John’s diaries on Kuwait

Talal Al-Ghannam

Good morning dear brothers and sisters. It has been a while since I last wrote an article in my prestigious Kuwait Times daily. In this article I would like to talk about diaries written by an old American friend of mine named John. I have known him since I was in the United States in the 1980s, and I invited him to visit Kuwait and become acquainted with its traditions and culture.

John was very excited to have been given this invitation to visit Kuwait, a country he had always dreamt of seeing closely and getting to know about its vast development, especially after the liberation. As soon as John arrived at the airport, he began questioning me about things he believed were wrong on a journey to a country labeled in olden times as the Pearl of the Gulf.

The first thing John noticed at the airport was bad treatment of a foreigner at the passport counter by an officer. That officer was yelling at the foreign tourist, telling him to queue in the right lane, when that tourist didn’t know that in the first place. John asked me how can this happen right at the entrance of a country, as this place is supposed to be the first gate for a tourist to see for himself what comes next.

The next stage started right after we exited the airport’s gate heading to the parking lot, when he noticed many cars parked in handicapped spots without an official handicapped sticker, and saw healthy and fit people walking out of their cars and leaving those in need of those parking spaces stranded and having to wait till the fit b*****ds return and vacate the spaces. He asked me whether the fine imposed on these irresponsible persons is severe enough to deter them, but I told him it is only KD 50. He began shaking his head and said it is considered a crime in the US if a fit person occupies a handicapped person’s specified spot.

After that we rode the car to the hotel, when John noticed the reckless driving and flashing of high beams of light on other cars. He asked me why everyone is in a hurry. Why do they drive manically? Why do they flash their high beams? Why do they drive on the shoulder of the road? Why do they drive fast? Why are they impatient? Questions I could not answer and kept quiet.

Before reaching the hotel John asked me if we could stop at a cooperative society to buy some groceries. Right after we left the store, he noticed some cars were blocking other cars, while the drivers of the blocked cars were waiting for those maniacs to come and remove their cars. I again kept quiet. Later, John noticed many cars parked on the pavement and on the green landscaping, and asked me why do they do this? Why do they ruin these nice sceneries and destroy the infrastructure? Don’t they pay taxes to the country? I said no, there are no taxes imposed on services here and that is why they are irresponsible.

The next day we went to The Avenues mall, where John noticed some families dining at a restaurant where their maids are kept away from them on other tables, while others were deprived of meals and were watching the kids playing. He asked me why don’t their maids sit with the families at the same table to eat? Why are they kept away from them? I said there are many families who do this, yes, but there are many other families who treat their workers like members of the family.

John’s one-week-trip was filled with bad memories and kept me silent most of the time.