Friday, 18 July 2008

Day 21 (Cont'd): Tea ritual

Today my family was invited for lunch at a Yemeni family's house in 'Inat. And not only did I get to enjoy another traditional Yemeni meal and visit Sh. Abu Bakr Salem's grave for a third time (I also met a girl from Dar al-Zahra there, what are the chances?), but I also learnt a few more things about Tarim:

  • I will never get used to going to the bathroom in a hole in the floor, the heat, the niqab, sitting on the floor, or wearing hijab 24/7 like the women do here—even when they're sleeping!

  • Little babies here are made to wear bracelets and anklets to "take away the eye" from them.

  • For the heat, people have a stack of fans in their homes that resemble little straw flags on a stick.
  • Yemeni people sit on the floor in the strangest way--their knees are contorted in a weird looking yoga pose. I guess it comes from sitting on the floor for so long.

  • The electricity is cut off at least once a week here.
  • People don't use soap here, instead they fill a little bowl with detergent and use that instead.
  • Some of the old traditional houses have old doors that are still in use—and their lock and key is one of the strangest I've ever seen.

  • Houses are very very sparse, no matter what social class you come from. Here, houses are not supposed to be hotel-like, they're just places where you eat and sleep.

  • Extended families can all live in one house and it seems pretty normal to them, even the fact that there are a minimum of a dozen kids running around.
  • Kids here play with sawareekh' just like Egypt—mini rockets that are like firecrackers but a bit more dangerous.

But the most interesting thing I got out of today was a lesson in the 'tea ritual' which is complicated enough to rival the Chinese one.

Tea here is not a Lipton tea bag, a spoon of sugar and some hot water that takes two minutes to make like it is back home—it's ceremonial and ritualistic and can take up to an hour to make.

Here's a picture of the tea 'equipment' :

On the far left with the handle is the bucket of coal. Next to it is the water jug. Above it is where you pour any excess water. The bucket in the middle with the kettle on top is full of water and has holes at the top. What happens is that this bucket is plugged in to heat the water so it evaporates and the steam heats the kettle, which is full of tea and a bit of water. It takes approximately 30 minutes and is faster with the electronic 'bucket'—alternatively, you can heat the bucket with coal, which takes longer.

The four jars on the far right are full of three different types of tea—normal red tea, green tea, and a mixture of Nescafe and creamer—and sugar. In the center is a bowl to put in all the little cups of tea and spoons and tiny trays after they are used—they are under the blue towel on the far right. In the center at the front are lots of little jars of sugar to give out when you give out the tea, in case anyone wants more sugar.

So how it works is that the person pours a little of the tea from the kettle and then water into the cup from a tap in the bucket of hot water that's evaporating. She then puts sugar and little spoons on each cup, puts them on a tray, and then someone goes around with the tea cups and puts each one on an individual little tray.

This process is then repeated at least a couple of times, since no one drinks just one cup.

Unfortunately, the downside of my visit today is that I missed the burda recitation in Habib Umar's house, and something else which I still don't know what it was since I haven't gone back to the Dowra house yet. Ma'lesh, I guess it wasn't meant to be.

Today we also got to visit Dar al-Mustafa in the morning during Zuhr time when the men were all out. And apart from being quite a bit bigger than Dar al-Zahra with not-as-good air conditioners (but then again it is twice the size with the same number of ACs), it was pretty much the same. I got to pray in the mihrab (prayer niche in the wall) where Habib Umar prays and gives his lectures.

Today's Quote: People give credit to those who only do what they have to. I've heard people say 'Mash'Allah this woman is so religious, she prays and she wears hijab!' or 'This man is a sheikh; he has a beard and he prays all his prayers in the mosque!' Sheikh Imaad.


D. M. R. said...

This post is by far my fave ya Ethar!! Begad, thanks a million for sharing these posts, although I'm not in the Dowra, it does feel like my nafs is getting cleaned up through osmosis simply by reading your posts, JAK. Darcy

Anonymous said...

Assalamualeikum wa rahmatulahiw a barakatuh
My name is Dua and im from Mexico,im start reading your blog , husband and me we are thinking in travel to tarim insha ALLAH.
please make Dua for us..and i will request insha ALLAH:)if youc n share with us more about what you lern in Tarim im getting a lot of benefit to read teh advice sheikhs give u and everything you out about the shiehs and what you lern is so special,jezequelahualher Again