There’s a story behind the smile

August 29, 20151 Comment

tare rajab musi

Immigrants make up around half of the people in this country; and I am one of them. The word ‘immigrant’ is oftentimes an emotive one. Back in the UK (where I’m from), political TV shows endlessly debate the topic – it feels a little strange for me to now be on the other side of the argument.

People seek a new life in a new country for differing reasons. The norm is financial; but others seek cultural changes, escape to a better life or simply a better climate. (As I type there are floods in parts of the UK – I feel a little smug.)

During my brief time here, I’ve already met fellow immigrants from: Canada, Egypt, France, Jordan, India, Pakistan, The Philippians, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Syria – oh, and a few from the UK. I’m sure I’ll meet many more in the future. Kuwait sure is cosmopolitan.

I’m always interested to hear the reasons of others for coming to Kuwait. Many I’ve spoken to have come to earn money to try and make the lives of their family back ‘home’ better. Some have even left their own children in the care of relatives – this must be heart-breaking. I spoke to one young woman who held a fairly senior Marketing post back home, yet could make more money here as a hostess in a restaurant.

So far I’ve been very impressed with the service industry here. Service staff are largely unfailingly polite and usually remember your order on just a second visit. In the UK I’ve often ordered the same item from the same place tens of times and the person serving never remembers. Or chooses not to remember. It’s so nice to be served with a smile, rather than a grunt.

Whereas I feel it’s important to respect where people come from, I also think you should respect your host. With that in mind I visited the Tareq Rajab Museum in Jabriya recently. It has a lovely collected of Islamic art and artefacts. For the boys there are muskets and daggers, for the girls there is clothing and jewellery. It’s 2KD to get in and it’s well worth spending an hour there. (Any excuse to avoid the heat, right?) You’re not allowed to take photographs, so the only picture I have is of my ticket. (There is a painting of a beautiful woman around the E section, which I wanted a picture of, but respected the museum’s ‘no photos’ wishes.)

I feel my biggest challenge will be to learn Arabic. I’ve picked up a few words so far, but am finding some of the sounds of them quite literally foreign to me. However, I am keen to learn and hopefully this will endear me to the locals. A little bit of effort often goes a long way – be it a few words, a willingness to learn or a smile. Being in a new country and a new region is a massive challenge for me – but one which I’m thoroughly enjoying so far.

Written by Nicholas

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