Last week Winter and I had the opportunity to go with Marion, one of our teammates, to visit a new baby. Marion’s chawkidor had a new baby daughter that was about 30 days olds. What is a chawkidor? A chawkidor is a guy who answers the gate, takes care of the yard and does various errands as needed. Marion’s chawkidor has five children-three girls and two boys with the baby being one of the girls.
The trip to the chawkidor’s house took about 10 to 15 minutes over bumpy roads. His house was literally built into the side of the hill. As is typical of many Afghan homes, all of the rooms were not connected and to get from one room to the other you sometimes have to go outside. As soon as we stepped through the gate, we were greeted by his wife. A greeting for ladies includes a few kisses on the cheek and questions about how they are and how is their family. We were then ushered into their room where they have guests. Our time there was spent drinking tea and eating on the snacks they laid out and talking with the chawkidor, his wife, kids, her mother, and her sister. I could get most of the conversation but at times still needed Marion to translate. The children were so polite and made sure as soon as they came in to come around and greet each one of us. The baby slept most of the time but Marion was able to hold her. I hope to post a picture of Marion and the baby as soon as Noel gets back. The grandmother even brought in some warm naan that she had made. It was the best naan I have had since coming to Kabul probably because it tasted like it had some wheat flour in it. All too soon our visit ended and we said our good byes. We have an informal invitation to come back again for some Afghan food sometime in the future.
Serving tea here is very cultural. It is also very important. They serve both green and black tea and sometimes it will be made with tea leaves and crushed cardemon seeds. When the tea is first served, a little tea is put in the cup and swished around and poured out. This helps make sure the cup is clean and some say it warms the cup up. Then the tea is poured. I am amazed at how hot they drink their tea. I usually have to wait a few minutes for mine to cool down. The tea is almost always served with some type of cookies or candies and many times with some nuts and dried fruit. One reason for the sweet foods is that typically they do not put sugar in their tea. It is proper to drink at least two or three cups before you can leave. Winter and Marion were able to get their three cups in but I was only able to finish two since I was so busy trying to understand what was being said. Maybe I will do better next time.