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Archive for January, 2008

…and again!

7.15am.

H-jan was about to leave. ‘I’ll see you tonight, we’ll discuss the wedding and set dates’. I smiled in agreement. He’s so perfect, so understanding, so caring. I felt like the luckiest girl in the world.

BOOM!

“Oh shoot,” was his reply. I gasped. We both looked at each other in silence. We knew what it was. Another suicide blast. Later, i learned that it was in Taymani, near Asia Hotel. More news to follow.

Pray for the victims and their families.

Afghanistan may plunge into a “failed state,” experts warn. Insurgency-wracked Afghanistan will become a failed state if urgent steps are not taken to tackle a deteriorating security situation and lackluster reconstruction and governance efforts, experts warned in separate reports Wednesday. (AFP, 30/01/08)

On the brighter side of things. My wedding.

H-jan and i have planned to go to Dubai/Malaysia for the wedding shopping bakhayr. We might go to Dubai only or Dubai and Malaysia. I’m flexible, i’m sure dubai has what we’re looking for.

The wedding has been put forward to end of April – beginning of May. Dad’s idea.

I have my wedding notebook and noted EVERYTHING! Wedding procession, Henna night, schedules, layouts, you name it.

Trip to Australia has been delayed til July (i’m going for F’s wedding!). Also going to show H around… in September, we’re due for the States.

That’s the plan for now.

Ba omideh deedaar, khuda negahdaar.

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In tears and in pain

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This is how a blog scan defined my blog:

Rejuvenation of an Afghan Soul – Atash Parcha explores the personal side of living in Kabul—from the car bombs that only sometimes frighten her to the very joyous event of her recent engagement.

😀

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Ask anyone in Kabul who Tulsi is and you’re sure to see eyes light up. “Tulsi? Of course! She’s the victim. Her daughter-in-law hates her and her two-timing husband has a younger woman. She was right to leave home with her three kids,” people will tell you with a huge grin of satisfaction. Then passersby will get dragged in as the discussion shifts to the latest episodes of Afghanistan’s best-loved TV serial.

It’s the latest trend in Afghan popular culture: Indian serials dubbed into Dari with Pashto subtitles.

Its flagship is Tulsi’s epic tear-jerker, starring an attractive Hindu actress from Mumbai who mesmerizes Afghan viewers with her curve-enhancing costumes and babyish complexion. Close behind, and in a similar vein, are “The Story of Every House” and “The Trial of Life.” The storylines are a classic mix of star-crossed lovers, betrayals and running away from home, garnished with kisses, tears, silicone-enhanced figures and song-and-dance routines.

In the land of burqas, child slavery, captive women, furtive sex with adolescents, and high-walled homes as impenetrable as medieval manors, Tulsi is revolutionary.

All this freedom is too much for the self-appointed custodians of tradition. The gauntlet has been thrown down and, earlier this month, a group of prominent experts in the Quran, all influential members of the Islamic Council of Scholars, gained the support of part of Hamid Karzai’s government to censor the “sinful” programs. The move followed several months of intensive campaigning against privately owned TV stations and films imported from the world of “worshippers of graven idols,” as Hindus are known in these parts.

The Afghan minister for information and culture has written to the directors of the new TV channels threatening them with immediate closure if the programs are not modified. “It’s a severe blow for the broadcasters. These 15-minute episodes every day are excellent tools for attracting advertising,” says Amir Shah, dean of Kabul’s press corps. It comes as no surprise that this time Karzai has declined to take on the Islamic Council directly. To the contrary, he is more or less openly backing it.

For more than a year, police officers have had orders to confiscate alcoholic beverages sold on the street, and the days when Chinese brothels operated openly in the city centre are no more.

Only two months ago, a couple of dozen red-light establishments were shut down and about 300 Chinese prostitutes expelled from Afghanistan. (Source: World Politics Review, 01/19/2008, By Lorenzo Cremonesi)

I fully agree. Bollywood is washing the minds of many afghans. Afghanistan is becoming too Indian, families are following the dramas so closely that it’s ‘leaking’ into their own family home. Following the ‘Indian’ way of life. Hmmph!

Yes, i agree that the Afghans also need entertainment. But why Bollywood dramas with Hindu rituals? Pakistan has just as good dramas with religion and culture similar to ours.

