Face of Iraqi Wars & Fable from my childhood.. Two Cats & a Monkey

This is a fable for the young generation..

Indian culture is full of fables & we grew up listening to oodles of them from parents, grandparents, relatives & even exchanges with friends. Those were the most beautiful moments & we never got tired of it… Basically unlike the present day gadgets, it was one of the most important entertainments for us. That’s how we were mentally groomed to grow up as balanced human beings. Keeping the values & growth of mankind, as the Vedas & Puranas have done thousands of years ago, fables were woven & passed on in a simpler fashion known as Ajji-Kategalu (Grandmother’s stories).

I am certain that Indian fables are a rich source of bonding & grooming to children. I was really surprised when I narrated my own modified version of the story of “King with the Donkey’s ears’ to Arya, my 3.5 years old granddaughter, she was so excited & made me tell her the story several times. I let her name the King & she would religiously repeat “King Cockle has Donkey’s ears” three times too. One day she also asked me Nana can you write & give it to Mama/Dada so they can read it for me!!

An Ajji would have said: A Door is smaller than a house, a lock is smaller than the door & a Key is smallest of them all. Like how we can enter the house with that little key, a good moral solution can fix big problems & vice versa!!

When the Iran-Iraq war happened (22.09.1980 to Aug 1988), we lived just a ~500 kilometers away & when Iraq annexed Kuwait (02.08.1990 to 26.02.1991) we lived there for 2 months before starting the arduous journey home. In a WAR there is no such thing as winners or losers; everyone is a loser in different context. I always wonder who really benefitted & ate the cake. Coming back to the headlines, you can read the story & interpret the way you want.

Many moons ago there lived two Cats in an old woman’s house. They were good friends, born together & while basking in the Sun spent their time playing & purring whole day in the garden. Old woman was very fond of the Cats & pampered them like her own children. There was plenty of food & milk, & they did not have to toil it. One day the old woman was suddenly taken ill & had to be rushed to the hospital. There was no food or milk kept out for them to eat or drink.

Middle of the day both were very hungry & could not find any food or drink. So both decided to search for the food & wondered all over the village but could not find any food. Finally the aroma of freshly baked bread & cake gave them some hope. When the baker was busy they managed to sneak in & while the baker was trying to chase one, the other ran away with a piece of cake. Finally, they stopped under a bush & decided to share the cake. It was a team effort & both wanted equal share. One of them divided the cake into two pieces & the pieces did not look equal.  Obviously they had no knife to cut it & had to use their paws. The tantalizing smell of cake made them greedy & both began to quarrel claiming the bigger piece.

On a nearby tree a small troop (incidentally it is also called a barrel!!!) of Monkeys were watching the commotion under the canopy. The smart leader decided to mediate between the Cats. Well that’s what it told them… it came down from the tree & asked them why they were quarreling with each other?

When the Cats complained to the Monkey about the difference in the portion, the Monkey said oh don’t worry, I can solve this problem in no time. The leader went to nearby vegetable vendor & borrowed a balance to weigh.

The Monkey said, well keep both the pieces in the balance & let us see if it is different & I will be the judge. Impressed by the size & smartness of the Monkey, the Cats agreed & kept the pieces in the balance. Indeed it was different & the Monkey said it will fix the problem, & cut a piece of the heavier cake & ate it. Then weighed the pieces again & the other piece was heavier this time. Saying it will fix the pieces equally, the Monkey took a bite & ate it. To make the pieces equal, biting & eating from the heavier pieces continued until such time that there was nothing left. Right in front of their eyes the entire cake piece vanished into Monkey’s stomach as both the Cats stood helpless & aghast for the right measurement.

Finally the Monkey smiled & said now my dear friends; I have solved your problem & you won’t have to quarrel over the bigger piece of the cake anymore & climbed back the tree.

Still hungry & sad, the Cats learnt the lesson of their life, not to involve a stranger in their personal affair. They had no choice but to wait for the old lady to return home…

World is still filled with Cats & all kinds of monkeys white, brown, black, etc.

Homelessness & the power of Hope

 

People have different views & perspective towards life. Some are satisfied with what they have, while others  are too sensitive & long for comforts. If some hang on to their pride & ego, others would do any work for a living.

I saw 4-different youngsters in different parts of Manhattan {one right in front of Mr. Trump’s living quarters} holding banners that said If I have $20 I could find a room in the hostel & I could get a proper job or I could go to school or something like that.

