Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Education: Afghan-American Girls VS Afghan Girls in Afghanistan

For those that have been following this blog, you can see that most of my writing is geared towards marriage and all the great things that accompany it. I am after all, a happy Afghan housewife (something that is rarely stated in the news media). A happy Afghan wife? Is there such a thing?! Well I am proof of one and I have created this blog to express my gratitude, share information about the Afghan culture especially customs that pertain to marriage and simple everyday life. My intention has been to remain positive in information sharing, however, I have to be realistic and give a wholesome picture of our Afghan culture, especially when it comes to marriage and education here in the states and in Afghanistan.

As the title states, lack of education and marrying young go hand in hand for many Afghan girls. I do not want to undermine any of my readers intelligence when it comes to Afghanistan's history, however, for those who may be unaware, Afghanistan was once a fully functioning society, i.e. had top universities where women made up half the student body, European influenced attire for men and women (think pencil cut black skirts and short sleeve blouses for women and 70's style suits and jeans for men. I have a photo of my father when he attended Kabul Medical University in huge shades (sunglasses) and a yellow polyester suit, bell bottoms and all!).

There were women doctors and teachers and literacy was encouraged for women even those living in the provinces which tend to be more traditional in nature than the capital city of Kabul. My own mother had a school uniform of white pants and scarf and a black dress and shoes which she wore everyday until she was taken out of school because she was 'mature' enough. This mentality existed before Afghanistan became a war zone, where a girl who reached a certain age or stage, say, high school, they were heavily influenced to quit school and get married instead. This is similar to American history, where women in the 70's and 80's had few college graduates as most became wives and mothers after finishing high school.

The great thing about America is that change can happen and now in 2011, more women graduate college then men! Whereas in Afghanistan, the access for women's education has taken a back seat. Maybe because they've had to deal with merely surviving first after 30 decades of war than to think of extracurricular activities, such as a higher education? Access to education for girls in Afghanistan is there but quite difficult. First, there is the mentality of the men: Girls need to get married once they reach puberty as 1) they will cause shame to the family (i.e. get involved with someone without marriage or worse yet, become pregnant out of wedlock) 2) They will become too old and will not be desirable after a certain age. 3)The family needs the money they get from the groom (which is not Islamic, rather cultural).

These concerns are legitimate for Afghan men and some women in that the family unit is a cherished unit in the Afghan culture. Every woman should have the security of a marriage and not simply have a boyfriend with no commitment and to produce and raise healthy children in a healthy marriage ( isn't having a solid family foundation a basis for a functioning society?) however, the issue is why do they have to do all the aforementioned at such a young age?

Here is my thoughts on why girls marry young in Afghanistan and sometimes in the US. Lack of Education. Limited access to resources. The heavy influence from the older men and women in the family and most importantly, the inability to support themselves. If a girl in Afghanistan or even in the states, has no formal education or training, family is pressuring her to get married, her own family is unable to provide for her anymore nor can she provide for herself and she is bored out of her mind day in and day out (what does a girl do everyday if she is not married, no kids, doesn't go to school or work?) Wouldn't marriage look desirable? At least, it's something to do.

I remember when I was visiting Afghanistan , I came into contact with a wonderful and very bright young girl, maybe she was 15 at the time. She asked if I would talk to her older brother to letting her continue her studies as she was recently pulled out of school because she was "older" now and the boys were 'looking' at her when she walked to school. The walk to school was about 2 miles, which she walked with the neighborhood girls everyday. Since the other girls were no longer attending school, she would have to make the walk alone to go to school and that was something the men in the family would not allow as there had been gossip of 'men in trucks' picking up girls on the road.

After our conversation, I sat down with her older brother and he explained his side. He asked how would I feel knowing that my sister was in danger every time she left the house by herself to go to school? My simple answer: walk with her. His answer: I need to work to provide for her and her books. My question: Can she have a car come pick her up for school everyday? (yes, this is my US mind speaking) His answer: Will you pay for the car service for her and all the girls in the community for the next ten years and confirm their safety at school? (there had been news of a recent destruction of a nearby school). The infrastructure of Afghanistan has to be rebuilt before we can encourage education for women and wonder why they marry so young instead of going to school. Two years later, that same girl was married. If a young girl in Afghanistan can not be provided the transportation and safety to attend school, how will she be educated?

