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Moderator
Rachel-K
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Welcome from your Moderator

Hello everyone, and welcome to our discussion of Khaled Hosseini's novel A Thousand Splendid Suns. Those of you who have joined us in the past to discuss the author's first novel, The Kite Runner, can already guess at the rich conversational territory that lies ahead.

Like The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns provides a window on a world few of us know well -- the lives of women in Afghani society today. But the real power in this story -- as in Hosseini's earlier novel -- is in its portrayal of fascinatingly particular human beings. As you get to know Mariam and Laila, and the story of how a very special and poignant bond is forged between them, I think you'll become engrossed in the revelations of their inmost selves.

I'm looking forward to talking with all of you about this truly splendid tale. We'll start in earnest on Monday, August 6th. See you then!
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Nadine
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Registered: ‎10-30-2006
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Afghan Time Line

I thought this timeline might be helpful to get a perspective on what has been happening in Afghanistan over the past 100 years. Except for that brief period at the end of 2001 I didn't know anything about Afghan history: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/1162108.stm
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Sunltcloud
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Re: Afghan Time Line


Nadine wrote:
I thought this timeline might be helpful to get a perspective on what has been happening in Afghanistan over the past 100 years. Except for that brief period at the end of 2001 I didn't know anything about Afghan history: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/1162108.stm




Thanks Nadine, I just printed the timeline for reference later on.
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dawn1862
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Registered: ‎08-04-2007
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Re: Afghan Time Line

Thank Nadine. The timeline is very informative.
Dawn
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Rachel-K
Posts: 1,495
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Re: Afghan Time Line

Glad to see you here Nadine! Thanks for the link!

Rachel
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IrisJoy
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Registered: ‎08-04-2007
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Re: Afghan Time Line

Nadine,
Thanks for the time line. I knw so little of the history of Afghanistan and appreciate this condensed listing of so many years of history.
IrisJoy
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SueDG
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Afghan Time Line

Hi Nadine: Thanks for the timeline. I plan to share it with my students as they read KR. I also found this link that contains powerful photos of daily life in Afganistan. Scroll down to the slide show on the right entitled "Now: Life in Afganistan."
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19365360/
Susan
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Nadine
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Registered: ‎10-30-2006
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Re: Afghan Time Line

[ Edited ]

SueDG wrote:
Hi Nadine: Thanks for the timeline. I plan to share it with my students as they read KR. I also found this link that contains powerful photos of daily life in Afganistan. Scroll down to the slide show on the right entitled "Now: Life in Afganistan."
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19365360/
Susan




Excellent photography in these images, Susan! Very educational as well. I found it particularly interesting that prostitutes hide behind Burqas.

Message Edited by Nadine on 08-05-2007 12:55 PM
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Nadine
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Afgan Fashion

Actually some of the Muslim woman's conservative fashions are not so bad. They do not have to look dreadful. In poking around, I came across some conservative fully cover-up swim wear called "burqini." You might drown trying to swim in it but it actually is very attractive day wear--though they would probably not allow it off the beach!

http://www.ahiida.com/index.php?a=results&subcat=65
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Nadine
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Re: Afgan Fashion

Here are illustrations of the head wear worn by women.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/spl/hi/pop_ups/05/europe_muslim_veils/html/1.stm
Moderator
Rachel-K
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Re: Afgan Fashion

Isn't it interesting how thirsty we are for an everyday understanding of what life must be like--in Afghanistan in general, and for women in particular? I find many of my own internal questions are perfectly shallow--wondering at how you would complete some small mundane task in a burka, for example--rather than the larger implications of a major headline.
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IBIS
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Registered: ‎11-22-2006
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Re: Afghan Time Line & Fashions & Daily life photos

[ Edited ]
Thank you, Nadine, for the informative Afghan Time Line. It is very helpful, especially now that I can place the storyline of A Splendid Thousand Suns in perspective.

Also the link to descriptions of the the veils is wonderful. I had no idea there were so many variations.


