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.

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A Summer morning in Kuwait, one of THE HOTTEST countries!! – Part 1

July 19th 2015….. When I told my husband I want to take some pictures one morning & write about a summer morning… he just gave his usual calm soothing smile with a warning don’t get arrested… you will not be able to tolerate the heat!!

I did not realize how lucky I was as I could not have chosen a better morning for the weather God was little gentle. When I left the house at 5.35 am, my mobile showed the temperature as sunny 34 degree Celsius. Only thing I missed was the scores of Doves flying around pecking on the grains/rice scattered by some bird lovers & bathing/drinking on the pockets of water collected from the car wash before it evaporated. Also did not realize how the material for the article would just roll in front of me…

Kuwait is one of THE hottest countries in the world & this year it is been bad, really bad. And it’s one of those years I did not miss the warmth of summer… last week it was worst & on Wednesday at 15:09 one of the temperature display towers showed 52 degrees & yet another tower showed 50 degrees at 15:14. No way in 5 minutes within 2 kilo meters radius the temperature would fluctuate so much unless it starts snowing….It’s hard to know the exact temperature recorded as mobile, car, towers, media, meteorology department, your body, everything tells different readings… however you would really know it’s bad when the pavement/road practically throws heat back at you or the tap water is almost boiling… make you jump out of commode!! Last week my body told me it touched 55 degree Celsius…

Most people have Eid holidays & the roads were practically deserted. I live in an area called Salmiya, a favorite place for Indians where about half a dozen schools are located dotted with n-number of restaurants & stores selling Indian vegetables, fruits & other stuff catering to everyone’s need. In case you did not know when Indians are out of India they are very patriotic & prefer Indian stuff!! The desi term NRI (Non Required Indian) makes them crave for their Motherland!! It’s a joke but has some truth in it too…

When I passed Amman Circle, scores of daily wagers were either standing/sitting on the pavement under the shadow from the buildings, some with their tools & most with a packet (may be water & sandwiches). I had no heart & also have no right to click their pictures & peek into their privacy. What was amazing is that one-side was occupied by Iranians (known for their physical strength – I have seen average built old men carrying large air-conditioner units on the back & climbing the stairs. I wonder what their secret is) near “la baguette” & the other side near the temporary mosque was lined with East Asians. Birds of same feather…. I was not sure if everyone was hired every day & the logic of why an Indian would come here to work as labourer braving the heat when he could almost make the same amount working as a labourer back home had no answer!!

As I crossed the street I saw this car parked arrogantly on the bend… & that brought the thought of arrogant drivers (attributed to practically all nationalities). With the ever increasing number of cars it is getting from bad to worst. As I passed on I came across the 2-watchmen washing the cars with hoses… an act which boils my blood. Wasting the resources as if there is no tomorrow, using-misusing-abusing the generosity of the country which supplies the desalinated water (Kuwait has no natural resources & also rain fall is negligible) at reasonable price. One consolation is that compared to yesteryears it’s reduced drastically as Municipalities has issued strict instructions against the wastage of water.

Cats and sparrows in kuwait garden summer hot

The other thing which makes me angry is the sight of garbage bins & its surrounding. Probably Kuwait has the highest per capita cleaners & domestic helps. Still I feel it’s very dirty thanks to the wasteful nature & ignorance of the general public. The amount of food of all kind wasted is unbelievable. In summer it crosses the limit because it tends to get spoil faster. The untied garbage bags are thrown outside the bin, anything & everything from cardboard boxes to wooden boxes to furniture to mattresses to construction material is discarded. When the fruit-vegetable shops throw the half spoiled stuff, someone who needs tries to pick out the usable ones & mess up too. How much a government can do… Cleanliness should come from within… a human should behave like human… one can exhibit only their true nature that’s what I can say.

As I walked further saw this gentleman walking his 3-dogs. Unlike the majority of Kodavas, I am not a dog person as I had bitter experience with them when I was young. {It’s a very funny & nasty experience; I will write about is some other time}. I am told that most countries in the Middle East do not encourage having dogs (pets) at home. I asked him can I take a picture & he agreed, I told him my daughter loves dogs… which is also true but I wanted it for my article!!

Aroma of deep fried falafel, hot fresh chapattis/paratas were teasing my nostrils. On the sandy ground men were playing football, construction workers were busy (they cannot work later as it gets too hot). It’s noteworthy that: Never ending construction… Ever increasing rents… an unusual phenomenon unique to Kuwait does not match the theory demand & supply. Every rule has an exception!!

