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No, not the Arnold movie. Sorry. But equally inexplicable, in some ways.

Every now and again, when talking about Afghanistan I will probably make reference to “jingle,” particularly jingle trucks–these are also quite popular in Pakistan. So it’s probably worth a quick explanation, for those of you who have no idea what that means. Well, as much explanation as is possible.

In public, Afghan men tend to wear very drab clothes. We called them manjams, but they’re closer to the salwar kamees you find in much of the region–a really long top with pants so loose fitting you can put your entire body into one leg (I got some for my dad and he did). Maybe, if you’re feeling froggy, you’ll wear a vest (or a bandoleer), but everything tends to be in shades of beige or dull grey. In contrast, the women, underneath their voluminous tents, tend to be very colorful. No kidding, someone once got me a women’s outfit made of deep green velvet highlighted with fluorescent orange and yellow patterns and peppered with little mirrors.

But, women tend to wear burqas in public if they come out at all, so you don’t get to see a lot of that color. I think what happens is that the men compensate for that absence by decorating their trucks, and lots of other things, like crazy. (They compensate for the general lack of women in other ways, but that’s for another day). No one (i.e. Wikipedia) is really sure who coined the term, but it stems from the fact that many of the decorated trucks have small chains on the front and sides that “jingle” as they roll along. We now use jingle to mean anything tricked out in outrageous colors. It’s really best to show how this works:

Jingle Truck (with small chains on the front):

Jingle Water Tank:

Jingle Motorcycle (Rawr!):

And of course, the ever-popular Jingle Weapons: