The French ambassador to the United Arab Emirates strikes a chord on Twitter with his story about a girl who wanted to flee Afghanistan with her faithful bird. Due to hygiene measures, the bird was not allowed to fly to France, after which the ambassador took care of the animal. In an animated Twitter thread, liked by thousands of people, the ambassador talks about the special friendship that developed between him and the bird.
45-year-old Frenchman Xavier Chatel serves as ambassador at Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates, on the borders with Saudi Arabia and Oman. During large-scale evacuations in Kabul, the air base temporarily served as a reception center for families fleeing the Taliban. Chatel has been working hard ever since. An event that still impresses him to this day keeps it going.
“There’s a story I’ve been wanting to tell for a while,” he began. During an Afghanistan evacuation mission, an exhausted girl arrives at Al Dhafra Air Base with an unusual possession: a bird. At the airport in Kabul, the girl did everything in her power to take the animal with her.” The two were inseparable, according to the ambassador, but the short-lived friendship was forced to end. For reasons of hygiene, the animals were not allowed on their flight to France.
The girl was very sad when she heard the news and was “softly crying”. The sad picture severely affected the ambassador. “I then promised that I would take care of the bird at the embassy. I told her she could visit the bird at any time and bring it back. I will never forget her grateful look,” Chatel wrote.
During those “hard fourteen days” at the base, the French ambassador slept about two to three hours a night. “That’s how severe the evacuation is,” Chatel recalls. One morning, still sleeping in his eyes, he took Goji – the name of the bird – to the French embassy. The flight was quiet. The animal escaped from its trunk and made a big mess in his car.
To prevent such incidents in the future, the ambassador bought a “beautiful cage”. “Now I can take him outside in the cold morning so he can see the other birds. He now has a girlfriend, a pigeon who visits him every day.” His infatuation seems to have brought out his craziest picture. “Now he starts shouting mysterious things at night, in a language we don’t understand,” he said with astonishment.
Determined to strike up a conversation with the animal, the ambassador tried to teach the bird a few words of French, starting with good morning (Hello in French). “But the point is, Joji doesn’t like men. He frowned at me and looked rather angry, laughing at women. Hopelessly I tried to shout ‘Good morning’ every day, but he never listened.”
A colleague from the embassy tried again a little later, and – unexpectedly – succeeded. The sparrow now writes a friendly greeting to everyone in French and steals the show at the embassy. Yesterday the story was given a golden advantage, because the Afghan girl, named Alia, suddenly called the ambassador. “She was so happy to see her bird get so pampered. She wanted me to teach him French. Alia, your bird has become the embassy’s mascot, but it’s here for you. And if I can, one day I’ll bring it to you in person.”
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