Foreign female visitors are expected to wear shawls to cover their head and chest. Afghanistan is a Moslem country where most of its women still wear burqas. Women are not expected to shake hands with men and as female, expect to be ignored while men do their introductory greetings (which involves shaking of hand and kissing the cheeks and hugging a bit). It is normal for Afghan men to hold hands while walking. Don't raise your eyebrows, even Afghan policemen do that. It is their custom and we have to respect it whilst there.
In spite of what western media told us, burqa is still widely used in Afghanistan, especially in the province. It's something like a curtain that covers the whole body included the face...
After the fall of Talibans regime women kept wearing it for security reasons, actually it'a a sort of protection.
They usually take it off once they get inside a place such as a school, office, or private places...
In Kabul they are mostly light blue, but other provinces have different colors... white... purple... orange........
In Afghanistan, Ramadan is observed seriously. If you are told that the Afghans are observing Ramadan at the time of your visit, please no matter what, do not drink water, chew a gum, eat anything in front of them or listen to your iPOD or MP3. The Afghans refrain from listening to music, eating and drinking water during daytime. In 2009, Ramadan is scheduled around end of August. Just inquire before flying to Afghanistan in August. It will be a grave offence if you eat or drink in front of the Afghans during Ramadan.
I have written a tip that women should wear shawls/cover their head and chest. I also meant cover your arms and legs. Please, skirts which do not meet the ankle are a big no-no in Afghanistan. Afghan women wear long sleeves in spite of the high temperature. Wearing skirts and sleeveless will mean disrespecting the Afghan culture. They may just stare at you and say nothing if you wear unacceptable clothings but deep inside, they will be totally angry at you.
At weddings or engagement parties, women are separated from men and there, women can wear sleeveless (I haven't seen one with short skirts though).
You have to know that Afghans have closely-knit families and friends. When you are with your tour guide or with a friend and an acquaintance of the latter comes along, they will greet each other and will be asking "how are you?", "how's your health?". "how's your family?" at the same time and the conversation will go on and on. Please, do not interrupt them, wait for your turn to be introduced and don't introduce yourself. It's their practice to ask each other and hug and kiss each other on the cheeks. Observe and respect the culture. It's entirely different from yours and they do not mean to be rude.
Despite the history of conflict, this country has so many friendly and hospitable people. They firmly believe that Allah controls everything and that anything that happens is according to His will. Afghans are loyal to their family and stress honor and responsibility.
The talking distance is considered to be close by some standards, but don't pull away.
Male friends are often seen walking arm in arm or holding hands.
Greet with the arabic: Assalaam alaikum (Peace be upon you)
Respond to greetings with: Waalaikum assalaam (and peace also upon you)
Address others by title when possible. "Mullah" religious leader (giver of knowledge) or "Khan" (Sir). "Haji" is for only those who have made the pilgrimiage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
Remove footwear for prayers
Point with your whole hand rather than one finger
Use a handshake and a pat on the back when greeting male friends.
Women: embrace female friends and kiss three times on alternating cheeks.
Belch - In many areas, its an expression of appreciation for a good meal!
Drink alcohol or eat pork in front of Afghans
Give the "Thumbs up" or "Ok" hand gestures
Eat or drink in front of an Afghan during Ramadan
Play loud music when they are praying
Blow your nose in public
Eat with your left hand
Sit with the soles of your feet toward someone else
Ask a man of his wife/daughter/sister
Ask an Afghan their ethnic origin
Dari is spoken most widely in Kabul (an urban language / similar to Farsi and Tajik) but Pashto is also used. There are over 30 languages/dialects used in Afghanistan, but most educated Aghans can speak both Dari and Pashto. Writing is right to left.
Here are a few key phrases in Dari which would be helpful to know:
Hello/Good morning/afternoon/evening etc.. Salaam alaikum
Response: Wa alaikum salaam
Do you speak english? Te pe engleesi khabara kawei?
My name is_______: Naam-a man _______
What is your name? Naam-a shuma chee ast?
How are you? Che-toar has-ti?
I am fine: Man khob hastam
Goodbye: Kho-do hafaz
Yes/No: B'e lee/Na
0 - sefer
1 - yak
2 - du
3 - she
4 - chor
5 - panj
6 - shish
7 - khaft
8 - khasht
9 - nukh
10 - dakh
In Afghanistan, there is a very different sense of time. How long it takes to accomplish a task is not as important as long as it does get accomplished. Afhgans sometimes arrive "late" by others standards. When conducting business, it is essential that you meet in person and have much patience in your negotiations.
Regarding gifts, you should recriprocate any gifts that you receive. Much appreciated would be gifts from your hometown.
It would be risky to accept food or water from the locals, (see warnings) though I did once accept a cup of chai (actually dari for "tea") and it was the best that I had ever tasted. Didn't get the least bit sick. But be wary.
It can also be dangerous to accept cigarettes from locals. Don't risk it.
one afghan to another-
A-i shot and killed a man today.
A-his great great great grandfather killed my great great great grandfather...
B- why are you so impatient??
afghanisthan is made up of many ethnic groups, and often the enimity between groups of people can last longer than you could imagine.
Women: In Kabul, there were some women wearing blue burkhas, but there were also many women wearing more contempary clothing/scarves which is becoming popular. Under the Tablian rule, women were rarely seen and when going out, they were covered from head to toe. It seems to be more conservative the farther away you are from Kabul.
Men: While 99% of Afghans are Muslims, in Kabul there are many men who are clean shaven. Men tend to wear a long shirt over baggy pants, tied with a string. They can ben seen wearing the male version of the scarves and also flat wool caps.
The Pastuns mainly wear the head turbans in grey or black.
Get ready to drink huge quantities of tea, usually green tea (chai sabs), in every place you will visit ...!
(maybe that's why Afghani people don't sleep too much !!)
They offer it without sugar and together with sweets or candies.
In Afghanistan, Islam has got a lot of strict rules, such as:
Taking off the shoes before entering a mosque or a house.
Always eat with the right hand.
Dress modestly! Even men should never wear shorts or singlet shirts.
Be prepared to shake hands - a lot. Greetings are warm and plentyful.
Don't be a woman! They are still a few milleniums away from sexual equality.
Be very sensitive to what your host tells you, but here are a few basics. (mostly for women)
1. Never look a man in the eyes, and never attempt to touch a man you are not married to.
2. Always have your head and shoulders covered, and wear longsleeved dresses and loose pants
3. Avoid the religious police and do not travel alone
4. Afghans are wonderfully hospitable but please be aware that it is illegal under the Taliban to visit an Afghan home or to invite them to yours.
A important part of afghan culture is the music and my afghan friend used to sing in Radio Afghanistan. Music was strongly restricted from 1992 and became totally banned by Taliban in 1996. Now music is once again allowed.
PHOTO: MY FRIEND SING IN THE STUDIOS OF RADIO AFGHANISTAN IN THE 'GOOD OLD DAYS'....
PHOTO : The Sweet Faces Rugmakers.
QUESTION : Hey Kamal, amongst the Ladies from India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Swiss, Austria, Germany, United Kingdom, USGA ( United States Great America), Singapore, Thailand, France and Indonesia,which Ladies are most beautiful ?
ANSWER : Errr, my mum.
QUESTION : Why ?
ANSWER : 'Cos, she is my mum.
QUESTION : Are you Crazy or Mad ?
ANSWER : Both !!!
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