For Afghan students, Hyderabad is more home than foreign

Hyderabad: India is home to many cultures that coexist together and many foreign nationals have also made the sub-continent their home over decades. Afghanistan, which lies on our north-west, is one such country wherein its citizens have been coming to India for many years, given that people on both sides love Bollywood and even cricket.

The shared culture between both countries is something that many here may not be aware of, but Afghanistan has known to be a strong and friendly ally of India for decades. Both nations have a very strong relationship based on historical and cultural links as well.

“Hyderabad is a good destination for Afghanistan people as its culture is familiar to us,” says Samiullah Ahmadi, an Afghani student who is currently studying at the Nizam College. Like him, many from Afghanistan, in fact, like living in the capital of Telangana, given that the city had historically many Afghan Pathans settling here in pre-independence India.

M. Haroon Kohi, another Afghan student doing his PhD from the English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU) here, said that even though Biryani is a little spicy for him, he still loves it. “Compared to the rest of India, the weather and again something which distinguishes Hyderabad from India is the food,” he said.

Both Afghan students were in fact attendees at the 10-day Afghan Food Festival that was inaugurated at the Trident Hotel, Madhapur, in Hyderabad on April 1. 

Afghani students take part in a dance show during the inaugural day of the 10-day Afghan food and cultural festival that kicked off in Hyderabad on April 1, 2021. (Photo:

Hamid Bahraam, an MA student from EFLU said that people from Afghanistan have a common culture with Indians, especially from Hyderabad. “We had some Afghan friends, who said it’s a big city with a lot of opportunities. I didn’t know before coming here, but people here (Hyderabad) are very friendly,” Bahraam, who was part of the dance group at the event, told Out of the 900 or so Afghan students studying across India, about 200 are believed to be living in Telangana alone, mostly in Hyderabad. 

In fact, last year when the COVID-19 pandemic began, many Afghan students were also worried about their future.

Mariam Samit, another Afghan student from EFLU, said that she chose to live here instead of flying back home. “After finishing the first semester here, the pandemic started and we had three options (including one to stay back). I generally love India because we grew up watching movies from Bollywood. I completely know Hindi more than English because of movies, that’s why I wanted to live my dreams and I chose here,” she added.