Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Qat, the Jambiya and the Nokia

There has to be a profound story in a heading like that. Sadly not here though. Qat, referred to below, is chewed by most. Even our government employed guide and escort (I am being polite - read "guard") admitted to being hooked on the stuff and the only reason we did not see his cheeks bulging with qat was that he took it out when he was driving us around. When in meetings he snuck it back in for a quick buzz. But he was under strict instructions not to offend our sensibilities. Here a young man selling jewellery displays the ubiquitous chipmunk cheeks that betray the qat chewer. He was also very proud of his two symbols of manhood and of him having "made it" - interestingly a piece of the very old and a piece of the very new. The Jambiya is the dagger, tucked into his belt, which all men wear with pride but which young teenage boys wear with extra pride and swagger (imagine that next time you see a crowd of them milling around at your local mall! Teenage boys that is). You could buy the Jambiya for cents in the lanes of "Old Sanaa" but they looked like my Grade 6 woodwork projects. Or you could spend thousands - and they were probably someone else's Grade 6 woodwork project! Gorgeous pieces of art at all price levels but the thought of trying to explain myself at various customs checkpoints on the way home deterred me from buying one. And of course he is nothing without his Nokia. These blighters never change the original tone though. How they know which phone belongs to who is beyond me - like a single ewe knowing which bleat is her lamb in all same sounding calls, they seem to know which phone call is for who. It would warm the heart of a Nokia sales rep.


Anonymous said...

What does it taste like? ecoli.

Anonymous said...

Like chewing grass...ummm
Ah, actually like chewing canvas. Pretty tough and dry. No specific taste springs to mind.

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