My only excuse, and a faint one at that, is that my work in and with Afghanistan has kept me extremely busy. I am so focused on writing for work, that I neglect to really pay attention to things that are happening around me.
I am so busy with “real” data, which I’ve either gathered myself, heard from my Afghan friends, or other Westerners, whom I trust, that when someone who has never been there comes up to me and ejaculates, “OMG, you just HAVE to read the latest ABCDE book or see the latest WXYZ movie on Afghanistan” I roll my eyes, pretend to care, and then go back to my work.
Yes, I’ve read “The Kite Runner” and “The Bookseller of Kabul”. But here I am holding a Persian copy of “The Kite Runner” in Shah M Bookstore, which is the store portrayed in the book.
So, for the last several months, I’ve been hearing the usual suspects approach me, and upon hearing what I do for a living, say something like “OMG, have you seen ‘Buzkashi Boys'”? It was soooooo cool, like, and I heard you are into that sort of thing, you know, having lived and worked in Afghanistan and all that…”
My response, of course, is to make not completely unfriendly noises towards them, but leave the impression I just wish them to go away and quit bothering me.
So, while looking for some things Afghanistan on YouTube, I stumbled on to this little news article.
I had a double- and triple-take when I saw that video. I was completely floored.
I know Fawad Mohammadi, and have had a running dialogue with him since 2010. I mention him briefly in my prior blog entry “The End of Chicken Street”.
He is the young man who messes with me with comically outlandish stories about the highly improbable tragedies faced by his family and why I should buy his maps or coin purses, or whatever he is hawking that day. It’s all in fun, and we usually devolve into exchanging pleasantries.
You might not know it, but his mom has had a wide variety of exotic diseases and has died several times from them. All while working to support a wildly varying number of siblings. He states such things in a highly developed, humorous “schtick” which is intended to poke fun, in a gentle way, at the relationship between the Afghan child entrepreneur and the “rich Westerner” in Kabul. It’s harder to describe than it is to actually witness, but he can almost always nearly reduce me to tears from laughing so hard at his humor and his antics.
Immediately upon hearing of the Oscar nomination, I raced to my thousands of photographs, and am nearly bereft, as I have none with him in them, that I can think of. In fact, I was usually so busy teasing him and being teased back, that I don’t recall ever getting his picture. I’ve asked friend Zok, and he also doesn’t recall ever getting a picture of him. Just lots of shots of Chicken Street, with young boys who could be anyone.
I guess it is possible that any of the boys in the many pictures myself or Zok has taken could be Fawad. But for me, I am just flattered to have met him, and got to know him just a little. He’s a sharp guy and I wish him well.
I encourage anyone who reads this blog to go over to the website for the Buzkashi Boys and buy a copy of the DVD from the Afghan Film Project. To me, any effort to paint a realistic portrait of some of the positive aspects of Afghan culture is welcome. Here is the link:
As an aside, seeing Fawad’s face on the front of that web-page suddenly made me realize how handsome of a youth he really is. I am now officially and unashamedly pulling for him to win that Oscar. And I hope everyone gets a chance to see the movie.