I was forbidden by my family to take pictures… since it’s an apparent invasion of their privacy!! I fruitlessly argue with them that when they are physically fit & live in the land of opportunities & social security & still beg, why can’t I take picture? Many a times homelessness is forced on people by war or some kind of calamity which is really unfortunate. But in USA it’s not fair, infactI saw a young homeless man at Albuquerque (New Mexico), asking for help while holding a cardboard that read- “I am too honest to steal & too ugly for prostitution”!

Way back in 1990, my family and I, were homeless for 9-whole days. No home, no bath & we were exposed to fine dust storm in the desert No-man’s land between the Iraq-Jordan  A journey which takes less than 5 hours stretched to 9-days & nights! Being homeless is really sad & stressful…. Something like labour pain – it can only be experienced but can never be explained! The other day my daughter asked me Mum how can people live without a home? I think I would die if I become homeless… then I told her their time has not come for death… their Karma is still lingering on… more than that the word HOPE has a long reach. Hope is like the carrot & the donkey… somehow its pulls one to move forward in search of a better day. I explained to her of a worse condition than being homeless I had witnessed.

It was a leper without limbs (below his both knees), with raw pink flesh & flies sitting on it. He sat on a make shift wooden board with 4 small wheels pushing himself ahead with his palm. Sometime around 2008, I was walking along with my husband behind Mohan Bhandar at Mysore searching for some light fixtures. It was a crowded narrow street & suddenly he appeared right in front of me. His gaze was so sharp, transfixed almost piercing my soul as if blaming me for being able to walk… I just stood there, dumbstruck, unable to move, & my husband had to walk back after realizing that I was not following him anymore. His image is still imprinted in my mind…. Many a times I wondered what made him tick? Is that what is called the mortal “Vyamoha” in Sanskrit (roughly translated as deep attachment)? Or is it simply fear of the unknown, the death? Wish I could ask him what made him mentally so strong? What was he hoping for… a miracle? I realized then that if he had the courage to live, then no one on earth has the right to kill themselves- whatever may be the circumstances.

Usually homeless & begging goes hand in hand. Some may scrape from the dustbin than ask for handout. Begging style differs from country to country, & from person to person. There are many ways to beg… some will follow you or try to hang on to you like leeches. Some will silently beg. Some will sing or play music & expect some payment. While some will entertain with animals & rope tricks etc., etc. Some will earn money but are so used to their life on the street that they could never live a normal life. Beggary just becomes a way of life… old habits die hard…

Lately a beggar died in action (i.e. while still begging) on the streets of Bengaluru, India. When they lifted his body to be taken to the grave yard, they were in for a surprise… under his quilt on which he sat in a semicircle igloo like makeshift tent & begged, was currency worth more than 13-million rupees. Enough to give him a comfortable home, warm bed, food & clothing. Yet he sat on it till death, perhaps hoping it would hatch or lay eggs!!

More than that I was amazed to watch the video in which so many gathered with deep fervor, young old like, guarded by a police man with a lathi (stick) in hand, to count & sort the money. Touch & scent of Money, in any form & from any source is still desirable like bed of sweet smelling roses…. Hum. God knows how hands it will pass through & how many will try to pocket some… Begging from the Beggar rather from the Dead Body!! Ironically, his lifeless body was laid right next to the whole drama, ready to be lifted… Dead Body, a funny strange word… Wondered IF, his Soul was hanging around watching the drama what would it must be feeling?

I always wondered how the homeless attend to their body waste. One day I was at McDonald’s in San Francisco, California & I saw a homeless man walk & buy a sandwich, & later go to the washroom. I was told that the restaurants can’t deny customers food & use of their washroom because of their back ground or attire… there are for all intents and purposes, public toilets! .

Two days back, we went for a walk late night after dinner. Weather was nice & streets were not crowded. Right opposite to Queensboro Bridge, finally I saw how they manage to sleep at night, at least few & when the weather is good. On the threshold of one of the shops, 2 individuals slept in close proximity fully covered with a sheet. And strangely, rested just above their head, was a brown leather bound bible with Holy Bible written in golden on it. I think that’s what Hope really means. When the world says give up, hope whispers, try one more time. Just across, opposite the entrance to tramway, on the rows of benches sat a man with a bottle of alcohol & flask practicing, perhaps a new tune, on his guitar. At a distance sat another, eating his dinner listening to music at the quiet of the night… he actually did not look like a homeless man. At the far end sat a homeless lady perhaps waiting for everyone, including us, to vanish from there so that she could sleep peacefully. The positive yet saddest thing was that even though she was homeless she had combed her hair very neat & her belongings in the cart were well folded & neatly stacked, maybe reminiscent to her past…. She reminded me of what a lady said to me when I visited a thrift market earlier… “when the country had better days, I worked at Pier 26 & I would buy expensive stuff & now I am selling them for throw away prices for a living”… the tone in which she said was very touching…. No one knows what is in store for anyone tomorrow…

