Archive for the ‘Kuwait’ Category

Kuwaitis & The Cheesecake Factory

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One of things that increased my fascination while studying abroad is Kuwaitis’ love for the restaurant The Cheesecake Factory. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the restaurant, The Cheesecake Factory is famous for its upscale casual dining atmosphere and the extensive menu that offers more than 200 selections of appetizers, pizza, pasta, seafood, steaks, salads, and sandwiches. Of course, not to mention it’s diverse assortment of cheesecake such as the Original Cheesecake, Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake, Vanilla Bean Cheesecake, Oreo Cheesecake, Caramel Pecan Cheesecake, and so on.

Now, here is the thing. Despite that the Cheesecake Factory offers almost anything that might come to mind (they even offer kebabs), most of these dishes are mediocre in taste at best. That is, they don’t offer the best pasta dish, or the best chicken entrée around; you even forget the taste before you leave the restaurant. Now, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad place to dine in, it’s just as I mentioned above: it’s mediocre. What fascinates me however, is why Kuwaitis keep going to this place whenever they don’t know where to dine in? I developed couple of hypothesis and here are some of them:

  • Kuwaitis are known for their unfixed taste buds. Sometimes, it is better to go to a place where it offers an array of dishes just so you can shut everybody’s up, instead of nagging over a specific restaurant that offers a specific cuisine.
  • Kuwaitis, in general, have eyes bigger than their stomach. They tend to order too many appetizers in which they completely fill in before their main entrees arrive. Thus, they love to debate over a limited selection of the appetizers, but their arguments usually fail and wound up ordering half of the appetizer menu. Cheesecake Factory is one of the few restaurants that offer that opportunity.
  • Kuwaitis, most of the time, value the atmosphere more than the food, and usually Cheesecake Factory is located in a nice indoor mall, which makes it an ideal place to dine in after a long day of shopping.
  • Kuwaitis love cheesecake. End of the sentence.
  • Cheesecake Factory isn’t very cheap nor overly expensive, which makes it the perfect place to hold a “dinner activity”. A quick search at their “activities” in NUKS.ORG and you will discover what I mean.

Now, you might ask me, what the hell I’m babbling about? I don’t know really, I’m just sharing my thoughts. And you might ask, do I love this place? My answer would be yes because; I am a Kuwaiti after all. Another question would be, do I want this restaurant to be imported to Kuwait? Yes, that would be awesome. And finally, you might ask, would I be a frequent customer if the restaurant got imported? No, because I love to discover new places to dine in and probably it would have too many Kuwaitis to handle in one place.

The New Arranged Marriage Method

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Are you familiar with the arrange marriage method we have in Kuwait, especially the engagement part? You know when the two families meet and the boy gets to see the girl privately in a room. Well, according to my friend who has recently returned from Kuwait (loaded with news of course) told me the weirdest thing. He said that Kuwaitis are starting to adept a new method to meet their future brides and grooms without everybody knows what is happening. Apparently, the former method causes too much attention because it is usually turned into a social event, and when the boy or the girl gets rejected, they sometimes bring bad reputation to themselves. Thus, the new method “smartly” negates the negative effect. Here is how it is usually done:

• The two families secretly set a place to meet (over the phone) and it has to be in a public place, let’s say Chocolate Bar (man, I miss that place). The boy and the girl are usually accompanied by their parents and they set in two different tables but very close pay so the boy and the girl can cross eyes.

• Surprisingly, the girl doesn’t indulge herself with makeup (as she normally does when she goes out) so the boy will have the chance to see how she really looks like. The boy on the other hand wears his best clothes.

• After the secret meeting, the boy and the girl exchange phone numbers (either via Bluetooth or from their parents) and talk to each other on the same day or later. Then, the boy and the girl can inform their parents the news.

I will not be surprised if you are not aware of this method because it sounds a little flaky, but I expect anything coming from Kuwait these days. However, the method is preformed secretly so you shouldn’t be aware of it in the first place.

Stereotyping Kuwaitis

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My cousin sent me a link to Kuwait Times’ article regarding Kuwaitis and negative stereotype. More than 20 students and professors gathered at the AUK library to debate the article ‘Thinking Like a Kuwaiti’ and the stereotypes. Dr Christopher Ohan, a faculty member of the, AUK History and International Studies Program organized and moderated the discussion.

Click Here For The Report

I really found it very enlightening yet the discussion didn’t bring anything new to the table. I guess Kuwaitis come from my different backgrounds and perspectives that uniquely shape who they are.

