Archive for August, 2006

Destination: Afghanistan

Thursday, August 24th, 2006

Destination: Afghanistan

Unless you are one of those intrepid Japanese who turn up occasionally here as in the remotest of places, chances are that you’re not visiting Afghanistan as a tourist. There hasn’t been much of that since the early ’70s, when shaggy young Westerners made their way through Afghanistan en route to India, smoking hash and buying those bulky embroidered sheepskin coats that still lurk in vintage stores back home.

Today most foreign visitors either have a job to do or are visiting expat friends. And it may feel self-indulgent to travel for pleasure in Afghanistan now — why aren’t you helping the poor or starting a business and working six days a week like the other internationals? (more…)

Single Housewives Don’t Have Hubby, Kids; Homemade Sorbet? Yes!

Sunday, August 20th, 2006


Overlooked in the culture wars, a new phenomenon has been emerging: domesticity without family, or with family lite. I’m thinking of my friends who have elaborate, Martha Stewart–like (though not Martha-inspired) domestic situations, either without husbands, or children, or both. You could call it housewifery by choice.

It used to be that women married for what was called “an establishment” in the 18th century: a house, a coach, staff and a social position. Now that we can get that without marrying, a fair number of “career women” turn out to be interested in being, well, housewives. (A touchy question I won’t get into here is how many women today would prefer to remain single if only they could earn enough to provide their fantasy “establishment.”)

I recognize some of the signs in myself. Without husband or kids, I married my house. By which I mean, a lot of the time that I would spend on wifely duties (other than sex), I devote to maintaining, upgrading and decorating my home. (more…)