Friday, January 26, 2007

My mood these days

Audio supplement: Listen / Download

The only person I feel like being around, and need near me, is my P, and he's thousands of miles away.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Bye Bye Kuwait

One of my objectives for this trip home was to find old Kuwaiti musalsalaat and masra7iyyat on DVD to take back with me to London. Thanks to Tooomz, on Wednesday my mission became a success. I first went to Markaz al-Funoon in Salmiya on Fifth Ring Road, but it turned out to be closed for some reason. Luckily, I was on the phone with Tooomz at the time and she told me about another DVD store right off Plajaat Street that she knew for sure had all the old school shows on DVD (a place called Al-Arqam).

The place has everything on DVD. Flipping through their catalogue of old shows and plays, I felt my childhood in Kuwait in the 80s rushing back to me. I felt a strong wave of nastalgia for a Kuwait that no longer is. And I felt warmth as I read the titles and remembered that Kuwait once had a very artistic and creative past.

To start off with, I bought the entire series of "Darb izzalag" (3 discs), all of "Regaya w Sabeecha" (4 discs), and three masra7iyyat: "Bye Bye Landan", "Firsan almanakh", and "7afla 3ala alkhasoog". Today a couple of my friends went to check the place out and I asked them to buy me some more: "3ozooby al-Salmiya", "Bsa6 alfagr", and "Dars khusoosy". Also, the guy in the store is trying to find "Bas Ya Ba7ar" for me on DVD, although Jazz Central told me that he has it and will let me copy it.

So tonight P and I watched the first episode of "Regaya w Sabeecha". Within the first minute, I was falling off the couch laughing at the first spoken scene. "Bo gthailah" (played by Ghanim al-Saleh) rolls up to the two women in his waneit and says: "Waneit, yubba?" and Regaya (Su'ad Abdullah) responds sarcastically with: "Nadree waneit. Nadree waneit, 3ayal sh7asbalek, sarookh?!" with the typical Kuwaiti woman hand gestures. Then they try to open the waneit door and it's locked and Sabeecha (Hayat al-Fahad) starts banging on the door yelling "Shfeeh? Shfeeh, gi6eee3a...?!" I rewound it like five times.

I miss the old Kuwaiti dialect. It seems to be dying with the current under-30 generation. Sometimes my friends tease me because they say that when I bust out in full-on Kuwaiti I sound like an old grandmother. Growing up, I spoke English at home and at school, and so as a kid my Kuwaiti dialect was learned primarily from my maternal grandmother and from TV shows like these. So my sisters and I all still use the phrases that we picked up from my Mom and grandmother. But whenever I use one of them around anyone under the age of 30, I get strange looks. It makes me sad to think that so many of these old sayings, phrases, and even words are going to die out soon. And they're all being replaced with meaningless airheaded phrases like "ay shay".

Anyway, I feel so excited having all of these on DVD. I can't wait to watch "Darb izzalag". I haven't seen that in eons. Same with "Regaya w Sabeecha", although I remember seeing a couple of episodes of it again a few years ago. I'm looking forward to watching them again as an adult, when I can really understand what's going on (since my Arabic has drastically improved), and have a proper grasp of the socio-political commentary of the shows and plays that I probably missed as a kid. But at the same time, I know they're going to make me sad, and angry, and frustrated. Just watching the first episide of R & S today, one of the first things I noticed as they were driving on the Gulf Road in one scene was how you could totally see the sea from the road. No TGIFriday's, McDonald's, Aqua Park fiascos blocking the view and destroying the bay. And of course, I felt my heart beginning to break. But at least it might be good for me to remember that the Kuwait I still love and cherish in my heart was not simply a figment of my imagination - that there was once a "there there".

One thing I've realized lately is that the majority of people in Kuwait nowadays really don't care about what's happened to it, and what is continuing to happen to it. They don't care that our history has been wiped out with bulldozers and ignorance, and that nobody respects the land we live on anymore, and that there is no longer any sense of community, etc. I say the majority, because the majority of the country is under the age of 25, and that is precisely the demographic I am talking about. It is not an "education" thing - because even some very educated young Kuwaitis just don't really care much. I see it more as an age thing - those of us who were at least 11 during the invasion still have a vivid memory of what Kuwait used to be like and therefore feel the pain of its disintegration more acutely. "They" think we're living too much in the past, that we can't accept change, etc. But that's not it. We're all for change and progress and moving with the times. But the difference is, we know. We know something different, something unique. And it's such a shame that they will just never know. They'll never know that Kuwait. The magic of that place that some of you who are reading this still remember. I think those of us in our late twenties now are the last ones who can remember what Kuwait was like before the invasion. The invasion changed everything, permanently. Socially, politically, economically - nothing was ever the same after 1990. People think the destruction of Kuwait as caused by the invasion ended with the liberation, or at most with the capping of the last oil fire in December 1991. Most people don't realize the severe long term effects that 1990 has had on our nation. Kuwait might have recovered from the crisis, but it never returned.

Oh, going back. The best part is that these DVD's are recorded from videos, which were recorded from TV, and so all the commercials from the early 80s are included! So far we've seen ads for BKME, Commercial Bank, 7-Up, and General air conditioners (available through the Union Trading Company). Extremely vintage!

P.S. *Knock, knock* Sabeecha: "Minhaw?" ... "Dhiab Dayikh Dheeb Bnaider!" "Haw, shillyabek min Bnaider?" "Ya bint il7alal fichey ilbab, ana Dhiab ra3y ilwaneit." "Wee 6a3 7adhek, gool ra3y ilwaneit ba3ad..." LOOOL!