International Festival Round Two

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Last Saturday we had international festival in our university and as always Kuwait was there and was represented by the KSA (Kuwaiti Students Association). Just like last year, we had many items to grab and food (lugeymat) and the opportunity for people to take their pictures while wearing the traditional Kuwaiti garment. One of the girls provided top-notch “Henna” and everybody wanted to have some including a guy who wanted henna in his leg. We did not have the “fortune-telling tools” so I provided reading their hands (el-kaf) instead, and tell them about their love, marriage, and career by reading the three major lanes on the right hand. I didn’t know what I was doing but I read it somewhere in a magazine on how old folks used to do; I was just having funny. The major international shows that got the most applause were Middle-Eastern belly dance, the Persian group dance, and the Chinese ceremony dance. The festival finished at 10:20PM and then all of us 30 students went to Cheesecake Factory for a celebration. I returned to my apartment at 1:00AM and had a restful sleep. I would like to provide some pictures but all of them were taken with my friends so I cannot show them in respect for their identity.

No Stomach Cancer For Kuwaitis

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While attending my usual cancer class today, we were learning about cancer epidemiology and its prevalence in different countries. Then we reached to this lecture slide that the Professor has shown in class and it reveals that Japan has the highest incidents of stomach cancer while Kuwait has the lowest of them all. I was so thrilled. When the Professor mentioned Kuwait, I made a loud yet short burst of “Woohoo”, the class laughed and the Professor smiled but he didn’t bother to check who made that sound; he’s a great teacher anyway with a great sense of humor.

Now I realize that some of you are surprised especially since poor diet is the main culprit of stomach cancer, and I bet you think “But we have poor diet in our culture.” However, since the survey is recent, it might actually say something on our current lifestyle. Nowadays, there are gyms everywhere you go and the “low-carb diets” awareness has reached its peaks comparing to the last 10 years, so maybe we are going somewhere and maybe we are becoming a “granola society” sooner than expected, but I honestly cannot help being a little cynical since the rates of fast food is also increasing sharply.

Any thoughts?

Private School Prom

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We were swapping story the other day and we got into our high school graduation parties and how they were like. I on the other hand didn’t have one since the principle of our high school was saving the “school’s money” to rebuild our school and skipped having a graduation ceremony for that year. I didn’t really care since public school’s graduation party sucks anyway, but my mother was pissed. She got me my brother’s graduation attire and took me to a professional photographer to take a picture of me wearing the graduation outfit. Pathetic isn’t it.

Anyway, my friends (who went to private schools) shared their stories as well, and they mentioned they actually had a prom in their graduation day. I didn’t believe it at first. I mean a prom in Kuwait. They stated it is no different from their American counterparts and they got to dance with a girl and vote for Prom’s King and Queen. I then asked my cousins (who’ve been to private schools) and they mentioned the same thing. This is kinda cool, I always wanted to go to a prom, but that’s got me thinking: Do some people lose their virginity on prom day in Kuwait? Now that’s a wild thought.

Kuwaiti’s Art In Window’s Vista

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Hamad Darwish (a 24 years old Kuwaiti photographer) might not be a household name, but if you use Windows Vista, then his work is on your computer. In fact, it might be even on your desktop right now! Assuming IDC’s predictions are accurate, then before the end of the year, up to 90 million people will have the chance to see Hamad’s work.

  • Check out his exclusive interview right HERE.
  • Browse his stunning work by visiting his flicker account right HERE.

Celebrate Kuwait

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Just want to congratulate all the Kuwaitis for the anniversary of our independence and liberty. I heard this created a 5-day holiday (starting from Thursday through Monday); although, I bet the streets are so crowded that might force some people not to go out at all. Honestly, I’m not a big fan of rallies (maserah); it just most of the times things get really crazy and sometimes scary. Anyway, may God protects Kuwait and her people and spread joy to every single being living there forever.

Hard Cook Is Funny

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Reading Mark’s latest entries, reminded me of the fast food restaurant Hard Cook, and I remember laughing so hard the first time I have been there. It was like two years ago (winter break of 2005 to be exact). And it was me, my mom, and my aunt (5altee) who we picked her up from the hospital and we were on our way to drop her off at her house. She was a bit hungry (and so did I) so we stopped at Hard Cook. Now, this was my first time there; I looked at the title of the restaurant and the next thing I was laughing hard. My aunt looked at me and then looked at mom “what’s wrong with him?”. My mom smiled and said “apparently he’s laughing at the title of the restaurant” (I love how my mom understands me without me saying anything). My aunt realized why I was laughing and gave me her famous, long-stretched word “3eeeeeeeb” (which means shame on you or something). Now, the thing that brought tears to my eyes is the way the workers dressed especially the big, silly Mexican hats they wore. It just the idea didn’t click to me, and whoever came up with the idea is certainly clueless, because it wasn’t original, it was darn funny. I mean you have to see the way they look from afar; the big hats were hilarious walking around on the street. Things got worse when one of the waiters approached our car to receive our orders, because I was still laughing hard. When he approached our window, I picked my phone and was pretending that I’m laughing with my “imagined-caller”. I couldn’t order anything, so my aunt ordered me what she wanted for herself.

