When describing the inexplicable attraction of this country, travelers often talk about the “Afghanistan bug” that bites first-time visitors and makes them fall madly in love with it. For most people around the world, however, the very mention of Afghanistan evokes an image of a remote, wretched place embroiled in continuous war and conflict.
Behind the headlines live a people who are among the most hospitable and honorable in the world. Generally speaking Afghan society is organized along ethnic and tribal lines. However, ethnic identity becomes irrelevant in the face of a common threat. There are also many shared values and unwritten codes of conduct that govern personal relations, which are not taken lightly. Outsiders have always been confounded by the two extreme experiences of the ferocity of the Afghan people and by their boundless generosity and hospitality.
In Culture Smart! Afghanistan we have set out to explain the country’s history, its people—their habits, customs, traditions, idiosyncrasies, suspicions about foreigners, and patterns of behavior—and its current place in the world. The book will give you an idea of how to interact with the Afghans, how to interpret their behavior, and how to behave appropriately in their company, whether in personal or business exchanges. It will prepare you for a journey through a society that is difficult to navigate and often hard to understand. Stay the course, and the rewards will be great.
While handshakes will be offered to male guests, it is more common to put your hand on your heart and bow slightly to new acquaintances, and to embrace among friends. Between women, kissing three times on the cheek is the most common form of greeting. Men and women greet each other verbally and avoid eye contact with the opposite sex.