In the states, we have access to education freely, so why then are there Afghan girls not attending higher education or getting advanced degrees but instead continuing to marry at a very young age? It is the mentality of the older Afghans that has crept into the minds of the younger generation that encourage and influence early marriages. This should not be part of the Afghan culture! Our true culture and faith encourage us to seek knowledge! I remember my father telling me in elementary school, in middle school, high school and all throughout my college and graduate school days, that he will support me as long I was in school and making something great of myself, whatever it was (yeah, what can I say, I changed majors a few times in college). He would always remind me how proud he was of me and how much he supported my educational choices and would continue to do so until I reached an old age, had gray hair and beyond. Granted he would hint at marriage here and there, if he didn't, he wouldn't be an true Afghan parent! This is the kind of encouragement I would like to see from our elders to young Afghan girls, especially those who have access.

I am proud to say that the Afghan- American girls I personally know and interact with on a daily basis are the best of the best. Smart, educated, classy and still remain true to what they are and where they come from. These Afghan girls are the true example of what a 'real' Afghan woman is and what we would of had of our country was not destroyed. These young Afghan women have learned the language and culture of America, have exceeded in school and became today's engineers, doctors, teachers, journalists, lawyers and housewives who have an educated mind for positive interaction with family members and to teach their children and create strong solid family units with love, care and unconditional support.

I just pray and hope that younger Afghan girls will follow that same route and continue their studies instead of getting married so early, especially when they live in the US and have unlimited access to education and resources to be successful professionally. Marriage is an amazing place to be in, in your life, however, it feels even better when you have completed your education and can freely be successful in your personal and professional life and have real life skills( even if it's a housewife role you desire then be it! Building and maintaining a home with love and care takes more work than an outside career sometimes, as you will need skills of negotiating, time management, communication skills, creativity, literacy, etc). This energy will make your marriage strong, your family functional and society productive. You will attract a mate that will appreciate all your hard work and work with you in life so both of you are successful, healthy and happy and raise wholesome children through educated guidance and support.

If Afghan-Americans can use their resources rightfully and educate themselves while they are here in the US, they can turn Afghanistan around in less than 20 years aboard and create a more positive image of Afghans to the international community.So that in time, the Afghan girl in Afghanistan who wanted to continue going to school, can do so without a threat to her life. Afghans need to focus and educate each other to be successful, now wouldn't that make our Afghan forefathers proud who use to live in such a country?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Hospitality: Hosting Guests the Afghan Way

Did you know that Afghans are considered to be the most hospitable group of people in the world? The central location of Afghanistan has a lot to do with the generosity and hospitality of Afghans. Afghanistan is accessible by Europe, the Middle east and far east (China) by foot, car, train and airplane. Notice, I didn’t mention a ship because is in a landlocked location. Given this central location of Afghanistan, groups of people have always come and gone and come back again to Afghanistan (and not just for military reasons!)

Back in the day, it was the meeting place for trade and commerce from all over the world. The Chinese and Indian followed the silk road into Afghanistan to trade spices with British in Afghanistan as it was an easily accessible location with a hospitable group of people who always welcomed everyone with open arms (even today). I personally think, it was the generous hospitality that kept everyone coming and staying in Afghanistan and not just business. Afghans are known to treat their guests sometimes better than their own family members!

If anyone has visited Afghan friends, you know exactly what I am talking about. Afghans are taught to host guests in the most generous and hospitable way. I remember three years ago, I visited Afghanistan and we went to visit a local family. The family was quite poor and because we were guests from ‘America’, they put their life savings together to buy meat for dinner for everyone( keep in mind they themselves probably hadn’t eaten meat in months given their financial situation and didn’t have their basic needs met). Afghans will give the very best to their guests even at the cost of their own lives.

