My Small Kucing Blog

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriguez

This book is written by Deborah Rodriguez about her experience in Afghanistan where she had set up a beauty school for the women there. She is a hairdresser escaping from a second bad marriage by joining a group offering humanitarian aids to people there after the fall of the Taliban in 2001.

She wrote that people broke into applause when she was introduce as a hairdresser from Michigan during one meeting of the team with other foreigners who were living there.

After that, daily she would received request from people for her to cut their hair although she was busy with her volunteering work. This soon arouse her curiosity about beauty salon there. She soon discovered that beauty saloon were banned by the Taliban. There are some beauty saloon started to operation again but at a low profile to escape public scrutiny. She managed to visit a beauty salon with the help of a friend and find that they are lacking very much in skill. This brings on an idea for her to open a Beauty School there.

She went home and set on working to get sponsorship for the said. She managed to get some and started to set up the beauty school. She interviewed the first batch of potential students. She were shocked by the reason why they want to join the beauty school and the story about their life

She also married an Afghanistan man after being match-made by her friends after meeting him for 20 days. Neither can speak each others language much. There are some tough challenges in their relationship.

During the course of her 5 years stay, she learn about the life and the stories behind her students.

But she was forced to flee Afghanistan when her heard not only there are threat against her person but also there are threat to kidnap her son for ransom

I find that the some things described in this book is not so right.

In this book she portrayed herself someone soft hearted and kind. Kind of savior to some of the woman in the beauty school.

Then why did she have to go and write how she helped a student faked her virginity on her wedding night? From her stay there, she would have know what is the consequence if this story gets back to the girl's husband.

Then there is her marriage to an Afghan man, Samer Mohammad Abdul Khan who is 10 years younger than her and which she knew for only 20 days. In page 101 "Afghanistan was great when I was with the students or my friends, but when they went home, I was lonely. It's a very family orientated-culture, but I wasn't part of the family. I wasn't part of a big NGO, either, where people live together in big compounds and become sort of like family. I wanted to stay in Afghanistan, at least for a longer stretch of time than the few weeks when school was in session. But I wasn't sure I could do it alone." Is this why she married him although she knew that he has a wife and seven daughters? Loneliness?

After she took her marriage vows, as written in her book, she was thinking "I was thinking worst case scenario : I'll just go back to America and never tell anyone that I got married"(Page 113).

In Page 122, she mentioned the reason why she did not tell her family about her wedding when she went back to America "I thought this was the perfect arrangement: three months in States with my cottage and my loved ones; two months in Afghanistan with my secret husband and continued involvement with the beauty school".

This is the part which raised a red flag in my brain. If these are her feelings at the time, it seems to me that she is the type that would put her interest first before others. Is she the type of person who would go through so much trouble to help women in Kabul without some sort of benefit?
In Page 190, one of the Teachers warned her about her son getting too close to a 15 year old student named Hama but she thinks "I thought it was important for her to know that other men found her pretty. I didn't want her to think she was stuck with Ali or forever tainted by his actions." Result? Hama came to school with a black eye and cut lips after her "uncle Ali" heard about Deborah's son and her. She have been in Afghanistan for some time and she should have known their conservative culture there. Like people say "when in Rome....". Changes have to be gradual.

Page 274, " Then I heard that someone is plotting to kidnap Noah and hold him for ransom. That terrified me-it was one thing to put myself in danger, but I couldn't risk my son. When I contacted some security professionals I knew in Kabul and told them my story, they told me to pack my bags and meet them at a safe place in ten minutes. I was not to tell anyone, including my girls or my husband, what I was doing or where I was going. ....". This seems rather fishy to me. Like there is something missing, not told here.

And in page 276 "I left behind not only all my valuables, but also my precious personal tokens-including the only picture I had of my father and my kids,antique dishes and other heirlooms from my mother's family, and the silly flamingos my kids bought me years ago..". Why can't her husband and friends forward the said to her after she left the country as she said she had communicated with them after she left the country and she sent money to all the girls to help them through the tough time? If not through normal postal channel, surely she would still have contact with some NGO volunteers who would be willing to carry the only photo of her father with her kids back to her.

This book seems to be full of contradictions.


  1. I guess this is not the kind of book that I want to read. It will remind me of a bitch in my life who is as hypocrite as this.Worst thing about this bitch? Well, her outward appearance is so sweet that everybody is blinded from her flaws until they really got to know her.

  2. wah you hentam kau kau haha. for me, the parts you mentioned as fishy didn't occur to me. mostly, i thought the story quite fantastical, seems more fiction than non-fiction.

  3. Cleffairy

    I thought you would like this book coz it's non-fiction

  4. Hah... non fiction ka? I tot this is a fiction... but den again... perhaps ur rite la, it's a non fiction, cuz in life, there's oso so much ppl like this....outside... wah, penyayang nak mampus...looks sweet, innocent, but inside... only God knows... even Satan oso sked of them!

  5. nylusmilk

    that part sound like hiding something lor. Mcm kena kjr utang. She have friends in Kabul and her hubby there also. Why listen to only one friend and the flee?

    Previous chapters whenever her beauty school or something in trouble she would have called many people and tried to pull strings. Why this round never verify properly? Come back American baru doubt whether the news is correct or not.

    and why being advice to flee without telling her husband what she is going to do? If advice not to tell her whereabout then it is understandable as the enemy might torture her husband. I wonder in the end if she listen to the security professionals advices or not. Whether she told her husband that she is going to flee. If she didnt tell, pity her husband. Must have been worried sick


Thanks for dropping by my blog. Do drop a comment if you have feel like it.

Meantime, happy reading and have a nice day!