Day 1 of my millionth vacation in Kuwait

Posted on January 11, 2009


Kuwait is a hole. A pervasive odour of restlessness and suppressed energy hangs over the whole place. You’d think that the mere lack of alcohol and clubs wouldn’t be such a debilitating handicap for a country, but it certainly feels that way to me, even though I don’t even really drink that heavily or go out dancing much.
My friend
the Source, currently exiled here, asked when we met up what I wanted to do. I could not think of anything ­­– I don’t do shisha anymore (Cairene pollution soon put paid to that) and even though Kuwait has pretty great food, I never have much of an appetite while I’m here. So we went to Starbucks. People actually do that here of an evening, meet their adult friends at an overpriced bad coffee chain. Seriously. The only reason I can see to meet people for just coffee is if you’re at work and can only take half an hour.
So we went to the one down the street. There we met a mutual friend, DNA, and we sat and mulled through what (of the things I never do) we could possibly partake in. Movies? Too censored. Pool? Lame. Finally we decided to go for a walk on the beach.
So we zoomed down the Gulf Road – everyone always zooms everywhere, like there’s somewhere they want to get – and got out somewhere and walked on the boardwalk (concrete walk?). We came upon three different jungle gyms – the nice kind, the expensive sort with good swings and tall slides and sturdy things to climb – and had tons fun playing with those, laying in the disc-like swing watching the cratered moon in its rust-coloured ring swathed in clouds. Industrious joggers swished past, the women in flashy track suits and securely tethered hijabs (or not), the men in dark sweats (or shorts and T-shirts if of the Caucasian race). An Indian dude in a parka and rollerblades careened straight at us through a laughing crowd of Philipinos.
We eventually arrived at our destination, the Scientific Centre, in order to watch an IMAX film. The last time I went to one I was 17. In Kuwait, of course. We examined the chart and found that we had to watch something called “Mummies”. I fail to see what is 3D-friendly about that shit, and also I’ve seen lots of the really pimp mummies in real life. We were contemplating this versus the later show, “Monsters of the Sea”, when the guys of course got hungry and off we went to one of the dozens of fast food joints on the Gulf Road. Nearest was the Scientific Centre food court, where sulky bored Kuwaitis were eating and a subdued children’s party was going on. The guys ordered something from Burger King called “burger buddies”, which consists of six tiny burgers joined together in the manner of a six-pack of beer. Hah. I don’t really get having six fused together tiny burgers for your friends, as each of you can get a nice regular sized one with lettuce and tomato and all that. While they did that I looked around and spotted
the husband of a close high school friend of mine, a German dude who was all angry and resentful when he first had to move to the highly un-German place that is Kuwait but now seems to have subsided into sober apathy. My friend, highly pregnant with her second child, walked up and we had a good chat. The first thing she asked me was how come I wasn’t eating – was I on a diet? Lebanese people can be depended on, delightfully, to focus their first question on your appearance, followed closely by a question about their own. We had a great chat and I’m going to call them, but I basically walked away feeling truly thankful that I am single, childless and not living in Kuwait. This impression was at least partly created by the birthday boy, over whose wheelie chair thing I had to actually leap, as he hadn’t yet learned to avoid such piffling obstacles as legs. I think I may have protectively cradled my unplumbed womb involuntarily.
I confided the above to my companions, one of whom does have offspring. He mused for a while on the terrifying permanency of bearing fruit, and how he feels sorry for his parents for still having to deal with his bullshit at the age of 32. Yikes. Yay unused uterus!
By this point we’d lost interest in the IMAX so we zoomed back to DNA’s place, where we watched the tail end of several bad movies as DNA marveled at the sheer quantity of how much the Source and I can talk, and in what detail, about matters that are in no way our business (I was bringing him up to date on every single thing that had happened to every one of our mutual friends since his last visit). We played Boggle. Of course, I don’t regard playing word games in any jaded I-need-a-drink light because I’m a word dork.
And then, of course, my dad called on the pretext of asking if I needed a ride home (STILL don’t drive) but really probably to check where I was, who with, and when I was coming home. Suspecting this I lit into the poor man very rudely, when I should have remembered that he’s been being less patriarchal of late and has been super sweet since I got here – he really is a great dad. I had to call back and apologize.
And that, my friends, is a Kuwait evening. People bitching about how there’s nothing to do, and then not doing much. I know it didn’t sound like it, but I had fun.

Posted in: friends, Kuwait, my family