Monday, December 6, 2010


These are my sidekicks here in Sana'a. Hani is the man to the left and is conducting the news portion of our training for UNDP. Akram is my translator and also a well known TV personality here which is amazing because he has one program broadcast every Monday. Both men are quite enjoyable and have great senses of humor. Akram generously took Hani and me around the old city after today's training and this after his arriving in town in the wee hours of the morning.
Dinner tonight: seeds roasted by this young man in the market, followed by a granola bar, washed down by lots of water.

At lunch, I sat with a group of men, one of whom speaks English. Akram was talking with some other folks but after awhile, I decided to go talk with the ladies. They sit together and Akram, passing our table and noticing that I was there, said, "I cannot be with you and the ladies." One of the women indicated that it was because Safiya is veiled and she takes it off to eat so she cannot be near men. We talked about the veiling and she indicated she is very uncomfortable in situations like training where men can/may see her. Along the same topic, while out seeing the old city, I saw women with scarves over their head, not the mesh piece over the eyes like I saw in Iraq. This was like our old fashioned head scarves, patterned, ornate but not sheer. No clue how these women can see where they are going. And I fall on my face with nothing covering any part of my head.

We also discussed the life of the woman at home, which is much more free. There are also clubs here for women where they can sing, dance, chew Qat (which I thought sounded like "cat" but is more like a guttural "cut.") and wear make up. Women do wear make up...just not in the work world. At home, at parties and at close friends' homes, this is appropriate. It seems that one of the ladies may take me to see this... and Hani asked if we could try Qat. Not so sure I am that adventurous. Legal here and apparently it is graded...rather like coffee beans. Good, better and best!

Ah...a good story from training today. There is a magazine which sells very well to men throughout the country and which someone tried to suggest was poor journalism because the photos were not sourced. There is no balance and doesn't reflect the audience. This was in response to my "reading" their products and pointing out that though I cannot read Arabic, I can tell that x photo was stolen from the web and there were no bylines for many articles. Graphs clearly well done didn't come from these small papers but there was no mention of where they came from. Bylines were lacking and in one magazine supported by USAID funds, there were picture of blonde mothers and their children. The content may be relevant but the photos wouldn't speak to Yemeni mothers.

I suggested that this men's magazine, though popular and probably a great idea in terms of making money was not trying to pass as journalism and their products were. Many laughs. Akram is going to find me a copy of this...can't wait to see it.

I mentioned in the previous post that men clean the hotel rooms...forgot to mention that it felt a bit weird to c

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