------------------------As a tangent, I’m writing this at 8:17 in Georgia and I was wondering what was weird. And you know what it is? The fact that we have electricity on at 8:18 am.
Anyway, I just assumed that the flight would be late. I didn’t have any waseta* so I couldn’t roll through VIP as I sometimes do (my aunt’s nephew works in VIP and sometimes I get the hook-up, along with the diplomats who get it b/c they are diplomats and businesspeople who have the VIP folks on their payroll). So I went there early with my driver and went through the various checks.
I got asked how much my salary was by the women checking my bags (who are notorious for asking for money and harassment). And without thinking, I just lied. I said 1,000 Afs. In other instances, I’ve actually told the truth. I didn’t even realize that I lied until later.
I then got into a SCREAMING match with the head of visa. Some guy at Ariana took me and three other girls out of line to go through customs because we were female. It was nice of him but then the head of visa wouldn’t allow us through. I started yelling at the guards and then yelled at the head of visa.
I yelled, “Are you Muslim? Harassing us in Ramadan?” That was a bit much for him. I knew it was going to far when I said it. But I seem to be moving on instinct these days.
He got in my face and said, “Where were you in line?”
I yelled back, “I’m not going back, I shouldn’t have been taken out of line in the first place and now I’m not going back. You’re very rude. Why are you harassing me? I’m sick and I am going to Dubai for treatment (total lie)."
I yelled, “I have cancer!” (again, a total lie and where did it come from?).
He and I yelled a little more and then he let me by. I said thank you and then one other soldier came up and said – sister, you should complain. He’s a complete cow. His name is Najib and he’s the head of visa. I said, who’s his boss? Which ministry?
If I remember, I’ll complain about him. I actually don’t feel bad about yelling at him. A local can’t do it and I have no problem telling people when they’re rude. Besides, you have to be a bitch to get through the airport. But telling him that I had cancer? Now, that was a new one. I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t have felt bad about the lie if it wasn’t Ramazan. I did feel embaressed when I remembered that I met a woman in line who knew my uncle in Australia and what if she tells him that I have cancer or realized that I lied? Especially after we complained about Muslims not being nice in Afghanistan (note my self-righteousness).
Later, as I was relating the story over the phone, I noticed this man staring at me while I was on the phone. He was sitting over at the prayer section, picking at his feet with another group of men.
Every woman who has been to Afghanistan is sadly familiar with the uncomfortable, piercing stare that some Afghan men inflict on women. These men are probably the same that cloak their women in chadaris (burqas) and are the men that sometimes make me wish I had a chadari on.
Again, without thinking, I met his gaze for about 10 seconds, making my displeasure known and then turned to him, mid-conversation and said, “Do you need something? Don’t look at me if you don’t need anything.” I loudly said over the phone. “This cow is looked at me like he has no manners. It’s RAMAZAN.” He blushed and then said something to his neighbor and smiled.
Every time he looked, I met his gaze and furiously stared back. After a while, he stopped even glancing over at me. I know, because I was keeping an eye on him.
Just think of it as my way to help better the manners of our people.
I’m so self-righteous.
Every year, Ramazan is very different for me. Sometimes it’s unbearably hard; it passes in a fog of sleeplessness and hunger. Then, everything after Ramazan is much easier, and I realize how much stronger and more compassionate it makes me. Only later do I realize that I could have handled the lack of hunger and sleeplessness more graciously.
I think this Ramazan, I should work on getting back to being more gentle, more thoughtful, more patient, I’ll try to think before I speak (I told someone I had cancer? God forbid) and I’ll try to be touch less self-righteous.
I wish everyone a loving, peaceful and blessed Ramazan (and afterwards too!).
*Waseta is roughly translated as special connections or relations with someone powerful. I am often surprised when non-Afghans living in Afghanistan don’t understand or know this word because everything in Afghanistan is run on waseta. Everything.