The Afghan Way

Local Vender

Afghan Carpet

Once a week we have a big market exhibit with local venders here at NKC.  There are fifty tables and tents nested in our courtyard containing colorful items such as; rugs, precious stones, jewelry, homemade DVD’s (meaning you cannot bring them through customs), fur coats, suits per individual measurement, marble cups, wooden carvings and old guns (another customs issue).  An Afghan who wants your business and is comfortable with American’s, will ofer their hand to acknowledge the American custom of greeting, however, to some it’s not a welcome exchange.  For those particular venders they want the Afghan greeting, which is to put your right hand open palm over your heart, bow your head and say hello.  Afghanistan is a harsh environment and daily existence for the Afghan’s is extremely difficult.  The result is a life span of 40 years old, and that’s considered old.  Religion is the pillar of their culture and surely the measure of their existence.  They pray five times a day.  The Koran is the pride of a family.  For most the Koran has been in the family much longer then we have existed as a country.  Afghan’s protect the Koran as we protect our original Declaration of Independence.  The conduct in which Afghan’s view men, women, children and dogs is different, I’m new to this place but it doesn’t take long to observe some of our polar differences.  Men and women exist in very separate spheres.  Men work and socialize together and women are seldom seen in public.  Men have affectionate relationships with each other.  It’s not unusual on Market Day to see a blanket and pillow set on the ground in the corner of our courtyard for them to comfort and hold each other touring the day.  Women exist for a man to produce children, to sire a child is easy, subsequently children don’t have much worth, and a dog is not a pet.

i like looking people in the eye, doing so gives me a glimpse to their soul.  Although my perspective is limited, a simple mania like eye contact comes with multiple implications.  And if not respected can get you hurt, as some female DOD contractors and soldiers have experienced.  For the most part I keep to myself and try not to make eye contact until more is learned.  Eye contact from a woman can be an insult, with that said, I’m in a dilemma for a reason that at the market some Afghan venders have been taught U.S. female soldiers have money (see our rank on our uniforms).  And know American women are comfortable with the idea of shopping and spending money!  To those venders if an American woman doesn’t make eye contact it can be perceived as an insult.  Yes, this is difficult stage for me, however, there have been instances I’ve been successful Without being insulting.  This is a picture of me negotiating on a rug purchase.  He and his son are waiting for me to choose what one I like for my home.  They know my rank and are expecting me to purchase from them one of these beautiful carpets.  Godfrey, what one do you like the shorter or longer one.  Gotta buy one honey…it’s a cultural thing (LOL).  These particular venders asked me  for a copy of these photos to hang in their shop.  (Can someone make a copy on regular paper and sen it to me?).  This will help them with business, as things are slow with the current political climate knowing spring marks the beginning of hostilities.  I know Vermonter’s are anxious for snow to melt and spring to start showing itself, but her spring means the beginning of the fighting season.  We brace ourselves for what the insurgency has been planning over the winter.  Security has hampered their efforts….although you did read about the bomb explosion when Chuck Hagel came to visit.

P.S. in the world of miniature; My “Micro Mini Condo” I have the bottom bunk, and because of rank, no one has the top bunk.  My roommate has the exact same small space on the other side of the room.  Our bunk beds are divided by two wardrobe closets placed in the middle of tiny micro mini room.  It’s all good…a far cry better amenities at my last home of residence, known affectionately as , “the shack”.  Amy,  I have the shack picture hanging on my mirror reflective of times past!  Hey, in Manhattan living in 350sq.ft or less is a popular trend…living the trend in Kabul!


I thank those who have written, sent pictures or packages:  Because I work everyday with little “me time”, it’s difficult to keep up and write people individually.  I thank my family; Godfrey, Logan, Cooper, Scott, Donna, Cheryl, Greg, Bruce , Kathy, Elizabeth, Alan, Kathi Renaud, Rachel Hill: Also Debbie Gassaway Hayward, Amy Wall, Stacey Eldridge, Cor Trowbridge, Jackie Harris, Linda Griffin, Eric Libardoni, Debbie & Todd Rancourt, Tim Johnson, Robert Macaraeg, George Carrigan, Tim Coon, Glade Taylor, Bahman Mahdavi, Johanna Gardener, Stacey Metzger, Alice Charkes, John McKenna, Maude Lonergan, Remi Demascus, Amelia Lawrence Darrow, John & Peter Duff, Dede Cummings, Elizabeth McLarney, Jay & JoEllen Falk, Sherryl Libardoni, Michaela Harlow, Max Foldeak, Women’s Hockey team, Hatfield Brownie Troop 40077 (Beth Glannini) and the Brattleboro Community, thank you  for your support.  Please know what you do for my family or me, I hold dear!

