Today, and the next couple days, are somewhat unique as we essentially get a three day holiday. The Muslim holiday of Ramadan began at sunset last night. The Kandak (battalion) that we support and mentor has put their soldiers on a three day pass, as many of their soldiers like to try and spend the start of the holiday with their families. As a result, since we have no one to mentor, we have the next three days off as well. Unfortunately though because we are deployed you never truly have days off, as some task or needed training will come up. Another frustrating thing about being deployed is that even though I have no planned tasks or reasons to have to put my uniform on today, I am always on duty, which requires me to have to shave if I want to go anywhere other than the outhouse near my building. I would enjoy the opportunity to look like a bum today, however if I want to go to lunch and get anything to eat I will have to be in proper appearance and attire.
It will be interesting when we return to mentoring our soldiers on Saturday. For Ramadan, our practicing Muslim friends will be required to fast from sun-up till sun-down. There beliefs require them to abstain from all forms of food, drink (even water), during hours of sunlight; as well as give up tobacco or other vices completely during the month. They are still allowed to eat, however as part of their sacrifice they will be getting up well before sunrise to eat. By the time that we visit them in the morning, odds are it will be several hours since they had gotten up and eaten something plus some of them will be going through nicotine withdrawals. So odds are they may be a moody or cranky bunch by the time we are able to visit with them.
We have also been laughing that during Ramadan several Chai Boy's are going to be out of work. The Afghan Army has young privates that essentially work as severants to the officers in the battalion called Chai Boys (Tea Boys). For example in the S1 section that I work with Qandala, is the Chai Boy for the section and he is responsible for preparing tea when needed for the officer and NCOs in the section. Additionally he is responsible for being a running and carrying one piece of paper from one side of the camp to the other. In return for the service of the Chai boy the section will often take those particular soldiers under their wing, mentor them and help them improve their ability to read and write. However because of Ramadan the Chai Boys will have no Tea or Water to serve, so they will have nothing to do and potentially out of a job.
Our hope is that Ramadan will be a quiet time in our region, however fears are that it may be the opposite. We have been told from our intel sources that during this time of fasting and sacrifice that if a Holy Warrior is killed while trying to kill his perceived enemies of Allah, he will have a much better shot of going directly to heaven. So the fear is that throughout Afghanistan there may be more Suicide (homicide) bombers, and other Taliban fighters doing more brazen and dangerous attacks.