Anthrow Circus

A Beautician’s Journey from Lost Identity to Rebirth


In the heart of war-torn Afghanistan, Zakia, a talented beautician, found herself at the mercy of the Taliban’s oppressive regime. Since retaking the country in August 2021, the Taliban has instituted increasingly draconian edicts that have clawed back freedoms. In July 2023, beauty salons were banned.

The closure of beauty salons, once vibrant hubs of empowerment for women, cast a shadow over Zakia’s once bright future. As she shared her story with Anthrow Circus, the depth of despair in her eyes mirrored the struggles of countless Afghan women whose identities have been systematically erased by the regime. The Taliban’s actions have not only affected the physical spaces but also the self-esteem of Afghan women.

To Market, to Market With France’s New, Young Prime Minister


“C’est lui?” exclaimed a dark-haired boy of roughly nine years old from the market stall sidelines as a commotion passed in front of him. Fuzzy microphones on long handheld booms and news cameras poked above the crowd as it tightened to fit the narrowing space between vendors of vegetables and antiques and records and roast chicken.

The man beside him smiled toward the boy as he affirmed that it was indeed the new French prime minister, Gabriel Attal, come to the Sunday market in Caen after President Emmanuel Macron appointed him last Tuesday to replace Elisabeth Borne as head of the French government. In the scant days since his appointment, Attal has been busy selecting ministers to form his government and taking his first trips outside the capital as he begins his new role of determining and implementing the nation’s policies. Scant too is Attal’s age—the 34-year-old is France’s youngest ever prime minister.

French Cooking School Teaches Those in Need


Accounts of people “lifting themselves up by their bootstraps” have been around for more than a century, since the phrase took on its current meaning. Critics say that hard work is not enough, but true stories of success from unlikely starts abound.

Thierry Marx, French chef of the year in 2006, is one of those stories. He was a poor student from a bad neighborhood. His grades weren’t good enough to get into hotel school, and he dropped out of a school for building trades. “I was furious…,” he told The Figaro, a French newspaper. “I messed around, got into fights. I ran away, I escaped to Paris … Champigny-sur-Marne, the city where I lived, was a ghost town, a wasteland.”

The Magic of Cigarette Smoke


There were three things I was determined to do during my fourteen weeks abroad, only one of which I actually achieved.
The first was to journal every single day, and I did. I scribbled down every trivial memory, everything that made me mad, everything I ate, and then I taped down every ticket, leaf, and pamphlet to boot. Goal achieved.

Confronting My Giant: A Student’s Perspective on Mental Health Abroad


I lean against the stone ledge, gazing out over the city as the embers of the setting sun heat the rooftops. Behind me, the château walls glow with orange light. The bells from the magnificent cathedral spire echo in my ears. Below, college students sprawl among the spring flowers sloping away from the château, giving way to bustling streets. Even from here, my ears catch the whispers of conversations and the chatter of distant shoppers and restaurant goers. Drinking in this image, I breathe out a profound sigh of contentment. A voice in my mind murmurs, How will you ever return after experiencing this life?

Standing atop an ancient castle at sunset, it is difficult to imagine that only a few hours later I might be curled in my bed, stricken and paralyzed while clutching my head in sheer, overwhelming anxiety.

Meeting Azerbaijan’s New Ambassador to France


A byproduct of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and media focus on the war’s developments is that growing tensions between other former Soviet republics wanting their place in the world are largely obscured. The rumblings that have serious local effects aren’t reaching the world’s eyes and ears while the louder conflict drowns out these smaller ones.
Thirty-one years after claiming its independence, Azerbaijan is trying to move through a slippery world of history and judgments and war with its neighbor Armenia to become recognized as a neutral, non-aligned country, a friend of both NATO and Russia.

Channeling Hemingway One Autumn Night


One fall night last year, we created a project for ourselves. The American students were studying abroad in Paris, and I was a mentor in their program. Two artists and three writers, we assigned ourselves homework. We’d spend an evening all together at one of Ernest Hemingway’s famous haunts. The writers had to choose someone, or someones, from among the clientele as their inspiration for a short story. The artists’ drawings would be similarly inspired by someone who was there that night. We’d package the works together and discover what we’d jointly created

France’s Gas Shortage: A Look Into the Latest French Strike Affecting Daily Life


After waves of COVID-19 and the impending effects of war in Ukraine for the upcoming winter, France has been facing a pénurie d’essence—a gas shortage—for much of October.

Strikes that began in late September continued across the country last week. France’s second largest trade union, CGT, had called for employees in all public sectors to defend “wage increases and the defense of the right to strike.”

The French government reacted with sweeping measures in mid-October as the gas crisis worsened, forcing employees of the two ExxonMobil refineries to return to work or risk fines or jail time.

The French Caught Up in the Ukraine War


Some of the Ukrainians fighting Vladimir Putin’s Russian army are also French.

When Putin’s threats toward Ukraine increased in seriousness in mid-February, France encouraged its citizens there to leave. As war damage increased after Russia’s invasion began Feb. 24, there was a second wave of emigrants, said Sen. Hélène Conway-Mouret, the senator for French citizens living in other countries. But some French, she said, usually with dual Ukrainian citizenship, “made the choice to stay … and fight.”

Teurgoule: Rice Pudding the Norman Way


This happens when I have been alone too long—the words start to leak out of everything and they will not stop. I cannot look around, I cannot take a single step, without it becoming prose, and it is not welcome. It thrusts me into a place where language imposes this acute separation between me and everything else—leaks its ink out of the bark, the pavement, the sky, flowing directly from itself to me in the form of a stream of words, and it will not let me rest.