Never been a fan of Bollywood.

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Ashura- 10th Muharram

Black flags wave in mourning. Ya hussein printed in Arabic. It’s the Holy Day for Muslims. It was the day Hassan and Hussein passed away. Although I’m not a Shiite, i still respect their faith and will not judge them. I believe Muslims need to unite under one flag, not point out their differences. Once a Muslim recites the kalima (Bear witness that there’s not God and Mohd is the last messenger) the rest is between him/her and God.

 So what’s Ashura all about?

On this day Shi’a are in remembrance, mourning attire is worn; they refrain from music, the reason being naturally in Islam when death has occurred music is considered impolite. It is a time for sorrow and respect of the person’s passing and it is also a time for self reflection. Basically committing yourself to the mourning of the Imam Hussein completely. Weddings and parties are also never planned on this date by Shias. Shias also express mourning by crying and listening to poems about the tragedy. They also listen to sermons on how Hussein and his family were martyred. This is intended to connect them with Hussein’s suffering and martyrdom, and the sacrifices he made to keep Islam alive. Hussein’s martyrdom is widely interpreted by Shi’a as a symbol of the struggle against injustice, tyranny, and oppression

As suffering and cutting the body with knives or chains (matam) have been prohibited by many Shi’a marjas like Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran,[4], some Shi’a observe mourning with blood donation which is called “Qame Zani” [5] and flailing[6].

Certain rituals like the traditional flagellation ritual called zanjeer zani or zanjeer matam, involving the use of a zanjeer (a chain) are also performed[7]. These are popularly done for the sake of Imam Hussain and his family.

Most Muslims, particularly Sunnis, believe that the Shia practice of mätam constitutes “Bidat” (innovation) and goes against the Quran and Islam.

For full article, click here.

My weekend was good, went to Paghman. Played snowfights, also visited Ustaad Sayaaf’s house. My God, his house is on a mountain. His daughter had returned from Haj and so we visited her to congratulate her on her pilgrimage. She bought a small bottle of zam zam water, a prayer mat and Tasbeh.

It was my first time visiting his house, it’s a nice house. i could tell he’s not very conservative (oddly enough). He’s reasonable. The view from their house was stunning, you can see most of Paghman, the frozen lakes and glistening snow in the moonlight.

Just before we left, U.Sayaafs wife gave my sister and I a pair of salwar kameez each because of my engagement and because of my sisters wedding. Isn’t she nice?

I don’t find him as an efficient leader. But as a person, an individual and as a public speaker i find him very intelligent. His wife and family are very down to earth.

Went to Nova yesterday. My favourite place!

H-jan was over last night. We had no electricity so we couldn’t watch a movie. Instead, we stayed up with my sister, her hubby and my bro and played cards. It was great fun.

On Friday night my little sisters put H and myself to the test. We played Battle of the Sexes. I won, of course.

It’s Monday and i’m back at work. Feels NORMAL to start the working week on a Monday and not on a Sunday (which is the norm here).

Ba omideh deedaar, khuda negahdaar.

PS. My mother in law fell ill a few days ago, she has a liver problem. Please remember her in your prayers.

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Kabul in snow

I’m actually proud of me for taking such good pics, don’t you think it’s nice? Especially the first one!

Or maybe it’s the camera.. ehehe

By the way, these pics were taken when we visited my grandads grave.

Speaking of my grandad, i dreamt of him for the first time. We were sitting in the room, he entered. Broad and tall, filling the doorway. Sitting on the floor, i look up at him and find him smiling down at us. Dad was also in the room. Grandad came and sat on the floor, on the tooshak with his walking stick beside him, wearing his checkered vest over his peraan tombaan it was the first time since his death that i dreamt about him. I’m glad it was a good dream, hamdulillah 🙂

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Afghanistan has banned the film on the grounds that it could incite violence. Before the movie debut, the studio behind the film, Paramount Vantage, had to get its three young stars out of Afghanistan (their homeland) to protect them from a possible backlash.

Not fair! I was waiting to get this on DVD. Hmmph!

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The 177-room Serena is a newly built luxury hotel frequently used by foreign embassies for meetings, parties and dinners. The nicest hotel in the city, visiting Westerners often stay, eat and work out there. Located in downtown Kabul, it is near the presidential palace, although separated by fences, blast walls and checkpoints. It is also near several government ministries and a district police station.

