Page 52. " We were at Ghargha Lake "

Lake Qargha
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeLake Qargha - Credit: Aulfat Rizai
Lake Qargha is a reservoir a short drive from Kabul which supplies the city's water.  It is a dusty, uncared for area, nevertheless the lake is very popular with Kabul families who picnic on its shores at the weekend.

Page 53. " The immensely popular Ahmed Zahir "
Ahmad Zahir
Public DomainAhmad Zahir - Credit: Tapand

 Ahmad Zahir (1946-1979) was an Afghan singer and songwriter.  He has been compared to Elvis Presley, and was known as The King of Afghan Music.

His songs were often political and critical of the government, which consequently ordered many of his recordings to be destroyed.  His opposition to the government made him a political hero.  He was assassinated on his 33rd birthday, the same day his daughter was born.

Official Website

Page 54. " a bright green chapan "

Hamid Karzai wearing a Chapan
Public DomainHamid Karzai wearing a Chapan - Credit: USAID
A chapan is a buttonless coat worn over other clothes.  It may be quilted or lined with fur, and tied with a cummerbund.  The sleeves are long, often reaching to the knees.  Chapans originated in the Turkic population, but are worn throughout Afganistan and surrounding Central Asian countries.

Page 57. " steamed mantu and fried pakora "

Vegetable Pakora
Creative Commons AttributionVegetable Pakora - Credit: Paul Joseph
Mantu are dumplings filled with spiced meat, like Chinese wontons.  They are served with yoghurt, mint and lemon juice.

Mantu recipe

Pakora are simply pieces of meat, vegetable or cheese dipped in batter and deep-fried.  Onion bhaji are a form of pakora.

Page 67. " the tenth day of Dhul-Hijjah "
Eid ul-Adha Sacrifice
Creative Commons AttributionEid ul-Adha Sacrifice - Credit: amrufm, Flickr
The ten days of Dhul-Hijjah are considered sacred in Islam. It is a time for increased reflection, seeking Allah's forgiveness and doing good. According to the Prophet Muhammad, “There are no days in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days." Fasting is particularly encouraged on the ninth day of Dhul-Hijjah (Day of Arafah). Fasting on this day will expiate a Muslim's sins for two years.The day of Arafah is the day when the pilgrims stand in worship on the Mountain of Arafah.

Generally, all good deeds are rewarded highly at this blessed time. These  include praying, reading the Qur'an, making Du'a (supplication), giving alms and being good to families.  Seeking Allah's forgiveness (istighfar) and Tawbah (repentance) at this time are also encouraged.  The tenth day of Dhul-Hijjah is Eid ul-Adha or the day of an-Nahr (slaughtering). It marks the conclusion of the major rites of Hajj, and commemorates Allah’s bounty on Prophet Ibrahim, when He gave him a ram to sacrifice instead of his son.