This week, our columnist in Afghanistan finds out more about the cultural differences that exist in a country that has just entered the year 1393.
As an Islamic republic, Afghanistan follows the solar calendar and celebrates New Year, or Nawrouz, at the same time as Iran and other regional nations, rather than on January 1.
Hence, last Friday was a national holiday. And since its calendar is measured after the time of the Prophet Mohammed, rather than Jesus Christ, it means Afghanistan has just entered 1393.
‘Inshallah’ (God willing) is a whole way of life, rather than just a religious word.
For Afghans, like many Muslims throughout this part of the world, life is determined not by one’s actions, but by God’s hand.
But this cultural difference means strategic planning, of the sort we are trying to teach our Afghan National Army colleagues, is, in many ways, counter to their own culture.
Instead, we have adopted a week-to-week approach and try to advance their skills and operational capability report by report.
While this is very labour intensive, it does mean we learn much about each other’s background over cups of black tea and biscuits.
It will be shortbread next week, as I seek to repay the hospitality with a Scottish tin brought back from my R&R (rest and recreation).
Some traditions aren’t so different…