Living in Sana’a, Yemen
Over the last few weeks i’ve had a few people tweeting in my direction, asking why I live in Yemen.
It’s an honest question, yet my honest answer is that I don’t know and its something i’ve thought about for a long time. The world’s media doesn’t care hugely about the country. An interest exists in terrorism and security related stories stemming from the Arabian Peninsula, but its very difficult to actually offer any real reportage on events involving Al Qaeda. In fact I could probably offer as much of an educated opinion on events in the badlands of Yemen as a determined observer sat in London.
The vast majority of Yemen stories sadly break from Washington, leaked by embassies, diplomats and spooks to journalists on “defence desks” of the world’s great newspapers. Arab officialdom’s obsession with the power of television, has also vastly limited the amount of camera gear I can haul into the country which means my video work has suffered terribly; the vague lingering thought that I might be subject to deportation at any moment also menaces my mind during lulls in the day.
On top of that, the security situation isn’t great (A trip to the cash machine has begun to feel vaguely like a game of kidnapping Russian Roulette), I complain bitterly about my plumbing, my electricity, the speed of the internet and the food. I’ve lost very good friends to my determination to make a base here and on trips home often promise the rest of my beleaguered friends that I just need to make “one more trip” to tidy some loose ends. Then i’ll be home with them and be more responsible. Sometimes I even find myself bitching a little too bitterly about some of the eccentricities which make Yemeni people so kind and endearing.
Then last night, with a cheek stuffed full of Qat I sat on top of a friends roof. A rare silence hung over the Old City and I enjoyed a fifteen minutes of quiet ecstasy. I had one of the moments which reminded me why I wasn’t sat under a set of fluorescent tubes somewhere in Farringdon, watching the rain pitter patter on the office window whilst eating yet another fucking pret-a-manger sandwich. I was probably slightly flying from the mushy green wad of amphetamine in my cheeks, but it didn’t matter all the same.
So yes @lennon8t2 I am always looking over my shoulder and no to the others I’m not a lunatic or on a mission to be martyred. But hopefully, the above will serve as some explanation.