I thought I knew what I was getting into with this date. I mean, I knew he was a pretty conservative Afghan Muslim, but I really could not have foreseen what unfolded on this particular date.
Among the more conservative Muslims I know, dating is really not a standard cultural practice. Meetings are typically arranged and chaperoned. Marriages are frequently the result of negotiations between families. So, I figured that while he might be conservative in his religious views, since he was open to dating (and living in America), he might be a little more socially progressive. I was wrong.
I busted out my headscarf and Afghan clothing for the first time in probably three years – I’d forgotten how comfortable they are, especially when it’s hot – and drove to meet with my date.
The first thing he did was lecture me for not having a proper escort. He didn’t say anything specific about the fact that I drove, but did insist on driving on our date. When we got in the car, he threw a burqa at me and told me to cover up. I did. He mumbled something about how shameful it was that I was showing my face to everyone (he lives in a smallish rural town).
He called ahead to a local Indian restaurant where he ordered some naan and mango lassi, informing me himself of what a gentlemen he is because he purchased naan rather than making me bake it. We picked up the bread and drove to a nearby field where we sat and watched a small herd of goats. Really.
We sat on the grass, eating our naan, drinking our lassi, and staring at goats. Sitting in my burqa was like having my own private tent. I couldn’t see much, but he seemed to enjoy the view. We posed for a couple of pictures and then traveled into the mountains so he could teach me to shoot.
It’s hard to find words to describe this date. It was over before I knew it. It was truly unlike any other I’ve ever experienced.
12 down. 38 to go.