My younger daughter says, mum why you are so interested in homeless people…. I don’t know why they always catch my eyes perhaps because once in my life, at a distant past I wore their shoes … thanks to Saddam & the so called Big Guns who stirrup troubles, as if possessed by some evil spirit to aid on something which doesn’t have an ending in the horizon!

Sometimes I see so many contrasts in one place. Like the other day when we were walking across the Rockefeller University, along the Hudson River bank, I saw brand new barbeque grill abandoned & loads of waste in the bin, may be leftovers from previous night partying. Right opposite to that slept a homeless woman in a neon green reflective safety west …… she slept so peacefully that even the traffic on the highway besides did not deter her sleep. Little further, on another bench, sat a well-dressed young woman (seemed hungover from the previous night) with a cell phone trying to type a message & half way through she fell back asleep, still clutching the phone. How she got there is beyond my understanding. When we returned, the young woman was still sleeping… the older woman was eating something that seemed like pancake from foil paper. Next to her stood a man eyeing everyone & when I saw his face, he was moving his tongue awkwardly, like snakes move their tongue… it reminded me of an old proverb: Even if the tamarind tree is old, the tamarind is still sour!! I wondered why the hell am I keep coming across so many strange characters & events?

To end with, here is a delicate story narrated by a Real Estate agent…. It seems once a couple approached her saying they wanted a home with just two specific requirements… the flat should be facing the main road & should have a large window. They did not bother if the flat was old or fittings/furnishing were broken as long as the two criteria were met. The reason they wanted the flat was that they wanted to keep their dog close to their work place so that they could come & visit the dog whenever possible. While they were away, the dog should not stress, bored or depressed… hum… I can say that some dogs are luckier & better loved than humans…

My DIL tells me that the government gives them shelter, food & clothing… but some people just don’t apply or collect. I have no idea how far the government aid is stretched but end of the day Super Power is just a virtual status which sounds fruitless once you know or live the sad reality like the empty shell of a hermit crab. From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, every country is the same only the percentage differs!! After all Shangri-La is yet to be discovered & there is no such thing as Utopia!!

Me& the Kodava Mapila

January 2016, just 10 days after coming back from India, I was going again to India as my brother was unwell… It’s been two decades since I traveled by Kuwait Airways… they had started a direct flight to Bangalore lately. Departure from Gate No.8 in the basement.. it was crowded… a group of Indians were returning from Omrah… strangely majority of them were coughing… as if there was a coughing competition. Like some times during the rainy season when a group of frogs starts croaking in one location, the minute it stops the sound from another batch in another place will start as if they are in to Olympic size competition. Same way they coughed nonstop… Then magically a lady, new comer who just came at the same time as me started coughing… instant transferring of coughing… Wow so much so I started regretting that I was making a trip by KAC as I was afraid that I would be carrying the transferring-cough to the hospital with me making everyone sick including my brother. But I had no choice but to wait as the synchronized coughing bout continued.

Finally, we reached the aircraft to be waiting yet again for another hour or so as the conveyer belt had some problem. Thanks to whatsapp, I spent that extra hour messaging my family voicing my fear about transferring-cough. The lady who caught the cough at the airport was sitting next to me & started complaining how she got the cough. In the meantime the gentleman who was on the other side of the isle who was also going home from Saudi was trying to assure me that it’s not contagious & they drank chilled water in the cold weather which effected their throat. I had no comments… I was stressed.. tired & too worried about what must be happening back home?

The woman next to me spoke nonstop during the flight, with breaks to cough every now & then… baffling me with her personal history. An adventure par excellence & beyond imagination, one of the most fascinating persons I have ever met! To my utter surprise she was an illiterate shepherdess, who never stepped into a classroom in her life!! Spending 6-1/2 hour with her was like a life time… In return all that she wanted from me was to fill her information in the immigration form… and point to her where to sign & assist her to talk to the custom office when landed regarding the 32” TV which she was carrying with her!! But the world she opened around me was infinite.

