The diary of a Saudi man, currently living in the United Kingdom, where the Religious Police no longer trouble him for the moment.

In Memory of the lives of 15 Makkah Schoolgirls, lost when their school burnt down on Monday, 11th March, 2002. The Religious Police would not allow them to leave the building, nor allow the Firemen to enter.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

The Busous War 

As promised, here is the story of the Busous War, the 40-yar war fought over the dishonoring of a female camel, as relayed from generation to generation, and as recounted to me by my Grandfather as I sat at his knee.

It all started with an ugly one-eyed Viking chief called Olaf. "One-eyed Olaf the 'orrible" as he was widely known, but when speaking to him it was just less of a mouthful to call him "Boss" instead.

Like many Viking chiefs, he voyaged far and wide. He discovered North America before Columbus, and when over there fielded a football team called "The Vikings" , but the locals didn't want to play because they'd have to call themselves "The Redskins" or the "Braves" and that was racially-offensive and politically-incorrect, and nothing came of it. So Olaf decided he wanted to go somewhere where it was warmer all-year-round and the locals were more fun.

Anyway, off he headed in his longboat filled with warriors and camp-followers and a great big horn (whose purpose will be revealed later), and of course copious vats of beer. He headed south and then turned left thru the Pillars of Hercules, along to the end and then turned right into the Suez Canal. This Canal had of course been built originally by the ancient Egyptians, the only problem was that it was tidal in those days, not that the Israelites minded when they nipped across ahead of Pharoah's chariots at low tide, but you know what it's like when you're driving a chariot at full tilt and shouting "Last one to get to the Jooos is a cissy!" and trying to read the tide tables all at the same time, but that's another story.

So "One-eyed Olaf the 'orrible" and his longboat emerged from the Suez Canal, carried on south, and eventually came upon an anchorage that they learnt was called "Jeddah" by the locals. The weather was nice and warm, there were lots of places to swim, so they decided to anchor, build a small castle, and have some well-earned R and R.

And it wasn't long before the locals came to have a look at them, led by their own chief, called "Saeed the Sad". Not that the name really distinguished him from the others, because all the locals seemed terminally depressed, a fact that the Vikings blamed on too many wives and not enough alcohol. They resolved to remedy both of these imbalances as soon as possible.

Olaf immediately took a shine to one of Saeed's wives, Jamila. And in spite of his empty eye socket and his beery breath, she quite fancied him. Compared to "Saeed the Sad", he had a huge lust for life, not to mention a huge lust for her, that she found irresistably attractive, and it wasn't long before he swept her off her feet and you know what happened next, you're all big enough, anyway I'm not telling you and besides I'm not that kind of writer.
But the strange thing was, "Saeed the Sad" didn't seem to mind. After all, she was only a woman, and the only thing in his life that really mattered to him, the true love of his life, was his pedigree camel, Muna. And who wouldn't want a camel like her, isn't she absolutely gorgeous? It was said that she meant more to him than all his wives put together. So, as long as he had Muna, he wasn't too bothered about the rest.

Now "Boss" Olaf, having dealt with the "too many wives" issue, decided to address the "zero alcohol" one. Indeed, had he been a thoughtful man, he might have pondered the irony of a people who originally gave al-cohol its name, yet never drank it. But he wasn't, and he didn't, so neither will we. He was instead a man of action, and he decided that he needed to give the locals a Party!!! Food, booze, music, all those jolly rumbustious games that Vikings enjoy, that'll take the miserable so-and-so's out of themselves.

And indeed, all the locals came to the party, if only out of curiosity. Saeed rode up on Muna and tethered her at the castle gate. Inside there was roast lamb, and roast goat, and roast chicken; tear the meat off with your teeth, throw the bones behind you. And bathtubs full of foaming ale. Eat all you can, drink all you can. And the Vikings certainly could drink and eat all they could.

