I’m sick.

My soft Canadian tissue isn’t used to two days exposure to dust and a small-scale sand storm.  The dust came on Thursday and turned the blue, clear sky into a grey-brown mess.  After it was over, the skyscrapers and streets were covered with a thin, sandy film.  Since many of the buildings are in mid-construction, it looked like a small scale disaster movie — you know, the part where the humans emerge to view the damage and rebuild civilization.  Everything, including my lungs, are in need of a good wash.  So my body rebelled by sending me to bed, and with giving me a lovely sore throat and runny nose.

Good thing for me, we’ve since had lunch at a restaurant with enough garlic and pepper to ward of any type of ailment.  Very good family friends took us all out for a Lebanese treat at Mais Al-Ghanim.  Originally, this restaurant was a mess hall/canteen for expatriate employees, and has been in business since the 1950s.

The restaurant is housed in an original Kuwaiti palace, decorated with historic photos, Moroccan stained-glass lamps,
multi coloured lounging pillows, brass ornate coffee pots, decorative rugs — there were too many things to see and too many people in the restaurant blocking my view!  The place is always busy, and we had about a 10 minute wait in the car, just to drive up to the front entrance.  Our table was on the second floor, and instead of a roof and windows, the place was sheltered with tent sheaths supported with thick wooden beams.  It’s also right next to the Cornish (the Gulf road) – reclaimed land from the sea, so there’s a lovely salty breeze and gorgeous views of the beach and water!

We sat down to a full table.  Our hosts had ordered hummus, baba ghanoush, olives, pickled vegetables, fattoush (a Lebanese
salad made with vinegar, olive oil, thyme and other spices, green peppers, onions, tomatoes, cucumbers and toasted pita), meat kabobs and meat steaks. Oh, and sheesha.  Sheesha has a very distinct smell.  This herbal tabacco (don’t laugh, it’s not THAT kind of herb.  It’s also available nicotine free) is flavoured with almost any sweet fruit taste imaginable: apricot, mint, strawberry, grape, even cappocchino.  You can tell someone is smoking because the scent is so heavy and sweet, almost like incense – completely different from cigarette smoke.  The smoke is also quite heavy, and a skilled smoker can blow elaborate
rings, or let several tendrils of smoke seductively curl up their face, or simply blow out an entire waterfall of pure white.