• Afghan Machismo: During a recent meal in Afghanistan, staff writer Scott Baldauf gained some insight into the attitudes of Afghan men toward fatherhood. Yes, size of family matters. "I was having lunch with a bunch of former mujahideen fighters and commanders, sitting on the floor, dipping our hands into one bowl full of bread soaked with chicken soup. (It's better than it sounds, but all those hands ...) Two of the gentlemen got into a discussion of how many kids they had," Scott says.
"I have three sons and 21 grandchildren," said Mohammad Saghir proudly.
"I have 40 grandchildren, 12 sons and three daughters," said the second man, Khan Badr.
Eventually, one of the gents asked Scott how many children he had.
"I have two daughters," Scott said.
The men seemed disappointed. "Ah," said the first man, "don't worry, keep trying."
• A Guest at an Indian Wedding: Reporter Anupreeta Das says she has attended a half-dozen weddings in recent years, and we suggest that makes her something of an expert on guest etiquette. She notes for example, that there's no such thing as "crashing" an Indian wedding. "You're supposed to bring as many friends as possible. The more people to bless the marriage the better," she says. The largest wedding Anupreeta has attended to date was for an Indian politician. The couple had some 8,000 guests.
Cash is an acceptable gift. "Nothing less than 500 rupees (about $11) would be acceptable," she says. There are special decorated envelopes for cash gifts, and they include a "to" and "from" area. "But an even amount of money is inauspicious," she says. " So, it's always 10,001 or 501 rupees. Never 10,000 or 500."
David Clark Scott