Saturday, 16 February 2013


The squeaking of the rusty swing in the deserted play area of the garden is a note foreign, intruding upon the sonance of the night.

The light zephyr carries with it secrets whispered to it by the frangipanis, as it blows through their flowering tree, loosening a blossom. The flower surrenders itself and is given a gentle lift by the breeze before it collapses onto the cropped grass. A bat, almost camouflaged in the dark, flutters out from a tree and disappears into the night.

The moon is almost full, sailing in her ascent to her cherished spot in the sky from where she reigns as the hours pass on. The clouds move with her, guarding her jealously. They claim her beauty for their own, refusing to share it with the world below. She peeks out shyly from behind an opening in the clouds that obstinately remain before her, a glimmer of her iridescence illuminating what little of the garden it falls upon, making the leaves glisten and outlining the empty playground, silent, but for a frog croaking harshly under the slide.

Finally, the wind intercedes and nudges the clouds, reminding them that their journey lies onward, elsewhere. Reluctantly they float on, leaving bare a jewelled sky, revealing the glowing orb in all her glory to beam down on earth.

The garden lies still in her luminescence, unmoved but for an observer who has been watching the transpiration, swaying wordlessly on the rusty swing.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

an eventful weekend.

This weekend has been a very nice one. I'm sorry it's come to a close. Yes, I realize I said here that I was sure I had more to say than tell people in so many words of what a good time I'm having, but you know that feeling when you have SUCH a good time that you must share? This is me sharing. I promise to make it worth your while.

Since I started working, I've rarely had a very packed weekend in Kuwait. Occasionally, I do breakfast with the BFF and then we go gallivanting in her car across the country, or I take in a concert or a movie. Else I prefer to stay in and relax with the family, read or write. This Friday however, was different.

Friday morning I met the Q8 Foot Soldiers a second time (they deserve an entire post, stay tuned) to go running (in my case, walking more than running) on the promenade from Marina Crescent to Scientific Center and back. The weather, in case you slept in and failed to notice, was absolutely gorgeous. The walk/run was rejuvenating, the crisp, fresh air revitalized my senses that had been so dull and dismal and in danger of catching a cold the past week. My skin was finally exposed to sunlight—merciful sunlight—and I basked in it. So much more refreshing than a workout at the gym!

The scenic route: pausing to stare at the scenery

After the walking/running, stretching and socializing with a couple of the other runners, I met the mother for breakfast at Zaatar w Zeit and devoured the most mouth-watering and delicious fattoush salad ever. It was heavenly. I can still taste the lettuce doused in the tangy lemon-olive oil dressing and hear the echoes of it crunching in my head...I can never get that taste in homemade salads.

The afternoon consisted of a shopping spree for sports apparel at Decathlon with the sister. I think I drove her to the brink of frustration and insanity as I circled the store for nearly two hours in search of a long cotton jacket. Finally conceded to buy one two sizes too big since nothing else was long enough for my liking.

It's about time I linked back to my blogger-aspiring writer friend Lord Aymz. He writes exceedingly well, has a distinct style and wit, and his blog is the first local one I stumbled upon that was articulate and intelligent. We had a chance meeting at Better Books a couple of years ago when we were just following each other's blogs. He is also the founder of the aforementioned Q8 Foot Soldiers.

He likes to try new things, and somehow got himself into performing stand-up comedy for the first time at the Isma'ani Open Mic Night event Friday night at Argeela Bar. Carpe diem baybeh! The online audience registration had reached capacity so of course I invited myself, and attended with a lovely (and very lively!) member of the Q8 Foot Soldiers.

It was a very enjoyable evening and I'm still laughing at the hilarious dialogues and antics of the host. Aymz's act was very good, considering it was his first time (his face beetroot red with nervousness throughout). Stand-up comedy is probably the toughest form of public speaking and I admire his guts. Watch his act here. He has loads of potential and I've already invited myself (again) for the next show.

There was another performer, a beautiful young woman from Saudi, that grabbed my attention as soon as she started speaking. She narrated a letter titled 'Woman', a dedication of sorts to her 'yet to be conceived daughter'. It was the most stirring, soulful piece of writing I'd come across in a very long time. She received (much deserved) thunderous applause.

What made the day even more memorable is an unexpected meeting with Nada Faris, a very talented Kuwaiti writer and blogger. Her short stories and posts have become a crucial part of my weekly reading and I'm learning a lot from them. I spotted her across the room, recognized her immediately (having seen her picture dozens of times on her website banner) and patiently waited for intermission to go say hi. When it did come, I hopped over in excitement and after making certain it was her (I had a sudden thought that she could have a sister that looked exactly like her) introduced myself, and we enveloped each other in a bear hug. I love meeting people I know from the internet, especially the blogosphere. And especially when those meetings lack premeditation!

