Here’s some Bedouin furniture and family history for y’all.
To the left, a folding brass smoking table bought by my granddad Ingemar in Punjab, India, shortly before the Great Depression. Ingemar worked as a safety match salesman for Swedish industrialist Ivar Krüger, whom the Depression would make very depressed indeed. My granddad told lots of stories of his years in India, the greatest adventure of his life. Returning to Sweden, he had wanted to become a philologist, but, lacking money, he instead went to work in his brother’s accountancy firm. The coolest thing about his career was being accountant to Björn and Benny of ABBA. Funnily enough, among Ingemar’s clients was also the owner of one of Sweden’s first pizza restaurants, Engelbrekt in Högdalen. Many years later, in the early 90s, it was run by a Chinese couple whose youngest and prettiest daughter would one day marry a grandson of Ingemar’s: me.
To the right, a folding brass smoking table that I bought in Agadir, Morocco, in the mid-1990s. Ingemar’s table is higher-end than mine: engraved and inlaid with enamel instead of just punch-decorated, and with a more intricate floral shape. But I like them both! Perfect to put your hookah on once you’ve gotten the tent erected after moving your livestock and wives and kids from one wadi to another.
A cool thing about these tables is that they represent two different directions that Arabic culture expanded in after the formulation of Islam. Ingmar’s table is from East of Arabia. It would have supported a lot of small coffee cups. Mine is from West of it, an area where the drink of choice is instead tea with fresh mint leaves. They go well together.