Thursday, June 16, 2011

Number 39 Shunned in Afghanistan

National Public Radio
21 May 2011

Forget Unlucky 13. In Afghanistan, Beware 39

by Ahmad Shafi and Najib Sharifi

[...] Many cultures consider certain numbers to signify luck or disaster. In Afghanistan, 39 is taboo.

It's hard to find a credible story to explain what exactly it means, but everyone knows it's bad. Many Afghans say that the number 39 translates into morda-gow, which literally means "dead cow" but is also a well-known slang term for a procurer of prostitutes -- a pimp.

In Afghanistan, being called a pimp is offensive, and calling someone a pimp could carry deadly consequences. Similarly, being associated with the number 39 -- whether it's on a vehicle license plate, an apartment number or a post office box -- is considered a great shame. And some people will go to great lengths to avoid it. [...]
The Wall Street Journal
15 June 2011
A Symbol of Paid Companionship, No. 39 Is Afghans' Loneliest Number
Associated With Prostitution, the Digits Bring Ridicule to an Unlucky Few
15 June 2011
Cursed number "39" haunts Afghan car owners
By Hamid Shaliz
The Guardian [UK]
15 June 2011
The curse of number 39 and the steps Afghans take to avoid it
Car owners with 39 licence plates lament the stigma of a number associated with pimps and prostitution
Jon Boone in Kabul
The Independent [South Africa]
31 July 2011
Curse of No 39 haunts car dealers
By Mustafa Kazemi