Thursday, June 16, 2011

Number 39 Shunned in Afghanistan

http://www.npr.org/2011/05/21/136496527/forget-unlucky-13-in-afghanistan-beware-39

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. [...]

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303654804576347201745546630.html
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
By DION NISSENBAUM

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/06/15/uk-afghanistan-number-idUSLNE75E01T20110615
Reuters
15 June 2011
Cursed number "39" haunts Afghan car owners
By Hamid Shaliz

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jun/15/afghanistan-curse-of-number-39
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


http://www.iol.co.za/news/back-page/curse-of-no-39-haunts-car-dealers-1.1109021
The Independent [South Africa]
31 July 2011
Curse of No 39 haunts car dealers
By Mustafa Kazemi