Today, I helped the Afghan workers in our office to learn a valuable lesson in Western culture. I taught them the rules and general strategy for the board game known as “Sorry.”
I also explained why it was named “Sorry” and they were very entertained. Apparently, there is an Afghan equivalent to “Sorry” that they call “Go-No-Go” and it’s played mostly by young children. “Sure it is Ghafoor,” I said, “and why did I see you playing it with your mother?” Somehow the humor of what I said did not come across well. The friendship between Ghafoor and myself is on a time-out.
Happily though, he and Khaliq still took the time to tell me of some of the other board games and parlor entertainments that are popular here. The passion for games that led to the development and furthering of chess, backgammon and parcheesi is still alive in Afghanistan!
Here are some of the favorites, with the names translated to the literal English:
1. “The Chase of Enlightenment Pie” – much like Trivia Pursuit, this game focuses on questions related to Afghani history with much much smaller categories like, “When will we get electricity?” and “How much better my life would be with a sewer system.”
2. “Pomegranates to Pomegranates” – this game allows each person a turn at associating the other players suggestions to his chosen topic. And no, there is no second place! Who cares which card was the runner up? Come on people, don’t be sore losers!
3. “The Words Which Are Forbidden” – much like Taboo, this game is played without the electronic aids, but with the addition of a person walking around the circle with a machete. Women must not speak during this game.
4. “I Give You Good Price” – this is the game styled after the shouted promise of the bazaar salesperson. It’s very similar to Monopoly, but the little guy on the front of the box is wearing a turban, and each time around the board is known as “I am past the Going!” There are cards that read, “Please be going to prison. Do not be past the going and do not collect 9,008 AFE.” And much like the American version, you may roll doubles or pay 2,252 AFE to get out of prison. Or the more popular option – your friends can dig you a tunnel.
5. “The Head” – which is an awkward phrase for us from the US, but for the Afghans, it’s their own version of Cranium. This large-box game comes with an AK-47 that, as part of one of the routine challenges, must be broken down, cleaned and reassembled while the player is blindfolded. And yes, much like in the US, the wonderful-smelling purple molding clay is almost always dried out the next time you try to play.
I’m not saying that Mattel has anything to worry about except copyright infringement, but I have been impressed with how the Afghans really come to play.
My favorite and the one that made me laugh the most was ‘The Words Which Are Forbidden.”