Great Travel Lessons from The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul

the little coffee shop of kabul

I love a good book. But more than that, I love a good book that finds a way to bring travel and womanhood together. There’s something about the strength of women that leaves me in awe each and every time. It doesn’t matter which country I’ve been to or what age I’ve been (and perhaps I’m lucky in this part), but at any one stage in my life, I’ve always had a strong woman around me. Whether it be to talk with, guide me if needed, mentor me when I was lost, talk about life when I needed too or even hypothesis crazy scientific scenarios. More importantly, I’ve always had a strong woman around me to just sit with and have a cup of coffee if needed. That’s what I love about The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul – it’s found a way to show the strength of women regardless of your nationality, background or up bringing – all in a little coffee shop somewhere in Kabul. Reflecting back on this book and my past adventures of when I lived in China, I realise why I love this book so much – it’s because it’s found a way to show us some of the best lessons you could ever learn while travelling as a women. Here are five of the great travel lessons learnt from The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul.

As a woman, travel with your eyes open

Travelling has a strange way of opening our eyes (and hearts) to things we normally wouldn’t see or feel when back home. Venturing out into a new country takes you out of your comfort zone and everyday routines. It sometimes even forces you to do things differently because it’s the only option you have when in another country – and that makes you feel alive. Yes, as a woman you be careful but exploring a new city means you meet people you wouldn’t normally meet, try foods you wouldn’t normally try and experience new cultures, sights and sounds that just makes you feel alive inside. it’s as if your eyes have been opened to a new life you never knew existed in the very depths of your soul. You feel alive being out in the world and if you let it in, life will teach you a few new tricks.

Women are strong, no matter what life throws at them

What I love about The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul is that it brings together five very different women, who, on an ordinary day may have never even taken a second glance at each other. Each of these women have there own story to tell and each have either been through something tough or is currently going through something tough – Sunny, is the proud proprietor of the coffee shop, who needs an ingenious plan to keep her café and customers safe while Yazmina, is a young pregnant woman who has stolen away from her remote village. She is now abandoned on Kabul’s violent streets. Candace is a wealthy American who has finally left her husband for her Afghan lover and Isabel is a headstrong journalist with a secret to keep. Lastly, Halajan, as they refer to her as the sixty-year-old den mother who has had a long-hidden love affair. As the book develops, each of these women show strength in the most uncanny of ways.

It doesn’t matter where in the world you go, you will always be able to find a woman who can relate to your story

When I moved to Abu Dhabi (for all of three days), the strangest things happened to me right before I left. On my last night before I snuck out of the school to catch a last minute flight home, I met a Jordanian girl and had one of the best conversations of my life. You see dear reader, I thought I was moving to Abu Dhabi for love. The night before I was due to leave Cape Town, it all came crashing down. Turns out sometimes people aren’t who they claim to be. But, being the strong willed Gemini that I was, I chose to get on that plane and have my own adventure anyway. Three days in, I realised that this wasn’t the life I wanted, so I turned around and came back home. As it seems, it turns out somewhere in the world, in some parallel life zone, there was a Jordanian girl who was going through the very same thing I was going through. Somehow, as the Gods willed it, we both had gotten on the plane and found ourselves in Abu Dhabi at the same time. We met and became friends in just three days. That last night before leaving Abu Dhabi, we sat there with tears in our eyes laughing at our stories. We bonded in a way that would keep us friends forever. That’s what I love about The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul – it’s a story about five very different women who in some way or another find a way to relate to each other and form a unique bond that changed their lives forever.

Life isn’t fair but you make do in the best way possible

Life isn’t fair. In some countries life is hard too. Kabul is one of those countries where life for women can be very unfair and just plain down hard. But you find a way and make do. Women are strong beings (both, mentally and emotionally) and no matter what life throws, they find a way. We find a way. That’s what I love about this book – each of these women have been dealt very different cards to survive and just live in this lifetime, but somehow they find a way – together. And through it all, they laugh, smile and love.

There is always a coffeeshop where you can find sanctity and solitude

I first read this book when I was living in Cape Town – one of the darkest years of my life. Truth be told, as beautiful as Cape Town was, I hated every moment of it. Four years later and I laugh at the irony that was my life in that one year. More on that in another post though. Throughout that year, as awful as it was, I was still able to find a strong woman who bonded with me for life and our coffee talks were some of the best I’ve had in this lifetime. The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul has reminded me of some of life’s most precious lessons – being able to find solitude in a cup of something warm in a little cosy shop – regardless of where in the world you go.

Let’s rephrase that: It doesn’t matter where in the world you go, if you look hard enough – you will always find a little coffeeshop that becomes your safe haven and gives you sanctity and solitude. It will create peace in your soul and if you sit for a minute or two, take a sip of something warm and look out the window, all will be okay.

Have you read The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul? Did you enjoy it as much as I did?

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I'm Shalinee - a Geminian scientist who loves to travel, write, draw and eat chocolate. I've visited over twenty countries, published a Environmental Science encyclopaedia and somewhere along the way started a science communication company to help students and corporates translate that hard-to-read data generated in a lab. Other than that, I'm just searching for the magic still hidden in the world.

3 thoughts on “Great Travel Lessons from The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul

  1. Hello ma’am!
    My name is Komal Shinde and currently am pursuing my Masters in Communication and Journalism.
    Am actually doing research on analyzing the problems female bloggers face while sharing their experiences online through a blog.
    So if I send you a questionnaire would you be interested in a zoomcall regarding the same.

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