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#81 Afghan Elvis

My favorite song.

Ahmad Zahir.

You probably don’t recognize that name.

My parents grew up listening to Ahmad Zahir. He was basically Afghanistan’s Elvis.

When I was little, my dad would play Zahir’s songs in the radio and during any family get togethers. He had them on cassettes. I don’t even know where he got the cassettes. I should as him.

A couple of weeks, my best friend, asked me if I knew who Ahmad Zahir was and I was shocked because well my friends are not Afghani. Apparently, Radio Lab did a podcast on Ahmad Zahir. I got the link to the podcast, which I will include in this post if you want to hear it.

The story was on the “Afghan Elvis” and how he changed lives in Afghanistan.

When I shared this with my parents they were surprised. I asked my mom if she ever saw him in concert and she said yes, which was even more shocking. When she was engaged to my dad, he took her to his concert with her sister. I was shocked because my dad is so cheap. My mom said that he didn’t want to look cheap because they were engaged, so when she asked him to take her to the concert, he couldn’t say no because he’d look bad. The tickets were $50, which was a lot of money in Afghanistan. The three of them went and enjoyed a night of music and didn’t come home till midnight, which I was even more shocked.

Before, the Russians invaded, Zahir was a screaming sensation in Afghanistan. My parent had told me how popular he was and how all the girls loved him.

His music was romantic and poetic.

The podcast mentions how in the 70s, Afghanistan was very different. Women wore mini skirts and men had side burns. This is very true. I remember seeing a photo of one of my aunts on high waited tight jeans and a mini skirt. I was shocked! My parents always give me so much crap for how I dress, so this was gold for me. Every time they told me something about my outfit, I’d fire back…”well, why did you guys dress in mini skirts?” LOL That still didn’t work.

Afghanistan, in the 70s, was a time for romance and laughter. My dad told me stories about how young kids would find there partners. They would pass notes through children. For example a young man would give a kid a quarter (but, afghani money) to go give his poem to some girl who is just leaving school. Schools for boys and girls were separate. NO WAY would the guy go up to the girl himself. There was nothing more disrespectful. It was sweet. It was innocent.

My mom always says that before the Russians invaded, it was very peaceful and life as fun. Once the war started, well, that ended.

The podcast mentions that today, in Afghanistan, Ahmad Zahir is still played on the radio because it reminds people of a time where peace and love being spread. This part made me tear up. Because whenever my parents listen to Ahmad Zahir, they get nostalgic as well. It takes them back to their youth.

I wish I could let them feel like freedom and happiness again.

Zahir died, shortly after the Russians invaded Afghanistan. His death is a mystery.

My mom said that the government had planned his death. She said when he died, all the Afghani people started roaming the streets, not knowing what to do with themselves.

Mom said, that he had multiple wives and was a party animal too. Lol

If you listen to a lot of his music, you will remember Elvis because their music has similar tunes and he kind of looks like him.

Anyways, it was a great podcast and I recommend you listen to it.

~Frshta

https://www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/radiolab/segments/91639-afghan-elvis

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