We were talking with a local Afghan Elder this morning and he said that he was deaf in one ear. After the usual regrets and commiserations we asked him how it had happened. Quite matter of factly he said that he had done it when firing an RPG whilst at a funeral.
It turned out that the insurgents had murdered another Elder in an attempt to intimidate the wider population. It was not a brilliant strategy and the District great and good attended the victim’s funeral en masse. In order to turn the screw a little tighter the insurgents therefore decided to attack the ceremony itself. Fortunately the good guys had come prepared and a gun and rocket battle took place, one consequence of which was our Elder losing his right eardrum. I rather hope that the funeral was successfully concluded.
I only report this for the rather Soprano-esque nature of the incident and to highlight the culture of the frontier which is still strongly rooted in Pashtun society. Democratic elections anyone?
On a different note I stood in a queue of US Marines for an evening meal the other day. The four lads in front of me were about 18 – 19 years old and all heavily armed. And what were they talking about? Griffendor. Never mind Daniel Radcliffe growing up on screen, here were the Harry Potter generation who would have been 8 or so years old when the films first started coming out. And their common point of reference in Afghanistan in 2011 was the adventures of a boy wizard and his fantasy school.
It’s a funny old world.