“What do you wear when it gets this hot?” they asked me, “like around the home?”
I laughed. I learned a thing or two in Tunis, in Amman, in Tabuk and Riyadh, in Kuwait and in Doha. At home, I dress like local women, in long loose dresses.
Or worse. I dress like their maids. In the souks you could find wonderful, 100% cotton dresss that were loose and flowing, and that is good in hot weather so the air can circulate. Some of the dresses were nicer, but the dresses I liked a lot for just being around the house doing what people do, like making sure the dishes are done and a meal prepped, doing a little quilting or reading . . . you could buy these great little dresses for about $3.00 in the souks. Not only were they practical – especially when you live in a house with a cat, and always put on “real” clothes just as you are about to run out the door so you don’t have any cat hair on you – but they came in great colors and prints, designs that made me happy to put them on.
Now, one of my all time favorite dresses, in purple and black, has bit the dust. I liked it because it had some geometrics, and the geometrics changed, and – it was purple. I have worn it for about six years now, and I have worn it out. I mended it several times when the underarm seams ripped:
I like this dress so much I am saving it and cutting it up so it will have another new life as a quilt
And I am thinking it is time to plan a trip back to Doha and Kuwait to replenish my hot weather dresses
I had a really super group of diplomats in town this week, really smart people dealing with serious topics – arms control, human rights, freedom of the press, immigration – and the appointments were fabulous. They were greeted at Baskervile-Donovan by a German speaker, coffee and cakes, and the presentation was a clear outline on corporate fund raisers, goals, and candidate selection.
We had a few extra minutes before our next appointment, and as we were just next door to Joe Patti’s, I took them there for a peek into life for “real” Pensacolians. Of course, they loved Joe Patti’s.
While I was there, my phone rang and it was a stranger, telling me she had a package for me from a friend in Kuwait. When could she bring it by?
You know how sometimes it’s hard to think? My mind was full with my delegation, but I set a time – and I was at Joe Pattis, so I quickly bought some cookies to serve and headed out for our next appointment.
When I said goodbye to the delegation for the last time and headed home, I put the coffee on and prepared for my Kuwait guests. They arrived and we had a wonderful visit, a friend in common and lots to talk about. And oh my, the packet my friend sent, full of fabrics from the Kuwait souks, a care package for my quilting addiction:
Even better – and it feels so wonderful to have a friend who understands me so well – look at the bag she sent them in! It is SO adorable! It is something I would have bought in a heartbeat, so unique, so special! My heart is dancing with ideas for a new quilt!
Thank you, Hayfa for a real treat, both the fabrics and the friend you sent to carry the package
I know, I know, you all are tired of hearing me gripe and groan about heat and humidity. I just had a humbling experience. I finished my Lectionary Readings and went to Weather Underground to see how the weather is shaping up for today and caught a glimpse of Kuwait weather. I have it marked as a favorite so I can see how my friends there are doing.
113°F in Kuwait City.
At the other extreme is my old hometown, Juneau, Alaska. This is the forecast for today, and the next week or so:
You know, today it’s supposed to be less than 90°F in Pensacola, and the humidity feels lighter today – so far. We are expecting a thunderstorm, and yesterday, the temperature dropped ten 15 degrees at noon as a thunderstorm rolled in – how cool is that? We have those beautiful white sand beaches and a surf as warm as bathwater – 84°F – Pensacola in the heat of August is looking a lot better
I can move mountains! Today it dawned cool! I walked in the garden with my coffee, I turned off the A/C and opened all the doors and windows to get all the stuffiness out AND I re-organized our pantry.
Sounds easy? LOL. It is easy when you move every couple years, or every six months. You get rid of a lot of stuff. Once you settle, you really have to watch out, STUFF begins to accumulate. Like for some reason, I ran out of mustard once, and then every time I was grocery shopping for a while I would buy another mustard so I would be sure not to run out, and now I have like 11 mustards, no two the same, German mustards, Chinese mustards, French mustards, no, no, I won’t be running out any time soon.
AdventureMan had made a list for me at the commissary yesterday, including Penne for a Pasta Putanesca he was making to celebrate my return, he’s not so hot on anchovies, but he did a bang-up job on one of my all-time favorite pastas ever. As I cleaned out today, I found two more boxes of penne.
We changed over to a tankless water system last week, it just seems like a good idea. When we bought the house, one thing made me nervous, the hot water tank was in the pantry, right in the middle of the house. Hot water heaters fail, they all do, eventually, and when it goes, it can leak all over everywhere. The first time it happened to me, we were out of town and it took a week to get all the carpeting and walls dried out. So I traded worrying about a leaking hot water tank for worrying about a gas explosion, aarrgh. Actually, it’s pretty safe. We used tankless systems all the years we lived in Germany, and I really liked them. It feels right, just heating the water when you use it, not holding it – and heating it – when you are not.
So now the big water tank is gone, and I brought in new shelving, and put that together, it was almost idiot-proof, almost . . .
That took most of the day, putting the new shelving in, clearing the shelves, sorting out the items, labeling the shelves so AdventureMan can find what he needs, although to me, it all SEEMS very logical, signs saying “Condiments” “Oriental Condiments” “Back-up Baking Supplies” “Tomato things” “Soups” and “Canned Sea Food”, etc. I did not label the pasta and rice; they just seemed so obvious.