Still coughing in synchrony, most of the passengers slept off after the meal…. Somewhere in between I heard someone talk in a strange Kodava-dialect.. I thought I imagined it & ignored. After a while I heard again but I could not get up & look as it was dark… after the dinner the lights were off… anyway we landed in Bangalore late… While getting up I saw this lady wearing manly-looking, shiny gold-rings in 3-fingers.. just joked with her so you got a new ring… wow.. nice… in English… she gave me a weak smile without answering back but her husband from behind said yes.. in Riyadh… then I picked up a conversation & learnt that they were from Kodagu & 35 of them went to Omrah as part of a group … When I understood who they were, it was a strange feeling… while growing up I had heard of them but never really bothered to find or talk to them as there was simply no need & the priorities were different then.

They were a gang of Kodava-Mapillas, the progenies of Tippu’s malice…… who are still known as Kodava-Mapillas in Kodagu, speak the language (though with a slightly different accent/dialect) but their ways, life style & behavior were different… clothing was different.. Ironically they still have clan names too… I had such mixed feelings…after all, we shared the same DNA in a different past yet we were poles apart… somewhere inside my heart, it pinched me… I know its history yet I wondered what if it did not happen all those years ago.. what if maniac Tippu’s father never came hitch-hiking to India? Perhaps I would have known some of them personally, some of them may have been my relatives. {as a small community which does not allow inter-marriages, the whole community is somehow distantly related to each other.} I would have spent time with them & enjoyed their company. So many if & buts… it was a far-cry & a question which will never have answers…. I couldn’t even imagine myself fitting into their shoes…

According to Indian belief the “runau-bandha” (there is no equivalent word in English… the unexplained relationships something like unseen & unwritten DNA), lasts for 7-lives… doesn’t expire even when the physical body expires!! There was this elderly lady & a middle aged man was helping her out… he said it was his aunt. When I reached the escalator they were in front of me & the man was trying to convince her to go with him… waited for a minute or so & offered to help her… that man left her hand immediately & moved forward, the lady did not put her feet down properly & along with her I too fell down on the escalator… perhaps God was watching as both of us were unhurt.. Finally we ended on top of the escalator & I requested one of the guys around to arrange for a wheelchair for the lady. Later found them near the luggage area again & spoke to them …to make sure the old lady now on wheelchair was safe & comfortable. Our acquaintance ended there… it was a strange feeling… it had been a long stressful day from the time I heard about my brother early morning… meantime so much had happened in a different way.. I met so many people & learnt so much about the life.. When we landed something strange happened, which perhaps even Mr. Ripley can’t find an answer… all of a sudden everyone stopped coughing!! LoL it just vanished into thin air of Namma-Bengaluru.

Forcible conversion is a funny thing… a cruel joke, treating humans like lifeless objects without any personality… Gold can be converted to bangle, chain, necklace, ring, etc… but the gold always remains the same only it’s shape & quality changes. I remember whenever we twisted & turned while explaining or doing something, my mother would say.. if you take the food straight from the plate (Indian enjoy eating with hand) it will go to your mouth… supposed you take your hand (with the food) around your head & eat, it still the food goes to your mouth… so speak straight! Similarly whether one convert or not the physical body does not alter, the body function does not alter, DNA remains the same… perhaps all that happens is the way they dress, food/drink habits & change in praying style.. but the prayer will be still towards the same God… only thinking process differs. People cannot alter God. God does not belong to anyone and we belong to God and it is the ultimate fact of life. God is beyond anyone’s perception or reach unless one becomes a real human in deed & thinking… Feel sorry for those pathetic, purposeless, sadist salesmen of God who acts like a monkey who is given charge of maintaining the beautiful garden. No matter how much hungama one creates to prove their religion or faith is better than others they will not be born or created differently… they will not eat or bring out the waste product differently. They cannot progenate differently.. That’s how it meant to be because God is only one… that’s the first second & the third fact!!

 

 

Even though the coorgstories’s lady calls me “SAKUI” I have absolutely no idea what my name is.. But I am definitely not from Japan. Let me tell you little about me…

I am a desert termite … after coming to Kuwait from the Red Sea area of Saudi Arabia I managed to propagate.. a quantum leap in the game of evolution the secret of which I cannot tell you.  You have to figure out yourself… but first learn to live in harmony which is the substratum of creation. I hitch hiked from Saudi aboard a Conocarpus tree because it’s my favourite food. This tree is as tough as I am & it’s fast-growing as well as tolerant to heat, draught & salt.

