Tuesday, October 2, 2007

UNO and the Jundi

Dear Friends and Family,

I just thought you would find these photographs funny. I returned late last night (just after midnight) from spending two days down south providing a QRF (Quick Reaction Force) for another mission (can explain more later). We were staged at an Iraqi Army outpost on the outskirts of Karbala. It all started with a brand new deck of UNO cards, thanks to a care package from Gail Dudley. My guys were deep into our first hand with several curious "Jundi's" or Iraqi Army soldiers peered over the wall at us, trying to figure out this odd card game we were playing. Finally they worked up the courage, (YEAH RIGHT, Jundi's are suspicious of everything and as precocious as a 12 year old with ADHD). We let them watch a few hands before inviting them to sit down and play. What began as a friendly experiment turned into an all day affair teaching probably half the battalion how to play UNO. By the afternoon many had broken away for their naps. All faithful Muslims are deep into Ramadan right now, fasting all day, leaves them hungry, ornery, and tired by the afternoon. A few loyal players stayed and played into the hours of darkness before kicking them away to continue our mission and move out. One Jundi, 51 years old, said he had seen people play cards on the television, but never got to play himself. How did we explain the rules, well, UNO isn't the hardest card game to learn, but we had a lot of help from my interpreter Sam (seriously, my terp's nick name is Sam, his real name is Sayid, but he goes by "Sam"). After a while Sam got tired of explaining the game over and over game, but they picked it up well. The hardest part was changing colors after a wild card was played, we tried to learn the colors in Arabic, and they tried to learn them in English, but finally we just ended up pointing to the appropriate color on the card.


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