Sunday, October 26, 2008

Give me a Quackin Break! (Part I)

This story took place a few weeks ago:

Q80 calls his Dad:

Q80: Hi Yubba, wainik?

Yuba: I'm at Markaz Sultan (Kuwaiti Carrefour) buying some stuff for Diwaniya night. Im not feeling well, I wanna go to the Clinic and catch it early.

Q80: Ok Yubba, Im not far from you. I'll come and take the food the Diwaniya and you go to the clinic.

Yuba: La la, it wont take time. Moo laazim.

Q80: Laaa yubba, its gonna cut into your sleep. I'm already on the way.

Yuba: Ok, khalas...see you soon.

I arrived to Markaz Sultan, and like a good little son, I took the things to Diwaniya. Shortly afterwards, my phone rings:

Ring Ring Ring....

Q80: Alooo?

Annoying Insurance Lady (AIL): Hello sir, you're speaking to AIL from Gulf Insurance. I just wanted to inform you that your full coverage on your 2008 "car" is going to expire this Friday and see if you were interested in renewing. The cost will be...

Q80: One second maam. Before discussing the cost, I've had your insurance for a year and have never been clear about what it covers. Can we start there.

(The road to the house was long enough for AIL to be a welcome distraction)

AIL: Well sir, we cover blah blah and blah, change blah and rotate blah, we also do 4 by 4 blah...and change damaged winshields and...

Q80: One second, one second AIL...did you say damaged winsheilds? Well...a rock hit my windshield in the same week I bought the car. Do you cover that?

AIL: Of course sir! We at Gulf Insurance recognize the hazards of driving in these condi...

Q80: Where do I go to fill out the claim.

She gives me the details...I fill out the claim...the car is at the "car" garage courtesy of the driver the next morning.

A day after, I get another call:

Q80: Alooo?

Sexually Confused Philipino (SCP): Hello Thir!! This is Remigio from Lexthuth Garage. HOW ARE YOU!!??

Q80: Um..Fine, thank you.

SCP: That's bery good thiirrr. I'm calling to tell you, that un-for-tune-at-leeee, we were not able to get you're automtive. We're thooo thorryyyy.

Q80: That's fine, but when will it be ready?

SCP: Oh...I don't know...Inshallah tomorrow thirr. Its good you brought insurance thirr, normally dis winshield berry expensive. 210 KD, for material.

Q80: Really? Ok. Tomrrow will be fine inshalla. Thank you.

(Q80 lifts up his collar in pride over his quick thinking and goes ahead an pats himself on the back)

The car finally comes back. After having glued the window to the car, the car has this smell so I decide to leave the windows open.

The next day, the smell is still there. And the day after that.

On Saturday, I went to the drivers room to send him to bring something from the house, and lo and behold...the smell was even more repugnant and reached the room of the driver, almost 12 meters away:

Q80: Francis...what the hell is that!??

Francis: Too much smelling sir. I don't know why it won't go.

Q80: Francis, this is not normal! Khalas...I'm convinced. There is something dead in my car.

Francis: No sir, how something will just crawl in and die...

Q80: Francis, there is something dead in my car!!!

Francis: I don't know sir.

Q80: Francis...go find whatever died in my car!!

Francis: How I will find?


As we approach the back of the truck, the smell becomes more potent, more repugnant. I step away from the trunk, almost like my entire life was a preparation for this moment...The trunk flips open.


(I gag, swallowing back my Fu6oor)

Francis: Who left ducks here??!!! Ok go sir, I will clean.

Q80: God bless you Francis...PEACE!

I drove my brother's car after that. After two days under Kuwait's sun with the windows and trucks open, my cushions have absorbed the smell of Donald and Daffy's corpses. I can't drive in it, not for fear of the unimaginable stench so much as the fear that I walk around this country of mine smelling like dead duck.

Ring, ring, ring...

AIL: Hello sir, this AIL. I just called to inform you that we are giving a special offer on Insurane...

tooooot, tooooot, toooot

AIL: Sir? Sir?? (Looks to her friend, who's twirling a pencil around her hair) I think he hung up on me!....I'll try him later.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Masquerading in Kuwait

I spent a lot of time outside of Kuwait. So much so, that I feel I tend to see things as an outsider would. A lot of times, what surprises and shocks me is seen to be normal and what I find to be normal surprises and shocks the people around me. Don't get me wrong. If you haven't read my earlier posts, or still feel like you don't know me, my attachment to Kuwait is very strong. Its built on sense of duty, honor (inshallah), and nationalism that has become more and more scarce in our beloved country. I remain optimistic….

You know what though? Optimism is faced with daily tests, particularly in Kuwait. Today, I'd like to discuss one of those tests that has me baffled, astonished, annoyed, angry, deceived, underestimated, and slightly disgruntled:

The other day, my family and I were sitting at the dinner table trapped in a general discussion ranging from "True Blood" (HBO's new vampire-related series) to the Kuwait Stock Exchange. Around the later portion of this conversation, one of my cousins entered. Being an educated man, with an engineering background and the tendency to speak in Fus7a (proper Arabic – Think 9 O'clock news), he gave us his input with regards to the stock market and international markets in general.

Now, this would be fine if such input would stop at the "tea time" conversational level. It never does. He went on to discuss how the global markets have zero affects on the local market, that there is a conspiracy by certain families (listing the same families who have literally lost tens of millions in this "conspiracy") and that its all the Central Banks fault. Please realize that no opinion has been voiced. Through his eyes, he has stated a number of unshakable truths, regardless of the fact that he is not linked to the stock market in any shape, way or form (not even as a citizen trader).

Again, such statements (voiced in Fus7a, that people with Islamist inclination so love to embrace) may be argued without opposition if no one at the table was equipped or knowledgeable in this matter. I mean that's when people are supposed to argue something, right? When they actually know what the hell they're talking about? Well, to his dismay, at the dinner table was an MBA from an Ivy League university and business school graduate who happens to work in one of the major investment companies in the country. Now when the MBA started talking, she used her background bachelors degree in economics to argue certain points like monetary policy etc etc. He dismissed her point of view. When the business school graduate started to quote the traders perspective, he again dismissed his view. "Hathee ma6boo5a min zimaan, wil shurra 3ala illy maa gidar yinuthimha gubbil il 6aay7a".

The lesson is this:

In Kuwait, one of the major shocks I received, and continue to experience is the way that people enjoy masquerading. After all, what other name can you assign to someone who claims to know everything about something he actually KNOWS nothing about. Moreover, how can that very same masquerader, when placed with someone who has stayed true to his one and only face, still manage to belittle and disqualify that expert (at least expert by comparison) opinion.

Now, it's not to say the person is a bad guy. I mean there are the old ladies that have no problem prescribing medicine, or the random Joe who thinks he knows what's wrong with your car just by a noise you describe, or the person from a broken home who wants to give married people advice on healthy relationships. These people exist and are part of our everyday lives.

One thing for sure…masquerading is a Kuwaiti pastime, and I for one will never get used to it.