Daily Prompt: Ruminate

I saw today’s prompt early this morning and have been thinking about how to tackle this thing all day. And it seems like a good day to finally get to posting about qat.

What is qat? It’s a shrub grown in the Horn of Africa and Arabian Peninsula. The leaves when brewed as a tea or chewed act as a stimulant similar to amphetamines. Some describe it as drinking really, really strong coffee. It’s legal to use in Yemen, but illegal in most other countries.

Reasons to ruminate over qat today, supported by the two definitions on Merriam Webster’s dictionary:

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Sooooooo…… Ruminate: A lot of thinking, a lot of chewing. Wandering Earl describes this chewing in great detail. Basically, you put some of the qat leaves in your mouth and chew. Then you push those leaves over with your tongue and start chewing more leaves. Repeat the process over and over until you’re left with a huge bulge on the side of your face.

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Qat in the end is something you chew on, and then spit it.

Qat is the green leaf that is chewed and stored in your left cheek if you are a pro, in your right cheek if you are a beginner, and in both sides if you are a dinosaur.

Yemen Times

Chewing qat goes back thousands of years, possibly to before the time people started drinking coffee, and is considered a social activity. Many houses in Yemen have rooms specifically for gathering and chewing qat.

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But this social activity is typically separated by gender: men go off with their groups and women, less commonly, chew with other women.

“It breaks down immediate family ties. Men chew alone, women chew alone and children are eventually left alone to do as they please with no adult supervision.”

Jamal Al-Shammi, of a Yemeni NGO. WHO Bulletin

One woman says that she makes sure her children have eaten and finished their homework before leaving them with the maid for 3-4 hours.


Also according to the WHO, chewing qat has health effects such as insomnia, can make up to 50% of some household budgets, the plant uses a lot of water to grow, and can deprive families of basic necessities in order to pay for the habit. Yet the WHO does not consider it a highly addictive substance.

Let’s chew over the negatives of qat a bit more:

Another problem? After years of chewing qat, it can turn your teeth green.

Qat – The plant that’s all about chewing. You can sit for hours and chew and ruminate over many topics while doing it, ruminate about what to do to solve problems with addiction, ruminate over what qat even is. For a final thing to chew on, here is a short video of qat in action that won’t leave your teeth green: