سال نوتان مبارک باد
That's "Happy New Year!" in Dari. It's pronouced "Sal- new- tan mob rake baad". Today is New Year's Eve here and so our Afghan friends have off work until Saturday. We didn't really have a choice in the matter, they informed us in our weekly meeting on Saturday that they had off for those 3 days! Ya gotta love how democracy works!
To celebrate, we did the traditional American thing and ordered food. We had lunch catered in and gathered everyone 'round the table. In contrast to American New Year's, there is no alcohol consumed by the Afghan people in celebration. Instead, the tradition is to eat healthy meals which differ is portion and cost from their everyday. The logic is that if you eat well at New Year's, you will have plentiful food and good health in the coming year. Those who can afford to, travel north to Paghram and enjoy the holiday by relaxing away from home. Most others stay home with family and enjoy rest there.
(I'm deeply sorry if the formatting is off today. I'm very tired and have been fighting the formatting on this post for 20 minutes....I give up!)
Here are some pictures from our lunch today...
While on base today, I snapped this shot of the flags which represent the countries participating in the security and assistance of Afghanistan. Nothing like seeing Ol' Glory fly in the breeze of a sunny day! Here you'll see England, Turkey, Holland, Australia, France, Belgium, Italy, Romania, and others surrounding the Afghanistan and US flags.
Now, being the Americans we are and today being a holiday, it gave us reason to go out for dinner and drinks. Yes, expats get to embibe while it's against local custom and culture for the Afghan people to. Thus, we made our way to the Red Hot Sizzlin' steakhouse (which is UN approved, btw) and joined with some Aussie friends of ours from down the block for dinner and drinks. Interesting thing, the Aussies were drinking Corona, a Mexican beer, while the Americans drank Victoria Bitter, an Aussie brew, which was served in a German beer pint glass! Ya gotta love the contrast in this place! It's very easy to see the influence that the rest of the world is having on the country. Of course, I collected the German glass to add to my collection back home ;) It'll go right next to the Harp pint given me by my friend Erin from her trip to Ireland.
I'll close today with a New Year's wish given our staff by Sonia, our Afghan administrative assistant.
Happy New Year to you!
Another year unfolds,
May you enjoy a healthy life and endless luck in this brand new year!
My sincere best wishes for this year and many years to come.