A young man's strange, erotic journey from Milan to Minsk...and apparently, back again.

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Location: Denver, Colorado, United States

The details of my life are quite inconsequential, really. Summers in Rangoon...luge lessons...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Ramazan observed

Moon rising over Kabul, from the roof of the Interior Ministry.

 It's the wee early morning of Day 5 of Ramazan here (the rest of the Islamic world says Ramadan, but Afghanistan does it her way).  And I'm here to tell ya, ain't easy.  Not that going without food and liquids of any sort (yes, water included) sounded easy, but a fast is a fast.  So a few colleagues and I figured that if our Afghan partners were observing, then we could too.  It really is a fascinating experience so night, after Iftar (the break-fast dinner after sundown) we feel quite alright.  But those hunger pains during the morning and all afternoon definitely make you see why you it's a pretty big deal when Eid finally rolls around at the end of 30 days.

These guys could JAM. Seriously. Lacking Ramazan photos, I chose scenes from an incredible dinner in Kabul 2 months ago.

Why are we doing it?  Primarily for the aforementioned reason: Our hosts do it, and our mission is to work closely with them in order to help build their capacity.  We gain some newfound or maybe even enhanced respect from some of our dosthaa (friends) by fasting along with them, and are looking to plan an iftar together here and there.  It really is a joyous occasion to eat and drink finally each evening (Ah, Gatorade! Ah, mystery meat!), and the communal feel of doing it with others is very rewarding.  Even the sudden and unexpected calling to a meeting with a general -- right when you're heading to Iftar -- can't dampen the spirits too much when you know that food sweet food, and quenching liquid goodness, await eventually.

Now THAT is eating well, Afghan style. Six separate meat dishes represent, on one plate.

Each of us has our priorities and rationale for taking part, I suppose.  Just among the few Americans known to be observing the fast here, there is at least Christian, Buddhist and agnostic representation.  But it presents a spiritual opportunity for those who choose to see it that way...and one rewarding result is the chance to learn a whole lot more about the practice and traditions of a religion adhered to by a quarter of the world's population.  In addition to fasting and abstinence, there is emphasis upon refraining from gossip, swearing, fighting, lusting (yeah, no problems here), and holding grudges.  Encouraged are charity, charity, and more charity...and seeking of forgiveness.  So, not bad things to strive for over a month of cleansing.  In these and other ways, there are of course striking similarities to traditions of other religions.

Alright, I'm sounding preachy, so it's time to sign this one off.  But I hope to, at the very least, keep things interesting for you always, readers.  At least as interesting as a Kabul-based assignment can be!

My dining companions that night: Spokesman/celeb Bashary, Shamshad TV, police protection, and my peeps from NTM-A. More from the Serena...

Pretty unreal that a true 5-star luxury hotel lies beyond the blast walls of a traffic circle.

My main man Joe classin' up the joint...

Marble everything...again, I walked around stunned at the opulence that I didn't think possible anywhere in Afghanistan today.

His hair, as always, was perfect...
(Bashary's, that is - not the maniacs flanking him)


Blogger yomistast said...

To quote Toll Booth from the old Subway commercials- "THAT'S A LOT OF MEAT!"

August 18, 2010 at 6:13 AM  
Anonymous Al-Slappy said...

somewhere up above, the late great Warren Zevon smiles at your extremely appropo description of Bashary's elegant coiffe!

good luck on the fasting, bro - that obviously makes skipping meat on Lenten Fridays seem simple! incredible to think that Hakeem "The Dream" Olajuwon (among others?) would observe the fast during the Ramazans of his NBA tenure ...

August 18, 2010 at 8:30 AM  
Blogger Debbie of Boise said...

Major, I saw your post on The Sandbox, which I read everyday. Thank-you for sharing with the world your work in Afghanistan. I have read other blogs from soldiers who are true professionals in their work and take great interest and care for people of the country they are serving in. You all are important and much needed role models for our youth, indeed for all people. We need your example here in the States where Muslims are being defamed and vilified in the media and press by knuckleheads we elected. I have booked marked your blog and will continue to follow your adventures in Afghanistan. Blessings and good luck!

August 19, 2010 at 9:20 AM  
Blogger Major Dan said...

Debbie, welcome to the blog! Thank you for your kind words.
Al-Slappy, it would be seriously difficult to play a competitive sport during this season if observing the fast. I'm amazed by that too.
Cuz, please don't remind me of TB Willie!

August 26, 2010 at 2:30 AM  

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