Page 154. " she could sing folk songs, ghazals, even raga "

Public DomainGazelle - Credit: Pearson Scott Foresman
A ghazal is an ancient and melancholic style of Persian poem formed of rhyming couplets with a refrain.  The subject is usually unattainable love.  Most ghazal poets, like Rumi, were Sufis.

The form is named after the gazelle (ghizaal), an animal which had to be killed to obtain the sweet musk sought after in the Arabian world.  It was said that the dying cry of a gazelle was comparable to the pain of separation or love lost.

 Three ghazals by Rumi

Sitar Player
Public DomainSitar Player - Credit: Jan Kraus
A raga, meaning "colour", is a type of Indian melody which is said to evoke a particular mood.  It is typical of most classical Indian music, as well as some modern film songs. 

Raga Kausi Kanhara

Raga Sindhura

Page 160. " the Soviet puppet government "
Mohammed Najibullah
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeMohammed Najibullah - Credit: Domaleixo, Wikimedia Commons

The so-called Democratic Republic of Afghanistan continued to be supported by the Soviet Union after its withdrawal in 1989, with military and financial assistance.  Consequently, the government army controlled by Mohammed Najibullah was able to resist Mujahideen attacks successfully until 1992 when Kabul was finally captured.

The impact of this civil war is well captured in Hosseini's second book, A Thousand Splendid Suns.


Page 164. " San Francisco's Bernal Heights "

Bernal Heights
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeBernal Heights - Credit: Beatrice Murch
Bernal Heights lies to the south of downtown San Francisco.  With its own park and affordable quality houses, it has long been popular with young families, earning it the nickname "Maternal Heights" - an irony that Soraya might not have appreciated very much.

Page 170. " I remembered Peshawar pretty well "
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikePeshawar - Credit: Omer Wazir

 Peshawar is the capital of Pakistan's northwest frontier province.  The name means "City on the Frontier", reflecting its position at the entrance to the Khyber Pass.  For centuries, it was an important hub for the Silk Road, and remains the cultural capital for Pashtuns.



Peshawar Butcher
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikePeshawar Butcher - Credit: Omer Wazir











Google Map
Page 174. " the Taliban rolled in "
Taliban Fighters
Public DomainTaliban Fighters - Credit: Voice of America

The Taliban held power in Afghanistan from 1995 to 2001.  Pashtun in origin, they were headed by Mullah Mohammed Omar.  His government redesignated the country the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan".  Notoriously, they held public executions, banned kite flying and television, and forced all women to wear the burqa in public.