We have been together since September 14th, 2016. In comparison to other relationships I’ve had, ours seems short lived; however we could both see, from the early months, that this couldn’t possibly be long term. Still, there is no denying that we made the most of the time we had together. I won’t offer you platitudes- yes we are from different worlds, cultures and believe in very different morals. Ialso won’t lie and say, “It’s me not you” because it’s both of us- we just don’t complement each other.
Friend: Don’t you love your life in Kuwait?
Me: I do.
Friend: And hasn’t Kuwait treated you well?
Me: It has.
Friend: So why can’t you stay?
Me: Because love and compatibility are not the same thing.
I won’t talk about all the reasons I have to leave you. We will discuss that next week. For now, I just want to be honest and thank you:
– Thank you for the opportunity to move to the Middle East. When all other countries were failing to offer me something I could be happy with, you stepped in and rescued me from the professional rut I was stuck in while in South Africa.
– Thank you for the opportunity to travel… so much! Since I landed in Kuwait, I’ve visited 7 different countries, some more than once. A great geographical location and hard earned Kuwaiti dinars have made this possible. You’ve allowed me to fulfill my dreams!
– Thank you for the lessons in patience and humility. From thrusting me into a kindergarten teaching position to endless queues at government departments, you’ve taught me the virtue of being patient and accepting that this isn’t how things should be done yet- this is what I have to accept.
– Thank you for showing me that Arabs are NOT bad people! Although I didn’t have a stereotype about Arabs prior to moving to this region, when I came here, I was really surprised about how negative expats are about the local people. Kuwait, you have shown me that is totally inaccurate. Some of the kindest and funniest people I’ve met in Kuwait have been Arabs. I’ve experienced Arab hospitality and been the recipient of Kuwaiti kindness on more occasions than I care to count. I will leave with beautiful memories of your people.
So as you can see, I’m leaving you having gained a lot. Priceless experiences. There are a few things I will miss about you, kuwait. Things that only you could offer me, not things that I can find in other GCC countries, just pure Kuwaiti things:
- Your size. Kuwait you are so small and it is one of your best features. Within a month or two, you’re easy to navigate and you start to feel like ‘home’ very quickly. Travelling anywhere within the country is not more than an hour’s drive (if there is no traffic). So travel to & from work or anywhere else takes no more than 20 mins. There are grocery stores within 100 – 200 m of most residential buildings. Most people, especially families own cars, so it is easy to travel to any part of the country . One does not encounter overcrowded trains or buses, nor does it take several hours to reach work or home. Except for those labourers working in construction or out in the sun, most people work in comfort of A/C, as it is a necessity in the hot, desert climate here.
2. What you show me is what I pay. Although a lot of people are complaining of the rising costs, I believe that living here is still relatively cheaper than U.S. or European nations. For one, we are tax free Kuwait, so our salaries are not taxed. Same goes for shopping and purchases. The price displayed is the price I pay, unlike other countries where one ends up paying almost double after adding all taxes and fees. Most facilities are still subsidized so basic necessities are covered by government. Before I came here, I didn’t know that the government subsidises a portion of the lights, water and petrol prices as well as public healthcare which is practically free. Thanks Kuwait!
3. You make me feel safe. I feel safer here than I do in most other countries. Because of the harsh penalties, the crime rate is very low here. I routinely leave my handbag in my shopping trolley and then walk away to grab something else. I walk around my neighbourhood freely at night and have never felt like I was in any danger. Although the media has sensationalised news about people being attacked in the Middle East, I have never felt threatened or fearful for my life. Or even close.
4. You allow me to get a wax/haircut/manicure at 9pm at night. Looking good is a HUGE part of your culture and salons cater to this by staying open until the late hours of the evening. A friend of mine goes to his barber down the road at 22:30! I myself have been known to enjoy a mani/pedi well after what would be considered closing hours in other countries.
5. 100 fils falafel sandwiches. Everyone here has those months when they’ve sent too much money home or budgeted poorly for their European holiday. The great thing about you Kuwait is that every second suburban street here has a tiny dodgy- looking store that offers cheap but filling falafel sandwiches at outrageously cheap prices. (For South Africans 100 fils is the equivalent of R4!)
6. Your tolerable weather. Unlike surrounding GCC countries, you have a very distinct 4 seasons with all of the weather being relatively bearable. There is NO humidity during hot months which means no frizzy hair, pimples and sticky air. Temperatures in winter range between 3 and 10 degrees which, although unpleasant, was quite bearable at least for the two months it was cold (December/January). In February it hit 15 degrees and by early March I was back in the pool! Summer is hot (40+ degrees) but air-conditioning EVERYWHERE means I survived!
7. Thanks for introducing me to this AMAZING ice-cream brand:
Seriously, its delightful and because it is produced locally, it is inexpensive too! I could always pick up a tub at any supermarket and there are tons of unique flavours. Does anyone know if I can get this ice-cream outside of Kuwait? I am kind of addicted.
Kuwait you will always be special to me because you were my first; the first Middle Eastern country that I called home. It was here that I re-learned how to live alone, live through a dust storm, to drive on the ‘wrong’ side of the road and a whole bunch of Arabic that’s going to stay with me for the rest of my life.