Thursday, May 18, 2006

Ixnay on the Arpetcay, Versteh? Okay!

17 May 2006

So it’s Wednesday and my last Wednesday here. I had the day off, so I ran around like a madman doing my normal Wednesday routine; sleep in a couple of extra hours, shower, pick-up laundry at KBR, drop off laundry at KBR, stop into the shop to check email and go to lunch with whoever is available and willing. After that, the afternoon is my oyster.

After my initial sweeping of the empty side of the room last night, this morning I picked through a bunch of stuff Raymond left behind. Ended up bagging it up to take to work; you know, things like canned air, extra disks, screen cleaner, tape…stuff like that that can be used at the office. He also left behind a few Bibles and religious books. He told me that he couldn’t throw them out…so he leaves them for me to throw out, right? No, I bagged them up too and will give them to our military Chaplin from the 72nd. He will find a good home for them.

This afternoon, I set my sights on going to the Big PX at Liberty and stopping by the Bazaar for any last-minute things that struck my fancy…mainly an inlayed chess/backgammon set. I’ve already made and shipped a few of my purchases of wood inlay stuff which was made in Syria and never bought a backgammon set, but have always thought about one…so today was the day.

I didn’t even make it into the bazaar because I found what I wanted at the Turkish vendor outside the PX. I found a beautiful chess board on the outside of the box and a backgammon board on the inside. The inlay consisted of metal and wood shapes inlayed around hand painted scenes on both sides. It also comes with matching backgammon pieces and some hand carved chess pieces all of which were made in Tabriz, Iran. I bought that along with a couple of matching boxes for future gifts (Christmas is only 222 days away, ya know!)

And as long as I’m confessing things here…yes, I did succumb to those devilish Turkish carpet guys last week and bought me that phenomenal traditional Tabriz fish-scale, handmade, silk and wool on silk, 10 X 7 that kept me awake for seven nights until I finally answered the call to buy it! Let me also confess that it is probably the most spectacular carpet in my collection. Did I mention that it has the Iranian flag with the family name (in Persian, of course) on both ends of the silk?

Let me step up to the soapbox for just a moment only to say that deep inside, I don’t want to patronize these vendors selling these particular goods since it ultimately is funding a society which we will soon, at a minimum be part of a UN embargo against, but more seriously and quite possibly cause us to be pulled into another military action if they keep up the crap they are doing up north with the Iraqi Kurds and their not-so-secretive funding of Shiite and rebel issues and rebellion down south in Basrah. I’m stepping down now from that soapbox, okay?

(Now for the self-justification of such a purchase…) This carpet really has the finest workmanship, the perfect blend of colors and all the added detail that I have never been able to find in the others that I’ve purchased except maybe that Nain (pronounded Nah een’), I bought last year also made in Iran. But what really convinced me that it had to be bought was…(did I mention that he discounted it 21%?)… remembering my trip back home last summer.

During my six week sabbatical back home last April and May, I decided to slum into Geneva, Illinois (you know, the place where they filmed that Tom Hanks bomb, “Road to Perdition”) In case you’re not familiar with the place, Geneva is a nice little turn of the century town with that friendly hometown feel, but has that little chip on its shoulder which makes it just a bit of a snooty place if I must say so myself. How do I know this little tidbit of rumor, you ask? Well, one time when I walked down the streets there during a rainstorm, the people were just keeling over in the streets by the tens! You see, they have their noses soooo high in the air, it’s like turkeys at the Hoka turkey farm back home in nearby Waterman. They end up drowning in the rain cuz their noses are all up in the air. Biff and Muffy must have left all their umbrellas at the golf course that day! Alright, so I made some of that up…but the turkey farm in Waterman is one of the best. Nothing like fresh turkeys for Thanksgiving. But…I digress.

So I find myself in this nice little carpet store in Geneva and I’m looking at carpets. Then I’m looking at the prices on these rugs and there isn’t a one in the bunch under $3000 on the 10 X 7’s. Now after being here in Iraq, Qatar and in the souks of Kuwait, I’m looking at these hanging pieces of crap and thinking, something just ain’t right here. The colors are off, the patterns are similar but somehow not right, they all look machine-woven, man-made materials some with wool (not a stitch of silk in the bunch) and they just don’t have the detail that I’m used to seeing on the Orientals that I’ve seen here in the Middle East. Well, as I start talking to the salesman, he finally clears up my confusion…all these hanging pieces of garbage are from India and China!

After seeing the prices on these things back home, and the lack of workmanship, and quality, I resolved that I won’t settle for anything less than the real thing and what I have access to here. Since I’m not planning on coming back here in the near-near future, my mind was made up…And so now you have the whole confession. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it! Oh, and remember…ixnay on the arpetcay! Better to explain once it arrives home in the mail.
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