So this is a deployment related entry, but not about the training and development issues I typically write about. Yesterday, while walking to the Ministry of Defense, which oversees the Afghan National Army, I had an interesting conversation with one of our interpreters (who I will just refer to as A for his privacy) about one, yes, one of his new girlfriends. He has four, which according to him, is too many, so he’s trying to pare it down to three. Much more manageable.
It’s fascinating to learn about other cultures and the Afghan’s I work with are always more than willing to answer our questions in exchange for their own. We’ve talked about everything from dating rituals to holiday and family traditions. Afghans are known for many things, among them their generosity and hospitality, and their family-oriented culture. Arranged marriages are very common, as is the custom of marrying cousins but as times change, so do relationship practices. Many of our Afghans have talked about the new, unwritten (and confusing) rules of meeting and dating women in Kabul today. More and more they are seeking out their own partners as opposed to getting to know a girl after marriage or marrying a family member with whom interaction is permissible, until the “couple” is older, and a chaperone is required.
Several of our interpreters have girlfriends whom they secretly date, however, I was shocked to hear that A not only had four, but to hear some of his escapades … and the way he’s using technology such as blue tooth to exchange phone numbers. Girlfriend number four was picked up at a wedding; given that he couldn’t very well cross the room and strike up a conversation, A told me that they “talked” with their eyes. Then he held up his phone for her to see and casually walked by, whispering out of the corner of his mouth for her to turn her blue tooth on. Phone numbers were exchanged and now they are free to speak to each other whenever they choose. And here I though dating in American was complicated.
And of course, if things don’t work out, A can always use one of his creative break-up methods. My personal favorite was the heart-surgery story. Rather than ending things with a girl, A prefers to tell her that he has to go to Pakistan for a risky heart operation, during which he has a 98 percent chance of dying. Now, if the girl happens to call your phone to check up on you and your mom answers the phone, as A’s did, this could backfire, but all in all, not a bad plan.
I believe, ladies, that there is a lesson here and that would be to be careful who you date and perhaps not be too trusting … especially if your man has to undergo an extremely dicey operation. Not all men are bad but it seems there definitely shady characters in any culture.