It took the locals a bit longer to get into the swing of things. First they wanted to talk about religion.
"How many gods do you Vikings have?".
"Oh lots", they said, "we've got Mona and Tiu and Wodin and Thor and Freyje and Sunne..."
"But that is idolatrous and sinful!", exclaimed the locals, "We only have one God, and his name is Allah!".
The Vikings weren't very impressed with that. "If you only have one god, what do you call all your days of the week?"
"Day one, day two, and so on", replied the locals.
The Vikings were even less impressed. Especially because they couldn't count. But they also thought the locals were pulling their legs. "Hang on a minute, Pal!" said one, "I've heard you people say that you love Mohammad more than your own parents, so he's obviously a god as well, then there's that big rock up the road in Makkah that you keep walking round, that must be another god. Then, whenever there's an eclipse of the moon, you have special services in your mosques in the evening (and still do to this day - A.A.), so you obviously worship the moon just like us....."
At this point a fierce argument broke out, so "Boss" Olaf and Saeed told them all to shut up and get some serious drinking in, before the fun and games started.

And so they did. Soon the party was in full swing, with lots of hearty butch laughter and male bonding and burping and slapping of thighs and throwing of bones. So much so, in fact, that "Saeed the Sad" became marginally less so, but definitely drank more than was good for him. It wasn't long before he was heading for the ramparts, to lean over and perform what these days would be called a "technicolor yawn".

Now it was time for the games to start. First game was "Chop the pigtail". One of the Viking wenches stood against a board, her pigtails were pinned out at each side, and the object was to throw a hand axe and chop off each pigtail without decapitating her. Talk about fun! First up went "Boss" Olaf. The locals looked on in horror, because here was a one-eyed guy with poor depth perception, not only that but he was well into his third gallon of ale, and now he was wielding a couple of hand axes, but no-one was going to tell "Boss" that it could end in tears. And "thunk..." "thunk...", two pigtails neatly severed, one relieved Viking wench, cheers all round.

But then it all went a bit wrong. One of the Viking lieutenants shouted, more in jest than anything else, "Hey, Boss, I bet you can't do that with Saeed's camel!". Bad move. Never issue a challenge to a Viking chief who's into his third gallon of ale. Before anyone knew what was happening, Muna was led in and parked in front of the board. "Boss" Olaf swung his hand axes, "thunk..." "thunk...", and her two little ears had been neatly severed from her head.

Everyone was aghast. The silence was palpable. Just at this point, "Saeed the sad" came stumbling back into the hall, and was surprised to see his beloved Muna standing there. Gradually his eyes focussed, and the awful realization dawned on him that her two ears, now lying on the floor, had just been removed from her head. As his little face puckered into a paroxysm of misery, he turned to Olaf and blurted:

"Oh....oh....oh....oh..Boss, who's chopped the ears off my Muna?".

At this, the cruel Vikings fell about in helpless laughter. With one hand held forward in a limp wrist, and the other placed on their hips, they minced around, mimicking his words and tears in high-pitched voices and rhyming insults.

"Oh Boss, who's chopped the ears off my Muna?"..."Boo, Hoo!"..."Boss, who's?"..."Boo, Hoo!"..."Boss, who's?".....

They'd not had such a good laugh since "Bjorn the Brainless" forgot to let go of his hand axe and it came swinging back between his legs!

But Saeed and the other locals didn't "get it". And that is how the Bosous ("Boss, who's") War started, all because of the dishonoring of a female camel.

It was fought as all such wars were fought in those days. The Vikings would go over to Saeed's camp, and plunder, rape and pillage. Then the locals would return to the Viking castle and try to batter down the door with a ram.
But what the locals hated and feared most was when the Vikings got out that big horn and started blowing that four-bar tune thru it, over and over again. They couldn't stand it. Not only was it music, and therefore forbidden, but it was also infinitely cheesy and repetitive. It was gradually wearing them down.

But 40 years passed, with no decisive outcome, and they were all getting a bit past fighting and that sort of thing. What seems like fun when you are 30 and fit and healthy can be a bit much when you're 70 and wearing eyeglasses and drooling onto your zimmer frame. Not only that, but the Vikings' beer finally ran out. So reluctantly they loaded up the longboat, and set off on that long journey back to the north of Europe. But as they made their way up the Red Sea, Olaf was heard to say:

"The problem with those guys is that they've got no sense of humor, they take themselves far too seriously, and they get really hung on about trivial things. What we ought to do is draw a set of pictures of one of their gods, it'll wind them up no end, they'll go completely ballistic.
But not yet, we'll leave it a few years........"

(To see the film, go here.)

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