Posted by Tania Kindersley.
Guess where this is?
I wish I could offer a prize, but I am too useless at getting to the post office, and you would be waiting crossly for months for your promised parcel.
Anyway - drumroll, please - it is AFGHANISTAN.
In the NINETEEN FIFTIES.
But seriously, in sixty years, we have gone from those those groovy chicks buying the latest discs from a smart, polite-looking gentleman, to this:
Excuse me while I go and have a small feminist conniption in the corner.
Actually, this follows on from yesterday's post. I was thinking about the marvellous synchronicity of the blogs and the internet, and how it led me to a beautiful hidden corner of Afghanistan, of which I had never heard. Then I received my daily dose of loveliness from the magnificent How to be a Retronaut, a site so good it should get a government grant. And that day's post was an extraordinary collection of pictures of life in Afghanistan from fifty and sixty years ago. Go and have a look here. If it does not smash every single one of your cultural stereotypes to tiny shattered pieces, I do not know what will.
Interestingly, and still on the theme of the blogosphere, a very talented cook, originally from Pakistan, does a wonderful food blog, called the Spice Spoon. I thought of her today, because a few months ago she told me that her grandparents used to go ballroom dancing in Pakistan in their youth. It was a lovely moment of the utterly unexpected. I would not have imagined young Pakistani courting couples whirling about the dancefloor, so long ago. The picture of the women in the record shop made me feel the same way. My lesson for the day: beware of my careless Western assumptions.
When I say Western, I do not mean it in the knee-jerk derogatory sense in which some leftish commentators currently use the word. I am not slipping into moral relativism, oh no. There are many things in my Western world for which I am passionately grateful: equal rights, freedom of speech, democracy, for instance. I know all about babies and bathwater. What I do mean is that it is easy, from the comfort of a safe, first world country, to carry assumptions that have nothing to do with reality. Sometimes I think that the first thing I should do each morning, before cleaning my teeth even, is to crank my mind open with a heavy implement.
These are the reproachful looks I get when I jump to conclusions, and I deserve them:
A couple of quick flowers, before I go: