White Man Tries To Shake Brown Lady’s Hand; Insight Ensues

Today’s episode of Helpful Whiteness comes to us by way of the fine people at Global News and a recenting reporting trip to Afghanistan that will make all of us in the Noble Order beam with pride. So pull up a chair, Western Saviors, and hear a tale of insights into the intervention.

There is some sacred writing in Islam that quotes the Prophet, to the effect that “it is better to be stabbed in the head with an iron needle” than to touch the hand of a woman who is “not permissible to you.”

Which is the kind of thing one says once one tries to shake hands with an Afghan woman unable to adapt to the enlightened ways of Western menfolk. When one learns a “lesson in Islamic gender culture” about how people of differing genders should not touch. Unless you’re husband and wife, or there’s some other urgent reason for the contact. Like finishing up an interview in a courtyard in Kabul.

Such things, we learn, are called “haptics,” which can take many forms. Including, if you’re in the south of Sudan, having someone spit on you. Isn’t cultural understanding grand?

It’s a short post, but full of the kind of wonder we’ve come to expect from short-term visitors over the years to the graveyard of commitment. The author’s host, Dave, who like most whites in Kabul only goes by one name, laid out his 114 circuits of an 875 meter course he plans to run in a walled compound. That a man is going to run 100 kilometers inside a protected villa in Afghanistan is about as vivid a portait of the current state of the intervention as I can possibly imagine.

Of course there’s the standard security consultant character, with his “yoke-like shoulders and jaw like a brick.” Let’s be honest: we’ve all had a bit of a crush on our close security at one time or another. And this one is more than happy to point out that he’s trained his drivers to use their cars like weapons.

Which leads us to the inevitable closing scene, as the Great White Journalist leaves Finest Supermarket, and embarks again in what most of the unitiated would be content to call a car. But for him, it’s more than that now. And he leaves us in: “My weapon.”

Sounds like it should be the opening lines to a new Expat Creed:

This is my B6.
 There are many like it,
 But this one is mine.

Until next time, stay safe, be good to each other, and we’ll leave the intervention on for you.


Originally published at Sunny In Kabul.