Salaam Alaikum - Peace To You

This article is written by Calgarian, Nancy Hayes, about her adventures in Afghanistan as a young woman in 1965. Former president of UNICEF Canada, Nancy has lived in the United Kingdom, Jamaica and Afghanistan and traveled extensively visiting UNICEF programs in Nepal, Mali, India and Turkey. She has given permission to share this award-winning article through the DD Library. This article was later incorporated into Nancy''s book: Weaving Threads: Travels on the Silk Road, published by Small Batch Books (April 2013).

Salaam Alaikum
Peace to You

by Nancy Hayes

I can still smell the streets of Kabul. I breathe in the tang of dung smouldering under charred cook pots and the stench of fresh wet mud applied to new buildings as I sit here at my desk trying to make sense of the experience. Beside me is a small blue suitcase covered in dust. Inside, maps that mark the route we took are faded and crisp. Rubber bands, around stacks of pamphlets and the letters I wrote my mother, are disintegrating. I pull out one of the tourist brochures and read, “Afghanistan is a land of sunshine with an extremely healthy climate… its famous and historic sites and its amazing local colour provide fascination and thrilling experience for every traveller.” It was an exaggeration, propaganda perhaps, but mostly true. The Afghanistan we knew then was beautiful and thrilling to discover. People were full of hope, believing that they were on the cusp of a healthy future. In 1965 it was a good place for us to stay while India and Pakistan sorted out their border dispute and reopened the frontier so my husband and I could continue our travels along the Silk Road...

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