come here, come to me baby!
The last time I was in Kuwait it was Ramadan, and the city was solemn. The fast was reflected in austere fashion and lack of available food during the day time. Even at night when people came out to party after breaking their fast, the malls and the mosques were filled with people wanting to perform extra religious rites. When we went out shopping it was to buy new scarves and abayas. Qur’an poured out of car radios and reverberated from every minaret.
This time, it’s summer. Everyone is on holiday. And it shows. We (finally) made it to a mall this evening. I can’t possibly tell you how many malls there are, but lets just say that the culture here and in many places in the middle east, is to hang out at the mall. It’s hot. It’s the desert. There are no parks. So what better place to go than an 8,200 square mile airconditioned playground with 15 cinemas, 36 restaurants, 20 lane bowling, 10 Starbucks, and about 200 designer shops?
I’ve noticed a huge change in the people and the religious culture as well. Before, I’d hear the call to prayer, pause and reflect in its beauty. Now I’m more likely to be changing a diaper, struggling to feed Eryn solids, or fending off exuberant family members who are super stoked to see me. I hear it, but it’s in the back of my mind. We still pray of course, there’s just a different feel to the city that penetrates everything. Tonight at the mall, it was pounding Europop streaming from the shops.
The fashion is in full summer mode too. So while I saw a lot of black hijabs previously, now there are a few plunging necklines, skinny jeans and leggings galore, harem pants (of all things), and colour everywhere. Kuwaitis always dress up. It’s normal to be semi-formal 90% of the time (formal in the other 10%) — so I’m feeling out-of-place in my only t-shirt and gap jeans. Even the food is designer. I had the BEST falafel sandwich EVER (here’s Eryn checking out the shop). Fresh, lightly fried falafel, soft pumpernickel bread, shredded carrot salad, cabbage and pomegranate! Brilliant.
And while she’s slowly getting over her jet lag, Eryn is also getting a crash course in large arab family management 101. She’s used to myself, Hubby, frequent visits and babysitting from Omi and Opa (my parents), and visits to the local Ontario Early Years Centre. Now she’s been invaded by the extended family.
She’s not a needy baby, and is very close to those in her inner circle. She’s certainly attached, but I feel that this has given her the comfort to interact with strangers in the mall or at parties. Normally, she’d be in the sling, and people would wait for her cues to engage… usually a large grin and her arms flung open wide. But now her family is anxious to interact with her — and rightly so! But she’s used to a controlled universe and she’s trying to survive a chaotic one.
So, she’s been very clingy with me — crying whenever I leave the room and she’s totally off her solids. I can barely get her to eat Cheerios with gusto. Thank God for breastfeeding. She’s been nursing more frequently because she’s still tired from the jet lag, hungry, and in need of some quiet time and a space where she can just be herself. But it’s worrisome to see newborn breastmilk poopy in her diapers.
But I have noticed moments where Eryn is breaking out of her needy, shy shell. She LOVED the mall. Eryn is an observer, so walking around a mall and watching the people and the lights is perfect for her. And naturally, when it’s just the immediate family — Ummah, Grandpa, ‘Amma (aunt), Baba and mommy, she’s a happy camper.
Tomorrow we’re off to (HOPEFULLY) buy me underwear. I’m still dying to see what this fuss about the heat is all about. I haven’t seen the sun since Friday EST.