Below I have outlined a few rituals that are extended to guests being hosted in an Afghan home. These cultural practices are what most Afghans practice regardless of where they currently live or their financial situation ( they make it happen for the guests even if they can’t afford to do it for themselves). I know after being raised in the states and newly married, I have come to practice what my own parents have done since I was a child.

The Guests Arrival:
When guests first arrive ( They might call you first), usually dressed in nice attire (some guests might bring fruit or a small dessert for the host as it’s always better to show up with something to give than empty handed). Guests are seated and entertained by the host until dinner is served. Sometimes, depending on familiarity of the guests, they will be separated, where men go to a separate living room and the women gather together. The woman of the house usually will excuse herself briefly after the guests arrival to serve dinner (some dishes are cooked in the morning while others might be cooked the day before, depending on the number of guests attending).

The Food cycle:
The Afghan meal consists of three courses with the first one being a buffet style dinner. Yes you read that right, first a buffet, then the courses! What can I say, we are a food loving people and enjoy serving one another. The buffet has the main dishes (lamb, chicken, different types of rice, veggie dishes, salad.etc. We don’t drink alcohol, so we substitute that with drinking tea later. After the main meal, guests compliment the cook on their favorite dish and for casual chatter, the woman ask the host for the recipe in the manner of “ oh wow, this is so delicious, what did you put in this? Mine never comes out this good!” (my mom always gives the correct recipe if someone asks, as some Afghan women don’t!) The aftermath of the meal is quickly cleaned up (usually if it’s a big group of people, the younger girls may help with the dishes or close family members).

Tea Time:
After dinner is my favorite part as the host, because it relaxes me knowing the main event went well and the guests are happy, then it’s time to relax and eat some more! The host will serve green tea with dried fruit neatly placed in a glass dish, along with cakes and cookies for the guests. Sometimes, a wedding video is played for entertainment ( I know this was the case when we first got married! Who am I kidding, it's the case when we have new guests come over! My husband just rolls his eyes when it comes time for this. ut I know every Afghan female who comes to visit a newly married friend wants to see their wedding video!)

With more modern Afghans in the states (where the wedding video has been viewed several times) a nice current movie is played or a game ( I love playing taboo or connect 4!). Older Afghans, both men and women (think our parents) take this time to catch up on each other’s lives and everyday routines, share stories or watch Ariana TV ( the Afghan tv channel about Afghanistan). Each tea cup is refilled several times by the host for their guests and are encouraged to eat the sweets about every five minutes. Generally this came about, because traditional Afghans tend to kindly refuse to eat the first 2 times and have to continually be encouraged ( even if they have been eyeing the desserts all evening!) I remember my mom would always remind me to keep asking our guests to eat their desserts and take more and I always replied with “ if they want to mom, can’t they just get it, I mean the dish is right in front of them?”

I guess I always wondered why a 12 year old had to sit with the older guests all the time. Now, I realize it is done out of respect for the guests since they did come to visit everyone in the family. Each family member is seated with their guests until they leave, no matter what their age as a sign of respect for their guest(s). Also, it's a great way to learn about who we are and what we do. I remember my mom would always encourage me to 'learn' from their stories of being back home ( yes, every Afghan men and women our parents age has great stories to tell about their time in Afghanistan when they get together).

After the tea, the host brings out large trays of neatly arranged fruit with plates for each guest. The tray is presented to each guest and they are encouraged to take fruit. The types of fruit usually is whatever is in season. You can never go wrong with strawberries, watermelon, grapes, cherries, pineapples anything that can be cut up small and can be eaten easily. Mangoes, apples and oranges are usually placed in a different bowl (uncut) for decoration or if someone wants to eat them, they can.

About the time the fruit is finished it’s probably well after midnight and the guests prepare to leave. Of course the host always offers them their bed to sleep in if they wish to spend the night! If the overnight invitation is accepted (rarely is) the breakfast is another course!