OK, I know I sounded really silly and extremely immature but I couldn’t help it. Hard Cook is a funny restaurant indeed; I forgot how their food tested though.

Scary Tales From Kuwait

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The other day, me and my friends were having one of our meaningless discussion and the next thing we were talking about some scary tales (or urban legends) we heard from other folks or other forms of media. Many of us told many stories, and some of them really freaked me out, so I thought to share some of these stories and see if you (by any chance) heard about them somewhere. Now, I’m not saying they’re real, or I want you to believe them, because I assume most of them are urban legends. I chose two stories that two of my friends told and the last one was told by me.

Story #1
A Freaked Party

According to my friend, this story is really popular in Kuwait (and very recent) and couples of newspaper and magazines have reported the story. The story goes like this: a middle-aged woman who plays old-fashioned Kuwaiti instrument (she’s a 6a8a8ah) received a call during Ramadan from some folks who wanted to use her services. At first, she refused since it is inappropriate to perform music during Ramadan, but she soon agreed when they insisted that she performs, and they also agreed to give her triple what she usually charges. They told her that they are going to send their own driver to pick her up from her house and drive her to theirs. The day of the celebration came, and she went to the house and started performing. The day was Thursday but the party continued until 12:00AM (Friday), then, the old woman got a little worry especially some of the attendances started to act bizarre, but what she saw next shook her to the very core. A group of young girls centered the room and then started to dance very aggressively that their legs appeared; however, their legs weren’t human at all, they closely resembled horses’ legs. The old woman got terrified and ran outside and “luckily” for her, the driver (who picked her up) was waiting outside. She got inside the car and asked the driver to take her away from here. The driver asked her what’s wrong but she was freaking out and couldn’t mumble her words correctly. After couple of minutes, the driver asked her again what is wrong, and she told him what she has witnessed, then the driver replied, “you mean just like my legs”. He revealed his legs under the “deshdasha” he was wearing, and his legs were just like the young girls before. The old woman got hysterical again and threw herself from the car to the street, which got her unconscious. The next morning, people found her on the street and took her to the police station where the old woman reported the incident. When they reached the “party house”, it was gone; it disappeared, and what was left behind was just an empty yard.

Story #2
The Dark Lady of Bayan

I cannot tell you how many times I heard this story from many people in my life, which really makes me terrified from going to Bayan. However, it is known that Bayan is one of the most “haunted” areas in Kuwait (especially in the “inside-streets”). It is said that very late at night, many witnessed a dark lady roaming the “inside” streets of Bayan and walking in the streets that face the houses from both sides. Although, most people who report her presence usually see her from a distance (like from a window or while riding a car). They say her face isn’t quite visible but she has a bit sparkly red eyes that terrified anyone who sees her directly. The story my friend told me is that two young kids in their teens saw her from their window and looked directly at her eyes. The day after, the kids exhibited symptoms that resemble a fever, but soon got away.

Story #3
The Bones Within

OK, this is the story that I told, in which I heard it from my father. My father met this guy while he was searching for a land to build our house. The guy told my father to be extremely careful on picking the land. He told my father that three months ago, his family got to their new house that was located in one of the “new areas” of Kuwait. He said that, for a month, they were hearing this strange, faint noise coming outside from their house in the middle of the night. It sounded like a faint scream that usually an animal produces. They didn’t pay attention to it at first. Until one day, the father hired some workers to plant him some tress, bushes, and other kind of greens in his garden. After couple of hours, the workers called the father and asked him to come to the garden because they found something buried beneath his own garden. What they found was a pile of bones, (mostly bones from cows, horses, and other farm animals). The father was terrified and asked the workers to dig further around the house, and they found 8 piles of bones circling the house from 8 different angles. The father took all the bones from his garden and the next day, his house was put on sale.

And that’s pretty much it. It is up to you if you want to believe them or not, but for me, I’m assuming they are just urban legends. However, what makes me believe in them (just a little bit) is the way these stories have been reported. For example, the first story was published in a couple of news paper, the second story is quite famous and heard it couple of times from other people, and the third one comes from a person that my father knew. I bet there are other stories like that but whether they are true or not, they are certainly terrifying.