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Cold Calling: Afghan Romance 101

Mazar e Sharif: beauty, that you might first see on your wedding night

Our local guides here schooled us on Afghan romance 101 – how boys/men and girls/women find ways to bridge the significant gulf between the sexes here in a country where, aside from family males/females are kept apart, and where chance encounters are lessened by women covering their faces in public. As a affordable, pocketable device that supports private communication the mobile phone is well positioned to nudge couples towards romance and even love marriages, but how do couples meet in the first place? Amongst the relatively limited face to face opportunities is the practice of randomly calling a phone number and staying on the line depending on who picks up and what they say. Think Chatroulette but for phones.

Which makes me wonder what strategies would-be remote lovers adopt to find or be found? Given that there is a nascent marketplace for prepaid numbers – are certain numbers, or number sequences more likely to be associated with being single? With romance? What numbers increase the odds of being randomly dialed? Which of the 5 major local operators is most closely associated with the profile of a suitable partner? And ultimately what services could legitimately or otherwise increase the likelihood of connecting would-be couples?

Related: the speed dating in Tehran, and the practice of Bluetoothme in Egypt and beyond.