I nearly got into a car accident a couple of days ago. I was on the left lane and about to turn at a traffic signal when some f'n idiot on the lane to my right made a u-turn in front of me. Our cars didn't collide but I was furious and let out some serious road rage. The other car just drove off like nothing happened.
Car accidents in Kuwait are a part of daily life. Driving on any of the highways, you come across cars totalled beyond recognition. They're left on the shoulder like an exhibit on reckless driving. It makes no difference - people still drive like they don't care for their life or that of others around them.
Below is a picture of a campaign against reckless driving. Officials thought it'd be a good idea to put a totalled car on a pedestal facing one of the more busiest streets in the country. On top of the car is a speedometer with the dial pointing to 160. In front of the car is a stand with a sign that reads 'Be careful'.
I doubt how effective this display is. Well, at least someone had the bright idea to start a campaign... Read post in Google+
['Arabified' Business Names]
When foreign commercial businesses open in Kuwait their name is usually 'Arabified' and displayed alongside their original name. For example, the sign for the British retailer Marks & Spencer displays 'Marks & Spencer' along with its Arabic version. Both are pronounced the same (more or less).
Sometimes, though, the Arabified version of a business name is hilarious. A few examples:
(1) The French restaurant Paul. It's one of my favourite places for French pastries and coffee, but the Arabic version of Paul is equivalent to urine. Not a pleasant thought when you're there drinking coffee...
(2) The British retailer BHS. The Arabic alphabet has the equivalent for B and S. The nearest letter there is to H is one pronounced 'CH', as in church. Put those letters together and you get BCHS. I leave it to your imagination to read it the way I hear it ;)
I saved the best for last. Attached to this post is a picture I've taken in Austria while on my ski trip. Next to the yellow 'Post' sign is one that reads 'Bawag'. It's the sign for a bank in Austria. The word Bawag exists in Arabic - it means 'crook.' Need I do more than point out the role that banks played in the world's current economic situation? I was howling with laughter in the middle of the street...
[Picture of Kuwait University Students: 1960's (black and white) vs Present (colour)]
Recently, as part of research for my short story, I've talked a lot with the older generation about how life was back when they were growing up in Kuwait. This picture (taken during the golden years of Kuwait) reminded me of their stories and made me feel nostalgic for the Kuwait of the '60s - even though I was born in the '70s... Read post in Google+
[History Thursday - The Hill of Crosses]
This mystical sight is near the city of Šiauliai, in the north of Lithuania. It is self-explanatory: it's just a hill covered with crosses. But what I found fascinating is its history, namely how its purpose changed over the course of time. I visited the Hill in September of 2010. The description below is largely taken from an article I've written on the site.
Although it isn't known exactly when the practice of planting crosses on the hill first started and why on that particular hill, it is believed that Lithuanians started the practice out of religious reasons and sometime during the 18th century. The political climate then changed - in the late 18th century Lithuania became part of the Russian Empire and crosses were put up on the hill in remembrance of those who lost their lives fighting for independence. Lithuanians eventually won their independence, but lost it again - first to the Germans during WWII then to the USSR in 1944. During Soviet occupation, from 1944-1990, crosses were planted on the hill as a sign of national identity and protest against Soviet occupation. The Soviets, intending to strike a psychological blow, bulldozed the hill, but Lithuanians kept coming back and and planted even more crosses! The Soviets were eventually shown the door, the crosses remained.
According to Wikipedia the number of crosses was estimated at 55,000 in the year 1990. There probably are over hundreds of thousands of them by now. After walking up all around and all over the Hill I sat down on a nearby bench to eat the sandwich I prepared for this trip. The sky was a lazy blue and the soft chime of metal rang in the air from small crosses ruffled by a breeze. Around the statue of Christ, at the foot of the hill, was a small Polish congregation that quietly recited what sounded like a liturgy. There were a few others around the Hill - elderly people. Some standing alone while others with their significant other. All of them looked pensively at the confusion of crosses, listening to the soft chime in the air and remembering.
Here's a picture I've taken of the display window of a clothes store in Zurich, Switzerland. The mannequins you see, can you name the people they are modeled after? Read post in Google+
[Kuwait and New Year Celebrations]
Usually this time of year newspapers remind us that all celebrations for the new year are banned (because it's a non-Muslim event). People in Kuwait never really pay attention to these headlines and usually organize private parties. However, things are different this year. But in a weird way. The article below (taken from the Al-Qabas newspaper) states that public celebrations for the new year are permitted and are to be held at the ice rink on December 30th!!! How random... Read post in Google+
[Photo: Rainy day in London]
Ahh... London. Arrived yesterday and the weather is just as it should be: cool, cloudy and rainy. A nice change from the sun and heat of the desert... Read post in Google+