The time that is spent with Afghans when they are hosting you is a time of pure pleasure and entertainment for them and for the guest. You can actually feel the excitement of the host and how much they appreciate you as their guest. I know my good American friends always loved coming to my home when I lived with my parents, because they were treated with the most respect and given great food and treatment no matter how old they were.

I love having guests and being a guest to my Afghan family and friends. I have to say, some of my American friends now follow the same food cycle, which is so nice.

Weight alert: Yes, you will gain weight being a guest in an Afghan home! I call this weight gain: Happy weight!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Afghan Weddings: Whats the Cost? Whats the purpose?

Should I cry or smile? I know that at my wedding, I couldn’t stop smiling. It was one of the happiest days of my life. Brides in the Afghan culture are told many things: look shy for the cameras, don’t laugh too loud, let your husband sit first and stay standing (shows the audience whose boss), make sure groom provides a lot of  gold jewelry , etc. The list goes on. These days in the states, weddings are still momentous events and glamorous but also a competition between families and friends. I guess this phenomenon is the same in every culture (just look at Hollywood weddings!)

The thing that is truly getting out of hand is the expense ( some men can't afford to even get married, given current demands for an Afghan wedding. It's even more rigorous in Afghanistan when a dowry is placed on the girl, which is not an islamic practice, rather a cultural one, as Islam only has 'Mahr- a gift in any form given only to the bride by the groom) and the lack of focus on the main significance: a joining of two souls and hearts, of two people and their families to live a healthy, happy and prosperous life. If one has the desire to spend thousands and even millions on their wedding (hey it’s a once in a lifetime event! Although nowadays with separations and divorce, maybe it’s a two time event for some) and they can afford it without taking loans, then have the dream wedding!

I know my wedding was very glamorous and expensive (thank God no loans!) (my husband still refuses to tell me how much it cost). The problem with expensive weddings is when one has to ‘borrow’ or loan money to have the event, which is way beyond their means and they spend years back trying to pay it off. After the wedding, is when life truly starts and the expenses rack up. Whether it’s buying a home (one will need a down payment), a car (yes, your wife will need reliable transportation), going out for dinners and general entertainment (this is the time to get to know each other and have the freedom to travel without responsibilities, i.e. kids), buying gifts, furniture for your new place, health insurance, and If you add babies to the mix, well then you can do the math!

All I am saying, is that expenses don’t stop after the wedding, if anything they increase dramatically (hint: men get a stable career and save!). The purpose of this post is not to scare men or women away from weddings and marriage, if anything, I want everyone to have a great marriage (it’s probably the best thing in this world- a happy marriage). The purpose is to be realistic and be aware. Most arguments that happen with newlyweds is about management of money ( i.e. whose the spender and whose the saver?) , so be prepared to not disappointment yourself or your spouse.

In the Afghan culture, it is usually the groom who pays for everything, starting with the engagment party. These events are practiced by Afghans residing in the states and in Afghanistan. I just had a family member get married in Afghanistan and the cost was about the same to have a 300 guests wedding in the states or maybe slightly more, as one has to consider airfare for international travel for each member.

Here are some of the cultural events that go hand in hand with a wedding:

This event is almost as big as the wedding will be. Some couples will hold it at the girl’s residence, with both sides contributing to the cost or in a more traditional setting, the male pays for everything, starting with the engagement party. Some engagements are held in a hall or hotel ballroom. I had an engagement in a hotel ballroom with about 300 guests, so it all depends on ability and what is desirable ( we had guests coming in from out of state and my husband has a big family so it was beneficial to celebrate in a nice big formal setting). There is the dress, cake, flowers, invitations, really all the things that are needed in a wedding. Although with the engagement, the girl gets beautiful jewels too! I was presented with an engagement ring (we were getting engaged after all!). The bride is presented with beautiful jewels from members in the family and close family friends. Some couples have a nikkah (Islamic marriage ceremony performed at the engagement party) and some couples perform the nikkah ceremony the day of the wedding reception. The reasoning behind the choice is usually a personal one, however, it most likely so that the couple can “freely” interact with each other if it is done during the engagement period. This becomes a bit of a religious argument, as the nikkah ceremony makes you wife and husband before God, so if the engagement is broken off, one would have to get a legal/ religious divorce, however the process changes if the couple has not consummated the marriage. I would think it is best to perform the nikkah when the wedding takes place as then you live together and your duties as husband and wife can be performed as one wishes without restrictions. The period between engagement and actual wedding can be short as a week or long as it needs to be for the groom to afford a wedding. Sometimes, both sides designate a timeframe depending on school / work schedules or when their parents feel it is the right time.