As I entered the Rumaithiya Park about a kilometer plus I realized that I had seen so many things, then came the sight of the small group of Indians doing yoga… & laughing practice. As I walked further there were men playing football in the covered court, the cricket players (luckily with tennis balls) had not arrived yet guess mostly because their ground was wet. Then I saw my all-time favourite sight, the sprinklers & the birds & green grass. The sight of birds particularly sparrows brings me immense joy as it is almost extinct in Kodagu. The long stem of palm flowers swayed in the mild wind… spreading the mild smell of its flower (I don’t know if I imagined it) some still had its dry leaves & old dry black berry intact. The dry leaves provide shelter to birds & keep them away from dust storm. The cats were stretching on the grass & one cat had managed to catch a black dove & I was surprised the cats still hunt their prey. There are so many people bring & keep food for cats… so most of the time it seems like the cats does not have to work at all… like some spoiled kids!! Loads of black-yellow insects were around even after watching for a while I could not make out if it was honeybee or wasp…

sprinkler water kuwait garden heat summer hottest

 

From IT hub to Gas production… Use-Misuse-Abuse of Nature… Shame on the Government…

People heat the water without fire or electricity & cook without firewood or stove… well its true but they are not really magicians or found any advanced technology… its simply abuse of Mother Nature & misuse & gross negligence. And it is not happening in some remote corners of the universe or in Mars but in one of the most advanced cities of India, Bendakaluru… the tech city Bengaluru…

Lakshmipura village lies in Anekal Taluk of Bangalore district, outside Bangalore city (off Banerghatta Road). On Monday the 20th July 2015, the residents woke up to a shocked surprise, to find stagnant water on the streets boiling & gas emanating from the ground & catching fire at many places. What’s more the bore wells were spewing gas, (guess upon contact with oxygen it seems to be turning combustible) & any paper or dry twig kept on it catching fire. Something like gas volcano. Hope like in the movies clothing will not catch fire turning humans to torches!! No, they were not sitting on new found natural gas deposit… definitely not competing with Qatar… it was the precious hot gift of Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagra Palike (BBMP) on behalf of the residents of Bangalore city to this unfortunate villagprs.

Poor Mr. Kempegowda must be rolling in his grave looking at his once beautiful city turned into on giant ball of pollution. Those who don’t know who is Kempegowda… well he was the founder of Bangalore. Once.. not very long ago, Bangalore was the retired people’s paradise with lovely garden & peaceful atmosphere. Now it has expanded beyond its limits & traffic is somewhere between mad-house & zoo….. Thanks to ex-Maharaja still there are patches of greenery left, if not I can’t imagine what would have been the status. Competition between the politicians & builders who can fill their coffers faster is leaving a dent on the city. Earlier we used to joke that if anyone stands with their legs wide open the Riskha driver would go under it… now the construction in Bangalore is such that if a group of people sitting quietly, builders would raise a high rise above them too. It’s a pathetic situation, infrastructure & amenities are running short…. water & electricity is over stretched. Ground water levels are badly deteriorated. There are so many other states why can’t the Central Government impose limits on the over stretched States & make the other ones benefit?

With the never ending flow of population the waste is also increasing. So how to get rid of the waste… the developed countries dump their nuclear waste on some innocent small countries but India can’t afford to export its human waste. So dump it wherever there is place & Lakmipuram quarry seemed the ideal place… what a brilliant idea.. no owner.. so no hassle… just dump it. These kind of unscrupulous shortcuts are worse than genocide!!

Since last 3-years (2012 up until last month) BBMP has been dumping the untreated waste into the abandoned deep quarry in the area. This dumping also made the bore wells dried up making way for the gas to come up too. The water bodies around are completely polluted turning the water undrinkable, Health hazard & spreading bad odour around. Misquotes are also on rise.  [guess it is worse than the sewage river flowing on the left-hand side of the road from Bangalore to Mysore. It’s not just stinks sometimes the soapy lather can be see 5-6 feet… or more creating a lather tower… due to my constant complaining my husband takes the Nice road so that he does not have to hear the grumbling!!] According to locals even though complaints were submitted time & again, had protest march through Karnataka Rakshana Vedike, yet none of the authorizes big or small listens to them.. after all it is not election time yet!! Armageddon or creating a ghost city? So who is responsible?

According to the villagers, since last 6-month the temperature around has been rising. To add salt to their wounds, now the methane gas is coming out. When they woke up, the stagnant rain water was boiling. They are living with fear of the land going to explode.. a ticking methane bomb… The rag pickers are heating the water, cooking, etc with this gas to get attention. Whatever crops they had are gone… the soil quality is ruined & the villagers are worried that they will not be able to grow anything anymore there.

