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Q: Everyone here in Afghanistan calls trucks Jingles or Jingas. They’re all over the place, and they’re all pimped out. What’s up with that?

A: Jinga trucks, or Jingle trucks (depending on how you want to pronounce it), are flat-bed trucks varying in size, and yes, most of them are painted in wild schemes of intricate patterns and loud colors. And if you’ve been close enough to one when it passes by, you’ll understand the nickname.

Most of the trucks are adorned with dozens — if not hundreds — of small metal chimes attached to pretty much anywhere on the truck frame that has space. When the trucks move, voila, you get the jingling-jangling of Afghan commerce.

The trucks are mainly used to transport all sorts of goods between distant Afghan cities and villages. Sometimes, though, they’re used for a more nefarious purpose and packed with smuggled weapons or drugs.

Of course, even if the trucks are full of the most benign of cargo, they’re still dangerous. The tough Afghan men who drive and maintain the sometimes-aging vehicles are known for their “brave” (mainly reckless) driving skills on mountainous, windy dirt roads.

Got a question about goings-on in the Mideast? E-mail Stripes at: news@estripes.osd.mil

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