Henna Night:
This is almost equivalent to the a bachelorette’s party. The Henna night is usually hosted the night before in a hotel ballroom or the bride’s parents home if it is large enough to host all the ladies that will be coming to the wedding. The Henna night can also be done on the night of the wedding as more modern couples practice. The Henna is brought in by the groom’s family (usually his aunts, sisters, cousins, anyone on the groom side). The night is filled with music, dancing and great food and desserts, which is catered often. The Afghan meal usually is buffet style which include main dishes like kabuli-palo, lamb and chicken kababs, salad, vegetables dishes, etc.

Usually done before the wedding reception. The nikkah takes place with the bride, groom, both sets of parents and close family members and also a religious Muslim authority , such as Mullah to perform the the islamic marriage ceremony. Both sides decide on the amount of ‘Mahr’ which is a bridal gift given to the bride from the groom (usually in the form of money). Consent is asked and given by the bride and groom three times in the presence of witnesses. Sometimes, the bride’s father can act as a guardian if the bride gives him that authority. After the ceremony, attending guests receive a beautiful wrapped gift box filled with sweets, usually frosted almonds.

This event, depending on the number of family and guest attending the ceremony requires a different space then the wedding hall. I had mine in a hotel ballroom that was especially designed for the nikkah ceremony. In the Afghan culture the bride wears a beautiful and modest green gown with a green shawl. The Quran is recited and a special prayer is performed for the new couple. Afterwards, everyone congratulates the couple and their families and the bride goes to change into her white wedding gown to go to the reception where hundreds of people have come to celebrate.

The Afghan bride wears a white wedding gown, given their family background, most gowns tend to be more modest then American style gowns. It usually has sleeves and the back is covered ( I had my mom add sleeves and a back to my strapless, mermaid cut gown) although there are some brides who dress in all traditional Afghan Kuchi Dress or in all American gowns with arms and back showing. The events I am explaining are what moderate Afghans do, who tend to have a more traditional background. The bride is given more jewelry and both couples read the Quran together under a shawl. Some modern Afghan couples do a bride and groom dance ( not like ballroom dancing!) to upbeat Afghan music where they don’t really touch each other. It is important to say that in Afghanistan, the bride does not dance on her wedding day (remember she is leaving her dad's home for the first time and going to her husband's home, so she is to be sad! I might have disappointed a couple of people when I couldn't stop dancing at my wedding! Some cultural traits change over time, especially if they don't hold true always. I mean come on, who is suppose to be sad on their wedding day?! I guess if it's forced upon you, then maybe.....Which brings me to a very important point, marriage can not ever be valid Islamically, if the bride and groom do not consent to it.

As aforementioned, the bride is asked three differet times if she agrees to the marriage and if she says no, then a nikkah can not take place. We hear about forced marriages in Afghanistan all the time and in reality, if the girl has not agreed, then it is not a valid marriage islamically. I love the Afghan culture, however, we are muslims first and must practice what is in our faith before personal customs, as it is the religion who should influence culture.

