I’m about to take a two-week trip to a part of the world where I’ve never been before. It requires a somewhat different wardrobe than the jeans and sweaters I take to mountain countries, or the shorts and tees I take to the jungle. For this trip, I will need:
Baggy pants. Really baggy. And a long skirt.
Long, baggy tops, tops that will cover my arms and neck and certainly my crotch.
Headscarves. Can’t have any of that hair showing!
Chadri, or burqa. One that is Taliban-approved. You can get them on Etsy; they are quite pretty, and quite uncomfortable.
Oh–and musn’t forget to remove my toenail polish.
I’m also going to pack a Quran. I’ve been reading a lot about Islam lately, and at its heart, it’s nothing like what you hear in the news. I want to understand that better. It should make good reading on the nineteen-hour flight to Dubai, from whence I will embark to Kandahar. Or else it will put me to sleep, which would be okay, too.
You’ll hear more about Afghanistan and the women I will meet there in coming months. About their exquisite traditional embroidery, about their fraught and uncertain lives. Of course, there will be a book, but that’s many months down the road. For now, I just need to pack.
Factoid: It just so happens that you can buy Thrums books in Dubai–and across the UAE–through a shop called Magrudy’s. Imagine that.