Best Regards,

LTC Christie Turner


8 thoughts on “The Afghan Way

  1. Jackie Harris

    Hi Christie: Once again it is so great to hear from you. Every time we receive an email, I know you are alive and doing as well as can be expected. We are very fortunate these days as we can communicate almost instantly however 50 years ago, there was the long wait of the international postal service.

    I am very intrigued by the culture and customs of the Afghan people although have to admit, I would never want to live there. God blessed me by placing me in this great country of ours where women have a voice (some may say too and respect. My heart goes out to the Afghan women over there that have known nothing other than second class citizenship (this is probably why the men are so afraid of the Western influences). It must be difficult watching all of this but not being able to have a voice.

    Please know that we are all thinking of your and praying for your safe and quick return.

    Heads low,


  2. Cheryl Turner

    It is always interesting to receive your blog! To hear what you are going through & learning so much in regards to their culture! It was really nice to skype with you this morning, just to be able to see & hear you was an amazing feeling:) I will get those pictures develop for you this week & send them out.
    I really love the long carpet! It’s beautiful. Think it
    will go very well in your home:)
    I love you lots & think of you everyday. Stay safe & strong.
    All my love

  3. Stacey

    It’s so interesting to read about the life style over there. be careful. I really like the long rug as well and it would go so nicely here, it’s beautiful. We have many customer’s asking about you and hope you are doing well. They all thank you for your service and want you to come home safe. Keep up the good work and we all enjoying your blog.

    Talk to you soon,

  4. Renee

    Thanks for sharing! hockey is over now. we are all thinking about you. Let us know what you’d like/need and we can send another big package along! Go hawks.

    no camels in Afghanistan, huh?

  5. Renee

    Thanks for sharing! hockey is over now. we are all thinking about you. Let us know what you’d like/need and we can send another big package along! Go hawks.

    no camels in Afghanistan, huh?


  6. Michaela Harlow

    Hi Christie, What a great format for sharing and keeping in visual touch with many people. I am glad to hear your voice, and humor, in full stereo here inside my head. As always I am impressed with your strength and courage and your ability to find the beauty in the moment. I think of you every day. Oh, and I like the richly patterned rug on the left, with the tassels. 😉 xo M.

  7. India

    Dear Christie,

    It is so good to be following your adventures via email and blogs. I think of you often and worry a good deal. I posted the Reformer article about you in my classroom.

    I have no interesting news to report as I have turned into a rather dull person in my decrepitude. My back has been misbehaving again, which limits my fun considerably. In spite of this, I am still capable of managing SAT prep tutorials and await a call.

    P.S. I did get my annual haircut, thanks to Amelia. I suppose that counts as news.

  8. Dede Cummings

    Hey LTC, you absolutely ROCK this blog. What a pro, thumbs, and all! Of course, having Bahman as your tutor doesn’t hurt since he is really the man when it comes to websites and blogs! But, mostly I wanted to write to tell you that on this heavy snow-laden Spring day in Vermont, your voice is loud and clear, your ups and downs, your inter-cultural curiosity, your respect for safety and cautious travel, are all so appreciated. As I sit in my house, surrounded by the luxuries of home and family, I can only admire you from afar, and marvel at your composure, your professionalism, your curiosity. I was so proud of you, being an American there—you are someone I am in awe of, and I don’t even play hockey! 🙂 STAY SAFE, DRY, and keep us posted when you have time. Do you think the hospital needs some help? Perhaps through your roomie, we could do a fundraiser or something? When you get a chance, check out Mountain2Mountain–the founder, Shannon Galpin is my client (!), and she does great work in Afghanistan. LOTS OF LOVE!


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