If you are wondering how am I helping evolution? Well I am a super bug… I am functioning under harsher climate & managed to survive & expanded my family from scratch.

How do I help Mother Nature? Well I am creating fertile top soil. If I get a place with trees & water I can convert the place into fertile land within a decade or so. That’s my story in a nutshell….

One fine day I stumbled upon this beautiful fascinating artwork with array of vivid shades of brown under Conocarpus tree but could not make out what it was. I never saw something so unique before. A well-planned nest, as if someone had painted a canvas with array of different shades of brown, starting from fresh wood colour to light brown to chocolate brown. And the water was dripping constantly from the drip irrigation pipe without disturbing the pieces. There was small vent for the excess water to drain too. The fresh wood turns brown eventually, guess because of the chemicals in the glue turning the wood there by creating different shades of brown.

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Took a picture & asked around sent to my family members, colleagues & friends, no one could guess what it is. Everyone said it’s something they never saw in their life. That’s when my curiosity increased & the nest became a passion… whenever possible I went to see the nest & spent few minutes there yet I could never see the owner of the nest.

I could see the ants running around in & out of their nest nearby in couple of places where somebody usually puts some gains or sugar. But none near these beautiful nests… it looks more like the owners are the termites than the ants. When I sat down beside it, I could see the wood pieces were gleaming as if each tiny piece is polished individually. Out of curiosity I tried to touch it to pick one to show my family only to realize that it was glued permanently.

How did the termite ended up in Kuwait? Perhaps hitch hiked while importing the tree from Saudi… but I can’t understand how did they get a queen? Did they manage to breed one? So how many of them came here?

Initially there were only three nests & gradually they started expanding. One fine day, the workers who were repairing the compound wall had disconnected the water supply & that’s when I realized no water no nest. It’s a great miracle that they manage to survive in this heat but water is the most important source of survival. Since there is no underground water in a desert like in the forest, they solely depending upon the artificial water supply. Perhaps to grow mushrooms, their food. Once the water supply is cut, the nest became bone dry & within days they started their nest elsewhere but still under their favourite tree, the Conocarpus ….

Then in a sudden move they also found comforts under the date tree but only two trees so for. There are Cuba palm, bear fruit & other different trees but they are untouched. The latest one is an ideal location & they are planning to build a larger nest as the foundation seems pretty large. The one under the date tree however is growing in height faster compared to others. Perhaps the roots of the date tree decays faster than the other trees degrading into soil quicker. what  is note worthy is that none of the plant or tree is dying or died… so it seems like they have a symbiotic relationship like ants & aphids or cattle & egrets.

Conocarpus lancifolius, derives its name from its cone shaped berries but does not have a proper English name. However it is known as Damas in Arabic & Qalab in Somali languages. A mangrove shrub it is found in the costal & riverine areas of Somalia, Dijbouti & Yemen, etc., etc. Also found in the mangroves of Saudi Arabia & now a days becoming a popular ornamental as well as hedge plant all around Middle East.

The interesting character of the tree seems to be its adaptation. Kuwait is one of the hottest countries in the world & in summer it grows as if possessed … it is hardy tree that grows well in sandy or rocky, alkaline soils as well as wet, saline conditions. Fast & symmetrical growth habit makes it the perfect hedgerows as well as landscape trees & maintenance seems to be practically zero except trimming when over grown as well as water supply…. However if let it grow straight it breaks easily whenever there is heavy winds.  (I have seen it happening couple of times). Flowers are inconspicuous, with clusters of greenish white flowers mostly 1 to 3 inches long. They appear at the end of twigs & at leaf axils. There are no petals, & the sepals are fused. The tree seems to be having either the flower or fruits all the time!! Even though there are thousands of seeds it’s odd that I never saw one sprouting anywhere near!! The brownish red fruit look like old leather buttons & earned the nickname button wood.

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However one of my Kuwaiti boss, who is very fond of plants & gardening, just hates this plant because he says his asthmatic allergy increases because of this tree!!

I nick named the termite as “Sakui” because born in Saudi Arabia, raised & propagated in Kuwait & found by an Indian… These nests are located in the northern side of the garden & I have no idea if it is by chance or choice may be to avoid direct sun.

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To point out how these are different from ants nests, here’s pics of what ants nests look like:

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I AM SAKUI!

