Jerusalem

October 8, 2009

One day, I had to go on a business trip to Jerusalem. I was still working for a monthly salary, and was scheduled to address a conference on quality management systems. Very dull stuff, but I had never been to Israel and had always wanted to go. Sevinch did too. She perked up like a pointer, eyes gleaming: “I’m going to sell tassels to the Israelis!”

Drop fringe 031

So we went. Whilst I was having an unutterably boring time in a quality management conference, off she scampered like the aforementioned hunting dog, sniffing out potential clients, armed only with a bag of samples and her big brown eyes. All of Jerusalem was her hunting ground.

And blow me down, knock me over sideways with a feather, and all the rest – she came home that evening with a signed purchase order, from a guy called Joe who had a fabric showroom.

Back to Cairo we went, and immediately Mohamed Abboud went to work on filling the order. I remember the tassels well: it was a curtain tieback, the head of which was a bronze cast harlequin’s head, and a simple oatmeal bullion twist skirt. We thought it was the most beautiful thing ever, and little did we know then that it was an outrageous knock-off of someone else’s model.

As it happened, I had to go back to Israel a few weeks later, and we agreed to hand-carry the consignment with us, effectively sparing Joe any freight or Customs expenses. He took delivery, and expressed himself delighted with the work, promising much more work in the future.

And then…..nothing. No orders, evasiveness on the phone, a big sense of deflation.

One day, Mohamed Abboud came to our home, agitated and upset.

“Do you know an Israeli guy called Joe?”

“Errrm….yes”

“Did you sell him the Harlequin tieback?”

“Errrm….yes”

“Well.”

“He was in the workshop yesterday, carrying the very same item that I myself, Abboud, made in my workshop for you. He was looking for someone in Egypt to reproduce it more cheaply, and he had no idea I was the original maker.”

Have you ever seen a normally mild mannered Turkish lady suddenly overcome with blood lust? No, I thought not.

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