A Kuwaiti declaration of love

The first day of Eid. My usual beach companions are either travelling or fasting. I myself however am not daunted by the perspective of having to visit the beach on my own, and I decide to cross the street and make myself comfortable at Salmiya’s public beach. ‘Are you sure about this??’. E., the fasting friend, is a bit skeptical of the idea, but I tell him that I’ve been out on my own before without being bothered, so that it shouldn’t be much of a problem. But just to be on the safe side I don’t pack my bikini. Instead, I decide to go for a t-shirt and shorts. That should be (have been?) proper public beach attire.

Everything in Kuwait is hot, and that includes the sea. I am enjoying the lovely warm water when a guy, also enjoying the lovely warm water, comes up to me. “What’s your name?” “Where you from?”. I answer politely and find out that the quite handsome stranger is M., a Kuwaiti. This is a moment of excitement, one does not often catch Kuwaitis in the wild here, despite it being their home turf. A minority in their own country, they tend to keep away from expat society. The number of Kuwaitis I’ve met during my first period in Kuwait (non work-related) can be counted on the fingers of one hand, and the number of friends is limited to a mere two. To emphasize how rare meeting a Kuwaiti really is.

His bad English makes having a real conversation difficult, and my excitement soon diminishes, especially when he moves closer and closer towards me, towards the point where I start feeling uncomfortable and his leg ‘accidentally’ touches mine. I decide this is it, and return to my towel, only to be followed by M. He takes up his own towel and puts it right next to mine, trying to continue the conversation. “This beach bad, wanna go away?”. I politely decline, mentioning that my friend E. will be coming shortly, hoping this will deter the guy – even though I am fully aware that his fasting will keep E. away from the beach for at least three more hours!

I pretend to not understand his English (well, barely pretend), ignoring all his questions. The conversation turns into Arabic, of which I understand even less of course. And suddenly he bursts out: ‘I love you!’. And he repeats it at least ten times. However flattered, I decide I’ve had enough of this madness. A weird conversation follows. ‘I love you’. ‘No, you don’t, please go away’. ‘But I love you!’. ‘Please leave me’. ‘But I love you!!’. ‘Don’t be silly, please leave’. ‘I love you!’. And repeat this again ten times.

At last I grow tired of it and move my towel a few meters away. M. gets the messages and says goodbye. I don’t respond, so he says goodbye again. To which I don’t respond, so he repeats his farewell once more. I decide this approach is not going to work, so I finally wish him a nice day. And M. departs, and with him my chance at a Kuwaiti love.

 

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Photo credits: Mohammad Abdullah (CC-BY-NC 2.0)

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