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Camel Woman

Camel Woman

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Published by davidwalters
Essay on the old saying, "Woman is the camel to help man though the desert of existence."
Essay on the old saying, "Woman is the camel to help man though the desert of existence."

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Published by: davidwalters on May 15, 2014
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05/30/2014

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CAMEL WOMAN 
 
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 FEZ Moroccan Restaurant on Espanola Way, Miami Beach, Florida http://www.fezmiami.com 
CAMEL WOMAN
 BY DAVID ARTHUR WALTERS
 
CAMEL WOMAN 
 
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I. "Woman is the Camel..." I LIKE TO PULL A WOMAN'S LEG once in awhile to get her goat: "You know, women were traded like camels in the old days, as a sort of basic barter or unit of exchange," I casually stated to Joanne, my favorite bartender at the Hi Life cocktail lounge on Amsterdam Avenue. "Just goes to show you how smart those men were to know how valuable women really are," she unhesitatingly retorted. As wise as I deemed myself to be at the time, I was suitably impressed by her sagacity. To enlighten her further, I went on to explain, in simple terms of shoe-shiners exchanging shoe shines, why a dollar bill is a shoeshine debt given to shoeshine creditors who have faith in its value as an instrument of exchange: thanks for the shine; I owe you one; here's a buck; when your shoes get scuffed; you can get a shine anywhere. Joanne was awed by my intellectual prowess, or maybe she was just a good bartender and actress
she had in fact finished her first Hollywood movie but there was some doubt as to whether it would ever be released. Incidentally, her Halloween costume one year was the popular Dumber than Dumb fellow
I treasure my photograph of her disguised as same. In retrospect I knew how rude I had been on that evening, likening women to camels, and then assaulting her with crude economics! Which gave me cause to wonder: What sort of creatures are men? I thought of Joanne while I was reading
The Sabres of Paradise
 by Lesley Blanch wherein women are likened to camels. Camels are so highly valued by nomads that camels have served as exchange barter. For instance, a male slave was once valued at 10 camels, while a female slave was worth 20 camels; a dowry would cost the bridegroom at least 50 camels. Furthermore, camels have been used to settle blood feuds as follows: a death is paid for with 100 camels; testicle injuries were also once avenged with 100 camels; a broken arm or leg was valued at 25 camels, whereas a broken finger was worth only 10, and a broken molar maybe 8 while an incisor was worth only 5 camels. Of course camels are more valuable than dollars since a dollar may get you nowhere when inflated - still, a camel can be like a white elephant to a humble city dweller who cannot maintain her even in the sparse manner she was accustomed to. "Paradise is under the shadow of swords," sayeth the prophet. Blanch's book is about the jihad carried out by the fierce warriors of Dagestan and Chechnya against the Russian "civilizers" in the Caucasus. The old conflict in that region between mountaineers and would-be "civilizers"
 
CAMEL WOMAN 
 
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goes on to this very day. The early eighteenth-century jihad was organized by Sufi fundamentalists of the Naqshban
di order. I enjoyed the author’s
 romantic portrait of the great hero Shamyl, third Imam of Dagestan, who had been gravely wounded in battle. He was recuperating in the mountains, where he was visited by his slim and graceful wife Fatimat. "Like all Caucasian women, Fatimat was very slim and graceful...It was the custom for Caucasian girls to be laced into tight corselets of deerskin which constricted and formed their narrow bodies... The corselet was put on, with ceremony, around the age of eight, and it was never removed until their marriage, generally at the age of fourteen, or thereabouts, when it was the bridegroom's privilege to rip open the seams with his kindjal." Or he might ceremoniously untie knot after knot, and be ridiculed for any apparent impatience. Now Fatimat's husband Shamyl was a preacher of Shariat, strict Muslim law, which was the Islamic demonstration of Caucasian unity against the Russian infidels. Being a Sufi shaykh, he was committed to the disciplined ascetic life which fits in rather nicely with the life of a ghazi, i.e. a warrior for the Faith. While he was nursing his wounds in the shepherd's hut, his sister visited him adorned with jewelry, treasure salvaged from the destroyed village where he was wounded; the sight of opulence caused his wounds to burst open. A few authors attribute the outrageous reaction to an old superstition among the mountain folk, that precious stones prevent wounds from healing, but Lesley tells the more popular story, that is, the politically correct one most probably insisted on by Shamyl himself: "Later (after he he suffered his relapse), when Shamyl insisted on miraculous powers and divine support, he used to declare his wounds had reopened in a protest directed by Allah against his sister's jewels, against her wanton display of earthly treasures wholly unacceptable to the Lord. And there was no one who cared to dispute it." But apparently Shamyl was not altogether opposed to a modicum of luxury or lust where his beloved wife was concerned. No doubt he loved to visit Fatimat between his campaigns. She was a Daghestani gentlewoman: her customary attire was rather elegant: "...loose, flowered silk trousers, almost hidden by a full-skirted, tight-wasted surcoat with wide, flowing sleeves and elaborate silver-braided fastenings. A great many gold and silver coins hung from the end of the long black braids... Fine muslin veils and colored silk kerchiefs were wound round her head and across her face when she left the privacy of her quarters; and on gala occasions she wore a tall pointed cap or head-dress, from which more veils flowed. In summer, she went barefooted; in winter her slippers were protected from the mud and snow by high wooden clogs or pattens. Instead of the bourka which men wore against the piercing Caucasian winters, she was wrapped in an embroidered felt cloak lined with fox skins, or sables even."

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