Monday, March 18, 2013

The definition of baksheesh.

In a comment appended to a recent post (Quality of Life Bond Bonuses, Episode 4: Complete these streets), there was a word unfamiliar to reader M, who asks, "What is baksheesh?"

Baksheesh is a term which comes from a Persian word meaning “present.” In Middle and Near Eastern countries, it is an integral part of daily life. The rules which govern it can sometimes seem confusing and arbitrary to Western visitors, who often associate it with political corruption and bribery. While corruption is certainly one aspect of baksheesh, the politics and social conventions governing it are actually far more complex. Travelers to the Middle and Near East should plan on carrying small bills to make the distribution of baksheesh — and their subsequent journey — much more enjoyable.

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