This is a strange country with some strange customs. Most of which I have absolutely zero knowledge of before I walk right into them with my rather cumbersome American boots.
So here’s what happened this time. The other day when I went out to the clinic I traded one of the Afghan National Police Officers a knife for an Afghan flag. What can I say, I wanted one. No big deal right? Well apparently not.
Today I got a visit from the ANP commander at my barracks room. Which was uncomfortable to say the least. He brought with him, the ANP First Sergeant, and a Captain from the medical section of our FOB. He is important enough to warrant an officer escort.
I have to admit that when they first showed up I started to wonder if I had possibly broken some international law and was about to be arrested. Luckily for me, that was not the case.
The commander then explained to me that the flag I had traded for was a flag that many ANP’s had died under. Which made it a special flag, not one that could be traded. Flags are not tradable items, they can only be given as a gift. Turns out that the guy who gave it to me was punished severely. He was a new guy, he didn’t know any better. But there is nothing that I can do about that so we will just have to let that one roll off.
He continued to say that he was returning my knife and was bringing me another Afghan flag as a gift. Apparently hospitality is a pretty big deal to Muslims. So he presented me with the flag, and I must say that it is a nice one. Brand new, with the Afghan national crest and all the verses from the Koran and what not on the front.
So he returned my knife and presented the flag to me, folded up by one of his soldiers, and he shook my hand and apologized profusely for all that had gone on. Personally, I couldn’t have cared less, I was wondering what was happening to the guy who had traded me for the knife. Afghan discipline can be some pretty severe stuff. The commander even went so far as to sign the flag for me. Which I have to admit was pretty cool. I mean how many people have shit like this? Not too many.
So that is how that all went. It is a bit humorous to me that the ANP commander hates my commander with a passion and is almost to the point of refusing to work with the man, he already refuses to meet with him. He’ll just send his guys over to go out on mission with us. And yet he takes the time to come and right a wrong between the ANP’s and a lowly enlisted soldier in the U.S. Army.
So I guess that I did my part for international relations today. Felt pretty good.
Anyway, I am done now.
I love you mom...