I went to the doctor the other day for a very persistent headache. After looking at the results of all my tests, the doctor kindly explained that I was fine, it was just a chronic migraine. But, he told me, there was a magic little pill that would solve all my problems and take this troublesome pain away. Not only would it get rid of my headache, he promised, but it would also help me lose weight.
To me, this seemed like a win-win situation. A miracle, in fact. But it also seemed a bit too easy. I was thrilled, and skeptical. Yet when I took the pill, my headache did begin to subside. The bliss of having 30 minutes without pain was overwhelming, as I’d been feeling war-ravaged from the constant throbbing for four solid months.
Respected Ms. Deborah,
I am a 19-year-old girl from Lahore, Pakistan. I was born and bred in Pakistan. When I was much younger, my mother would bring me books written by Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton. I loved reading and my mother knew which books were best for my age. I never realized it, but subconsciously, these books altered my perspective towards life.
Q&A with Deborah Rodriguez
In 2011 you stated you didn’t feel it was wise to return to Afghanistan at that time. Is this still the case? Have you been able to return?
Afghanistan is a wonderful and very complicated country. In the last four years as the foreign presence has been decreasing, the climate of the country has been changing ¾but not always for the better. I have made the choice to not return to Kabul for a couple reasons. The obvious one is general safety and security; the other is very personal. I married and left an Afghan man, and am not 100% sure how that story would end if I tried to return to Kabul.
The Little Coffee Shop undergoes a transformation in this novel. Are the Kabul Beauty School and the Cabul Coffee House still in operation?
The beauty school was unable to remain open due to funding and security issues. The Coffee House remained open for few years, but eventually closed.
Do you keep in touch with the women you met in Kabul, and if so, did they help with your research for this new novel?
I do keep in touch with some of the women I met in Kabul. The one I talk to the most happens to be one of my first students, and to date the bravest and most amazing women I have ever met. We both fled Afghanistan at the same time, but she fled with her family to Pakistan, and struggled for seven years as a refugee in that country. But today I am happy to say that she and her family are living a wonderful life in the United States The entire family ¾ but especially her son Omer ¾ was key to the research for the new novel.
The holidays are my favorite time of the year but sorry to say, I am stricken with the hallmark syndrome. This means I am always hunting for the perfect Christmas. My perfect Christmas includes just a sprinkling of snow, Christmas carolers, a few Christmas pageants, and of course all my favorite holiday food. My fantastic fairy tale Christmas ended the second I moved out of the United States, and into Afghanistan, a country that did not celebrate my favorite holiday. Trying to hide my disappointment that first Christmas morning, was very difficult. Life was moving forward as it was just another normal day in the beauty school. I tried to remain festive and upbeat but that was between retreating into the bathroom crying like a big baby and missing my family like crazy. I kept repeating over and over to the students that its Christmas, this is a special day. I described how we always ate turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and would give presents to our friends and family. No one seemed to really understand what this “holiday” but they did understand that I said, turkey. The next morning one of my students informed me that I had a surprised waiting for me at the door. Yes, you guessed it, one very old grumpy turkey. It was then that I knew I had to learn to create my own Christmas no matter were I lived. I pardon that Christmas turkey and he lived to a rip old age and from that point forward I worked together with my students and staff at the beauty school and coffee house, to create a beautiful culturally mixed celebration that was even better than the ones I had at home. But about the time we all got the hang of this Christmas in Afghanistan, I moved.