I had only been in the country a few minutes when I noticed a man with a gigantic growth bulging out of his cheek. The swelling was enormous, it was so bulbous it practically had its own heartbeat.
Now I have been brought up not to stare but, feeling slightly guilty, I kept sneaking glances at this unfortunate fellow.
What an awful disease, I thought to myself and how nice that other people are not staring at him, unlike me.
I wondered whether the growth might be a tumour, or perhaps some sort of thyroid problem.
I did not want to seem rude but I quietly asked my guide, Ahmed, if perhaps this man was ill.
Ahmed, in his nonchalant manner, turned to look at the man, and gave a small laugh that suggested I was very stupid.
"Ha! That's qat," he said.
And so it was that I discovered the substance that makes Yemen tick. More...