Saturday, December 20, 2008

Tea Time

It’s one in the morning and I gaze from my taxicab window. Outside, a world in shadow rushes by, as I speed down the highway that would eventually deliver me to Mecca. The journey is slowed as we hit the traffic of Riyadh, and find ourselves crawling along at a snail’s pace. I look from my window again and notice a car parked off to the side of the highway, its doors swung open.  

Pulsing from inside is the powerful beat of an Arabic song; eurhythmic clamor that competes with the noise of the passing cars. On the ground next to the car, a rug is sprawled, and on it lays several young Arab men, raising small teacups to their lips. The sight is foreign to me and replaces the vision of young boys at home swilling stubbies and cans and the like. The arab boys encircle an old tea flask, raising their cups amidst laughter and song, enjoying an age-old tradition.  

We make our way toward what is now to be my new home, edging along the highway, where more cars have pulled over to the side of the road. I see children playing under the Mid-Eastern moon as their families’ huddle around teapots and baskets brimming with Arabic delights. They, too, sip at tiny cups brimming with tea and I begin to ask "Where on earth have I landed?" As I drive into the thick of it all, I am too mesmerised to realise that my life has begun to change forever.

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