KABUL - Moska Najib does not fit in with any stereotype of an Afghan woman. The 29-year-old documentary filmmaker is among the top 25 shortlisted for one of the six ‘best jobs in the world’ — lifestyle photographer in Melbourne. She is the only Afghan to beat 600,000 applicants in the race. If she wins the job, she will earn Australian $100,000 (around Rs 55 lakh) in six months.
“An Afghan has a lot of limitations while applying for a visa or a contest. The minute you say you are an Afghan, there are a lot of queries, your background (is checked). And, many of these competitions are geared towards a Western audience,” says Moska.
This was open to all nationalities. Moska, a former BBC journalist, decided to apply. The job, capturing life in the south-eastern Australian state Victoria in photographs, films and writing, is exciting. It entails surfing, skiing, rappelling, winemaking and researching penguins at Phillip Island — everything one fancies on an adventure holiday.
Photography for Afghan women, whose subservience is often attributed to culture, is a challenge. For globetrotter Moska (Pushtoo for muskaan meaning smile) it’s passion.
She was recently in Kolkata photographing Afghans, called Kabuliwallas, in the 21st century. “The street in Kolkata where many of them live looks like that in Kabul.”
While shooting in Kolkata, she spotted the advertisement for the “best jobs” on Facebook.
In 2009, the “Best Job in The World” was for a caretaker of the Great Barrier Reef islands. This year, there are six world’s “best jobs” — chief funster, outback adventurer, park ranger, wildlife caretaker, lifestyle photographer and taste master — each with an Australian $100, 000 package for six months.
“I had only five days to apply,” says Moska. She rushed to Old Delhi to shoot a 30-second video to explain why she is the best person for the job. “I identify very much with Old Delhi. It’s as if time has stood still here. One learns to pause and stay,” says Moska.
Moska, who lives with her mother, came here when she was eight years and has not been able to return home in war-ravaged Kabul since. She lost many of her relatives, including those she held dear. “My father was amazing. I was very close to him. He had an aura and exuded confidence. He was a brave man and made others around him feel brave,” she says.
Moska has fond memories of her childhood in Kabul. “As an Afghan away from home, I’m very protective of memories of growing up in Kabul,” she says.
Through her participation in the ‘best job’ contest, she wants to spread a message among displaced Afghans across the world — of hope and optimism. (Wadsam)