi’s Onyx Construction Company is widely believed to be fraudulent. The company has allegedly fabricated ownership documents in order to get official permit to build a residential township on a government land in Kabul city.  As Hossain Fahimi, another Afghan MP  has told TOLONews, I also think that “Azizi Bank would face the same fate as the Kabul Bank.”

Une fin de semaine à Montréal

Habitat 67, Montreal

Habitat 67, Montreal

Me in front of Habitat 67, Montreal / July 9, 2011

Last weekend I went to Montreal to reward myself for finishing the first draft of my Masters’ thesis. I visited several neighborhoods, museums, universities, bookstores, art galleries, churches and so on. But among them seeing Habitat 67 was a real pleasure. It is a landmark housing complex designed by Moshe Safdie, a 23 year old architect who created this based on his master’s thesis at McGill University in 1960s. Habitat 67 was supposed to be a model of affordable housing for future urban centers, where you would have smaller spaces to house larger population. However, today each unit in the complex is sold for $400,000 which is not affordable by any standards.

I have to confess that when I looked at this building, — besides other feelings, I felt so bad about my own Masters’ thesis! I thought damn it, look at other peoples thesis’s which are turned into legends, and your thesis is still rejected for grammar mistakes.

Last year Mr. Moshe Safdie, now a white-headed old man, had an exhibition in National Art Gallery here in Ottawa that I missed, I really wanted to meet him. He is a true genius, he is my hero.

Giving Khayyam a chance

This is cherry juice ;) ... Kabul/Fall 2010

The following verses are sang in every Afghan wedding with the melancholic melody of ahesta boro (“go slowly”) song. The poem is that of Omar Khayyam (1048-1131) the celebrated Persian poet of earthly pleasures.

And sour or sweet, why fuss since life shall fly,
At Balkh or Baghdad – why care where we die?
Drink wine, for silv’ry Moon will keep its beat
From full to new long after you and I.

— Khayyam (Saidi, translator)

In the same wedding night, a mulla also gives  a religious speech prohibiting the things that Khayyams’ poetry suggests. Which one should we listen to? We have been listening to mulla’s for far too long and this is what we got, I think it is time to give Khayyam a chance as well. Or it isn’t?