I have been happily digressing since my second stint at blogging . I was earlier restricting myself to Indian authors who were writing in English Language .Kazuo Ishiguro is a talent house and I would definitely be reading more of his works but the book I would be sharing with you all today is definitely worth a read .
Not too long ago , when I was on a short trip to India , I visited my usual Bookshop in the Southern part of New Delhi .I always carry my own list of books as time is always short and it is definitely not easy to discern the kind of books you want to buy .But the owner of the shop always has a bigger pile than mine .He recommended me this book , rather, a couple of her books and I had no regrets .
” The Kabul Beauty School ” is authored by Deborah Rodriguez .This is her memoir when she was in Afghanistan for few years . She is an American author ,who had decided to volunteer as a member of a small NGO, during the times , when Taliban had just been driven away from mainstream Afghanistan politics .Though physically the Talibs were not present , but their unwritten rules pretty much dominated the country During those times , lots of well meaning people and organizations had gone to the country to help it being rebuilt .
Deborah [Debbie] ,in those days was trying to come to terms with her second divorce She decided to train herself in disaster management and took the plane to Afghanistan She found out that she was the odd one out of the group as most of the other members were related to health care . She was a beautician by profession .But surprisingly , she was welcomed with open arms as most of the Beauty salons had been destroyed by the religious fanatics .Whatever threadbare services were available ,It was being practiced with antique tools .
Her one time visit to the country changed her life forever .Besides the rampant destruction and poverty , what moved her the most was the plight of women .Subjugation and disempowerment of women was to its extreme .Women were not allowed any education . They had to follow a strict dress code and were not allowed to travel anywhere without a male member . They were not allowed to sit in the front of the car, leave aside driving .Moral degradation was abysmal as young girls were bartered by the family due for money , security or other favors .
In this hostile terrain , Debbie , dared to think about empowering women with whatever talent or resources she had ,so that, at least a few women of the country could live a life of dignity .She knew what she was getting into but that did not deter her .She coordinated with all the big names in the Beauty World of the US and garnered for their support .
Philanthropy is a part of US culture and she could get more than what she expected from various quarters and she could start her “Beauty without Borders ” the training school and Salon .During her five years stay , it was always two steps backward and one step forward .Love and marriage happened to her in Afghanistan but initially , that too , more so keeping in mind , the extra local help, she would need to keep her school and Salon running .
It was living on a daily basis but what kept her going was, the indomitable spirit of Afghan women, who were surmounting all the obstacles of their life to carve out a better life for their family and themselves .Not to mention the lack of basic amenities ,intimate partner violence ,ludicrous laws of the state …the list was very long
The book is an easy read and it keeps you glued to it .Her sense of humor resurfaces again and again as we go through the book .Its appeal is that where we ordinary mortals do not dare to venture ,we get a first hand account of the happenings .
As we read the book , we appreciate her courage and strength of character .She has a very spontaneous attitude and listens to her heart more than her head and that’s what makes her so special. She took the call and risked her everything ,even life, at lots of instances, so that the poor women could have a better life .Her only reward was that by the time she left, she had trained enough teachers, so that the skill could be disseminated even in her absence .The women who were trained by her were earning more than 400 percent of what their family earning was before .
I would not call it an eye opener but definitely it jolts you from your slumber that still there are lots of places in the world where women are living a sub human life . By being mute spectators or by just doing donations ,we are not definitely doing enough .We need more voices , more platforms and more courage .
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas .