Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Ozymandias: Nothing beside remains

This is one of my favorite poems. I learned it as a child, and didn’t understand it, but liked the exotic loneliness it evoked. I could hear the wind whistling across the empty sands, feel the grains on my cheek – so very different from my home in Alaska, and yet – not so different. In Alaska, the wind blew cold, and the grit against my cheek was snow! The memory of these ironic words lives in my heart.

The words come back to me, now and again as we stand amidst remains of complex, abundant civilizations that are now lifeless stone and rubble.

Ozymandias
by Percy Bysshe Shelley

I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

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If you read through the entire poem, you are challenged to tell us about a poem that YOU still remember, and why. 😉

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October 14, 2007 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Communication, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Poetry/Literature, Public Art | 4 Comments

Blessings of Eid and Eidiyya

(*Note for non-Muslim, non-Kuwaitis – Eidiyya is money given for Eid, mostly to young children, but I have a few grown up women friends who tell me their Daddy still gives them money for Eid, the big holiday at the end of Ramadan.)

We had a yen for French food last night, and were at the restaurant, finishing up a fairly mediocre meal. We were enjoying watching all the couples and families, all dressed in Eid finery. Many of the women literally sparkled – gold threads woven into scarf or hijab, clothing beaded or glittering. . . we were like plain little quail, surrounded by swans, but that was fine with us, kept us below the radar as we ate our dinner.

As we came in, we had been warned that the credit card machines were not working, but that wasn’t a problem for us, we tend to carry cash, just keeps things simpler.

So we are waiting for our change, when a very good looking family comes in and sits at a table near us. The husband and wife are dressed beautifully, not glam, but well tailored, well fitted, expensive clothing, and they have five beautiful children with them, youngest maybe 10, up to maybe college age. As they are about to order, the waiter reminds them that the charge machines are out of order and the restaurant will accept only cash tonight.

The distinguished looking man sits in a stunned and embarrassed silence. The faces of his family are all turned to him as sunflowers to the sun, waiting. Then his wife says “Don’t worry, I have 10KD here, you can have it.” (10KD would not have taken care of this family!) The oldest girl jumps in: “Dad, I have my Eidiyya with me! You can have it!” and each of the children start digging in their pockets and purses for money to help their Dad out.

Our change came back and we were leaving. I don’t know if they stayed, if the Dad accepted any of the money as a loan, but my own heart was warmed – as I am betting his was – that his family would jump to help him out, so that he would not be embarrassed and so that the family could have the meal they planned. How proud he must be of his beautiful family, and their beautiful hearts. How blessed he must feel!

I have seen in my own life how God can take the most awful circumstances, even trivial events, and use them for great good. We’re all cash-strapped now and then, but God used this embarrassment to demonstrate to this man where his greatest blessings abide – in his own home.

October 14, 2007 Posted by | Community, Cross Cultural, Customer Service, Eating Out, Eid, Entertainment, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Financial Issues, Holiday, Kuwait, Locard Exchange Principal, Relationships | 6 Comments