Monday, 31 March 2014

Our very own Aladdin's Cave

I popped in the other day to see a very special person, Najaf Mazari in his very own Aladdin's Cave at Afghan Traditional Rugs at 461 High Street, Prahran. Every time I step inside the door I feel as though I have been transported into an exotic world and if I'm not careful I'll be swept up on my very own Magic Carpet and flown instantaneously to another world - now wouldn't that be fun (and much cheaper than a Qantas flight)!
Riding a flying carpet - Viktor Vasnetsov 1880 (wikipedia)
But in this Aladdin's Cave you will find a remarkable person who made the long and torturous journey to our country as one of those so-called evil 'boat people'. Here is a man who has struggled to make a better life for himself and his family. Najaf's story has been a 'best-seller' and his book was part of the School Curriculum for 3 years (normally 2 years) and if you haven't read The Rugmaker of Mazar-E-Sharif then I encourage you to do so . You can purchase it in bookstores or from his website here. I would like to think that it will give readers a better understanding of the struggles that people such as Najaf have had - and continue to have - just to survive. It's a remarkable story. And this is a man who is not going to let the grass grow under his feet or rest on his laurels as it has been followed up by his second book (also written in conjunction with Robert Hillman) The Honey Thief
Najaf in his Aladdin's Cave
I have watched Najaf over the years and he has never ceased to amaze me - his capacity for making things happen - in his own quiet way. He wanted to buy an ambulance for his home village near the city of Mazar-i-Sharif - and he has achieved that. Now that might seem insignificant to we 'comfortably-off-living-in-a-safe-country' but to raise the money took much effort not only by Najaf but also by those who have supported him since his arrival. The Mazar Development Fund was created and after many fundraising efforts Najaf travelled to Dubai where he purchased an ambulance for $35,000 and proudly had it shipped to his home city of Mazar-e-Sharif which is the fourth largest city in Afghanistan. . "It's very expensive to run" he told me, but his dream is to buy another. 
Stacks of gorgeous rugs
Najaf near the stack of plain woollen rugs - gorgeous colours
Najaf is a member of the persecuted Hazara tribe located near the Russian border in the Balkh province.
Piled high in all shapes and sizes - surely there is one for you!
So if you are looking for a rug, or wanting a rug mended, or just wanting to stop for a chat and one of his special cups of tea then I encourage you to pop in if you are passing. You never know what you could discover.
I love my stair-runners
We all have so much to learn from the Najaf's of this world.  After all we are all human beings - all wanting a better life.
The white dove of peace - on his website

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