Sandals Without Socks Are De Rigeur for the Ex-Muj

"As we walked toward the building's entrance, my attention was caught by a middle-aged man wheeling his bicycle into the lot from the road outside. He wore a scruffy anorak over a long tanbon shirt, and a piebald dastmal, or scarf, over his head, and exchanged pleasantries with everyone he passed. He grinned at us and went into the derelict factory, giving off a strong smell of hasish.
"Mujahideen, Kunar Province, 1985." Photo: Jonas Dovydenas. From lituanus.org, a literary journal.
...

The [cockfight] spectators were as varied as Afghanistan itself. There were ethnic Uzbeks from the far north, wearing neat little turbans over red skullcaps, as well as a sprinkling of fuller Pashtun turbans, and beards one could lose a fist in. Most common was the mujahedeen [sic] look, consisting of a long shirt with an obliquely slashed hanging collar, trousers stopping above the ankle, and a soft-brimmed woolen hat over a trimmed beard. Even in winter, sandals without socks are de rigeur for the ex-muj, denoting manliness. And then, a disheveled fashion plate on the bottom step: the bicyclist with the dastmal over his head, his almond-shaped eyes suggestive of Turkish ancestry, listening with an amused expression to the anecdote of a neighbor." (41)



de Bellaigue, Christopher. "Caliph of the Tricksters" Harper's Magazine, December 2012.


Doesn't the title of this post, taken from the text, sound like a D.V. "Why Don't You..."? Or a page from the 1980s send-up The Official Mujahideen Handbook?  Or, at the very least, a line from Funny Face? Think piebald!

What I really love about this, obviously, is the specialized knowledge: could you tell a Pashtun turban from one worn by an Uzbek? And how important are those distinctions--to you, to the Uzbek, to the Pashtun?