And also, thank you SueDG, for the photos of Daily life in Afghanistan. The photos helped to anchor, and fine-tune some of my mental images in the story.


Thank you.

Edited by Admin. for formatting only.

Message Edited by Jessica on 10-26-2007 02:42 PM
IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
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kiakar
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Afgan Fashion



rkubie wrote:
Isn't it interesting how thirsty we are for an everyday understanding of what life must be like--in Afghanistan in general, and for women in particular? I find many of my own internal questions are perfectly shallow--wondering at how you would complete some small mundane task in a burka, for example--rather than the larger implications of a major headline.




That is amazing! How women could wear those garbs and do all their work! I felt a pang in my heart while reading this. It has to bring shame to women to know they have to be covered that way. It's like they are not of worth at all. My heart does go out to them.
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Sunltcloud
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Re: Afgan Fashion

Many Muslim women do not feel shame about their garb; many are proud of it and many more see it as a kind of protection. When I was in Marrakech I talked to one of the young female students on her way to the university (she rode her bike, dressed in black from head to toe, with only face and hands exposed) and she was surprised that I should see her attire as hindrance.



kiakar wrote:


rkubie wrote:
Isn't it interesting how thirsty we are for an everyday understanding of what life must be like--in Afghanistan in general, and for women in particular? I find many of my own internal questions are perfectly shallow--wondering at how you would complete some small mundane task in a burka, for example--rather than the larger implications of a major headline.




That is amazing! How women could wear those garbs and do all their work! I felt a pang in my heart while reading this. It has to bring shame to women to know they have to be covered that way. It's like they are not of worth at all. My heart does go out to them.

Inspired Scribe
IBIS
Posts: 1,735
Registered: ‎11-22-2006
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Re: Afgan Daily Life

[ Edited ]
Krubie wrote:
Isn't it interesting how thirsty we are for an everyday understanding of what life must be like--in Afghanistan in general, and for women in particular? I find many of my own internal questions are perfectly shallow--wondering at how you would complete some small mundane task in a burka, for example--rather than the larger implications of a major headline.



I don't think your interest in mundane every-day details is shallow. I thirst for details of Mariam's daily life... they add color and definition to what is, to many of us contemporary Americans, a very alien culture and lifestyle. These details make the stories more "real" for me.

I was fascinated by the limitations of living inside a burka: does it get hot inside, does it block peripheral vision? Does it mask the wearer from the world, or vice versa?

I was hungry to learn about the ingredients that Nana and Mariam prepared for daily meals. I absorbed all the minutiae about foodstuffs -- the gifts that Mariam got from Bibi jo: a basket of quinces, a box of dishlemeh candy, or a chicken, sometimes a pot of kichiri rice, or a basket of dyed eggs.

These everyday details in the novel grounded me so that I felt very much involved in the lives of Mariam and Nana.

Edited by Admin. for formatting only.

Message Edited by Jessica on 10-26-2007 02:42 PM
IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
Frequent Contributor
Chaser
Posts: 27
Registered: ‎10-27-2006
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Re: Afgan Fashion

I feel that it would help me to hear more opinions/feedback along these lines - of women who see the burqa positively (obviously non-Western women if at all possible).

As a Westerner, I know my view is limited. It is hard to see this entire coverage idea in a positive light; if the men had to cover also, I don't think I would worry about it so much. But it is such a double standard to require women to cover when men do not. This requirement is communicating that the female body is inherently bad, provocative, or sexual, whereas male bodies are not. Women did not decide to be born women and have the features of women, but they are being punished simply for simply possessing a woman's body.

I think the hard part for me is to see their faces covered. Our face is what gives us uniqueness from others and is most easily recognizable to others. Women are not even allowed to show this part of themselves - I guess for the same reasons they have to conceal their body.

The dress does not bother me near as much as other issues, i.e. women's lack of opportunity for education, but I have trouble seeing it as religious expression. Something this extreme just speaks to me of male control.

