on the silk route 2010 / 2012

Respectful hypocrit reality

I entered Afghanistan 3 weeks ago from the west. Herat was the first destination, an ancient city along the silk road with therefor a rich history. Untill 5 years ago Herat was an independent citystate which meant they did not fully commit to a central government.

On my arrival in the hostel i was invited by 2 young afghans to have dinner in their room. They live in Badghiz province and told me to visit their town. A few days later i took a public bus wearing my Afghan dress to Qal-e-nau, it was the bumpiest ride in my life with amazing views. Staying with my Afghan friends meant a royal treatment, i was spoiled with food and attention. The youngest brother was dismissed from school to guide me and improve his english. I even met the mother of the family, i have to admit it was by coincidence and at a distance of at least 10 meters but i could show my respect which is something extraordinary outside of Kabul.

Being a traveler in Afghanistan is quite special these days. The local police in Qal-e-nau did not know how to handle this responsibility as they only meet foreigners who were locked up in their military base. I played some football on an airstrip guarded by Spanish soldiers. These soldiers guarantee the safety of civilians who develop all kind of projects like building a hospital and bridges in Badghiz province.

My first Afghan wedding (without the bride but loads of thea) learned me besides beautiful tradition that Afghans have a tough life. For a lot of people it was hard to join the celebration, everybody dances alone and picks the next dancer who is dragged to the dancefloor by several of his friends. It showed how hard it is to leave the worries for a while, 65% of te Afghans deals with wartrauma on a serious level. Nevertheless, for me it was great way to see Afghan culture.

My other stay with an Afghan family was in Samangan, a medieval caravanstop. Before the caravans showed up this area was inhabited by Buddhists, they had created a very unusual Stupa (typical buddhist architeture) because normally a Stupa is built from the ground, in Samangand the 28 m Stupa is carved out of the rock. When i visited i was soon surrounded by a lot of men who were checking out the real attraction, jahangard (the tourist). I found myself between curious people who had an amazing talent for staring and made me feel an alien. Some of them were joking with me, smoking their hashies, others reacted on that by telling me they were dangerous people. It’s hard for people to trust eachother which is understandable when you know aout all the different etnic groups who speak their own languages. The four biggest are Pashtun, Tajik, Hazara and Uzbek. I felt i could trust all of them which resulted in an invitation from a Nuristani family who moved to Samangand a few years ago. This family is a good example of Afghanistans complexity. Nuristan is a very remote province in the Northwest of Afghanistan. Untill 2001, when the Americans invaded there was relative freedom. Taliban fled to this province devaluating the lifes of the locals by suppressing them. So my hosts decided to move, also in their search for work which was not available in Nuristan.

My conversation with the oldest member of the family, Hidayatollah, was very interesting. I told him about my motives for this trip, to learn from and to inspire the people i meet on my way and to live a sober and spiritualĀ  life. When i asked him to his wishes he answered that he wants a more comfortable life with material wealth like his own car. I asked him where his wishes would stop, after the second car? Before we went to sleep i asked him to show me the toilet. We walked outside the room, through the garden, entered the street, walked 2 blocks in the bitter cold (and it’s not even winter yet) before he pointed me a place to shit…… I blocked, i couldn’t do it and understood Hidayatolla’s wishes a lot better instantly.

Hypocritisism to the max to question somebodies wishes for more comfort when i’m able to travel for more then a year without working, driving my own car (although it’s not a good example for material health:). Well, respect and curiosity to eachothers lifes luckily dominated my hypocritisism during this wonderful travelexperience.

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Posted by Teun - Reageren uitgeschakeld