Ahlan wa Salhan - Welcome to Kuwait

navelim, gasper, kuwait, goa, goans
goa, goans, kuwait, goans abroad,

A humor story by gasper crasto...29.01.2009

Hello..” I answered the phone.

“Hi.. hello..” said an exciting voice at the other end.

“Who’s this?” I asked placing the hands-free between my shoulder and the ear.

“Hey dude, you don't know me?..”

Don't know me?

Some people have such dumb, abysmal manners. Why can’t they introduce themselves when they call. It is so annoying. 

Still, there are others who have the cheek to call and insist to know who 'you' are. I remember a female voice asking once, “Who’s speaking?”

Someone calling your home wants to know who they are talking to?

Who’s speaking?

I guess I must have been in a pretty violent mood when I got that call. I remember answering, “Tuzo pai..!”

“What!!!” There was a long silence before the line went dead. Slowly but surely I realized it was one of our close friends. 

Within seconds the phone started to buzz again. I did not answer, I was not at home...๐Ÿ˜ And I switched off my mobile phone too, I was out of range๐Ÿ˜†.

“Hey dude.. are you there?” the voice at the other end blurted.

“Yess..” I said. I was getting agitated already!

“Hey.. don’t you know who I am?”

“Hello..” my patience was over the coals now, “are you some Amitabh Bachchan that I would know you by your voice? ”

There was a gasp at the other end, then a deep breath.

“Hey.. it’s me bro.. aum re... Brian.. your classmate in school..!.. Remember me now?”

It was a familiar voice no doubt. I immediately relaxed, and recalled our glory days!

“Hey Briany.. how you doing man?” I asked, “When did you come to Kuwait?”

“Just a week... And I thought the best person to guide me this part of the world was you.. ..you’ve been here for a while, isn't it?.. Wasn't difficult to trace you.....”

“Ahlan-wa-salhan.. Welcome to Kuwait!” I said warmly.

For almost an hour we discussed about life here and there, then and now, the weather there and here; the standard and comfort of living in Kuwait and the 'killing' weather back home. 

Brian wished to know much more, especially the top secrets of living abroad.

“Apart from the basic needs such as food, shelter, etc, there is a special package of minimum requirements for survival in Kuwait.” I told him.

“And what would that be?” he asked.

“To live in Kuwait, you need WMDs.” I whispered?

“Weapons of Mass Destruction!!!?” he whispered back.

“The WMDs I am talking about are different.. these are for one's own survival in Kuwait!”

“Hmm.. tell me more..!”

“The W is Wasta. Loosely translated, ‘wasta’ is connections of methods by which we obtain difficult things in an easier manner (and usually outwit the rules). Living in Kuwait necessitates ‘wasta’. Without it, you cannot get anything done; well you can, but it will be difficult. You need ‘wasta’ for paperwork, to get a job - no matter how well educated you are, etc, etc, even to get a good apartment....and many other things.”

“How do I find wasta?”

“If you don’t have direct ‘wasta’, you should ask around and associate yourself with someone who does. Using this method, you can obtain second or third-party ‘wasta’, which is just as effective in getting what you need.”

“Alright..I'll make a note of this in my mind..What’s the next WMD?”

Mobile. It is unheard of to live in Kuwait and not possess a mobile nowadays. Your mobile number is the equivalent of your social insurance number in Western countries. To some people, mobiles are more important than house lines – people can live for years without a domestic line or even their wives, but won’t go one day without mobile service.”

“That’s the first thing I did after landing in Kuwait, buy myself a sim card..!” Brian said.

“The last of the WMDs is the Destination you wish to be inside Kuwait. For that, a car is more of a necessity than luxury here. Once you get into your car, you rarely wish to get out. You need the car to pick up groceries, laundry, fish and food, buy flowers, go to church or the Friday football games, etc. Living in Kuwait, even for a short period of time, you get accustomed to staying behind the wheel.”

“Well.. for that I need to first get a driving license, isn’t it?”

“Yes.. use the first of your WMDs to get that!” I answered, “Back on the subject, a car is definitely a necessity to achieve your Destination. Unlike other countries, the transport system here is poor.

“Okay???...” the guy seemed anxious to know.

“There are no trains or metros or motorcycle 'pilots' like in Goa, so the only public transportation available is the bus. But taking a bus to get to your Destination is like going on a tour of Kuwait. You will pass many useless streets and areas, and a trip that is supposed to take a few minutes will take a couple of hours.”

“Well, I have to wait a while to be in the driver’s seat..” my friend said sadly.

“If you can’t get a license and a car soon, associate yourself with someone who has a car. This is transportation by association – a weapon that is required in your situation..”

“Guess what!.. Life doesn’t seem to be an inch brighter here, as I thought it to be..” I heard my friend sigh.

“Certainly not.. specially in current times..!” I said, “The global economic crisis has bitten life to an uncertainty... Many companies are laying off staff, reducing operations and tightening screws. People have lost their jobs and their homes, and are facing serious hardships..”

“But I see many of you guys party like filmstars when you come down to Goa on vacations.. I too want to rock when I go back..”

“Everyone will be forced to change those habits.. Celebrations are gonna be tight when one can’t pay the rents or feed the family.. This is not a time to boast of one’s earnings, ‘existence’ is the necessity now -- and we must appreciate the blessings we already enjoy, the friendship we possess, and the love we already have..”

“Yaar, before I hang up let me thank you for the info, .. your advice, and encouragement... ..”

“Ahlan wa salhan; you are most welcome, mate!”

“There is sheer truth in what you talk. Beats my whole assessment of a 'green' desert..! But hey, tell me something.... aren’t you the same guy I’ve known for ages.. ..who refused to talk anything serious like this?”

“Well dude,” I replied, “that guy died a long time ago.. I am his ghost!”

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