Monday, December 12, 2005

Les Américains

Although I hate to generalize, most Americans my age are very naïve about the world around them; it’s as if they live in a little bubble. Most of my good friends are from India and Latin countries such as Portugal and Brazil – they’re more culture-conscious- and if I do click with some Americans, they tend to be in their late twenties and/or early thirties.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Americans; they’re overly friendly and the ones I met would open up to you during the initial five minutes of your first encounter, pouring their heart out about personal issues such as their troublesome doubt in the divine and/or outright hatred toward Republicans. The comments and questions below are some of the extreme examples I can clearly recall…all the speakers are college students aged 18-21. Courtesy of CNN, a great source for dramatic infotainment.

“Did you ride a camel to school?”

I thought this guy was joking and I was literally waiting for him to say “I’m kidding.” That did not come along. So, I played along. The setting was not the most appropriate time to answer his jaded question seriously and factually.

“Did you have bombs dropping next to your house?”


“Oh so you speak Kuwaitian?”


“Do you wear the head scarf when you’re back home?”


“Does your dad work in the oil business?”


“So, your family already decided who you’re going to marry or something?”


“Kuwait? Is that off of Mexico?”


PS Los Lobos & Antonio Banderas -
Cancion Del Mariachi (I dare you to sit still)
PPS DJ Mark Farina -
Phone Tap
PPPS Deee-lite -
Groove is in the Heart ("Dig!")

at 1:22 AM

50 Comments

  1. Blogger Temetwir posted at 2:50 AM  
    "oil money sure does make life easier, dont it?"

    "whoaaaaaaa! ur govt PAYS ur tuition and GIVES u a salary?"

    "like .. u can marry 4 women, but like.. can u do 'em all like at the same time? thatd be awesome dude, OFF DA SHIZANG"
  2. Blogger Erzulie posted at 3:02 AM  
    Temetwir: Did they actually say that! Lol.
  3. Blogger snookie posted at 3:32 AM  
    lol i got asked the headscarf thing..

    "kuwait? thats in iraq right?"
  4. Blogger Erzulie posted at 3:33 AM  
    Snookie: Hehehe... :P
  5. Blogger McArabian posted at 4:54 AM  
    For the first year all my college friends truly believed I get a discount for gas because I have an OPEC card - priceless ;)
  6. Blogger Erzulie posted at 4:57 AM  
    McArabian: Looool! :P
  7. Blogger Jelly Belly posted at 5:36 AM  
    I remember in my freshmen year in college one kid asked me if I was rich and I laughed and told him I'm so rich we have an oil well in our back yard and he believed me! LOL
  8. Blogger Erzulie posted at 5:45 AM  
    Jelly Belly: Lol! That's fab :) Well...you never know...one day we might be digging in our yards when the main ones run out :P
  9. Blogger Jandeef posted at 9:20 AM  
    I had a guy asking me if what he heard is true about us having hot water tap, cold water tap, and an oil tap :/
  10. Blogger Erzulie posted at 9:28 AM  
    Jandeef: Looooooooooool! You have GOT to be kidding me! Lol, you should've said "Sure, gimme 5 grand and I'll ship you X number of gallons" :P Ha, jet lagged :)
  11. Blogger 7tenths posted at 11:03 AM  
    Lol, yeah I got a taste of that naiveness this summer :P "You have peanut butter?" .. "Wait, you have cornflakes??!" Yes we have cornflakes?! What do you expect us to do with all that spare oil-stick it up our butts?! One person actually thought that we wouldn't have the regular kind of cornflakes but a more cultural variety! Camel Pebbles, yeah I can see that happening.. :P Oh and this one guy saw me looking at that map thingy in a mall, thinking it was my first encounter with one, "Oh this is like a diagram for the mall.." - I mean even if it was my first time, do I honestly look that stupid?! Don't answer that..
  12. Blogger U.E. posted at 12:19 PM  
    I think you're right for the most part, Americans DO live in a bubble, albeit a really BIG bubble. We are ethnocentric and egocentric and it's not hard to see why. Still, these comments are SOOOOO not limited to Americans....

    "Oregon? So... you stil have cowboys and indians and stuff, right?" from a lovely, well-meaning and totally serious British citizen in London.

