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The discovery of beauty in Kabul while teaching Chinese in the war-torn country, Afghanistan

By Gulinisha Jiamali | | Updated: 2017-08-31 14:46

Overview of Kabul city. [Photo provided to]

On March 8, 2017, We traveled from Urumqi to Kabul on an Ariana Afghan Airlines flight.

At sunset, our plane flew towards the sun, going through the sea of clouds that were gilded at the edge. A blue scarf trailing from the hat of a flight attendant reminds us that a conservative Islamic country awaits us ahead.

It was dark when we got out of the airport. We were warmly welcomed by teachers from Kabul University and a gift for Women's Day was given to me by them on behalf of the Literature Faculty. Our perturbation along the way totally disappeared immediately with such a surprise. On the way to Kabul University, through the window we saw a dilapidated, low adobe house in the dim light and in sharp contrast, hotels with dazzling neon lights. I couldn't help but sigh: "The nightlife seems so diversified!"

"Those are just wedding halls there," said a local teacher whose Chinese name was Wen Pu, who accompanied the Chinese director to pick us up from the airport. We all praised his good Chinese name, which sounds so culturally elegant. While talking, we closely looked outside in the hope of spotting some views worth visiting in the coming days. We don't see the rubble and ruins left behind by the wars that took place here, neither have we seen the historical sites created by its 3,000 year-old civilization. Obviously, it is hard for foreigners to find things to amuse their romantic souls among these basic facilities for subsistence.

Confucius Institute (Chinese Department) at Kabul University. [Photo provided to]

Teacher Wen Pu got out of our car to ask the guard to let us in when it pulled off at a distance around seven to eight meters to the fully closed gate of Kabul University. The guards inside shouted and warned him not to move any further, however, he went straight forward to the muzzle of his gun, just ignoring him. The guard aimed his gun at him while yelling out a warning. Wen Pu stepped back to the car and we held our breath and dared not make any slight move. The scene appeared to freeze. "There was a terrorist attack today. Many people died so they are very frightened,"Wen Pu explained after stepping back to the car. We were finally allowed in after a long talk over the phone.

The decision to come to work in Afghanistan was kind of made out of an impulse for adventure and the enchanting depiction of Kabul in the biography of Emperor Babur.

Kabul surrounded by the mountain. [Photo provided to]

Kabul is not a big city. It is surrounded by mountains from the east to the west and it looks like a rectangle. The castle of Kabul is against the mountains and ranches are scattered on the mountains. In the south of the castle and the east of the Kabul Hill there is a huge lake whose circumference is about 2 km. There is a river from Kabul Hill flowing to Kabul city, and its two branches are in the vicinity of Kurkina.

Kabul city in the snow. [Photo provided to]

After the vivid depiction of the beauty of Kabul, the great emperor Baburthought it was still not eloquent enough and he then quoted the poem by Mullā Muḥammad Talib Muaimaito to confirm its beauty:

"When having a drink in the mansions of Kabul, one shall make a toast to the surroundings,

Since there are mountains,rivers,townships and pastures."

Over the years, on television, people see nothing more than wars and terrorist attacks, as well as extreme poverty and the chaos left behind.

I am not convinced. There must always be something good, I think.

Street view of Kabul. [Photo provided to]

Kabul in Hindi means "the trading center". The merchants gathered here in the commercial city are from China, India and Rome. Today it is desolate; once upon a time, flowing through the Kabul River in Kabul in the early spring season, the scene attracted a large group of cranes and egrets. Mermaid ducksand numerous fish are the resources people live on, and now the river is filled with rubbish. When we walk in the streets there are always the elderly, women and children stretching out "the never-retracting hand ".They beg and their eyes are so stubborn, you cannot refuse.

With the development of work, the deterioration of the situation, there is almost no possibility for us to go off of the campus. Every day we go nowhere other than the office and our lodgings. A long dirty road and the trees on both sides of it, a garden - the wasteland seems to appease our lonely hearts and the grasses change colors with the seasons.

A mosque in Kabul. [Photo provided to]

Saib-e-Tabrizi, the famous 17th century Persian poet once wrote:

Ah! How beautiful is Kabul encircled by her arid mountains

And Rose, of the trails of thorns she envies

Her gusts of powdered soil, slightly sting my eyes

But I love her, for knowing and loving are born of this same dust

My song exhalts her dazzling tulips

And at the beauty of her trees, I blush…

Emperor Babur also said that Kabul's climate is pleasant, that there is no other place in the world where there is such good air.

River of Kabul. [Photo provided to]

Kabul's beauty is full of warmth for the soul to feel. Crescent moon rising at ni;, however the night is really comfortable. Look at the stars, the east has one of the brightest stars, I call it "Yultuzi Babur" (Babur Star). I think that the military genius who wrote his life in Uygur was a Uygur who remembered his performance. The stars rising from the east are so bright in Kabul's night sky, and the thousands of lights on the hills surrounding Kabul reflect the glory of the people insweet dreams.

It is hard to describe the beauty of Kabul's night sky. A long time after the sun goes down, you can still see the horizon of the mountain is dyed golden, while the mountain is gradually thickening with light and shadow. A pure sky is floating with white clouds, with the darkness of the night, hidden in the lacquer stone deep dusk. During the month of Ramadan, the surrounding mosques, in addition to the rituals, also read the Qur'an. For Uygurs from Urumqi, China, the beautiful male voice is likesounds of nature echoed in the mountains.

People have a stereotype about Afghanistan, that it should be a dry and arid country.After the rain the air in Kabul is mixed with the scent of flowers and the fragrance of the soil.

Some people say that they like a place, mostly because of the people there.

Students of Kabul University. [Photo provided to]

In the morning and afternoon on campus college students sit together to talk. Slowly walking by their side, some people were warmly greeted.

Though the university is so not strict withstudents' punctuality and attendance,the students who do not live on campus come to school to attend their courses do so every day at the risk of losing their lives. The calm attitude of students towards frequent,ongoing terrorist attacks nearby affects us deeply. As long as the students are dedicated to learning, we will always be there teaching them, no matter what the situation becomes.

Students of Chinese Department, Kabul University. [Photo provided to]

Compared with the young people in other war-torn regions and countries, the students studying at Kabul University are promising and lucky. Since they have grown up during the post-war period, they have the chance to study in such a beautiful university. They can freely talk to students of the opposite gender. Enjoying the convenience of the internet, they are well-connected globally through Facebook. And they share their personal lives and emotions with people around world who they have never met in good English, so they become more tolerant and peace-loving than their parents. They can both fully develop their individuality and pursue their dreams while observing traditional rules. We have seen hope and vitality of this country from the young people.

Spring of Kabul. [Photo provided to]

While the media focus on poverty and chaos in Afghanistan, we have seen the building of homes and the opening of new shops, welcoming people. Despite the very slow recovery of this country from the pain of the war and emerging new threats, people are still praying and fasting and continuing their daily lives amid the sound of explosions.

According to Wikipedia, hope, a terminology of emotions, is the positive production of sentiment and is also the response to events related to life and other factors, such as environment.

In Greekmyth, hope is the last thing left in Pandora's box. In a way, hope means no surrender to any difficulty. That's to say, when a nation still believes in hope, it is inclined to believe positive changes will take place, even though negative incidents occurs frequently.

O, Kabul, the ultimate home of the great Emperor Babul, I wish you are always with hope, side by side and hand in hand.

The author is a guest teacher at Kabul University and the article was  translated by Wang Jianfeng, a guest teacher at Kabul University

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