Satire: Diary of an Arab hunter
Wallah, it is once again the season of the hunt. We Arabs love God’s magnificent creatures; we travel all over the world to find them and kill them. For there is no struggle more glorious than a Sheikh’s entourage of armed bodyguards versus a small, defenseless bird.
In the great deserts of Arabia there are few animals to hunt. There are camels but they do not understand the idea of running away; they stand there, idiots, and it is the Sheikh who has to run away to make distance. Ya tifl, that is not good.
That is why we come to our friends in al-Bakistan, where everyone looks like our servants from back home. They have many of these (houbara) bastards for our falcons to hunt. The Sheikh Abu bin Ibn says there will be great reward on the Day of Judgment for those who have killed the (houbara) bastards for this illegitimate bird is close to Shaitan and there is good in striking it down.
We choose the second day of the second month for this pilgrimage to al-Bakistan; the weather is nice and hot but by the grace of God their country is a bit rural, too few malls and eight lane highways and five star hotels. I ask the locals, “Have you not been blessed with the divine gift of oil?”
They cast their eyes downwards and make faces as if to say no. The Sheikh Riyal bin Petrolyam tells me people do strange things with oil in al-Bakistan, like but it in their hair or in their food. I say no, no, you have to find Americans and sell it to them but the Sheikh says they do not understand.
The hospitality here is heartwarming and we truly feel part of a global Muslim Ummah which is why we build balace sized homes with electrified fences to keep the locals out.
We start the hunt on a Friday for verily on this day there is a blessing upon those who carry radar devices and radio transmitters in a ten vehicle cavalcade. This year we go to the inhospitably arid dunes of Chagai.
Ya Habibi, this is the thrill of the hunt; pitting yourself in air-conditioned cars against harsh deserts, ferocious foreign journalists and keepers of wildlife reservations. Wallah there is nothing more dangerous than an enraged conservationist.
And though we do not gamble verily we make a bet of 40 camels to see who can strike down a (houbara) bastard before the other, and this time Sheikh Abu bin Ibn’s falcon did fly away and when he started firing upon the houbara bushes in anger, the recoil set him upon the hot desert floor and the bullet hit a passerby and there was much rejoicing, for surely God smiles upon him who falls down while firing a rifle.
Then we heard the crown prince had landed in al-Bakistan and upon seeing the airport at the capital had remarked, “Is this a joke?” but then the prince told the Sheikhs that whatever has been promised to you has been promised tenfold, and in dollars, to the government of al-Bakistan for truly he is a friend who lets his brother hunt in his home.
The Sheikh Riyal bin Petrolyam tells me people do strange things with oil in al-Bakistan, like but it in their hair or in their food. I say no, no, you have to find Americans and sell it to them but the Sheikh says they do not understand.
For even though the locals are forbidden to strike the (houbara) bastard, for Arabs that they establish a special hunting license, called a keffiyeh, that is worn around the head and makes blessed all animals killed while wearing it.
This follows a long tradition of Arabs enjoying safaris in South Asia from the days of Muhammad bin Qasim who made the journey to hunt the prized wildlife known as Maharajas.
But some people try to make bad this relationship like last year when an al-Bakistani bureaucrat whispered ill things about the crown prince saying he had personally destroyed the habitat of hundreds of flying creatures and should no longer be given a visa. Surely, as justice is served on the wings of the falcon, the bureaucrat is now washing dishes somewhere in Sibi and close bond between Arabs and whatever these locals call themselves is preserved.
When the crown prince joined us in Chagai, he explained that in nature many things had been made good for man, and the bastard is one of them, for the bastard is good for the kindling of an Arab’s passions and keeps him young and virile.
And the Sheikhs Wiz bin Khalifa, Khalid bin Naum and Sahil bin Kahil did raise a toast of halal wine to his speech and there was much rejoicing.
This was originally published in Herald's April 2015 issue. To read more subscribe to Herald in print.