What seems to have happened is that the deep ditch in the quarry (little more than 7 acres) had rain water collected in it. When the untreated waste was dumped, it became a fertile ground for bacterial fermentation. Mixed together the garbage started rotting not only spreading the bad odour but also resulting in organic gas methane production. When the production of the gas increased, naturally the gas will percolate through soil… wherever there is a passage small or big including bore wells!! It is said that upto 3 km radius the bore wells are leaking gas. After all it is natural gas not the mass of human brain sitting inside the skull!! Even though gas problem started here, it’s not been the only dumping area..  like Bettadasanapura village & some areas also has been the victims. Why should the villagers pay the price for something they did not even create? Today it’s Lakshmipura who is next & in which part of India? Hope everyone learns a lesson from this experience… sadly many still haven’t leant lesson from bubonic plague after Latur earth quake.

According to a newspaper report, BBMP authorities supposed to claim that they have filled the top with soil…layer after layer. When the rain water seeped down helping the garbage to rot the gas was produced as would happen in any garbage dump. Guess in other words it’s not their fault but the fault of the RAIN!!

It is said that the after inspection BBMP experts came with a solution.. to cap the gas leak… put 2 feet of soil & plant 5,000 saplings!! Ware wah… I wonder why the Government of Kuwait did not ask BBMP expert-advice to cap the burning oil wells in 1990!! I have a suggestion may be free gas should be supplied – from BBMP officials to Mayor up to the Chief Minister. Or perhaps Chief Minister can use it for his pet new railway project to run the train. Earlier it was steam now gas… not a bad idea!!

Inedible dates

08.08.14: I convinced my husband to take me to the beach for a walk on a Friday morning… he agreed reluctantly with a condition that it will be only for half an hour & if it is very hot we will leave. 5:45 am & at 30+ Celsius we headed to beach. There were quite a few people in the beach already. A lovely couple, who had to spring out when the sprinkler suddenly came on…some fully clothed women enjoying a dip.. speed boats & ski boats dotting the water. The air was fresh & I could smell the ocean.

The beach is lined with scores of date trees; almost all of them loaded/pregnant with bunches & bunches of dates but sadly it is not edible. There was a solo tree with red dates. Not again! Red & me get into trouble, was my thought.

Luckily we stayed longer than half an hour thanks to the stray cats having bath in the sprinkler that had charmed my husband & sadly I missed the sight!! Meanwhile, red did not bring any bad luck to me after all.

I was trying to get pictures of the inedible dates which hung in bunches as well as to get shots of some birds like sparrow, etc… I already have plenty of pictures of the dates but somehow it always attracts me. This time it was a different thing. There were some yellow dates, smooth as a baby’s butt, smiling in-between the hundreds of green, cutely shaped, & wall-paper dates…it seemed like the dates were teasing me & inviting me to try them. Out of curiosity I plucked two yellow dates covered with plenty of dust. Against all the odds, I pop it into my mouth after cleaning with tissue. Wow! It tasted so yum… better than the box of dates I had picked up from the super market the previous day. It brought a smile to me, I thought it’s the other side of the midnight & every rule has an exception. Thought I would give one to my husband to check his reaction.

Then the thought of smiling yellow dates brought the memories of those unlucky children & the hundreds of children who never grow to be normal, robbed of their childhood due to so many reasons like poverty, human trafficking, raping, etc. so sad indeed.

It also remind me that even though the world might see one too many cruel things happening, there will always be some good left in the world no matter what.

I tried the red date too, but it was bland, slightly hard & simply did not taste good. Even though I did not get any lesson, I still thanked God almighty for teaching me so many things in my life in such short period. But colour red has something to do with everything around… perhaps because each & every human being has the invisible red colour within making it the prime colour of creation!!

Tri-colour tropical beauty in the desert of Kuwait…

The other day when I saw the creeper for the first time I could not believe my eyes… Wow…growing in Kuwait in all its tropical glory? There she was swaying happily, head held high, beaming with flowers and bees buzzing around. Nostalgic memories of childhood flooded back, elevating my mood for the day.  Back home we called it Beli-poo (hedge or fence flower) because that’s what we used it for. This pretty mildly fragrant (woody smell) with pretty long soft flexible tubular stem helped us to make garland or braid without thread. So we braided it together as crown, & played king & queen games. It’s hard to pinpoint the colour of the flower. Even though the bud often looks reddish, when the flower blooms in the evening it is white (almost) with very light subtle tinges of pink that gradually turns pink in the morning. It then graduates to a reddish pink by evening & stays the same till it dries. So we could be white or red or pink or colourful royalities!! It blooms from February to May & again from August to November. The creeper bears flowers every day during the season & the mature flowers stays for few days. So in the bargain it creates an unusually spectacular sight of three generations swaying together. The drooping bunch with rare tri-colour flowers at the same time is a sight to cherish. Bees & butterflies are attracted to these flowers.

