Friday, January 27, 2006
Slipper Quest, 2006
Winter in Kuwait is worth a few eye-rolls to someone used to pipe-bursting frigid winters. Any time someone bleats "it's cold today," I start giggling. It gets chilly enough for both a sweater and a light coat sometimes, but I haven't once regretted leaving my mittens and parka at home.
Nevertheless, the tile floors in my apartment do chill my lower extremities. Meaning my toes get cold.
Socks haven't beaten back the chill. I needed slippers with rubber or plastic soles.
This afternoon, I hopped the 505 bus up the Gulf Road past Kuwait Towers to Sharq Souk, the mall I'd visited on my first night in town. Slipper Quest 2006 didn't produce ideal results. Debenham's had lots of toasty slippers in sizes too small for my big feet. The 1.50 dinar slippers at Sultan Centre (the local equivalent of Shop-Rite or Safeway) were one-size-fits-all—if you are a member of the Yeti family (speaking of which, did anyone notice that the Malaysians are hot on the trail of Big Foot? But I digress.). A nice Filipino saleswoman walked me over to the KD 2.50 section and there I acquired the necessary foot coverings. Not furry or wooly as I was searching for, but I was ready to take what I could get as I don't plan on carrying these back to the States with me. KD 2.50 is USD 8.50. For a cheap pair of slippers. I'm missing dollar stores at this point.
I walked back through the mall, dosing myself on fast food with the excuse that I needed more salt in my diet since I'd been dehydrated. What a difference the time of day makes! When I'd visited Sharq last, it had been filled with teens and young adults, all decked out in hair gel and romantic flowing princess outfits. The afternoon clientele was nearly all families. Women were covered in black robes and veils. Men wore dishdashas—long loose robes and head coverings.
Children were everywhere. Baby carriages seemed as likely to be pushed by men as by women, which caught me by surprise. Older children appeared to bear some responsibility for the younger children.
Last night, I'd been in a completely different sort of shopping center. It was in the middle of town, its clientele far from the glamorous nightclub-looking denizens of Sharq or the teens of Marina Mall. The downtown shopping center was the melting pot of malls, with few Kuwaitis in sight.
Mr. Fixit took Sven, Mrs. Fixit, and me to the pirate DVD shops in the basement of the shopping center. It was a little Bollywood empire, with each of four shops competing for our attention with the latest Bollywood video. The Fixits and Sven paged through the available Hollywood DVDs while I turned my attention to the video screen of the shop next door.
"Sanjana, I love you," belted out the handsome Indian star as he swung Sanjana out over the bow of a cruise ship. Wait, I'd seen this. I'd watched half of this movie in the lobby of Econolodge in Dar Es Salaam while waiting for someone to get off the manager's computer so that I could use his internet. In this movie, Sanjana's parents tried to set her up. The boy they'd set her up with didn't feel like showing up, so he'd sent his friend. The friend and Sanjana fell in love, and then the parents found out the future Mr. Sanjana was an imposter. How did it end? I never found out. The internet became available and I'd forgotten about Sanjana's dilemma until this moment.
The shopkeeper, a young Indian guy with a doo-rag pulled tightly over his hair, instructed his helper to fast-forward so that I could see the end. Too far. All I got was an ensemble of dancing Bollywood actors doing a complex routine as the credits rolled. The shop staff looked to me hopefully.
"Thank you. That's exactly what I wanted to know," I said politely. The Fixits and Sven—DVDs in tow—showed up. We left Sanjana behind and went for some curry.