After reading A Thousand Splendid Suns, I did a little research to learn more about present day Afghanistan. Here in America we often associate Afghanistan with the Taliban, war, and gender inequality, however, there is much more to this country than is often focused on in the news. Due to Afghanistan’s geographic location, historically it was the center of the Silk Road trade system, and now it is home to people of various races and ethnicities. Pashto, Farsi, and Persian are just a few of the multiple languages spoken in Afghanistan. Local laws, architecture, and daily life are governed by the Islamic faith.
The religious adherence to Islam is reflected in the cuisine, which abstains from the consumption of pork, alcohol, and wild boars. After a long day of work, most men come home to the aromatic smell of freshly made Chapati (a type of homemade flat bread) and various curries. On other days, meats (mainly mutton, beef, and chicken) are seasoned with regional spices and served as the main dish. With the variety of fresh fruit available in this regions, fruits often serve as a morning snack or as a dessert after a spicy meal. Typically families place all the food on one common plate. The family then sits on the ground and shares the meal. When guests visit a house, the hosts are very hospitable and offer food and drinks to their guests to make them feel at home. Tea has great cultural value in this country, and is made in households all day long. The first item offered to guests is a cup of hot tea (don’t decline this offer). In this culture, many friends and family members bond and discuss over a cup of tea.
What to do in Afghanistan? Taking a trip to the local bazaar (market) will ensure an exciting cultural experience. The hustle and bustle with the various vendors, introduces shoppers to the local cuisine, clothing, and acceptable gifts. Everything is sold at these open markets, from produce and vegetables to cosmetics and appliances. These bazaars are also packed with people as everyone travels from vendor to vendor to check off their shopping list and find the best prices. Band-e-Amir is another must-see in Afghanistan. It is a collection of six lakes that are a vibrant hue of blue. The first national park for Afghanistan, it allures many day-travelers by its astounding looks. The Kabul National Museum is another place to visit. The various exhibits demonstrate the cultural richness of Afghanistan. Lastly, I would advise visiting the Friday Mosque of Herat, Afghanistan. The artistry in the tiling of this mosque awes any visitor. The religious hub also emphasizes the role of religion in this society.
So Afghanistan is a lot more than a culmination of wars, violence, and gender inequality. The rich culture and history of the country is apparent in the cuisine, merchandise, and museums. I hope to have given you a better understanding of Afghanistan’s intriguing culture. Next time you consider traveling internationally, I hope you consider Afghanistan!