A Question of Honor

arab eatingBaniyas, a few kilometers from Abu Dhabi. This was more than 25 years ago. I was invited to dinner at a chieftain’s home somewhere in the desert.

About a hundred men sat crossed legged on the floor around the carpeted dewan. I sat beside the host, an elderly version of Captain Jack Sparrow – same headgear, coal around his eyes, rolled up sleeves, a tattoo visible on one arm.

When dinner was served, we ate with our hands. I made the mistake of finishing the food faster than everyone else. I was hungry.

When the chieftain saw that I was done, he licked his fingers and scooped more rice with that hand from a big plate and poured it on mine.

“Kul,”he said, encouraging me to eat some more. What did you think I did? I nodded, smiled, and finished the meal.

To decline would be to offend the man’s honor. No choice

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