Huddled in the gym locker room of the Hotel Serena with five other women, Suzanne Griffin could hear the explosions and gunfire _ so close that it chipped away the ceiling above her. (AP) With a shaking voice, she recalled that they all kept quiet and even turned their cell phones to ring silently. When Griffin was finally evacuated, the 62-year-old worker for Save the Children said said she had to step over a woman’s lifeless body. Militants throwing grenades and firing AK-47s stormed Kabul’s most popular luxury hotel Monday evening, breaching heavy security and hunting down Westerners. At least six people were killed, including an American and a journalist from Norway. The coordinated assault at the Serena, including a thunderous suicide explosion, killed six people and could signal a new era of brazen Taliban attacks. More than 30 U.S. soldiers in a half-dozen Humvees rushed to the hotel as part of a quick reaction force, and security personnel from the nearby U.S. Embassy ran through the building looking for U.S. citizens. It was the deadliest direct attack on a hotel in Kabul since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. “Thank God I didn’t get into the shower because then we heard gunfire, a lot of it. It was very close, close enough that plaster came off the ceiling,” Griffin said. “We all just sat on the floor and got as far as we could from any glass. … We turned our phones on silent.” The assailants appeared to concentrate their assault on the Serena’s gym and spa, where foreigners relax and work out at night, suggesting the militants had cased the hotel in advance. The Taliban has targeted aid workers and civilian contractors with kidnappings and killings, but this was the most daring and sophisticated attack yet and was aimed at a prominent symbol of foreign presence in the country, apparently designed to point out the vulnerability of the Western presence. Taliban attacks have typically targeted Western and Afghan government or security personnel, not Western civilians. Witnesses said they first heard gunfire, then several explosions _ likely from hand grenades _ and also one large blast _ the suicide bomb. “There were two or three bombs and there was complete chaos,” Stian L. Solum, a photographer from the Norwegian photo agency Scanpix, told Norway’s state radio network NRK. “When I started to walk out (of the elevator), a bomb went off a little way from me. There were shots fired by what I think was an ANA (Afghan National Army) soldier.” The attack killed six people and wounded six, said Interior Ministry spokesman Zemeri Bashary. He spoke before news of the Norwegian journalist’s death and it was not clear whether he was counted among the six dead. One of the militants was shot to death and a Taliban spokesman said a second died in the suicide explosion. It was not clear what happened to the other attackers. Zabiullah Mujahid, the Taliban spokesman, told AP that four militants with suicide vests attacked the hotel _ one bomber who detonated his explosives and three militants who threw grenades and fired guns. The claim could not be verified but came very soon after the attack. The bomber was not included among the count of the dead. In Washington, two State Department officials said that one American citizen had been killed. The victim’s identity was being withheld pending notification of relatives, the official said on condition of anonymity ahead of a formal announcement. White House press secretary Dana Perino said the attack was carried out by extremists “killing innocent people to pursue their political objectives. “It underscores the reason we have to stay on the offense against the extremists in places like Kabul but also in other places around the world,” she said. “We’re in for a long, hard fight. These are deliberate, patient people who will murder innocents including our own people.” There are more than 50,000 troops from at least 39 countries, including about 25,000 U.S. forces, in Afghanistan. A reporter for the Oslo newspaper Dagbladet, identified as Carsten Thomassen, 38, died from wounds he sustained in the attack, according to the paper’s Web site. “We feel great sorrow and powerlessness,” managing editor Anne Aasheim said. The Committee to Protect Journalists mourned Thomassen’s killing, calling it a reminder of the dangers that exist in countries like Afghanistan. A Norwegian Foreign Ministry employee was also among the wounded but was out of danger at a Kabul hospital, officials said. Stoere, who was in the hotel basement with a Norwegian delegation at the time, said he was about to start a meeting when the explosions hit, and everyone was ordered to get on the floor for about 10 minutes. On its Web site, the hotel bills itself as an “oasis of luxury in a war-ravaged city.” The Serena has a double-gated entrance for cars, several armed guards and a metal detector at the entrance. While the number of casualties from the attack could have been higher, the militants were still able to penetrate a well-guarded and high-profile target, a symbol of progress in an otherwise downtrodden capital. The reverberations of the attack could be felt for months. While Western aid workers, embassy employees and businessmen enjoy a fair amount of freedom of movement in Kabul, security companies could now restrain their Western clients from visiting restaurants at night if the Taliban start targeting them. Griffin had contacted the U.S. Embassy, which told her to not open the door to the room unless she heard an American voice. U.S. soldiers evacuated her, she said. Stoere said Afghan President Hamid Karzai called to express his concern, and offered assistance, including accommodation in the presidential residence if needed. In 2003, a rocket exploded near the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, knocking some guests from their restaurant chairs and shattering windows. No injuries were reported.