So back to the wedding: The wedding usually has some famous / well known Afghan band or solo artist and plays throughout the night. The bride and groom are first to get food in a buffet style dinner ( think lamb and chicken kababs, different types of rice, salad, veggies dishes, mantoo- afghan dumplings and much more) while the cameras and family look on. After dinner, the bride can change into a more traditional afghan dress (kuchi dress) and the henna is brought out by the groom’s family all wearing kuchi dresses. Of course, there is the cake cutting and final goodbye to everyone. Gifts are usually in the form of checks or cash (it used to be boxed gifts, but more and more people understand the expense of things and starting a new life, so money is greatly appreciated instead of, say, a toaster! Then, it’s off to a honeymoon! I know we had a beautiful honeymoon in a different country, however, not all families and couples do. Most couples spend the next few days visiting people and attending more parties to celebrate their union! If you have any afghan friend who is married, trust me, they will be more than happy to show you their beloved wedding video to you of all the aforementioned in action!

Advice on weddings: Be aware of costs, stay true to the purpose (beautiful union of you and your spouse) and incorporate Afghan culture in the festivities!

Here is an article from NPR about Afghan weddings:


Written by: Afghan Wife
Email: Afghan.wife@gmail.com

Marriage: Marry someone in the US or Afghanistan?

Well it's summer time and the wedding season is upon us once again. Before I was married, I didn't really pay attention to weddings or was very interested in how weddings were conducted. I was always more interested in how a 'marriage' would work in today's times. I wondered, would I marry an afghan who was raised in the states, such as myself, or listen to the elders and marry an afghan man living in Afghanistan and do a service for the family and bring him into the US, as many people have done. Alhumduillah, my fate was for the best and I am married to the man of my dreams!

I do think it is important to shed light on an issue facing young unmarried Afghan single men and women. As in the Afghan culture, parents have a great say in how, when and whom their child marries and one of the biggest choices is: Will they marry someone from the US, an Afghan that was raised and hopefully educated here, or is it more honorable to marry someone from back home and bring them into the US after marriage.

I'd like to point out that Afghan men do tend to marry more females from Afghanistan and bring them into the states as they are considered more 'pure' and can easily be treated as a housewife, than to Afghan females who are raised in the states. There are also many single Afghan women in America who do the same, just not to the same extent as men.
It is difficult for an Afghan woman to marry in Afghanistan and bring her husband to the US. Most likely, he will not be accomplished or educated in the US, lacks English language skills (pragmatics) and will generally, have a worldview that is heavily influenced in Afghanistan (such as gender roles) to be able to live a successful life with his Afghan-American wife. The wife maybe already accomplished career wise, educated and in general was raised by American cultural standards (enjoys driving, coming and going as she pleases, eating out, shopping, etc). This lifestyle is normal to anyone living in the states, however, to someone coming from Afghanistan, they would not know how to react or handle the situation if the their wife did the aforementioned, while they sat at home as the house-husband ( very uncommon for Afghan men or most men for that matter!).

For Afghan-American single men, marrying and bringing a wife from Afghanistan can have it's benefits if one seeks a traditional role in all situations. I am not saying that Afghan-American women are not traditional ( hey I still cook and clean!). The main thing to ask oneself when considering marriage to someone from Afghanistan is: Who and Why and how will we live compatibly in the US with such different backgrounds and viewpoints?

This same questions should be asked if one is playing to marry an Afghan from the states: Are you marrying them because of convenience or because you truly want to create a meaningful life with someone special? If you are considering getting married to someone in Afghanistan, are you capable and ready to solely financially support them? Guide and teach them the American culture? Let them start/finish their education in the US and support them if they chose to have a career? Sometimes, for men, it is easy to think that if they bring a wife from Afghanistan, she will not have any of the same wants and needs as their Afghan-American women counterparts, but they do! They too have dreams of wanting to be educated, have the freedom to chose their wardrobes, provide for the families back home and assist them and also be the dream wife and mother.

We sometimes forget, that simply because we 'bring' someone from Afghanistan, they no longer have needs or wants as ourselves who were raised here and they should just be grateful and fulfill all duties that are required of them because they were ‘saved’ from a life in Afghanistan. Anyone, who chooses to bring a future spouse from Afghanistan, must be ready to care for them, give them emotional support (they most likely left their homes for the very first time and left everyone they ever knew to come be with you). They need financial support (don't forget their family! Anyone who gets married to someone in the US, is expected to contribute financially throughout their lives to the spouse's family back home).

