When I was planning my trip, I asked Mary if there was anything she would like me to bring her. She said she wanted a necklace from Egypt – one that has the ethnic overtones of Egypt. She took me to her room and showed me a prototype, one that she has from Africa. That example was unlike something that Mary would buy for herself, both in width and length and critical mass. But she gave me the idea of what I should look for – something big for her.
When we got to Safaga, I knew I couldn’t deliver my kind offer to her, for Dave and I had planned two daytrips and there would be no shopping involved in them. Moiya and Wyona took on the task of finding a nice big piece of jewellery, and said they would also try to find something I was looking for – a scarf that had overtones of being expressly Middle Eastern.
I would think that would be an easy task, but when I got to Malaysia, I could see that it is no mean feat to find a scarf that a Westerner can wear. The majority of scarves are meant to be worn as head coverings, not something to wrap around a cold neck or chilly shoulders.
When they came back from shopping, they had a black scarf with white rubberized lettering on it for me. I was happy and wore it a few times when I needed a covering on my trip, but noticed that sometimes people were looking intently at the scarf and then when I would catch their eyes, they would avert their gaze. I idly wondered what was on the scarf that would attract that attention.
After ironing it yesterday I brought the scarf upstairs and asked Amir, my Iranian roomer, if he could give me an idea about what is curious about it. We laid it out the length of the counter. He pointed to this mark and then that mark and telling me it is written in Farsi, but in a old script, one that not everyone reads today. Before telling me what its meaning he discussed some facts about what a person can look for in Iranian art. I was reminded of what I learned when I would take the one hour guided tours in the basement of the British Museum on Iranian art. The bottom line is, don’t look for images of people in art from that tradition. Amir got more specifically to the point of my scarf saying it contains words from the Koran, a warning, which he transliterated to mean, you may not understand now, but when you are raised from the dead you will know, really know, that the punishment to the wicked will be far worse than anything you can imagine in this life.
Mak was in the room jumping up and down unable to contain his joy that I should own such a scarf when he heard the translation. Braden Keeler said a bit of him wishes that the scarf were his. I am satisfied that the scarf has a owner who will pay attention its warning.