Muslim’s test of a Brahmin’s Integrity?

 

My Ex-colleague, lets call him  (Mr.G) and a good old family friend narrated this interesting incident to me. It was about 25 years ago when he joined our company, a large Financial Institution, as the Chief Accountant. A very smart, highly educated*, well read South Indian Brahmin with a pleasing personality. He worked in the same floor as me, seated across the corridor and also we are members of the same Association.

Six months into his job, his boss, Mr. B, a staunch Kuwaiti Muslim asked him to join on a 6 day duty trip to the Far East. Traveling in Far East for both Mr.G and Mr.B had big problem with food. Mr.G a Brahmin would not touch non vegetarian food and Mr.B a pure Muslim would not touch non-halal meat. So every day Mr.G religiously ate his share of noodles and Mr.B stuck to his fish or prawns.

Every evening they shared the dinner table talking about the day’s events and investments. But chinwag always started with Mr.B saying I know Mr.G you are a pure vegetarian, its ok when you are at home but now that you are away from home why don’t you taste these delicious prawns? These grilled prawns are amazing. Just try one piece…

Mr.G replied saying no Mr.B I can’t do that it’s against my belief/principles. Anyway thank you for the offer. This went on for five consecutive nights. Like old gramophone recorded it played the same tone night after night. Both had the question and answers by heart!!

Sixth and the final night while going down for dinner Mr.G thought to himself about Mr.B’s offering prawns every night and wondering why he keeps pushing him when Mr.B know that he is not eating. I am not going to eat it and also I feel bad to say no to him every day. Any ways Mr. B is the boss and today will be last day and tomorrow onwards I don’t have to think how to refuse his offer!! So its dinner time again.. and Mr.G is looking at Mr.B’s face before the start of the dinner expecting the question to pop out.

Mr.B smiles at Mr.G and says you know Mr.G last five days I have been asking rather forcing you to eat prawns. I knew very well that you don’t eat non veg. I am really sorry. In reality I was just testing you how strong is your belief and how long you will stick to your principals. Now I know you are a man of principals and would not change easily. Even though I was compelling you every day, you would not budge and stuck to your noodles. I have been observing you from the time you joined us this was just a final touch. Now I can trust you with our investments and I am sure you will do a good job.

Mr.G could not find a word to reply to him.

Thus began a trust and bond between them. Currently both head different private Investment Companies as Chairmen!

*I was told that Mr.G, is the first Indian to pass the CFA exam in 1988 and been grading the CFA exams in the US since 1999!!

Bilmismish*….. Pigs don’t FLY

Friday July 31st 2015, 6 am it’s hot & humid. It’s been almost two weeks since I collected the previous material for writing. Passing the familiar surroundings on my way to the walk, as I neared the circle I remembered that one more day it will be Twenty Five years since Saddam Hussain occupied Kuwait. So much had happened around the world since then. Kuwait has come a long way since & physically there is no trace left. However the mental scars left behind in the mind of citizen will never be erased. We did not live in this area before the war but sometimes we came here searching for food… Amman Circle was one of the few places one could find some fruits & vegetables. I don’t even want to think of those days…

As I crossed the road under the tree saw this cat had scratched the mud & was busy relieving itself in a small temporary hole… its face was serious… reminded me of constipated face of a child.. was wondering if the cats really drink enough water? Dint want to disturb it & walked past thinking how traces of their past still hangs on… even though they don’t live in the wild, to avoid detection they still bury their poop. Old habits die hard.. Some consider this act as cleanliness…

When I walked further I was wondering there is something odd… for a change there were no papers, plastic or any kind of garbage lying around!! I thought how can it be? Am I seeing things in humidity? Did the municipality read my mind… I went further I did not see anyone washing the car but then on Fridays the watchmen don’t wash the car, it’s their unwritten Law!! But what surprised me most was the garbage… I was not sure if there was a contract change of cleaning company or did a magic carpet with garbage magnet flew over on Thursday night… whatever it is there was no trace of garbage anywhere. Wow… so cool… I was so happy. Finally over night miracle had happened…

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As I passed the old school building where the sugar sacks were lying, I was into another surprise only 5-sacks were on the other side of the pavement & many of the empty sacks were on the ground & loads of brown sugar now perhaps faded looked almost like sand, scattered all around. Then I noticed that the non-operational school building yard was being converted into football court..  So I was not sure if the sugar sacks were destroyed by those workers as it was stored illegally outside the premises or the owner himself got rid of it as it was infested with ants or some kind of insects which could withstand Fifty plus Celsius temperature. I was happy & sad at the same time. Happy because God knows what must have been the condition of the sugar & many were saved from consuming it. I was also sad because what a waste of produce… from sugar cane field to the pavement how much resources were spent & wasted including manual labour?