Maybe someone can help me see it differently. I know some women don't have a problem wearing the burqa - do they believe Islam teaches them to wear this or do they wear it because this is all they know and all they have been taught? Have they been taught that wearing a burqa makes them a good Muslim? And does it?

As far as the "protection" idea goes, I have heard of Muslim women being harrassed and physically fondled in public areas despite the fact that they are totally covered with a burqa. This dress honestly doesn't seem to have the effect that it is intended to.

I have so many questions on this issue! I hope we can spend some time here.





Many Muslim women do not feel shame about their garb; many are proud of it and many more see it as a kind of protection. When I was in Marrakech I talked to one of the young female students on her way to the university (she rode her bike, dressed in black from head to toe, with only face and hands exposed) and she was surprised that I should see her attire as hindrance.




--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
kiakar wrote:



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
rkubie wrote:
Isn't it interesting how thirsty we are for an everyday understanding of what life must be like--in Afghanistan in general, and for women in particular? I find many of my own internal questions are perfectly shallow--wondering at how you would complete some small mundane task in a burka, for example--rather than the larger implications of a major headline.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------




That is amazing! How women could wear those garbs and do all their work! I felt a pang in my heart while reading this. It has to bring shame to women to know they have to be covered that way. It's like they are not of worth at all. My heart does go out to them.
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IBIS
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Registered: ‎11-22-2006
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Re: Afgan Fashion--the BURKA

Westerners see the burka as a symbol of oppression, and in the majority of cases, it is. For every positive use of it, there are a hundred negative ones.

But the issue of the burqa is not about the garment itself. It was worn way before Islam, and for many Muslim women, it's a traditional choice of dress. For some Muslim women who choose to wear it, is a symbol of Islamic piety and enthusiasm. For others, it's a security blanket; without it, they feel naked in public. It protects them against dust in the busy streets; it's a convenient shield for breast-feeding; and sometimes it's a nifty cover to run to the store without makeup. Some women even wear them as a protest against Western culture and scanty clothes.

In many news articles, during the Afghan war, the burka was worn for safety by many journalists and World aid workers caught in war-torn Kabul. They used them to hide their identity in dangerous areas; foreigners who were targets of the militant Taliban wore them for security.

As a form of disguise, many Muslim women would say that our fashion equivalent are dark sunglasses.

Unfortunately, all societies have extreme ways of persuading their women to dress --how to fit in. Many would say that Western culture has a misogynist fashion industry which ruthlessly promotes indecent exposure.

We need to respect the traditional societal arrangements of different cultures, even those that are alien and foreign to us.
IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
Contributor
lasharp24
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Registered: ‎01-02-2007
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Re: Welcome from your Moderator

Thank you all for all this informative information relative to time line, dress wear, and swim suits - simply amazing. I agree, you may drown trying to swim in it, but it is relatively attractive.
What amazes me so, is how both Miriam and Laila found a certain amount of comfort behind their burka. Although, I guess it sheltered them from the harsh reality of their lives. Myself, in addition to the awkwardness of the atire, I can't imagine how one survives the heat underneath this gear. How does one breath what little air there is to breath? What are they made from?
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viva2
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Registered: ‎08-05-2007
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Re: Afghan Time Line

Thank you so much for the timeline. I will share it with my Austin Barnes&Noble book club this month when we discuss A Thousand Splendid Suns.
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lasharp24
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Re: Afgan Fashion--the BURKA

To me the burka represents the absolute and complete disregard for even the slightest existance of women in the islamic society. They live as slaves behind a veil in their own society and are brain washed since birth to believe that in being subservient and accepting the unfathomable abuse, that they are serving Alah!

It saddens me beyond belief. I can't forget Laila making the statement that she is amazed at how much physical punishment the human body can endure. I pray that sometime soon, that these woman will be emancipated from this brutal society.

How can this be happening in society today. Please, continue to educate the world. They need our help and our prayers.
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