My Home Province

The last time I went to Dashte Abdaan was two years ago. After my sister’s engagement party, we went to Dashte Abdaan straight from the wedding hall. It is a desert located between Kunduz and Imam Sahib. It is fruitless; no one uses it for farming.

It was evening. The sun was sitting down when we got there. The end of the sky had the mixture of orange and reddish colors. The tulip flowers were everywhere like the whole desert wore a red cloth. I stood on a bed of tulips. The wind was blowing very slowly and softly. I loved standing there and just breathing. I loved looking at the sunset as the sun was saying goodbye to everyone. The smell of the tulips was pleasant. I could see the cars that were going back to the city. The desert was getting empty of people, but I really didn’t want to leave. It was the first time that I felt this way. I could see hundreds of kites flying in the sky; they had different signs, colors, and faces and more on them. Some of the kites were fighting with each other until one cuts the opponent’s kite free. The kids were running to get the azadi (“freed” kites.) They all had smiles in their faces. It is a place that people can come with their families and freely have fun because the desert is big and even though some factories have been built there in recent years, there is always a space which has fewer people or even no one else, and there is a lot to do. Some people even spend the night there. During spring, most guests who come to Kunduz go to the desert. One of the best ideas is to hold a wedding there.

Kunduz, along with some other northern provinces, is famous for holding the buzkashi event. It is one of the traditional, national sports of Afghanistan. It is played by others like Turkmens and Uzbeks, but their version is a little bit different. Buzkashi is played on special occasions only, like Eid, New Year, and some weddings. Once during Eid, I remember watching a buzkashi match from the roof of one of my friend’s house, which was very close to the buzkashi ring. The area was like a stadium. Two sides of the ring were surrounded by hills. On the both sides, people stood or sat, and there was a special place for the high position people, though I didn’t like this idea.

All the horse riders wore “chapan” (coats of intricate design) and thick hats. The horse riders are called “chapandaz.” It is a very difficult sport and some riders begin learning and practicing when they are children. Someone brought the body of a goat with its head cut off. The announcer read out the names of the horses, the riders and the owners. People were cheering the horses and riders. They often called the horse by its color, like “ghqra” (black) or “ghezel” (red) and so on. The announcer said the prizes for the winners would be a chapan and some money.

The game is played like this: the horse riders all want to get the goat, which weighs about 65 pounds or more. They lean down to the ground while they are riding their horses, and then they have to grab the goat and throw it into a circle or over a line. Sometimes they use a calf instead of a goat because it weighs more, but the traditional way of playing is to use a goat. In fact, the name of the game, literally translated, means “goat killing” or “goat grabbing.”

The buzkashi horses are treated and fed differently from other horses, and given lots of exercise. They are very valued and some people will even trade their best cars to get such a horse.

By Fatima


3 responses to “My Home Province

  1. I loved reading this. It made me feel as if I was transported to your home province for a moment. I loved envisioning the soft breeze, the tulips and the kites in the air with happy people all around. Thank you also for an excellent description of buzkashi. I had heard about it but wasn’t sure how it was played. Now I am!

  2. Thanks, I wanted to make such images in reader’s mind, I wrote it thinking of who are the readers? I am happy you had good time reading it.

  3. Fatima,

    I have never had the honor of visiting your country but hope to some day. The way in which you describe the beauty of the desert and the peaceful ways of the people make me want to share your words with all my friends and family so that they can see that your Country is a place with value and a proud heritage that is very worth preserving. Please continue to write so that those of us from far away can learn more about this land that you so clearly love.

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