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Awright, the Australian citizenship test (which you gotta pass with flying colours before you get your citizenship) has now been modified as stated on Nova 93.7.

Question 2- What is the capital city of Australia?

A) Canberra

B) The answer is ‘A’

C) No, really! It’s ‘A’ you twit! Now let’s go get a beer.

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One helluva weekend…

Thursday- My H-jan returns to Kabul.

With lots and lots of pressies for everyone.

Didn’t go to work, went shopping instead. Bought bangles for BB, i like the look of bangles, but can’t wear them. Makes too much noise. Bought a few other stuff, waste of money. Throughout the day H would sms me or call me to let me know how close he is to Kabul. Just before his flight and during intervals. 

We were going out for dinner- even though it was freezing.

H came around 5pm (with lots of bags). He propped them on my bed, in my room. We said hello and went through our photo album before he went to see my parents.

My favourite present of all was the photo album my sister in laws created for me. H had printed all of our Shirnee Dadn pics, my sister in laws had put them in order in the photo album. So very nice of them. Bought me Punjabis (something i have to start wearing), matching bangles, shoes and sweets.

Friday- Horrific encounter ever!

I experienced the worst on Friday. My dad was so close to dying. This is what had happened:

On Friday arvo, H was over. Just like any other Friday, H and I woke up early but stayed in my room chatting away. It was much too cold to get out of bed. Soon enough it was 12.30pm, time to have brunch. I went in the kitchen, said hello to all. H needed to go to the bathroom which was occupied by dad who was showering and getting ready for Jumaah prayers. We cooked breakfast. On my way to the lounge with the tray of food, I passed the bathroom door and I heard dad making unusual sounds. I looked at H, ‘do you think he’s alright?’ he asked me. ‘I don’t know,’ I replied walking to the lounge room and resting the tray on the coffee table ‘I’ll go and let mum know.’ I told H as I left the room.

Mum was in the kitchen. ‘mum, dad’s making noises in the bathroom.’ I told her casually to which she replied ‘maybe he’s playing with Dunya’. I told her it wasn’t possible. My brother also said that Dunya’s in the other room with my little sisters. I went to the lounge room, H asked if dad was alright. I can’t remember the rest clearly but all I remember was Mum and my brother knocked on the bathroom door.

Dad was silent now- he was no longer whimpering.

Mum was knocking harder calling out dads name, no answer and the door wouldn’t budge open. It was locked! She nudged the door with great force using her shoulder. The door flung open.

Mum screamed and called my name at what she saw. His body stiff. His jaw gritted. Eyes closed. Dry lips. Clenched fists. Pale face, purple lips. Unconscious. Dressed in a tracksuit and a t-shirt. It was my dad.

I ran to my dad, H lifted dad by his torso, I carried his feet. At that precise moment, Kaka S called from downstairs. They were late for Jumaah prayers. My brother urgently called him upstairs. Kaka S came and took dads feet from me. H and Kaka S rested dad on the floor in the lounge room.

Dad’s body was stiff. Kaka S immediately began with CPR and first aid. H tried to unclench his fists. No luck. I checked dads pulse. It was there! Mum was crying by now. H began making calls, doctors, hospitals. Don’t even bother calling an ambulance. Our Landcruiser has more of an effect on the road than the ambulance with a dying person. The cars don’t give way. No one cares. Death is all too common.

Dad was in a state I had never seen him before. Weak, helpless and almost lifeless. Kaka S continued vigorously trying to bring back Dad. I realized he was our only hope. No doctors, no hospitals. I found myself crying silently. This can’t be it, I thought to myself. They were rubbing dads hands and feet, warming his body while Kaka S continued to bring his heart to function again. I noticed a tear in the corner of dads left eye.