By then I had covered more than a kilometer plus & already sweat was dripping all over & my eyes were burning… in case someone never experienced humidity**

When I reached the garden then I saw this mess scattered all over… remembered the old saying… pigs cannot fly… The filthy groups who had hot picnic the previous night had no decency to collect their waste & dump in the dustbin which is not far away. I wondered if the cat which was pooping in the hole was better than these civilized picnickers… What a coincidence I had seen the cat in the beginning of my walk. Oh Lord… wish I had a magic wand & turn all those nincompoops into CATS!! When will these so called civilized people will really be civilized?

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The tiled path is one kilometer… its marked clearly & I started counting the dustbins… there are 20 plus 3… 20 cement bins & 3 plastic ones at the entrance. It’s pathetic where the humans are heading. Otherwise also Kuwait is a plastic country & the amount of plastic bags used in shops & supermarkets… I joke with my husband that in couple of decades Kuwait will have enough plastic to cover the entire country…

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I was upset & when I walked further I found these four unusual nests on the ground under the tree where the drip irrigation vent was… I stood there 10 minutes for at least one single owner to show up but it never happened… survival of the fittest… braving the heat these insect (wonder what it is – termites, ants??) found a way to survive in the heat & close by the grass was in full bloom with unusual pinkish shade. It occurred to me that perhaps even before humans walked on earth these insects survived & grass bloomed & even if the human species wiped out they are here to stay! When the plants & insects are busy mastering the art of survival man is busy mastering the art of destruction….

*Bil-mishmish is a Kuwaiti word which means it never happens!!

**… it’s the moisture content in the atmosphere. When you are close to ocean the high humidity makes you constantly sweat… even if you are standing still. And it’s muggy, sticky, salty… it’s very uncomfortable feel it’s like a giant natural mineral (salt) removing machine. Like how leeches can such your blood without your knowledge humidity can suck your salt without your knowledge.. It’s like being in sauna but not really present in sauna & hair is sticky with salt… from under garment to outer garment is wet & can see the white streak of salt on the cloth if you allow it to dry. Your lips are salty with sweat flowing on your face. It’s hard to describe, you have to experience it… but there is pot of gold on the other end…. Once you have bath you feel your skin is smooth & supple… beautiful.. pores are opened up without even spending a dime… how cool is that?? Also if you were waiting to eat some salty dish & was hesitating… well you can go for it for the day!! Sounds crazy but…. Hum… Compared to Kuwait places like Dubai has more humidity, guess it’s the geographical position. Even there, Dubai stands number One…  in Kuwait mostly in mid July to September but not all the days.

A Summer morning in Kuwait, one of THE HOTTEST countries!! Part 2

There was a lady plucking the henna (mehandi) leaves… its leaves are supposed to cool the head in summer besides being strengthening the hair roots.. there are many bushes in the park & when it blooms spreading the pleasant fragrance nice to be near it. As I was thinking what she is going to do I caught hold the sight of this young boy perhaps around 8 years of age sitting & crying. He looked like from a decent family sitting on the low parapet wall facing the 5th ring road in bright sun shine. It was only 6:10 am but it was bright.. I thought he must be lost & as a mother I could not resist myself & walked upto him & asked him if he is lost? He was a handsome little Arab kid neatly dressed in a white short & white & blue striped T-shirt. Shaking his head still tears rolling he pointed his finger to tell me he knows his house. I asked him if he needed anything.. he just shook his head.. when I finished the round about 10 minutes, I did not see the boy in its original place & I felt happy thinking he must have gone home… then I saw him moved to another part of the wall where there was shade from trees.. so he was clever enough to understand things… I did not want to ask him again but tried to take a picture from far without getting into his privacy. Even though I was not close when I clicked the mobile he turned immediately… so he was alert too… on the way home was wondering what must have made that young boy from a decent family to be in that spot so early in the morning… I was thinking of my own son in that age… somewhere somehow this stranger boy had touched my heart. My neighbor a doctor by profession forever punishes his eldest son (he has 3 kids – 2 boys & a girl) sometimes I hear him screaming late in the night & even 5 am…. the boy crying… there were occasion I felt like going & punishing the doctor myself. I myself was (is) a strict mother but when I punish my elder two children always smile at me or run around the coffee table me chasing them!! Is it because I am their mother & not father? do children punishment from parents differently? I still can’t understand..

