What does Farid mean when he tells Amir in Chapter 19 of The Kite Runner, "You've always been a tourist here, you just didn't know it"?

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Farid, Amir's driver during his stay in Pakistan and Afghanistan, makes this comment before he realizes Amir's true reason for returning to his native land. Farid believes that Amir has returned merely to

"Sell this land, sell that house, collect the money and run away like a mouse. Go back to America, spend the money on a family vacation to Mexico."  (Chapter 19)

Farid changes his mind about Amir when he discovers the true reason for his return--to find and bring his Hazara nephew to safety--and both Farid and his brother, Wahid, consider it an "honorable" quest. But Farid is not completely wrong about how Amir had

"... always been a tourist here, you just didn't know it."  (Chapter 19)

Unlike most of Afghanistan's poverty-stricken people, Amir had enjoyed a life of wealth and privilege during his boyhood days in Kabul. Amir had never worn a pakol or ragged clothes; instead, he had lived in Baba's mansion, one of the finest homes in the city. Amir grew up with servants waiting on him, and his father threw elaborate parties and "drove an American car"--a Mustang. Amir was not like the average Afghan, like the man Farid pointed out

... in ragged clothes trudging down a dirt path, a large burlap pack filled with scrub grass tied to his back. "That's the real Afghanistan, Agha sahib. That's the Afghanistan I know."  (Chapter 19)


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