Bismillah ir Rahman ir Rahim - In the name of Allah, the Most merciful, the compassionate.
Welcome to How Do You Take Your Chai? I am a Muslim, Afghan-American woman, born and raised in the Midwest. To be more specific, Wisconsin. The land of cheese, beer, farmland, and home of the Badgers.
This is a series where I will be speaking about my experience as an Afghan-American, which can be relatable to some Afghans, or not at all. In this series, I will make some conversation about the stereotypical topics when it comes to Afghanistan (the war and the resources our land has), culture, racism, my family, and more. (And at the end of each post, you will also see different ways I take my chai.)
To understand my experience more, it's only fair you knew some details about me. I am a 23-year-old hijabi who is family-oriented and I have a full-time job. My parents (who were born in Kabul) are alive and live together (in the United States) with my two sisters. I moved out almost a year ago. I also live with my husband, who I've been married to for almost a year, with our two cats.
I have a bachelor's degree in Psychology and a minor in education and educational services. My long-term goal is to study trauma with people who have immigrated and their generations. Also, I am currently trying to get into grad school.
With the brief description that I provided about myself, you can see that I do hold a lot of privileges. I am educated, my parents don't have a divorce, I can afford to have pets, etc. These are privileges I learned to not take for granted, a part of it why is religious, and the other part is from survivor's guilt.
I wanted to start this series because there is little to no representation of Afghan-Americans. I think it's about time to change that.
Growing up, I didn't have anyone who shared similar experiences as me, other than my older sister. It was isolating and pretty lonely. I felt like I was too... ethnic for my white friends and too American for my parents and family. As many would say, I was living in between the hyphen.
I never embraced who I was until I learned that I don't have anything to be ashamed of. I had to force myself into circles with my people. I wish I didn't have to find groups of Afghans and they naturally came to me. Sometimes, I still do not feel like I belong in those spaces.
So, if you're an Afghan-American, surrounded by everyone except Afghans, and you feel like how I do. You're not alone. (There's no special club or membership for this, but I'm glad we share a connection.)
I barely see any representation of Afghans in the media. Most of the representations I see of Afghans are photos of children in the street, the military, or the dead bodies of civilians. (I plan to bring more of my thoughts on this later in the series).
Of course, there's the dear and lovely Khaled Hosseini, famous for Kite Runner but also And The Mountains Echoed and A Thousand Splendid Suns. Other narratives of Afghans I've read are about bacha-posh (young girls who have dressed up like little boys to provide for their family in the Taliban era), immigration, and living during a time of war.
It is wonderful that there is awareness of the situation and experiences that Afghans have. Even I have learned a lot about Afghanistan through these narratives. However, (this might be selfish to say) I need something a little more relatable to me. I don't hear the stories of the Afghan-Americans and question if I should even trust the media with proper representation.
I need something that speaks on behalf of the diaspora. For those who don't understand what I'm talking about, picture this:
You're at your dining table with your laptop in front of you. You're writing about the lack of representation with one of your identities while your people are going through a humanitarian crisis and possibly a civil war. Then, you realize you don't have to worry about that. You also realize that no one is talking about what is going on. No one cares. Then, you feel guilty and responsible, but it's not your fault. You didn't ask for any of this. But it's your people and country that suffer in silence.
This is only a glimpse of the diaspora narrative I want to provide through this blog. It will discuss my experiences as an Afghan-American. It may not be the best representation, however, my words and opinions are based on my experiences. As mentioned before, my representation is not going to be for all Afghan-Americans or speak on behalf of all of them.
I’m just one of them.
Afghan Chai - for one cup
Ingredients: Filtered water (I promise, there's a difference), cardamom, green tea leaves or green tea bag, sugar (if desired).
Add 6-8 ounces of filtered water to your kettle.
Once the kettle comes to a boil, add a sprinkle of crushed cardamon and a small spoonful of green tea leaves (or you can use a green tea bag, but I will always use tea leaves in my recipes).
Wait 3-5 minutes depending on how strong you like your chai.
Add sugar if you prefer it sweet, and there you go.
I hope you enjoyed this take on your chai!