Sunday, March 23, 2008

Five Months

I have now been in Kuwait for five months. I cannot say I know the country that well, though I know it better than I used to.

Probably, you will have certain preconceptions about Kuwaiti nightlife. At a guess I’d imagine they’re pretty grim. You should be reassured that, if this is so, you were entirely correct in your assumptions.

This is not the place to get smashed and go crazy, chasing women or ripping up street signs. Even if such behaviour –fashionable as it is in a certain Island to the north- doesn’t get you thrown into prison - and I am certain that it will - you might prefer to take such antics elsewhere, where a more positive, participatory response from the indigenous folk might be expected. But please learn to avoid Slovakia, my former home. It’s been getting too much of your treatment recently and you are giving serene gentlemen like me a bad name.

Possibly, such loutishness is not your idea of a good night out anyhow –as it isn’t mine. But even if it isn’t, I fear you may be disappointed. Unless teetotalling meals out or caffeine- laced evenings in Starbucks or Costa Coffee are your thing.

Aficionados of Pizza Hut need fear no disappointment; and if you like your films censored, such as not to be reminded of anything that might result in human reproduction, such as kissing (yuk!), Kuwait might very well be for you. Worried that violent scenes might also be cut? Don’t be. Images of Violence and Killing are fine.

My night life is dry, mainly restricted to evenings in watching DVDs or surfing the net. I used to go out more , to the internet cafes to use my laptop, but now I have a connection at home, an apparently super fast one that is annoyingly slow (though I get used to it). I also attend various groups I’ve have joined, such as a Bible study group and a Writers circle. We’re meant to be studying ‘Romans’ at the Bible group but most of the time a South African called John takes us on detours of his own devising. He calls himself a ‘rejectionist’ and rejects every system of belief known to man in place of what I imagine he’d construe as a constructless, systemless approach in which primary importance is placed on his own lived experience. I find it intriguing that he therefore wants to attend a Bible study class. He says it’s for scholarly reasons, a matter of mere interest.

On Sundays and Wednesdays I teach three children privately. Actually I have only just started so I don’t know how it’s going to pan out. The first lesson went faitrly well though it began embarrassingly. The kindly, much abayered mother extended her hand as I entered her living room. Instinctively the consequence of 36 years of social grooming courtesy of the west, I forgot to realize her being a woman excluded her from the appropriateness of an offered response. Startled, she withdrew her hand in a panic and cried ‘Women don’t shake hands in Kuwait.’

Of course I should have known this, that women are not to be touched. Indeed I did know this. It was that offered hand thing that threw me. I wouldn’t have offered mine without it. I suppose it must have meant something else. Maybe she was motioning for me to sit down?


May said...

She should have imagined that a foreigner is not used to local traditions. By telling you, she did the right thing so that the same accident won't happen again in the future.

Are you getting bored?

Booty said...

Great piece and very true about what you say about that island to the north. Madrid has sadly been spoilt by such lager louts, drinking in pubs where there is international football.
Enjoy your free time in Kuwait