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!
LTC Christie Turner