The Sandbox

GWOT hot wash, straight from the wire

Welcome to The Sandbox, a forum for service members who have served or are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, returned vets, spouses and caregivers. The Sandbox's focus is not on policy and partisanship (go to our Blowback page for that), but on the unclassified details of deployment -- the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd. All correspondence is read, and as much as possible is posted, lightly edited. If you know someone who is deployed who might have something to say, please tell them about us. To submit a post click here.


November 27, 2006

Name: CAPT Doug Traversa
Posting date: 11/27/06
Stationed in: Kabul, Afghanistan
Hometown: Tullahoma, TN
Milblog url:

One of the first things that struck me about Afghanistan, besides the stunning levels of poverty I saw everywhere, were the glo
riously colorful trucks I saw everywhere. The style of the art reminded me of India, and they had many chains with pendants hanging from the bumpers. I would soon learn that these were called "jingle trucks". I did not immediately learn why, but I spent many days trying to get good photos of them.Jingle5 We are never allowed out of our vehicles unless we are on a base, and jingle trucks never seem to come on base, photos must be taken from inside our moving vehicle. Despite these difficulties, I managed to get some clear pictures.

The most striking thing about the artwork is that it depicts beautiful landscapes, usually with woods, grass, lakes, rivers, and many exotic animals. There are often beautiful cottages or new, modern buildings. All of this is done in bright colors; no pastels here. The poignancy is that the artwork depicts everything these people will probably never experience. The area of Afghanistan I've seen is uniformly brown and  trees are rare, and grass almost non-existent. The only animals I ever see are endless flocks of sheep and mangy dogs. Jingle trucks are the only bright color in an otherwise drab landscape, expressing the hopes of all for a land of beauty they can only dream of.

I finally had a chance to learn the secret of why they are called "jingle trucks" when one came onto the Afghan Army base where I work. It was parked, but there was a good breeze blowing, and I heard wind chimes. It was the chains and pendants hanging from the front bumper. This had to be the answer; surely the jingle referred to the music from the pendants! But I had to nail it down, so I took my interpreter Hamid with me to find the driver, and asked him why they hung all the pendants from the bumper. Was it for the music, or for decoration? He shrugged and said, "Who knows? Both, probably." So much for an authoritative answer. Of course, it's not really important. I just appreciate seeing them. I never tire of looking at them as we head to work or back home. They are my favorite works of art, living testaments to the hopes of a people beaten down for over 25 years. And to think, they pay me to be here!


Your article touched me much. You are a sincere person and have a good heart. Going places with you are a joy for me. I have pics of Afghanistan but, they all are of turmoil and conflict. The human spirit will always hope of better things in their life. I suppose that is what saves most of us.

That's great! I would love to see more pictures.


Go to the blog site for many more beautiful pictures of the Jingle Trucks.

These are privately owned trucks? The only thing the driver owns? Are the drivers from particular tribes? Is the art not just a celebration of working success but also a wish for more good fortune? Almost no matter, it really is good that someone is living with artificial beauty and pride in the midst of uncertainty. Nice picture.

For those who want to see more photos, go to my blog site at

Your encounter with Hamid and the truckdriver is my anthropology field work. Me: why do you blah blah blah

They: Because it's what we do.

Me: oh

The trucks are beautiful- make a bright blue Honda Fit seem a little dull.

Thanks for the great pic. The decoration of these trucks has been going on for decades. They are a delight. Think of them as the modern caravan camel decked with carpets, tasssels & bells.

Well I finally found where you can buy one of these colorful trucks of Afghanistan.
Go to

I didn't know there was such a thing as Jingle Trucks. I guess we learn something new everyday.

The truck is beautiful. The decoration of these trucks has been going on for decades.I am getting the feeling of Punjab (IN India) after watching this truck. In Punjab , You will find out lot of truck with such type of designs.

Thanks for coming up with a great topic. Perfect information i want to know.

Nice!!! It's really very informative article, I really appreciate your thoughts.I obviously enjoying and I also bookmarked & i will visit again in future updates.

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