Tuesday, October 21, 2008
The Kunar Province of Afghanistan is remarkable. I have been here for many months and the landscape still amazes me. In Northern Afghanistan the dominant language is Pashto. I have been learning this language slowly, as it is quite alien from our own. I have a vocabulary of about 100 words, and I am still learning. I feel silly when I talk to the locals as I am sure I sound like a caveman. It is normal with Pashtuns to be extremely polite, so the embarrassment of my repeated failures on pronunciation are non-existent. The majority of the locals hate the Taliban as much as we do, and absolutely love America. The translators are always asking questions about America and what they need to do to move there. I receive about 5 or 6 offers to convert to Islam a day. The surprise is quite apparent when they ask me "shta muslim sari" (You muslim man?) and I respond with "Zh Nah Muslim" (I am not Muslim). They cannot believe that someone so willing to help muslims would not be a muslim himself. I have even been told that I would go to hell if I didn't convert, and that they honestly did not want that fate for me. They are a very sincere people, so I do not doubt their motives. I kindly tell them that I am not concerned with whether or not I will go to hell, and that I am more concerned about what I can do to make this world a better place. That seems to baffle them even more.