Readings — From the March 2013 issue

Polite Brigade

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From A Brochure for Comprehending the Cultures of the Coalition Forces, a twenty-eight-page pamphlet published by the Afghan Ministry of Defense and distributed to Afghan troops. Translated from the Dari by Noorullah Dawari.

When members of the coalition forces are getting excited, they show their feelings by touching another person’s shoulder. They may do the same to you too, for doing a good job. If you are insulted by that, ask them not to do such a thing in the future.

Most of the members of the coalition forces are interested in sharing photos and stories about their wives, children, brothers, and sisters with their friends, so they may ask you about your family members, including females. They just want to have a very friendly relationship with you.

As you all know, Afghans do not blow their noses in front of other people in personal meetings, but in the cultures of the coalition forces’ countries, this is a very normal thing.

You know that in Afghan culture putting your feet toward someone is considered an offensive act, but in the culture of most coalition forces’ countries, this is not considered offensive. In fact, when a member of the coalition forces wants to feel comfortable around you while talking, he might put his feet on his desk. He doesn’t mean to insult you at all. He either doesn’t know anything about Afghan culture or he has forgotten.

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