Montale Paris launches Kabul Aoud perfume

Montale Paris's Kabul Aoud perfume bottle / Photo: albawaba.com

The French perfume company Montale Paris has recently added a new perfume named Kabul Aoud to its collection of luxury fragrances. This perfume is produced in France and is available at Paris Gallery stores, a leading retailer of luxury goods in the gulf region. A Dubai-based news site says:

KABUL AOUD, a unique fragrance especially created for men and women who love long lasting fragrances [is] inspired by the beauty of KABUL, a city known for its rustic surroundings, beautiful gardens and hospitable people.

When I first read the above passage, I thought “which Kabul are they talking about? … our Kabul?!”

Yes, once upon a time, Kabul was really a charming city surrounded by gardens, mountains and  watered by a beautiful running river. It inspired poets, seduced princes and attracted the traders of different races and regions.

Now however, of the sight, sound and smell of that long gone city remains nothing but smell of dirt, sound of guns and the sight of ruin and misery. It’s too late to brand Kabul as a sexy city, nothing is attractive about this town anymore. To me, Kabul Aoud seems a nostalgic attempt to romanticise about an oriental city of poetry and rose gardens which only exists in history books – or to be exact, in the memoir of Babur.

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Khaled Hossieni on Afghan reaction to The Kite Runner

In June this year, Khaled Hosseini spoke at the Aspen Institute’s, 35th annual Aspen Summer Words Literary Festival.  The festival’s main theme for 2011 was focused on literature of the modern Middle East.  Mr. Hosseini participated in a discussion with Firoozeh Dumas an Iranian author where they talked about their artistic and personal lives. In one point, Hosseini responded to an audience question about the reception of his books by Afghans, which I found very interesting:

The reception is a little bit complicated. For the most part I think it has been very positive. Afghans see the mainstream success of these books as a point of pride in their community. And also they recognize their stories in the pages of these books, they say “that happened to my cousin” and “this is exactly what we went through, thanks God somebody is telling the story”. For the most part that’s been the reaction and I get a lot of really encouraging letters from my fellow Afghans.

For others it’s been more complicated because especially the first novel, and to some extents the second novels as well, talk about issues that are difficult to talk about in Afghanistan: the idea of ethnic rivalry. Everybody knows it’s true; it’s not that they deny that there aren’t ethnic issues in Afghanistan. It’s that family business. Don’t air out dirty laundry. Let’s keep it in house. Why are you telling the world about this? That’s more the criticism that I’ve come across. But you know I’ve always believed that the job of a writer is to write precisely about those things that make people uncomfortable, that make people have a dialogue, that challenge people’s perceptions.  But if I were to sit and write about Afghanistan the way some of these folks would have me write: as a proud, happy nation, full of proud, happy people, living proud, happy lives; I mean that’s like propaganda, that’s not fiction. It’s not worth my time, so I wouldn’t do that. (from 57:50 onward, emphasis is mine)

The ethnic conflict is what forms the backbone of The Kite Runner, a novel which is about a Pashtun boy’s friendship with the son of his Hazara servant. Many Afghans disliked it (the Afghan government even banned the movie) for an obvious reason: it challenged the official narrative of the Afghan history, which depicts all Afghan ethnic groups, as Hosseini says, “as a proud, happy nation, full of proud, happy people, living proud, happy lives.”

I praise Hosseini (who is even connected to Afghan royalty through his mother) for having the guts to speak out about the dark and dirty sides of Afghanistan and its hypocrite people.

I also experienced several similar reactions from my fellow (non-Hazara) Afghans at uOttawa when I talked about Afghanistan for Canadian students. This Afghan attitude of covering up their guilts just makes me sick. One of the reasons I love the westerners is their ability of self-criticism, the ability to laugh at themselves and most importantly the ability to confess their shameful history. If the Afghan students and immigrants in the west learn just this one thing from their host countries, Afghanistan will become a rose garden – watan gul wa gulzaar misha.

Two books same cover

A memoir published in 2006.

A novel published in 2009.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is there a scarcity of photos about Afghanistan that two popular books have choosen the same photograph for their covers?

I have read the novel Born Under a Million Shadows (Doubleday, 2009) by Andrea Busfield a British journalist, which was irritatingly lame.  Then I came across Come Back to Afghanistan: My Journey from California to Kabul (Bloomsbury, 2006) by Said Hyder Akbar and Susan Burton. I have not (and will not ) read the latter, but it seems like so many other memoirs written by Afghan diaspora in recent years which promote similar unfounded clichés about how glorious Afghanistan was before the Soviet invasion and so on.

Anyways, I am talking about the covers, that British novel is published after the Come Back to Afghanistan… memoir, so that is the one with a stolen cover image. However I can forgive the cover but its story is unforgivably horrible, it doesn’t worth your money folks, don’t buy it.

Afghan joke 3

It was Ramadan in Kabul and a man was eating a piece of bread on street. A police officer arrested him for not fasting and brought him to a judge. He found the judge in his office eating Kebab.

The judge looked at the policeman: “What’s up officer?”

“Nothing sir, I found this man on street eating a piece of dry bread, I brought him here to get some Kebab”!