With great effort, dads clenched fist moved upwards. ‘He moved his hand,’ I exclaimed through tears. His fist opened, there was hope! Soon after, Dad opened his eyes. He was looking at us but could see nothing. He was dazed. Kaka S talked to him in Dari, dad replied in English. ‘I’m okay,’ he stammered. Clearly, he was not. ‘Padar, can you hear me?’ I asked in English. ‘Na’am batchem’. He replied. He looked around. Couldn’t recognize anyone, he was replying but didn’t know what he was saying. My brother put on a jacket for dad.

H and Kaka S lifted dad to take him to the car and to the hospital. I felt so relieved- there was a glimmer of hope. I silently thanked God as we made our way out. I carried a blanket. ‘What happened?’ dad asked slowly.

On the way to the hospital, dad was reciting his Kalima. I bear witness that there’s no God and Mohd (Peace be upon him) is the final messenger. I didn’t want him to recite that because that’s what most people recite during their final moments of dying. He was NOT going to die. It can’t be happening. I fought back tears. Dad asked for water, but we were in too much of a hurry, we forgot. ‘Don’t panic,’ dad was saying ‘whatever happens, it’s from God.’ He asked ‘did I miss Jumaah prayers?’ I told dad not to talk much and not to think, he was still dazed, speaking slowly. I took off my jacket, rolled it in pillow size and rested his head on it. Dad was sitting in the front seat. H was sitting next to me, then it was my brother and then Kaka S’s son.

We reached Wazir Akbar Khan Hospital. Kaka S’s son bought water for dad. Under equipped hospital in poor condition. I stood by my dad’s hospital bed, holding his hand as they put the oxygen mask on him. Dad began shaking. The doctors said it was alright. H called his uncle, a prominent doctor and explained the situation. H’s uncle said that it should all be okay and he’s only in need of fresh air and Vitamin C. I hoped he was right. He also said that if we hadn’t found him in time, dad would’ve gone into coma.

I held dad’s hand, telling him to take deep breaths. The rest stood by the foot of the bed. I saw dad’s eyes slowly closing. I talked to him so he’d stay awake, afraid of losing him to coma. He occasionally asked for water. Then it was the oxygen mask again. Dad was shivering, he was cold. The blanket was doing no good.

Soon enough it was time to go home. On our way home, i rested my head on H’s shoulder. Relieved.

The reason dad had suffered this condition was from inhaling fumes (carbon monoxide) from the bukhari (Afghan heater which burns sawdust and firewood).

Thankfully, he’s alright now but still a little dazed by all this. But I still can’t go to the bathroom, I keep envisioning dad there, unconscious. My mind plays tricks on me, I can’t even stay in my room. I guess it will take a few days before i’m ‘normal’.

Dad said the last thing he remembers is getting a headache and chest pains, he felt dizzy and then sat to rest. From what we gathered, dad had been unconscious and his organs stopped functioning for over half an hour.

But I’m getting there. Slowly, but surely. H has also been affected, he promised to help me through this (isn’t he a sweetheart?). His parents heard about dad and called last night. Relatives visited.

I’m so very grateful to God that my dad is still here with us.

My baby sister has learnt the most cutest things, I’ve decided to make a list

She gives high fives, blows kisses, wrinkles her nose and smiles at the same time, dances with her little chubby hands, talks on the phone. And she’s just over a year old. Naamekhuda

Saturday- Road trip to North Kabul

On another note, yesterday was good fun. My bro, the 2 R’s, dad and I visited Mahbobas Promise and granddads grave, it had snowed knee-high deep. Everything looked so pretty, we played snow fights. It’s what my grandfather would want us to do- to enjoy his garden as much as possible, whether it involved picking fruits or playing snow fights.

And H brought me a charger for my camera, so now I can take photos and post em here as I normally did. Alsooo, went to Mandayee on Thursday and actually found a diary! It’s not the best diary, but still. My last year’s diary was an A5 Madison diary with glossy pages and hard cover.

Sunday- Today!

… is our (H and Me) one month anniversary (Engagement), mashallah. By the way, 10th of Muharram is just around the corner (20th Jan), so Kabul is in ‘mourning’. Black flags with ‘Ya Hussein’  written on them are waving all around.

Ba omideh deedaar, khuda yaar wa madadgaar (new line, you like?)

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