03 February 2010

Tea, Figs, and a Little Reading in Class

IN THE ONE literature class that I teach at the CIV we are reading The Bookseller of Kabul, the international bestseller from several years ago written by a Norwegian journalist named Asne Seierstad. If you've read it you'll realize that it makes quite an interesting read for 15-16 year old students. I won't go into the details, but here's a quick summary:
In Afghanistan, just after the fall of the Taliban, a bookseller named Sultan Khan allowed a western journalist to move into his home and experience firsthand his family's life in the newly liberated capital city of Kabul.

From that act of openness emerges this remarkable book, already an international bestseller--the most intimate look yet at ordinary life for those who have weathered Afghanistan's extraordinary upheavals. One husband, two wives, five children, and many other relatives sharing four small rooms opened up their lives, unforgettably.
The students are really into the book and I'm having no difficulty getting them to study it seriously. But I want to add a element of -- shall I say, realism -- to the class so I've got something special planned for Thursday: before the students arrive I'm going to push all the desks to the edges of the room; I'm going to have all the girls wear scarves that cover the heads and faces; I'm going to bring tea, dried figs and apricots, and nuts for us to eat; and from there we are going to sit on the floor, drink tea, munch on dried fruit, and read and discuss part of the book together. There are numerous sections in the book that talk about the import role tea plays in Afghan culture -- not to mention the huge number of hours that are spent simply sitting on the floor discussing politics, family, or just telling stories. That's why we're going to give it a try.

I may even ask one of the girls to go cook me something to eat. You know, just to really get into the spirit of things.

3 comments :

J. et K. said...

I read it a few years ago and thought it was interesting, but this sounds like a much more memorable reading experience!

Jennie said...

Ooh careful, Besson might kick you out of the country if he finds out you make women wear headscarves!!

Rachel M. said...

Yeah, that's was a funny after-none ^^ However, I don't like tea, but I hopefully managed to throw mine by the window... Figs have a really odd taste, and I don't think I would enjoy living in Afghanistan just because of the food ^^"

Wearing a yashmak was a bit strange for us, and outside of the classroom, everybody was staring at us as if we were crazy !

My favourite moment was when Mme Molines entered in the class and just stop doing anything when she saw us...

This was really a great moment !