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.