Al Naseeb in Afghan colony in Delhi is a hotspot for the Afghanistan nationals living in India to come home. The hotel has a display case of dry fruits like cashews, walnuts and dried pineapple to give an aroma of the homeland.
A young man named Ameeri shares how he learned Hindi watching Bollywood movies back in Kabul.
“I don’t really follow cricket. If I go to a restaurant and the TV is playing some cricket match of Afghanistan, then I watch it,” said Ameeri to news18.com. He is waiting for his visa to join his wife in Germany.
“My wife is in Germany. I am waiting to join her. As much as I want to be supportive of my country and that they are finally getting to play cricket, I don’t have the time. I have more work than spare time nowadays,” Ameeri bids goodbye.
Afghanistan recently played their first Test match against India and though they lost the match in just two days, it was a big achievement for a country that was amidst a big war a decade back.
The owner of Al Naseeb, Massiullah Hazrat, who loves cricket more, says, “Rashid Khan is very popular now. We are proud of him."
Massiullah has made India his second home and said that Bollywood movies dominate the theatres back in Kabul. “Not a lot of people follow cricket,” he muses. “The sport is developing now slowly, but there is very little interest.”
He is overwhelmed by the love he has got from both Indians and Afghanis living in New Delhi. “Even though I am here without my family, my friends: both Indian and Afghani, give me a sense of a community — that I belong somewhere,” he said.
He says that though the development has been slow, thanks to Taliban banning any sport and a country that saw a bombing during a cricket match in May, “But it is a big opportunity,” he said. “Someone like Rashid Khan must have idolized Dhoni while growing up. And now he gets to play against him.”
Ali remembers that growing up in Kandahar; football was a more popular sport thanks to the requirement of just a ball and some space to play it. He also loved kite flying, which almost has the status of national sport in the country.
He said that Delhi is a melting pot of culture and people accept you for what you are.
He remembers the time from his visit to India about six years ago when India was playing a match against Afghanistan. When India won, “people from both sides started celebrating and running across the street to tell more people,” and even though Afghanistan had lost, “that sentiment of everyone celebrating, that atmosphere made me feel like it was my country that had won.”
“Even though we don’t follow sports all that much, we understand the feeling,” Ali adds.