Saturday was spent in rumination and relaxation.

So that was my wonderful weekend, and I've introduced you to two awesome bloggers. Told you I'd make it worth your while.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

The Sanctuary that Once was

Once upon a time in Kuwait, there lay a small sanctuary, deep in the ground, for lovers of the written word.

It thrived with visitors young and old, wandering through the aisles, the sight of the innumerable tomes appeasing their insatiable thirst for words. This lone oasis was all they had, all that was there in the desert that could offer them any satisfaction when it came to reading English books. The two guardians of the sanctuary welcomed them in and then let them be, knowing that they preferred to be alone with the great masters they were about to meet.

The sanctuary I speak of is the British Council Library, often abbreviated to the BCL, which once flourished in the basement of the British Council in Mansouriya. The two guardians were the librarians Khalid and Santana, who’d been working there for years.

When I was four, my mother initiated us into the BCL’s family membership. For years after that, I escaped from the mundane realities of school and homework by exploring new realms and sharing countless moments of joy with my companions on my many adventures—whether it was discovering the Golden Ticket with Charlie Bucket, soaring through the earth’s orbit with Willy Wonka in the Great Glass Elevator, stumbling into Narnia with the Pevensies, fighting battles by Prince Caspian’s side, vanquishing smugglers and kidnappers while camping all over the British countryside with the Famous Five or gorging at midnight feasts by the swimming pool with Darrel, Alicia and the other girls at Malory Towers. I led a very full life indeed.
When not saving the world or performing remarkable feats, I was absorbing facts on dinosaurs and the universe from Dorling Kindersley encyclopedias.  

We made our romp there every month. When my sister was born a few months after our first visit, my mother would carry her in one arm while browsing the Adult section. As my sister grew, she’d crawl all over the grey library carpet in the Children’s section. Once she started reading, she and I would dig deep for books we hadn't read, concealing some strategically to borrow on the next visit. We would then proceed to Mansouriya Market (the supermarket across the parking lot opposite the BCL), buy some groceries and Snapple’s Pink Lemonade, and then head to Hardee’s (right next to the supermarket) for a meal, all the while engaged in deep discussion of our loot from the library. It became an age-old family tradition.

There was a book sale once; the BCL’s Adult section was to be discontinued. Hardcover books were priced as low as a quarter KD. My mom went through the following week with an ecstatic smile after she bought bags and bags of books for a mere 30 KD. One of them, weighing at least two tons, detailed the entire history of the British monarchy. I remember excitedly tracing King Richard the Lionheart and Prince John’s line; I’d just read Robin Hood and had assumed they were fictional characters. Learning they existed made me believe the legendary outlaw was real, and I proclaimed him my hero.

The BCL adapted with the times; it even included a video library. This was where we would often find our mother, flipping through the video catalogues for BBC and other TV series, while our father would look for Bond movies to watch the umpteenth time. Through those catalogues, I knew all the titles of Dickens's work despite not having read a single one (unabridged anyway).

Bit of an odd name, that. 
My sister and I often borrowed VHS tapes of documentaries for information vegetable, animal and mineral, along with children’s movies or series. I dreamed of sailing the high seas like Horatio Hornblower as he marched the decks of his ship, let my imagination soar with the incorrigible Pippi Longstocking (1988), and sang all the songs of Oliver! (1968) over and over while secretly crushing on the Artful Dodger. I recall rewinding the song 'Consider Yourself' over and over while laboriously writing down the lyrics to ensure I got the words right! 

When the age of the personal computer began, the BCL brought in the internet, computers and a variety of interactive CD encyclopedias and games. I had an intense fascination with dinosaurs and would occasionally spend an hour or two surfing a particularly informative CD on the reptiles. It was around this time that I encountered Harry Potter and broke him out of Privet Drive with Ron and his brothers in Mr. Weasley’s Ford Anglia.

The blissful times at the BCL were not to last, for the Dark Forces were at work. Six years ago, we received the fated phone call from one of the guardians, with news that evoked a great deal of sorrow. The library was closing down.

There was a time when books held more worth to children than the latest thingamajig dominating the tech market, when what was deemed worthy of showing off was how many books you’d read, not what your score was on the game in vogue on the App Store. My childhood is intrinsically linked to the BCL and life would not have been as rich without it. I grieve for Kuwait’s loss, while cherishing a secret hope that the sanctuary will miraculously spring up again.