All in all, marriage is work with anyone regardless of where they grew up. It takes patience and understanding which start from day one of their life together. Communication becomes key and one thing Afghans are great at is: talking! We love to express who we are and what we think if given the opportunity. So men, give your wife the encouragement and freedom to speak what she feels so that life is built upon love and understanding. Whether one marries an Afghan girl from the US or from Afghanistan communication is the basis for true love and a marriage that will last. Communication provides the  freedom for each person to understand who they are and what they are capable of giving to you.

Written by: Afghan Wife
Email: Afghan.wife@gmail.com

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

What is an Afghan Wife?

Growing up in the US, I really didn't know what was required of me when I was to get married. I am starting with this blog to reflect, document and also share what it is to be an Afghan wife based on my current residence in the US and lifestyle. I knew that I wanted to be an Afghan wife and the only way to support that role for me would be to marry an Afghan husband! That way, we could help each other become what we felt was the perfect Afghan self, given our faith and lifestyle.

so, now we are two Afghan people, married happily and living life in America as Afghans. How does one do that? Well in this blog, is only my story and perspective as am sure thousands live the same way or slightly different. Our way of life, works for us and I am happy to be able to share so that hopefully, we can learn from each other.

It's important to know that being an Afghan wife, does not happen, after the wedding, but rather before. Let me explain why. The moment a suitor is interestedin marrying an Afghan girl, her role as an Afghan wife has started. From the Khostgari ( suitor getting permission) to sheerney (engagement) to nikkah (wedding). These events mark what is to follow as an Afghan wife. Will one do everything traditionally in those aforementioned events or not? I myself had a very traditional engagement and wedding with a modern day twist. We both had an amazing honeymoon and live by ourselves while both working outside the home and contributing to household duties. I am an Afghan wife. A happy one.

So, when you are considering marriage, consider your role and how you act, before the actual marriage as that will determine the relationship ground for both husband and wife. Now, if it's an arranged marriage (yes, that still happens in america with afghans) then fully understand that role and tradition as it will influence and set up the stage for the rest of your life. There is nothing wrong with following tradition. The important thing is to not set one self up for disappointment as some females tend to only focus on the glits and glamour of a wedding ( a one night event) without much thought to the person they are about to spend their life with and the roles attached.

As a happy afghan wife, I have realized that afghan cultural expectations should fully be explained and not followed blindly when it comes to living a healthy and happy life with your partner!


The 'modern' afghan meal

It's almost dinner time, and once again, I contemplate what to cook. For starters, I need to consider who is all coming for dinner. Well, since it is a week day and work week, it will be just my wonderful husband and I for dinner. These days, when we both work during the week, dinner is still a cherished time for us to spend together and relax while eating great food. I know my husband loves kebab, rice and salad and is happy with that menu every night, if I can cook it!

The more I cook Afghan food, the more I realize that, it's really one meal that we both love (chicken, rice and salad). I try to differentiate by adding and substituting certain ingredients (say, roasted chicken, instead of pan cooked with different spices, or spinach salad instead of afghan salad- the kind with small chopped tomatoes, mint, onions and lettuce).
I enjoy seafood very much (since Afghanistan is landlocked with no access to the ocean and marina life, most Afghans especially the elders, are not big fans of shrimp and crab because they were not exposed to them growing up. I took a risk and made sushi for my husband’s family! I thought I would incorporate some thing new and fresh with the weekend BBQ kebab and rice meal. The elders asked if I should “cook’ the sushi first before eating it! Towards the end, it was the kebab and rice that everyone ate. Afghans love their cooked kebabs!

So tonight, I will do what any good wife would do to create a different routine and meal: Have left overs from last night's BBQ!

Here is a great website for Afghan meals: