JEMEN – YEMEN – الجمهورية اليمنية

Trg iza Vrata Jemena Bab al-Yemen-A square behind the Gate of Yemen

Trg iza Vrata Jemena Bab al-Yemen-A square behind the Gate of Yemen

U Imamovoj palati-Inside Imam's Rock Palace

U Imamovoj palati-Inside Imam’s Rock Palace

U unutrasnjosti-In the countryside

U unutrasnjosti-In the countryside

Imamova palata na steni-Imams Rock Palace Dar al-Hajar

Imamova palata na steni-Imams Rock Palace Dar al-Hajar

Jemenski specijaliteti-Yemeni specialities

Jemenski specijaliteti-Yemeni specialities

Kat-Khat

Kat-Khat

Na rucku-Having lunch

Na rucku-Having lunch

Pogled na Sanu-A view of Sana'a

Pogled na Sanu-A view of Sana’a

Specificne dekoracije na zgradama starog dela grada-Specific decorations on the old city's buildings

Specificne dekoracije na zgradama starog dela grada-Specific decorations on the old city’s buildings

Stari grad Thula-Old town of Thula

Stari grad Thula-Old town of Thula

Pogled na Sanu-A view of Sana'a

Pogled na Sanu-A view of Sana’a

Ponosni vlasnik starinarnice-A proud owner of the antiquity shop

Ponosni vlasnik starinarnice-A proud owner of the antiquity shop

Ponuda suvenira-Souvenir vendors

Ponuda suvenira-Souvenir vendors

Stari grad Thula - Old town of Thula

Stari grad Thula – Old town of Thula

Stari grad Thula-Old town of Thula

Stari grad Thula-Old town of Thula

Trg iza Vrata Jemena Bab al-Yemen-A square behind the Gate of Yemen

Trg iza Vrata Jemena Bab al-Yemen-A square behind the Gate of Yemen

Ulicna scena-A street scene

Ulicna scena-A street scene

Kaže se da je ova zemlja, čije ime znači “na jugu” zbog njenog geografskog položaja, kolevka islama. Ali i mnogo pre nastanka te religije, Jemen je bio poznat kao Arabia Felix ili “srećna Arabija”, kako su ga nazivali Grci i Rimljani. Tu je, kažu, vladala i legendarna kraljica od Sabe, a u vekovima koji slede, Jemen je bio raskrsnica trgovačkih puteva iz Afrike ka Bliskom istoku i Evropi. Zato je oduvek imao nemirnu istoriju jer su sve velike sile želele da kontrolišu afričko blago, koje je ovuda prolazilo – Rimljani, Persijanci, Egipćani, Otomanski Turci, Portugalci, Englezi. Od 622. godine, kada je nastao islam, put proroka Muhameda je jedini put koji su sledili narodi sa juga saudijskog poluostrva i čija se vera odatle širila ka severu Afrike i Andaluziji. Ovom zemljom vladaju imami sve do 1962. godine, a prestonica je Sana ili, tačnije, Sana’a, grad jedinstvene arhitekture koja se više nigde ne može videti.

Budi me diskretan mujezinov poziv koji se vernicima upućuje sa minareta u zoru, dok pogledom otkrivam lepotu drevne Sane, čije su zgrade stare stotinama godina i drugačije od svega što sam ikada video. To su višespratne kuće – tornjevi bogato ukrašenih fasada koje se spajaju tako da liče na veliko pustinjsko utvrđenje, dok se između njih skrivaju vrtovi kao iz 1001. noći.

U grad se ulazi kroz čuvena Vrata Jemena, Bab al-Yemen, koja se otvaraju ka ogromnom trgu, na kome se sve prodaje, ali se i sedi bez ikakvog plana i uživa u žvakanju biljke kat. Jemen i Džibuti su dve zemlje koje su potpuni zavisnici od te biljke koja se tako satima žvaće i drži u ustima, dok jedan obraz potpuno ne otekne od te količine biljne mase. Nisam uspeo da odgonetnem da li ima blago stimulativno ili blago sedativno dejstvo. Uživaoci kažu da im daje snagu, mada ga najčešće satima žvaću posle ručka, kada im snaga i nije preko potrebna. Sudeći prema mom iskustvu, kat samo pokvari ručak jer skuplja usta i grči stomak, ali izgleda da tako deluje kad se samo jednom proba. On se mora godinama redovno uzimati, kada se ili shvati da je potrebno prestati, što je retko, ili se potpuno otupi. S druge strane, jemenska hrana je veoma ukusna i uvek sveža i, s pravom mogu reći, jedna od najboljih koje sam probao u regionu.

