Baba once told Amir that there were
"only three real men in the world." He'd count them off on his fingers: America the brash savior, Britain and Israel. "The rest of them--they're like gossiping old women."
Baba loved the power and the brashness that was displayed in America, but he never quite found his place in the land of the free. As Amir put it,
For me, America was a place to bury my memories.
For Baba, a place to mourn his.
America offered everything that Baba would like to have had in Afghanistan, but it was not like home. The smog hurt his eyes, he got headaches from the noise of traffic, and he coughed from the pollen.
The fruit was never sweet enough, the water never clean enough, and where were all the trees and open fields?
Baba was homesick for his native land and angry about the downward spiral that his life had taken. Once a powerful man, he was reduced to pumping gas in California. Perhaps the final straw for him came when the manager of a local market that Baba had patronized for two years asked for his ID in order to write a check. In Afghanistan, a man produced a stick to obtain credit. A notch was made in the stick to denote the amount owed. Trust was different in America, and life was different than in Kabul. Baba's English was poor and he was not respected as he was in his home. He saw the greatness in America, but he also saw that it was going to pass him by.