The Land of the Date (Folios Archive Library)
“A date palm shooting up fifty feet and more with its canopy of waving, bristle-pointed leaves, its spathe gemmed with thousands of blossoms and its fruit hanging in golden clusters, rivalling the apples of Hesperides, is a lovely sight to behold; ‘a vision of delight’ indeed. The date-tree, besides furnishing its abundant fruit so valuable as human food, affords materials for a score and more of domestic uses. It is thus well pronounced to be the most useful product of the vegetable kingdom. A veritable boon and blessing in these desert-bound lands of the date.” At the end of 1916, Cursetjee Manockjee Cursetjee, a retired judge, set out from Bombay on a journey to the Persian Gulf. Despite the fact that he was nearly seventy and Basra was still considered a war zone at the time, being the main base for the British campaign in Mesopotamia, he was not deterred from making the trip. It is a cheerful, charming, rather naive narrative with much of interest, providing a lively picture of the major ports on both sides of the Gulf. He took an interest in everything that he saw: the technique of loading ships, fisheries, the pearl-trade, commerce in the bazaars, architecture, food and, naturally, date cultivation, and describes them with almost boyish enthusiasm. This is an entertaining, instructive and far-sighted account of the Gulf in the earlier part of the 20th century.