The ‘Salman Khan scarf’ comes to Afghanistan

The Washington Post reports that teenage boys in Afghanistan are rushing to buy “narrow, boldly hued” multi-colored scarves as part of a new trend inspired by Salman Khan’s character in the film Ek Tha Tiger. The trend apparently started after the video for the song Mashallah (above) was released.

As Richard Leiby reports:

The look gradually caught on with teenage boys after the [Mashallah video’s] summer release, and the scarves now add striking dashes of color — red, orange, blue and striped combinations — to the drab, forbidding landscape of Kabul, which bristles with steel-and-wire encampments and machines of war.

It is but one signifier of increased outside cultural influences here, particularly among the young, to the chagrin of some older Afghans. They see an erosion of the Islamic ways as people reject traditional dress to keep in step with Bollywood and Hollywood.

Later on in the article we get the requisite quote from a taxi driver, who says, “I am totally against these Western influences. If a movie actor would take his pants off and put them over his shoulder, the next day you would see it in Kabul.”

While the article’s interesting and paints a portrait of what life is like for the youth of Kabul, I wonder about how accurate it all is. After all, Salman Khan’s paternal grandfather was born in Afghanistan and the actor has described himself as “half Muslim and half Hindu”, two facts that don’t make him sound particularly ‘Western.’ Additionally, Bollywood’s popularity in Afghanistan has been well-documented and Afghans have been watching Indian films for generations, making Salman Khan’s popularity nothing new. (Also, the conflation of Bollywood and Western culture throughout the piece is one of the stranger parts of the article.)

The scarves look nice though.