from the land of Frankincense and Myrhh
I arrived in Sana’a, the capital city of Yemen last night being one of only three foreigners on the flight from Dubai. The other two were Chinese, perhaps part of the Chinese contractor types here building roads like in every other developing country. The flight over was a little chaotic with no one sticking to their allocated seating. So it was a bit a free for all.
This morning, after waking up to the most spectacular view, I decided to brave to souks of the old city in an attempt to reacclimatise myself with the Yemenis. It was delightful. Living in Afghanistan, you get used to the stares that come with being a foreigner there. The difference in Yemen though is everyone laughs and smiles at the same time. “Sabah al khair ya sidi!” they would should out as I walked past “Good morning my friend”. I realise how much I missed hearing Arabic. The use of their throats when then rattle off sentences brings a warm familiarity to my ears. Though I am struggling to switch from my Farsi brain to my Arabic one, slowly words and phrases are coming back to me in a natural way.
It’s Friday and fairly relaxed. Men walk around with their jambiyas (daggers) hanging casually off of their waist, children are running around the streets playing football or hiding from each other. Many of them say hello to me as I drift past them, but none are begging or asking for anything, except for their picture to be taken. “Sura, sura”, they shout out. “Picture, picture”. Pleading me to take their photograph. I wilfully obey and in fashion-shoot-style they pose for pictures in the narrow alleys of the old city. When I show them the outcome of their efforts on the screen of my camera, they let out a mischievous giggle.
Tomorrow I am off to the magical island of Socotra, for a blissful escape from the woes of Yemen, of the Middle East, of Afghanistan. An island far away apparently containing the source to eternal life. So….watch this space.