Hamada Alsaedi, a slight 19-year-old, flashes me a distrusting stare as I enter the Eexus Deli & Discount store in Harlem, where he is jammed in a claustrophobically narrow space behind a Plexiglas partition. When I ask another worker about where to get khat, referring to it as a drug, Alsaedi interjects, "It's not drugs. . . . Even the children in my country use it." Alsaedi says he has been in the U.S. since he was seven, but regularly returns home, where he chews khat, the leaf of a shrub/tree called Catha edulis.
Highly if not completely Americanized, Alsaedi explains to me how we might decide to use khat, if weHamada and Seanwere hanging together in Yemen. "I'd be like, 'Sean, where we gonna chill today?' [Me] 'Let's go over there to the special place' or whatever. 'OK, I'm gonna get some khat.' 'OK.'... More >>>