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Native to tropical Asia, this ligneous creeper called Quisqualis Indica/Combretum indicum, Madhu Malati in Sanskrit,Akash Mallige in Kannada (akash meanins sky), Radha Manoharam in Telugu (sounds so very romantic), Chinese honeysuckle, Rangoon creeper, is a sturdy, vigorously growing, profusely flowering, perennial climber that practically does not need any maintenance. (Quisqualis in Latin means who or what!!). The leaves are elliptical with an acuminate tip & a rounded base. It supposed to bear ellipsoidal fruit with five prominent wings which tastes like almonds when mature. However, I don’t really remember seeing fruits though!! In a mature creeper, the stem becomes woody & thorns appear. Once established, it is the boss, sky seems to be the limit for Akash Mallige’s growth & with proper sunlight & enough water, it flowers profusely in big bunches of 15-30 flowers. (Can there be a better proof than its growth in Kuwait??). In between the season, the creeper sheds most of its leaves as if sad for not having flowers. Then starts to spring back with reddish leaves as if it is beaming in preparation for the motherhood!! Fast catching up as an ornamental creeper, you can train the creeper as you like & it can be grown in the pot too…

This Royal beauty has medicinal value too. I have heard that: decoctions of the root, seed or fruit can be used as antihelmintic to expel parasitic worms such as roundworm & pinworm or for alleviating diarrhea. It is said to be toxic to the parasite & kills it in the digestive tract. Fruit decoction can also be used for gargling & are also used to combat nephritis (inflammation of kidneys). Leaves are used to relieve pain caused by fever. The roots are used to treat rheumatism.

It is said that ”A thing of beauty is a joy forever!” No picture can do justice to a thing of beauty, as we see it in all its glory… nor does a picture satisfy the longing for seeing it for real. In my enchanted state, I have made humble attempts to capture the lovely sight as best as I can….. hope they please your eyes as they did mine!

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Magic of Rain, Wind & Sunshine : Beauty explosion!

After living in Kuwait for more than a quarter century, spring of 2014 is the first time I have seen a huge explosion of colours in February/March. The natural beauty par excellence created by Mother Nature around the city was just awesome, a refreshing sight to sore eyes. Al-Arfaj (Rhanterium epapposum) Kuwaiti national flower with other beauties sprang out everywhere between the tiles, gap in the wall, wherever there was little life support… Even though from far it just looked yellow, it had different types like single petal, multi-petal, light yellow, dark yellow, etc. There were native plum red flower looking as if made out of paper, mauve & yellow flowers.. mauve …. large leaved wild mustard plants … There were thorny plant with little mauve flowers spreading out.. little white flowers.. grass.. loads of wild plants.. Perhaps medicinal.. edible… There were supposed to be desert lavenders which I never had the privilege to witness…

Day after day going to work & on the way back it lifted my spirit, skipped a heartbeat & I never had enough of it. They had their own rooting selection too… if the plum red dominated the middle partition of the highway; yellow flowers dominated the sides of the road looking sexy specked all over the grass. Particularly eye catching was opposite to MEW Tower, little flowers beaming with pride, looking beautiful, natural & happy without any direct human intervention!!

It looked as if they are smiling at you & in front of the magnetism/charm of the little wild flowers, rows & rows of the planted large colourful flowers dwarfed/dulled. With that came the battalion of butterflies, bees & moths. Most of the butterflies are the same colour as the sand.. some had little flashes of bright colours. The flowers looked unusually beautiful because of its sandy background. Wonder if next year the flowers will multiply with ample supply of seeds or simply vanishes?

Suddenly bird population & their happy chirping seem to be increased. With ample supply of Al-Arfaj, I saw a sparrow nest built of fresh plants… wish I could see them at work.. bugs scurried along.. Mr. Camel smiled at me too.. Its happy time… I wonder what made the flowers bloom in such large number. Whatever it is, it was an amazing experience, felt like as if it was created especially for me!!

Visiting the valley of flowers is my long desired passion & looking at the flowers around I thought this might be the preview/trailer of Mother Nature’s magic. It’s hard to comprehend how a multimillion times explosion of different coloured flowers would look like? Perhaps it would be like sighting the God… a pilgrimage I have to postpone to summer of 2015 as I have a strong feeling that drinking ocean of beauty, I am going to have heart attack & die!!

Also first time I saw the cousin of date & coconut, a lovely bunch of palm flower in ivory shade. And I got lucky when I tried to get a picture there was this proper dark gray bee with a black dot sucking the nectar. Gray bee!!!

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