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Archive for August, 2009

boom boom BOOM….

Less than an hour ago…

5 days before the presidential elections.

8.32am. Just got out of the shower, towel on my head wearing my bathrobe. Was on Facebook and checking my email.

A thunder-like noise roared. The whole house shook. My hands cupped my ears, my eyes squinting — I ducked as if to dodge a bullet. Just as I was about to shield myself on the floor, the noise stopped. It was all too familiar.

It hit me…  I knew what it was.

I looked out the window and there it was… a horizontal cloud of grey smoke making it’s way to the sky. Similar to the one I witnessed when the Indian embassy was bombed. People screaming. Everyone running outside to see what was going on. Sirens wailing.

Another suicide bomb.

I began crying. I have never cried when a bomb went off. Not even when I was 20 seconds away from the Indian bombing scene on my way to work.

This time I did. I don’t know why. I cried like a baby.

I realized H left the house a few minutes earlier. I began crying more.

I looked for my phone. My brain was dead, I forgot where I put it. Crying and wandering around aimlessly, I found it.

I collected myself. Toughened up, stopped crying and called him.

The phone rang. At least that was working.

H was already at the office. Safe and sound. Alhamdullilah.

I hung up.

Looking out the window – the grey smoke had disappeared. Sirens were still wailing. A few moments later a thick black cloud of smoke rose from the scene endorsing the murder of the innocent.

I cried again – I don’t know why. There were so many reasons. I cried because I was relieved H was okay. I cried for the families, for the victims, for the maimed, for the mothers who lost their sons and the women who lost their husbands.

I tuned into CNN (Afghan TV sucks! They only had songs and music!) and watched the coverage. News reporters weren’t allowed on the scene but they still had some info.

Our security put us on lockdown (no movement).

H made it home safely.

Please remember the victims and their families in your prayers. Ina lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’oon.

Once again… we are safe!

Alhamdullilah.

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I seriously think this campaigning thing is designed to confuse everyone. I definitely am! There are SO many faces and SO many billboards all over the place. There is also the provincial elections coming up so it’s basically 2 elections merged in one. The only way I can tell whether it’s provincial or presidential candidate is judging the age (you gotta be 40 to go for presidency).

So anyways, I counted, there were 44 billboards in one roundabout (or as Americans call it, circle!) All sizes, big and small… the only one i recognised was Karzai, Abdullah and Bashardost. The rest of Kabul is also painted with posters. I can’t wait til the elections are over!

Watched Karzai’s speech on TV last night on RTA, Farhad Darya (famous Afghan singer) was sitting first row. He had his hair and facial hair coloured really dark. Looked awkward. Anyways, I like Karzai’s style. I like him as an individual – very educated, soft spoken and well presented.

I’m at work now and I”m sleepy!

Not sure if I mentioned this, but I went dark again (hair colour). Got rid of the blonde. But it’s TOO dark and it’s supposed to lighten up after 2-3 washes. It’s been 2 washes so far and still no big difference. GAH! I got it cut too but don’t like the way she cut it. King Amanullah Khan’s granddaughter (or niece) was with me getting her hair done. She’s OLD but she’s so hip. I guess it’s because during her younger years they Royal Family was always in France and Europe – looking ‘modern’ bla bla. So now, she’s still into it.

Ha! Where else in the world will I be able to get my haircut at the same place as Royal Family. lol. I felt honoured! lol. Not!

Ermm… security situation… not good! Since the rocket attacks, there has been a suicide bomb in Kampani at around 8pm (UNUSUAL timing!!!) no one was injured/killed. Then there was the shoot out on airport road in Taimany opposite Shahrak Arya. Apparently, it’s common for kidnappers to block the road in the middle of the night and rob/kidnap people. I guess a few of them were caught out and the shooting went on for ages. 3-4 of them were killed. On my way home from work, it was crazy busy! All the cops were extra alert!

Lateeeeeeeeeeeerzzz

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Happy Birthday to me!

I turn/turned 23 today and I feel no different. I spent the day at home (even though Saturdays we are required to work half day). I painted my nails, spoke to my family back home and just bludged around.

H was the first to wish me a happy birthday, we stayed up til 12.30am last night just so he could beat everyone else to it. hehe.. Dad emailed me and I was online with mum on MSN when she wished me a happy birthday! 🙂

(it is now 9th August and I continue this blog.. )

H got home with a huge bunch of flowers! So sweet… I hadn’t gone to work (lazy me!) but I did go for a meeting at UN. so that’s fair enough! Went out for dinner last night! Watched a movie (at home!).

And today it’s back at work… and HOT!

I need to get my hair cut and roots fixed. Thinking of going back to brunette! I don’t know! :S Will think about it!

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Last night seven rockets hit our nearby suburbs and I slept through it all. It happened between 3am-4am. H woke up but he thought it was wind (never trust his judgment!!). Me on the other hand, didn’t realise until way later. One child was wounded (or I think killed) 😦 Ina lillahi wa ina ilayhi raji’oon. To be honest, I wasn’t surprised when I heard about it. I think we all knew they possessed more weaponry than just AK 47s. I just hope they don’t cause more damage. 