Cats and sparrows in kuwait garden summer hot trash workers

The Park looked peaceful & safe. Last few years the Park has been the favourite joint for bunch of malicious youngsters from 3-4 different nationalities who snatched chains, mobiles & anything valuable. Thanks to the effort of the cops, eventually they were all arrested… not sure deported or rotting in the jail. How stupid of those young men who lost the privilege of living in Kuwait for temporary sensual gratification. They not only rocked their life but also their family… everything happens around us has a lesson to teach.. Once this park also hosted the one & only homeless Kuwaiti (but luckily it was self imposed – why I have no idea most likely he had mental issues as I had seen him passing vulgar/livid remarks on women passerby!) He used to wear clean clothes, had carpet with pillows to sit, cartons of mineral water, fan & visitors too… hum so much for homelessness!! Heard police had evacuated him & wonder where he is now?

There were couple of dog walkers around the park wall but unlike in USA they simply don’t clean up after the mess created by their dogs. May be they think they can create the top soil or manure for the trees from the biodegradable byproduct… just kidding.

It was time for me walk back home before the sun starts smiling at me… when I passed in front of an old Arabic school, scores of very large gunny bags were on the pavement for a second I thought wow such a large polypropylene (PP) cement bags… but when I neared the bags, it was cane sugar packed in Dubai… what a place to store… perhaps it was there for repacking… wondered if the heat will react with the gunny-bags & turn the  to cause some disease but one thing was certain that the sugar was insect free!

I saw one of the watchman was wiping the cars with cloth… giving the final touch. I wondered how long the hose was spilling water wasting the resources of the Mother Nature & contributing to pollution. I wish I could tie up those people who waste & not give them water for a day so that they will realize the value of fresh water. One interesting factor I like to mention which I am not sure practiced elsewhere is that when we rent a house, the watchman has a condition (UWL – Unwritten Watchman Law) that at least one car (usually everyone has more than one – secondhand cars as well as fuel are cheap compared to rest of the world) should be washed by the watchman, usually they do a lousy job. The standard rate is KD5/= (roughly the rate is 1 dinar = 3.3 dollars) per car. So 10 kd per flat along with the rent, 5 car wash & 5 for garbage clearance. The best joke is that the watchmen does not really clean the car… in 90% of the cases they will hire a free lance cleaner generally a Bangladesh to do the job & share the total cost.

sprinkler water kuwait garden heat summer hottest

Cats and sparrows in kuwait garden summer hot trash workers kids playing football soccer

Finally I was home sweet home a place which makes me feel like a queen… when I walked in with sweat dripping all over, the cool air of central air conditioners & the sight of my indoor plants were more than welcoming but when I went to have bath I realized that my feeling of nice morning was almost a mirage… as the tap water was pretty warm… while having bath another surprising factor brought a smile to my lips… Sun.. Sun everywhere Sun but people still take Sunshine Vitamin “D” tablets!!

For those years I stay behind in summer, I am always compensated in a different way… also it brings the nostalgic memories of my childhood.. I love fruits, growing up in the wilderness of Kodagu I enjoyed my summer plucking & indulging in wild fruits which is of course a luxury now with growing population, plantation, felling of trees & extinction of species. In general Kuwait is paradise for fruit lovers & come summer the varieties of fruits available even in the small fruit shop is mind blowing. To top it the prices are so very reasonable compared to most of the countries I have visited & even to India!! Guess it’s because there is no tax & the low fuel price. God bless my beloved Kuwait & its people, a country with which I have developed a deep attachment with beautiful memories. Kuwait is a well balanced country with the blend of old & new… with myriad of nationalities working.

Its 10 am & decided to pick up some water melon from the fruit shop across the street.. I was wrong about the temperature… oh boy its already 40 degrees seemed like its hot enough to cook an egg on the bonnet of the car!! Walking back I thought of the Iraqi occupation days… Thursday August 2nd 1990, then we lived in another location called Shaab opposite to Arabian Sea. There were rumours that the Iraqi soldiers cooked their food just by burying the vessel on the sands… I couldn’t see from my balcony & not sure if it was true but surely it looked like my brain would get cooked if I stand for a while in the sun.