Imamova palata na steni Dar al-Hajar je čudnovato građena, kao višespratnica koja se nastavlja na stenu, uzdižući se ka nebu. Njene brojne javne i tajne prostorije otkrivaju nam način života i vladavine jemenskih imama. To je ratnički narod, čiji pripadnici stalno nose veliki tradicionalni zakrivljeni bodež za pasom, koji je danas samo deo svakodnevne nošnje, jer su dobrota i ljubaznost najvažnija obeležja ovog ponosnog naroda. Pa čak i ako se desi da zalutate u vrletima ove zemlje i neko vas otme, tražiće novac za otkup od svoje vlade za gradnju lokalnog vodovoda ili uvođenje struje, a prema vama se za to vreme, kažu, ponašaju kao prema dragom gostu, koga na kraju isprate poklonima.

Bilo je, nažalost, i drugačijih ishoda, ali to je ono drugo jemensko gostoprimstvo koje se sigurno zauvek pamti.

Februar 2009.
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It is said that this country, whose name means ‘in the South’ because of its geographical position, is the cradle of Islam. But even before the beginning of Islam, this country was known as Arabia Felix, or Fortunate Arabia, as it was called by the Greeks and the Romans. It is said that it was ruled by the legendary Queen of Sheba and in the following centuries Yemen became a crossroads of trade routes connecting Africa with the Middle East and Europe. That is why its history has been turbulent as all the big powers wanted to control the African wealth that was passing through – the Romans, the Persians, the Egyptians, the Ottoman Turks, the Portuguese, and the English. Since 628 when Islam came to be, the path of the Prophet Mohammed was the only path followed by the peoples from the South of the Saudi Arabian Peninsula and their faith spread to North Africa and Andalucía. Hence, this country was ruled by Imams until 1962 and the capital Sana’a has unique architecture impossible to see anywhere else.

I am woken up at dawn by a discreet muezzin’s call  coming from a minaret, calling all the faithful to prayer, while I discover the beauty of the ancient Sana’a, its buildings hundreds of years old and different from anything I have ever seen. They are multi storey houses – towers, with opulently decorated facades which merge into one another, so they resemble a huge desert fortress while their interiors conceal gardens like those in the Arabian Nights.

You enter the city through the famous Gate of Yemen, Bab al-Yemen, which opens to the big square where everything is being sold in a market, but also where a lot of people just sit around without any plans to go anywhere and just enjoy chewing khat. The people in Yemen and Djibouti are really dependent on khat which they chew and keep in their mouths for hours, until one of their cheeks gets swollen from the plant. I could not find out whether it has a mild stimulating or a mild tranquilising effect. Those who enjoy it say that it gives them strength, even though they mostly chew khat for hours after lunch, when they do not necessarily need much strength. Based on my experience, khat can only spoil your lunch because it makes your mouth sour and gives you stomach cramps, but it appears that these effects occur only during the first time use. Khat demands regular long term use of many years, when you finally realise that you should stop, which is rare, or you get desensitised. On the other hand Yemen’s food is always fresh and very tasty, and I could rightly say, one of the best in the region.

Imam’s Rock Palace Dar al-Hajar is built in a peculiar way, like a multi-storey building rising directly from the rock, reaching into the sky. Its numerous public and secret chambers reveal to us the way of living of the ruling Imams of Yemen. They are a nation of warriors who always wear a traditional crescent shaped dagger at their belt, which is, these days, only part of a national costume, because goodness and kindness are the most important traits of this proud people. And even if you stray in the wilderness of this country and someone kidnaps you, they will demand ransom from their own government in order to build local waterworks or electrical supply, while they will treat you, so they say, as a dear guest and send you off with gifts.

Unfortunately there were other endings to this situation and that is the other kind of Yemeni hospitality that is sadly remembered much longer.

February 2009

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