Is this the real life?

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Our barters for a tra­di­tion­al dag­ger were met with an unwa­ver­ing­ly vacant stare.

Or is this just fan­ta­sy? Sana’a, the ancient cap­i­tal of Yemen, is caught in a time-warp. When I vis­it­ed it a few months ago, I thought I may have entered the 19th cen­tu­ry, or the 5th, or the 25th. It’s a mere hour ahead of Beirut, but when I left it twen­ty four hours lat­er I felt utter­ly jet-lagged.

Imagine an entire pop­u­la­tion high. No not on life, or joy, or music. High high, as in doped up. You can see the men walk­ing with heads tilt­ed to one side and won­der why until up close you real­ize one cheek is round like an apple.

Well the con­tent of that cheek is an herb called qat, a legal and very potent hal­lu­cino­gen. It is con­sumed as part of a dai­ly rit­u­al (think after­noon tea) that is prac­ticed nation­wide, by men ado­les­cent and old­er with very few excep­tions. Yemeni men “store” this in the sides of their mouths and then get high on their own sali­va at the expense of all sense of real­i­ty, ambi­tion, and ulti­mate­ly progress.

{ 4 comments }

Corinne Frenzel August 26, 2010 at 4:16 pm

Meedz, I want to share this on FB but can't here, how do I do it so it comes up with the image? This picture you took is so vivid and sad...it seems like another world.

Meedo August 27, 2010 at 12:54 am

Just copy the link and paste it into Facebook... I'm implementing an easy "share" button soon. x

Corinne Frenzel August 26, 2010 at 7:16 pm

Meedz, I want to share this on FB but can't here, how do I do it so it comes up with the image? This picture you took is so vivid and sad...it seems like another world.

Meedo August 27, 2010 at 2:54 am

Just copy the link and paste it into Facebook... I'm implementing an easy "share" button soon. x

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