An Afghan Diary in Warsaw

First Week:

It’s Monday September 5th 2005; I arrived into Warsaw airport around noon. I was in the plane or transit on a bench in the last fifteen hours. I’ve already noticed a lot of changes in the way people interact and execute things. I flew from Kabul to dubai, dubai to Istanbul and Istanbul to Warsaw. Most contrasting changes I’ve noticed in the last 15 hours – which I would have normally slept – in these four airports includes, convenience, services are more designed to facilitate things as oppose to the traditional way of my part of the world complicating things. there are restaurants and lounges to relax, proper toilets, people actually wait in the queue which is a great convenience.
In Kabul airport a friend who is a cop at the airport helped me skip the lines and don’t wait at all and go straight to the lounge.
Especial attention has been paid for handicaps. Stairways, WCs and other public facilities are handicap friendly, while this is not common in Afghanistan with around three million handicaps.
There is less and less people in each of the planes I get into; when flying from Istanbul to Warsaw I was the only person in the row. Apparently, having some seats empty is for some flight safety reason.

The other difference is in cops and security personnel aggressiveness; they are more relaxed as you come toward Europe. They probably do the same job, but they treat people with more respect. They ask for a document when its needed and different people ask for the papers they are supposed to see; not exactly like Afghanistan where a cop needs to see everything and so does the flight attendant and so does….

Also women are losing some cloths and they are getting increasingly naked (if I may use that term). It’s hard to stop steering at parts of their body when / if talking to them ;-)))
They also seem more independent and relaxed. They do things more comfortably, for example they’ll run if they are to catch a flight in the last minutes, which they wouldn’t normally do in conservative Muslim countries.

– Djien’ dobry
– Djien’ dobry
– … …
– How long are you intended to stay in Poland?
– Ye’den Rok
– Woo lalaaaaa …. You wait here…

So of course like everywhere else I got a little special treatment and hospitality. Around 200 passengers got checked in whom I was before and then they let me go in.
As I was going from security to security I felt a different kind of sense of humour(but can’t still call it Pole, because I don’t know them that well) the cops go excited by things which weren’t that exciting for me and their excitement was very perceptible. It was also very invariable and steady. One of the cops was saying “woo lalaaaaaa” every time he got excited. But it was the same ‘woo lalaaaaa’ to different exciting things. It was like he has to be / get excited. It was definitely making him feel different, most likely in a good way. For a moment I thought we all need to get happy and excited it’s not for fun sake, it’s a need; people do it in different ways.
It was Victor’s birthday yesterday. We were having drinks on the roof of the hostel. There were Poles, Ukrainians and Belarusians. They were all speaking in their languages, but they understand each other. At one point Ivan was struck by this and he shouted out ‘guys, have you realised we all speak in different languages but we understand each other’ and everybody laughed.
Makar said after a few minutes ‘there are only a few chromosome differences between mankind and monkey and it isn’t much. We are all human. We should understand each other’

The major difference during the last week was not about people; I don’t think cultural shock is connected to people. Although people speak different languages and has diverse values, but they are not that different. On the other hand things and ‘life tools’ could be very different. It’s the place one need to adjust to not the people. I am now eating different food, using different kind of transportation and I have to do chores such as laundry. This is all a change.

Went on a nice excursion on Friday, a nice place, around 60km west of Warsaw. It was organised by the university. Everyone was invited, only if they were singing a song. I had to sing and surprisingly contrary to what everyone else think the party thought I was a good singer and I was invited to sing again. We performed a folkloric polish dance. it was interesting and challenging.
Parties are a good place to know everyone on their personal counts; Crazy dancers, sociables, depressed, seclusionist…. We have all of them in our group. Among all I liked a seventeenth century song called ‘Sokole’ and you could listen to it here it’s about a soldier going to war and his lover praying for his save return….

Something just crossed my mind about sharing my Warsaw experience with others.
I probably could do a five minute weekly TV program. “An afghan diary in Warsaw”. I’ll suss out if it could be aired in Tolo or Ariana or RTVA.

– life in Warsaw and more generally in Poland
– my life, what I do, my friends, my colleagues – maybe one friend guest every week.
– Polish prospective and knowledge of Afghanistan and its issues. Different people, ages, gender, professions… Universytet Warszawski professors to a McDonald’s waitress…
How to do it:
– the possibility of doing it in corporation with a TV channel in Warsaw. If the channel could help to provide a camera and a cameraperson, in return they could also broadcast it.
– Ask the embassy for assistance, if they could buy a camera? UNESCO?

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