Yemen: Qat Qrazy

QATالقات- is a herbal stimulant which guys and some ladies like to chew in Yemen. It has different levels of quality and taste. The low cost version of Qat are very bitter, but  high quality tasting Qat seems equally bitter. It is a cultural thing to chew it and also a bonding experience which I enjoyed with Yemeni men. I wouldn't chew this stuff on my own, but if cute Yemeni guys asked me, I would.

I wandered around Sana'a old city and in the afternoon, one could see almost all the guys with lumps in their cheek like a chipmunk. they are chewing qat and they offer it to you to also chew- I really kind stand the stuff but join them to be polite... One would wander past small booths in the souq area and see 5 or 6 lads huddled and lying down together, crammed into the small booth  chewing the stuff. Then looking  over to the next booth, more lads chewing, waving to you to join them.

There are, as far as I know, two big Qat markets- one in the old city and one in the general city. Those markets are heaving with guys clamouring over other guys with big black sacks filled with qat. they wrestle over small bags of qat, crawl and climb over anything- the scene is really astounding! A kind of tea ( but not made of tea- but some kind of seed) soaked with non alcoholic beer and lemon is ladled out into a cup- refreshing but unknown ingredients!

I was invited to a Yemeni house in the old city, to the top floor in a small room they said was dedicated to chewing Qat- I see all the twigs and leaves scattered all over the floor, cups of tea are also frequently passed around, ( they also drink tea from the metal tins which are used for tin fruit, milk etc- as a cup!)- 
I thought it was fun but one would start to wonder if Qat is becoming addictive in Yemen- or is it another way to have a bonding time with your mates- like people in UK do in the pub with a beer?


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