Friday, June 19, 2015

‘Kabul gets bombed 24/7’: Eight stereotypes about Kabul

A six-day long Afghan-Pakistan Youth Dialogue in Kabul changed my life forever, as I set off to a venture that helped me break stereotypes about Afghanistan.

From their meritorious hospitality  to appetising cuisine, from their commendable social activism to unwavering dedication, I could pen down a novel about my week-long stay in Kabul. But for now, let me share some of the stereotypes which were shattered once I moved across Kabul myself, experiencing and collecting cherished moments.

Not everyone gets bombed 24/7

Kabul is not a battlefield and rockets do not come falling over your head. Chances of you dying while driving in Kabul are higher than getting shot at.

An Afghan man roller blades along a street in Kabul. Photo: Reuters

Kabul has established infrastructure

Residents live in actual buildings, park their vehicles in their car porches, enjoy the beautiful weather sipping their sugar-less green tea from their balconies and throw grand BBQ parties in their backyards. Kabul also has well-reputed hotels which are beautiful, secure and provide quality service to visitors.

An interior view of the City Walk shopping mall in central Kabul. Photo: Reuters

People have mobile phones with 3G internet

My greatest concern while travelling to Kabul was whether I would have proper communication networks to call back home. But to my surprise, not only did they have fast cellular services, they also have 3G internet activated – 3G which actually works.

Alongside this, more than 60% of war-stricken Afghanistan has mobile phone connectivity.

An Afghan man walks past a 3G logo in central Kabul. Photo: Reuters

Women wear a variety of attire, including jeans

Women have the right to wear whatever they like to wear. Headscarf is considered culturally appropriate and appreciated within the society; however, it is not a passport to life or survival. Their traditional dresses are gorgeous, just like the people who wear them.

An Afghan policeman keeps guard in Kabul, Afghanistan. Photo: Reuters

Better economy than Pakistan

Me: “How much should I keep, in case I need some cash? Would a few hundred rupees be fine?”

Dad: “Haha no. One Afghan afghani is equal to two Pakistani rupees.”

Me: “We are doomed.”

Source: Tumblr

Afghans love Bollywood

I mean, who doesn’t. And this just goes to show that they are as much in sync with popular culture as people from any other nation.

Afghans love Bollywood, an afghan vendor displays a poster of an actress. Photo: Reuters

Kabul has a bowling alley

‘Strikers’ is the place to go if you are looking for the best bowling place, coupled with delicious food afterwards, in town. The bowling alley is mobbed on the weekends so make sure you book yourself a lane earlier.

Photo: Rida Umer

Kabul has majestic historical heritage

From Babur Gardens to Darul Aman Palace, there is a long list of historical sites every outsider should consider visiting. The city itself tells about the conjuncture of events, the highs and the lows of the nation, the valour of people and the future that this country holds for the next generation.

The Large Buddha niche backdrops the town of Bamiyan, in central Afghanistan. Photo: Reuters

After my trip, I realised that the stereotypes which the media had portrayed about Kabul were just that – stereotypes. I would urge everyone to keep Kabul on their travel lists and make the most of a beautiful city which is so close to Pakistan.

from The Express Tribune Blog

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