I have umpteen blog posts to write. Fish Market. Bistronomic. Where I ate in Dubai. Where I ate in Kuwait. Where I slept in both cities. XOCO. Sable Kitchen. Opart Thai on the South Side. Too many blog posts. But I’ll get there. Eventually.
So while you’re waiting, here are some pics from my time in Kuwait City, Kuwait earlier this week. Enjoy.
After my Thursday night flight had been canceled and I found myself with an extra day in Kuwait, I took a stroll through the new souk in the old souk in Kuwait City on a Friday morning. Friday morning in the Middle East is akin to trying to go grocery shopping in Germany or Belgium or the Netherlands on a Sunday morning. That is, a lot of things are closed. But it was nice because there was a quiet sort of peacefulness to everything. The gentleman in this picture is wearing a dishdasha, which is the traditional Kuwaiti ensemble for a male. Can I say I found it pretty sexy? Is that wrong? This gentleman is not wearing the traditional headcloth though. More on that later.
I stumbled into the meat market in the souk. It was awesome and EXTREMELY clean. All of the butchers — there had to be more than two dozen different stands — were also very charming and kept chanting “Saori, saori!” at me. (Saori, pronounced sow (as in how)-ree, means photo.) This particular butcher is showing me the head of something. I’d say cow, but those look like horns. Steer of some sort? It made me sad to think that here we are in America — this developed-world country — and our supermarket food isn’t as fresh as this.
And our butchers aren’t as bloody. There’s something real about blood now, isn’t there? In the background, you can see a picture of Sheikh Sabah Al-Sabah, the Emir of Kuwait. Sheikh Sabah has done some good things for Kuwait, namely promoting tourism, women’s rights, and freedom of the press.
This gentleman is a Kuwaiti fishmonger. He is wearing a keffiyeh, the traditional Arab headdress. It has a very simple purpose: protect you from the heat and dust. This red-and-white version is somewhat of an anomaly in Kuwait, where the vast majority of the male population wears a very crisp and clean white version called a ghutrah. (I am dying to know how they keep their whites so white, by the way. Because I looked for dry-cleaners and I didn’t see any. Bleach sales must be very high in Kuwait.)
After the souk, I tried to go to the National Museum, but it was closed. (Friday. Bah.) So instead, I went to Kuwait Towers and took the elevator to the top. These towers were severely damaged during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, which began in 1990. There is much love in Kuwait for America because of the US involvement in the Gulf War. There are also many American cars in Kuwait because of this. My best interaction of the trip…
Me to hotel on Attempt #2 of flying out of Kuwait: “Are you going to drive me to the airport in a Mercedes like last night?”
Hotel: “Oh no. It will be something better. Much better. Many times more comfortable for you. You will like it very much.”
Me: “Really? Wow. That’s cool. I mean, what could be better than a Mercedes?” (I start imagining rolling up to Kuwait Airport in a Bentley or a Rolls.)
Hotel: “Ah, here it is. Come with me. Tonight you go to the airport in a Chrysler! Very good car. Very good. American car. Very good.”
You should know that in Kuwait, you can buy FOUR GALLONS OF GAS — 16 LITERS — for $3.60 USD.
This was one of my favorite buildings in Kuwait City. It reminds me of a keffiyeh or an abaya fluttering behind you as you walk. It’s called the Al Hamra tower and it’s a Skidmore, Owings and Merrill Building, for those of you keeping track. Al Hamra is the tallest building in Kuwait.
The Gulf. I think we have this idea (and I use “we” loosely here) from TV that the Middle East is all desert. That there are camels everywhere. The Gulf is lush and the water is turquoise. They have jet skis in Kuwait.
After I checked out the souk and Kuwait Towers, I went to the mall. Avenues Mall. It was HUGE. They had IKEA there. And Pinkberry. Quoting from the Visit Kuwait Web site, Avenues offers the following: Pizza Express, T.G.I. Friday’s, Ruby Tuesday’s, Nando’s, Chili’s, Pizza Hut, Johnny Rockets, KFC, McDonald’s, Burger King, Hardee’s, Costa Coffee, Starbucks, Caribou Coffee, Le Notre, Dunkin’ Donuts, The Chocolate Bar, Columbus Coffee, and the Krispy Kreme.
(THE Krispy Kreme. Cracks me up every time.)
Seriously, Avenues was exhausting. And expensive. And my feet hurt. It was time to go home. To pack, and to work on some blog posts.