I haven’t been blogging for a few days longer now. Many reasons for that; my sister was here from Australia so was spending most of my time with her, then there were FOUR weddings in one week that we were invited to (of course, T LOVES weddings so I went along with her), then there was my brother in laws wedding (celebrations are still continuing!!!) and then there was another wedding and by that time I was exhausted so I didn’t bother going to that one.  It was great though, saw most of family friends from Australia, mums friends.  So weddings, weddings, weddings… I’m so glad it’s all over!

Now I’m looking forward to Ramadan and the elections and the long weekend that comes with it (4 days off! wohoo) H and I are planning on spending it in Turkey or Dubai … being locked down in Kabul is NOT cool! So we’ll see how that goes, either way, it will be fun!! INSHALLAH!

And then there’s our R&R trip that I am so looking forward to! Inshallah all goes well!

Seeee ya

Oh and btw, I always wondered about Afghan Hindus and Sikhs, I see them around but they kind of keep to themselves. Here’s an article I found interesting (bear in mind, don’t believe everything the media feeds you)

Afghanistan’s marginalised Hindus

The Guardian
By Reza Mohammadi
08/02/2009

Despite its long history in the country, Afghanistan’s Hindu minority has been pushed to the fringes of society

Perhaps Radha wasn’t the most beautiful girl in Afghanistan. But such were this Hindu girl’s looks and kindness that all of Kabul’s bachelors fell in love with her. Her fame was such that the people of Kabul composed a famous song for her. The song says: “We have made Lala promise not to cremate Radha”. Nearly 80 years later, this song is still sung in Afghanistan. Lala, meaning brother, is the term Afghans use to refer to Hindus. In the song, the people ask Lala not to cremate Radha’s beautiful body after her death, as is required by Hindu tradition.

During the reign of King Amanullah Khan (1919-1928) Radha’s father, Ranji Das, was finance minister, a role that had long been filled by the Hindus of Afghanistan. But the growth of religious fundamentalism has now pushed the Hindus out of government offices, forcing them into the bazaars. It is now many years since a Hindu held a government post in the country. But they are still running a major part of the Afghan bazaars, and come second in trading medical products.

Overlooking Kabul is a mountain called Asmayi. The name is apparently a Hindu term, deriving from the godess Asha. Today, the mountain has become the largest pilgrimage centre for Hindu worshippers. According to a Hindu tale, an eternal fire burns at the summit of Asmayi, a fire which has refused to die out for 4000 years. There are two other centres of worship in Kabul, the Harshari Natha temple in Kabul’s Baghban Kucha, and the Shorbazaar Temple. These are Kabul’s oldest temples, where Hindus celebrate divali and naradatar. They are also the meeting places of the Sikh and Hindu religious associations. In addition to these, Kabul today has many other newer and larger temples scattered in different parts of the city.

According to Professor Rajesh Kochhar’s book, The Vedic People, Afghanistan is one of the oldest Hindu centres of the world. Kochhar says that a large part of Rigveda was written in Afghanistan, with Helmand and Arghandab being mentioned as sacred rivers in both the Rigveda and Mahabharata. The Surya temple, dedicated to the god of sun, and the Yogi of Panjshir, which represents a worshipper turned into stone, north of Kabul, are both ancient Hindu sites. And yet, if foreigners were to travel to Afghanistan today, they would encounter so few Hindus that they would assume the Hindus are either from elsewhere or recent immigrants. They would encounter a community that is neither playing its part in politics nor getting involved with the rest of the world.

Hindus are clearly among the oldest inhabitants of Afghanistan. They are the native people, whom Islamic fundamentalism has turned into unprotected strangers. Strangers, who this year found themselves forced to argue for days with Muslims in the centre of Kabul in order to be allowed to cremate their dead in line with their tradition. Strangers who never dare to send their children to school for fear of mockery.

In February 2001, during the Taliban’s reign, Hindus found themselves forced to wear a distinguishing yellow stripe on their arm. Even though the Taliban have been removed, Abdurrab Rasul Sayyaf, presently an MP in Karzai’s administration, has expressed a similar opinion on TV:

The Sikhs and Hindus of Afghanistan are considered part of the dhimmi in line with sharia law. The government has an obligation to protect them but they are required to pay a poll tax. They can hold civilian occupations, such as doctors, but they cannot be in charge of a governmental body or office. Upon meeting a Muslim, a Hindu is required to greet the Muslim first. If a Muslim is standing and there is a chair, the Hindu is not allowed to sit down on the chair.

According to MP Anarkali Honaryar, a representative of Sikhs and Hindus in the Afghan parliament, the majority of the country’s 200,000 Sikhs and Hindus are now living abroad, and the number of people leaving Afghanistan for India, Europe and or Pakistan grows by the day.

Friends of Afghanistan’s cultural heritage increasingly fear that these ancient inhabitants of the country might one day meet with the same fate of other peoples of Afghanistan, including Jews and Buddhists, and so vanish from the the country altogether.

Translated by Nushin Arbabzadah

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