Sunday, December 21, 2008

Grades and Knives

So grades came out for this last semester- turns out, despite my bad showing at the end, there I came out relatively unscathed. I was expecting a couple of Cs but in the end I walked out with B+s and As. So I wasn't as affected as thought. I have to remember to pick up a souvenir for my professor though, one of them in particular has a variety of trinkets from students who have been abroad. I'm not sure what to get him, but I'm thinking a traditional Emirati khanjar might be nice. A khanjar is a traditional curved dagger, once carried by every desert nomad, now superseded by the cell phone, which is the khanjar of urbania I suppose. Nowadays their sole purpose is to be decorative, and have pleasantly ornamented scabbards and are meant to be hung on walls. I have my own khanjar, though this was from Yemen where it is called a jambiyyeh. It's somewhere in storage, unfortunately.

Like I said, mine is somewhere in storage, so this image comes from Coyote's Paw.

Here in the Emirates it's not worn, but in Yemen it is still worn by many as an accessory. However it's generally considered taboo to unsheathe it in public. I personally prefer hanging it on a wall. Another possible souvenir for my professor is a traditional Arabic coffeepot. These are actually featured on the money in this country:

Image from Wikipedia: With this, you may purchase a can of coke. It's about 28 cents. Go figure that out the next time you're at a vending machine.

Coffee is an important part of traditional social customs here. I'm not such a big fan of Arabic coffee though, everyone tells me it's really bitter/strong. Even people who positively hate the stuff tell me this. I personally think it tastes like nothing- boiled water. I really don't detect any taste. As such I can't say I love or hate it, it just is. Turkish coffee on the other hand, I love, and I have yet to taste anything stronger. It's a lot more common here- you can find it in most cafes.

Pretty much anything would catch the interest of my professor in this case, and I'm not too worked up about it, but I've always found it difficult to assess the relative value of souvenirs. I mean, think about it, knives and coffeepots are pretty much household items. I wonder if people in the future will ever see that sort of thing as a matter of cultural heritage.

"And here, we sell the old-fashioned Wii. A long time ago, people used to stand in front of these big boxes called televisions for entertainment (this was before brainfeeds) and used it to play primitive games. I can sell you separate stands for the controllers if you don't want to mount them."


  1. I have an Emirati khanjar hung on my wall at home. One of my father's students once gifted it to him. I used it to threaten guests who had stayed for too long. Works like a charm.

  2. The khanjar is nice, but I think the coffee pot is more aesthetic and could nicely sit anywhere, maybe even a set of the little coffee cups and a tray would really add a flavor.

    I found some woven small tapestries there. Very ornate designs and colors that are typical, not the bright, gawdy ones you see on most Western dyed cloth. They make nice wall hangings or a table covering. Very distinct.

    There's also one of those oil lamps, like from the Aladdin story.


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