Thursday, March 26, 2009


We don't have a lot of entertainment options at the base with no internet or television, but what we do have are DVDs. One of the more enjoyable ways we spend time with the Afghans is watching their pirated DVDs - generally musicals or music videos from Pakistan, India, Iran, and occasionally Tajikistan. The languages in all these countries are reasonably similar so our guys can presumably understand much of what's being said.

Something about the videos' honest, simple expression and interaction between the singers (nearly always in a romantic context) I find very appealing. In Afghanistan, the guys don't often get to see women they're not related to, but the music videos have a way of bringing women into these men's lives in a tasteful way. The women in the videos are much more than a simple prop. Frankly, I'd be embarrassed to show them an American music video given the way women are often dressed and portrayed, especially those videos of the more recent vintage.

The Afghans seem to be in agreement that the Iranian girls are the best looking, but they tend to prefer the Indian videos since those videos a bit more of the women. If there's one thing I've learned from my travels is that every culture has lots of pretty girls, which makes sense to me in a natural selection sort of way.

Watching the Bollywood videos is always interesting for the smattering of English you'll hear thrown into an otherwise incomprehensible sentence in Hindi or Urdu. You'll hear things like "Happy Birthday" or sometimes an entire short sentence like "Where are you going?" spoken in English in the middle of the Hindi or Urdu. I'd wondered about this, so I had to do some research and learned that Hindi and Urdu are more or less the same language though they don't share the same alphabet due to religious influences, although apparently the younger generations are increasingly writing both languages in Roman script due to the influence of the internet and text messaging. Furthermore, more and more Indians are mixing English words into the Hindi.

It's funny to see that 'Hinglish' is on the rise as I've been convinced for some time now that something similar will happen in the Western Hemisphere and we'll all speak Spanglish 100 years from now. Maybe sooner.

Chaiyya, Chayyai is always a platoon favorite, must be the great choreography with the train.

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