All this with doors and windows open and the most heavenly breeze blowing through; give me the right climate and I can move a mountain! I got the laundry all done as I was re-organizing the pantry, I even cleaned out one of the spice drawers (getting rid of spices kept from Kuwait and Qatar because I couldn’t bear to part with them, but four years . . .) it’s time, and they aren’t really good any more.
AdventureMan brought our adorable four year old grandson over to play, and we got to chat a little. There is nothing like a four year old snuggle, and conversations with him are always so interesting and so direct, it’s so refreshing
And at the end of the day, there is even time to sit outside in the bright, cool, breezy sunlight sipping a glass of tea and watching all the birds come in for one last bite before bed time.
A heavenly day.
Thank you, Desert Girl, for making known this wonderful video on earlier times in Kuwait. It brings back so many wonderful memories of our time as a young family in the Middle East and North Africa in the late 70’s and 80’s.
And thank you Ammar Alabbad for a wonderful production. I love this film.
From todays Arab Times Kuwait:
‘Wasta’ Major Setback In Battle Against Crime; Some Police Not Keen To Tackle Issues
In this week’s online poll, the Arab Times probed the factors that are blunting the efforts to fight crime in Kuwait. A majority of the voters felt that Wasta is a major setback to the fight against crime. About 56% of the voters felt this way.
Speaking to the Arab Times, respondents said criminals use Wasta to escape the long arm of the law. “I know a citizen who routinely cuts red lights. He pats his back and says that he has Wasta to dodge penalties. This is a traffic offence, and may not be considered a crime. However, if this is possible in the case of traffic offences, it should be possible in major crimes too.” Another respondent shared a personal experience when one of his neighbors had a conflict with the landlord.
The neighbor decided to go to the court, and he was asked to pay the rent there. However, the person in charge of collecting the rent in the court gave lame excuses and avoiding collecting the amount in time. The landlord used this as a pretext to procure an ejection notice from the court. “It looks like some authorities in the court were in cahoots with the landlord to deny justice to my neighbor.”
About 13% of the voters felt that law keepers themselves become law breakers, and that’s why it becomes hard to fight crimes. Respondents cited the example of the recent case that made headlines when cops raped a woman in her flat, entering her flat under the pretext of looking for residence violators. “This is an example of policemen stooping to the lowest level, becoming worse than criminals.” Others brought up a report that Arab Times had published some time back about the ‘Trolley Mafia” in the airport. “The workers in the airport literally extort money from the passengers forcing the trolley service on them for a charge of 500 fils.
They do not let us take the trolley.” Respondents said it’s highly improbable for this mafia to work in this fashion without the knowledge and blessings of the concerned authorities in the airport, especially after the report coming in the newspapers several times. One of the respondents said that he had an altercation with one of the workers in the airport over the trolley. “I used an expletive in the course of the heated exchange, and the worker complained to a policeman in duty.
The cop came over to me to inquire if I had used the bad word, but as he didn’t speak our language I told him that it was only an impolite word, and not a bad word. The officer went to the extent of calling another passenger, who spoke our language, to verify if what I was saying was true. To my good luck, the passenger concurred with me.
The officer let me go, but then I complained to him about the worker who was trying to extort money from me. The officer walked away as if he couldn’t care less.” The trolley mafia is continuing to operate without any hassles, and people suspect the tacit support of the authorities.
About 16% of the voters said that the police are not very keen on solving crimes, and that is encouraging criminals. Other reasons for the increase in crime in the society, according to the poll, included unemployed youth wanting to make quick money, corrupt politicians and crime getting accepted as a part of life. However, these only won very small percentage of votes. A very tiny fraction of voters felt that criminals are getting smarter.
By: Valiya S Sajjad Arab Times Staff
Sigh. These are, sadly, true. I have seen them myself. I used to make people mad; I always carried a camera, and when I would see able bodied young men park in the handicapped spots, I would take their photos. They would get really mad. I knew I might be risking my life, so I tried to be careful, but I was also hoping they would feel shame, and stop doing it.
Talal Al-Ghannam is a very brave Kuwaiti for printing these “Only in Kuwait . . . ” columns.
Only In Kuwait
These are the things you won’t find in other modern countries or even ones that are poorer, but only in Kuwait.
1. Only in Kuwait people APPEAL to the government to apply the law.
2. Only in Kuwait handicapped parking places are seized by ordinary people.
3. Only in Kuwait many people like to park on the pavement and on green landscapes.
4. Only in Kuwait you could get killed for a parking space.
5. Only in Kuwait you could get beaten if you did not let a maniac driving behind you to pass.
6. Only in Kuwait policemen are beaten by mobs.
7. Only in Kuwait many policemen play with their smart phones rather than monitor the roads.
8 .Only in Kuwait many police stations have only one policeman.
9. Only in Kuwait you need a fancy car on the road to be respected.
10. Only in Kuwait you need three months to get an appointment in a hospital unless you are really sick.
11. Only in Kuwait the majority of Kuwaitis travel out of town when there is a two-day holiday.
12. Only in Kuwait the majority of employees get sick suddenly when there is a holiday coming up.
13. Only in Kuwait we see people spitting or urinating in the streets.
14. Only in Kuwait we see maniacs driving on the shoulder of the road, throwing up gravel to break your car’s windshield.
15. Only in Kuwait some Kuwaitis say ‘kaifi ana Kuwaiti’, meaning I am a Kuwait, I can do whatever I want.
16. Only in Kuwait you see many Kuwaitis able to deport expatriates. I will rest my pen for now until the next article.
By Talal Al-Ghannam