Yesterday marked The Best Day Ever for this gal. It started off as a lazy lazy day. By 8:30 Thursday night I had fallen asleep on the couch, something that I’ve tried to ban myself from doing. I woke up a few hours later, sluggishly got ready for bed, and snuggled in for a long night’s rest. The bedroom curtains and window usually stay open at night to help the sunrise and traffic noises act as a natural alarm clock (in addition to the three I already have set). Thursday night though, I locked them up tight. No sun. No noise. Just rest.
Fourteen hours later I woke up. Clearly, this bit of shut-eye was much needed. Best thing? Not one ounce of guilt. I practiced yoga, read, and wrote a blog post that will have to be shared later, since obviously a post about The Best Day Ever is more important than one describing Kuwait’s school system.
I couldn’t spend all day sitting around, since there were errands to be run. Someone had told me that in order to pay for the prepaid internet service I’ve been using, I must visit Kuwait’s version of Best Buy, a store called Xcite in an area just south of my apartment named Fahaheel. Today is my one month anniversary in Kuwait (celebrate!!), and therefore the end of the first month’s internet cycle, meaning that getting to Fahaheel was the difference between internet and total disconnect (soooo sarcastic there, but you know the feeling!) (also, turns out this isn’t true. It’s a tactic to get customers into the store when it’s really just as easy to pay online… lesson learned ;))
In the wink of an eye, 4pm rolls around, I’d taken a shower and had enough of the lazies, so I fled down the four flights of stairs and out to hail a cab. After what seemed like an eternity, I nabbed one and we headed down the highway. Time to pay those bills!
So what’s exciting about this? How could it be The Best Day Ever? Not really much was out of the ordinary, except that after being dropped off and wandering for a while, I gained enough courage to take out my camera. Many websites and folks advise that photographs not be taken in Kuwait, particularly at the risk of offending someone, or the government. Yes, the government actually has a list of buildings that can not be publicly photographed at the sake of… Fines? Jail? I’m not sure. Which buildings are banned? I don’t know this either. All I’m saying is we don’t need to land ourselves in orange jumpsuits while living abroad. So taking photos has been a little bit of a shy habit around these parts lately.
But once I snuck this sweet little Lumix out of my purse and started snapping, bliss began! Not everyone likes their picture taken, totally understandable, but some absolutely love it! I tried hard to avoid women, and never stood around taking photos of the same thing over and over to attract attention. Instead, while in the streets I did the walk and shoot method, barely pausing while clicking the button. Soon, this lazy Friday turned out to be loads of fun. I mentioned this in a post this summer, but when you open your eyes to find a shot worth capturing, you also open your eyes to sites you may otherwise miss. It’s something fun to think about.
Like the Vikings jersey I noticed hanging on the back wall of a little shop. When the shop owner found out I’m a Vikings fan, he asked that I please try it on and that he take a photo. From there, we got to talking about America, Football, and American Football. If ever I miss my Favre jersey and if the Vikings decide to step up their game (10-42 as the final score for Thursday night’s game against the Packers? What’s this about?!)… IF I ever decide that a jersey might come in handy, I’ll know where to go. For now, that home team pride will stay boxed away 😉
The next store to visit was Xcite. Wearing my Spiderman shirt for free dress day at school on Thursday must’ve sent a message to the Marvel Gods, because at Xcite the superhero himself was center stage. There was no explanation given as to why he was there, but just as I was wrapping things up, in walked Spidey and Iron Man. Giving the clerk the cold shoulder, I quietly said “Oh my God!” and pulled out my camera for photo session number two. This time, hundreds of others joined in the fun. I was the only female, so I backed away after a few ‘ooo’s and ‘aaah’s and continued on my way.
From there, I led myself on a leisurely stroll through the stores and streets filled with gold jewelry, assortments of electronics, and colorful clothing. After a few visits to this area where I’ve found myself bee lining in search of something in particular, it was nice to instead step back and see what was going on; To take in the gurgling of car motors and the conversations of men enjoying time with eachother.
It seemed that many were out for the sake of being out. Nothing in particular to do or see, just another Friday evening spent strolling through the streets alongside friends. Men are keen on showing affection to one another, and are often seen holding hands while walking. In a country where public displays of affection are extremely frowned upon, there seems to be a loophole that exists for two people of the same sex. Men holding hands or women kissing is socially acceptable, but a man and woman holding hands or kissing is not.
The first place I noticed two males display their friendship this way was my very first night, thirty days ago, when visiting the Caribou at Al Kout Mall in Fahaheel, just across from where I found myself last night. Naturally, I ventured over there to check out the yachts resting in the bay and to watch the mall’s central water fountain and light display. It was dinner time as well, so my tummy called loudly for some delicious Lebanese grub. Here came the start to the end of The Best Day Ever. Not only does Al Kout Mall house stores like Nautica and Zara, but it also has three fresh markets to purchase vegetables, fishes, and meats.
For some reason, it was thought to be appropriate to take a stroll through the meat market before filling up my belly. This is where the camera became a truly beloved object. Without trying to make a scene, even turning off my flash to avoid attention, I barely snapped one picture before several shop owners started to pull me in. Several of them loved the idea that their foods and lives were being captured. They didn’t know what would happen with the photos, but they seemed to know that they were spreading beauty through sharing their simplicity.
A solid hour later, I had traveled through ten different stalls, talking with the shop owners about their families, their work, about how much they love their lives and jobs, and about what it’s like to live in both Kuwait and America. They were happy to be working because working meant money and money meant they could provide for their families. Not only that, but these men were so proud, so overjoyed, to be doing something they love and to be able to share it with their customers. It was heartwarming to see each person’s enthusiasm and passion for what I originally saw as a knife and a chopping block.
This moment, or collection of moments, left smiles on all of our faces. I promised to come back and visit, and next time maybe I will get up the confidence to purchase some of their pride and joy. Yesterday I was trying instead to disconnect my eyes and mind from my tummy so I could still eat dinner.
There was no problem there. Straight from the coop, I made my way over to the Lebanese restaurant to feast upon a delicious chicken and rice dish with sides of fresh tabouleh and pita. So yummy, and so much fun as even at the restaurant, excitement ensued over capturing these moments on film (or disk).
So why was it The Best Day Ever? For the simple fact that so many people were so excited at something so simple. No one was afraid or ashamed or upset. They shared stories and laughs and hugs. Not only with me, but with each other.
It might not be the true high point of my life or of the past month, or even week. And of course, there are so many places and events that will soon over shadow this day. But to come home at night, rest quietly in my bed, and wake up the next morning still with a smile and happy memories- that counts for something.