The past is another country, indeed. The First Voyage of Sinbad takes place in Baghdad, but a fictional Baghdad, one peopled with Arabs and such who labor under the illusion that they are a civilization. We know better, of course. They are marauders and we, who guarantee -- to even the poorest among us! -- a cool spot on the floor of any emergency room in town, are the true bearers of civilization.
Okay, down off the soapbox. One of the interesting things about this Sinbad (properly "Es-Sindibad," but that's ever so much longer to type) yarn is that after:
• He goes on a voyage
• They land on an island that is really a huge fish, who takes offense, drowning everyone;
• But Sinbad clings to a wooden bowl, and drifts to another island;
• Where, after days and days, he finally finds a mare
• Who is being led to the shore in order to mate with sea horses;
• And then is led to the king of this remote, magical place;
The topper is...he gets a job in the civil service!
O my son, by Allah thou hast experienced an extraordinary preservation, and had it not been for the predestined length of thy life, thou hadst not escaped from these difficulties; but praise be to God for thy safety! Then he treated me with beneficence and honour, caused me to draw near to him...and he made me his superintendent of the seaport, and registrar of every vessel.For the finest treasures of Arabia are as nothing next to a Port Authority pension.
Eventually, he does get back to Baghdad (which we know by its modern name of "strife-torn Baghdad"), by means of a crazy coincidence. But then the whole story only is told because of an another crazy coincidence, which is that an Es-Sindibad, a porter who carries stuff on his head, takes a little unscheduled break in a merchant's house, and, because the merchant is also named Es-Sindibad, he (the merchant) decides it's tale-telling time. Oh, and also because the merchant is enchanted by Sindibad the porter's bitching about God:
How great is thy dignity! and how mighty is thy dominion! and how excellent is thy government! Thou hast bestowed favours upon him whom Thou choosest among thy servants, and the owner of this place is in the utmost affluence, delighting himself with pleasant odours and delicious meats and exquisite beverages of all descriptions.That's how you know who God loves: they have a lot of beverages.