    I've had plenty of fun encounters with people in Kuwait too, but I'll leave those for another day. hee hee

    WELCOME HOME!!
  13. Blogger Jewaira posted at 12:27 PM  
    It is so easy to get wrapped up in being American you think no one else exists in the world; and media plays a big role in that. Unless you make an effort to pull in news alerts of your own choosing, the media bombards you with what they feel is important.

    I am surprised that some Americans still think we live in tents in the desert and ride camels to school. And some think you mean Quebec when you say I'm from Kuwait.

    What are they being taught at school?

    And more importantly, are Kuwaitis doing their job of being good ambassadors for their countries when studying abroad? You can change how people think.
  14. Blogger Stinni posted at 12:36 PM  
    I admit that Americans aren't up on their geography but remember that America is a superpower and it's very easy to have the mentality that not much else exists outside of the States (for those who have never traveled).

    I get equally ignorant questions from Kuwaitis about America and Americans but the thing that kills me is that some of the Kuwaitis I'm talking about have BEEN to the States.

    Also, Kuwait is a tiny country that doesn't pump much out in terms of media (movies, artists, authors, etc.) so Americans don't have much to go on except quick news stories on TV or the typical Hollywood portrayal of Arabs in movies.

    Personally, I'm glad Americans have Kuwaitis like you to learn from and possibly build a little bridge. :)
  15. Blogger Sami posted at 3:10 PM  
    Stinni took the words right out of my mouth. I agree. When your culture and media is mainstream worldwide, not to mention recognizable, you don't even have to worry about what's going on everywhere else in the world. Why should you, anyway?
  16. Blogger Judy Abbott posted at 3:11 PM  
    oh no one asked you if you have oil wil in your backyard..and if you live in a tent!
  17. Blogger SheWrites posted at 5:36 PM  
    Yay, fun!

    My favorite of all the comments I've received is probably,

    "So, you're Kuwaiti, yeah? Can you explain that whole red-dot-on-the-forehead thing?"

    A few months after the liberation of Kuwait, mom and I were in the States visiting family. We were at the mall and mom said something to me in Arabic; I responded in Arabic as well. The salesclerk - a kid of about 18 or 19 - came up to us and was all, "Whoa, dude! What was that?" We respond, "Arabic." Him: "Whoa, no way! You speak Arabic, awesome! Like, where you from?" "Kuwait." "WHOA!! NO WAY!! Holy cow, you're from Kuwait! I've never met anyone from there!! How are things over there now?" I remember being pretty excited that people now knew about Kuwait's existence.

    Ten minutes later, when we went to pay, he asks, completely straight-faced, "Kuwait... that's in Russia, right?"

    Oy.

    N.
  18. Blogger Erzulie posted at 11:28 PM  
    7tenths: Loooooooool! Yeah I got some really weird advice as well; I was telling my a rap-obsessed friend of mine about some of the songs I like that he should know of; I was trying to remember the lyrics and I said the N-word. Then he's like "But be careful Erzulie, the N-word is derogatory." Ya think!

    Unknown Entity: Of course, yeah I totally get what you're saying. Images of what the media puts out there biases everyone's take on things...

    Jewaira: As a side note, I think I'm going to write a post aboutu so-called Kuwaiti ambassadora ie some of the students who live here - isawdoon il wayh, to say the least. But yeah, media does play an important (and unfortunate) role here...

    Stinni: I agree... :)

    Sami: I think you should know about the world around you even though you might be a superpower; that's not an excuse, to dismiss and disregard other cultures...I think it's a bit condescending and somewhat rude.

    Judy A: Jelly Belly supposedly has an oil well in her backyard :P Oh, and some of my friends have been asked about the tent thing...

    SheWrites: Loooooool! Too funny :P
  19. Blogger Misguided posted at 1:30 AM  
    Dear erzulie,

    I love how people find things to do during exams... Like changing the banner and template LOL!

    impeccable timing.

    A procrastinator called,
    Misguided

    P.S. love the new look :)
  20. Blogger Erzulie posted at 1:48 AM  
    Misguided: Hehe, I'm not that handy with the computer ie somebody is doing it for me :)
  21. Blogger Trevelyana posted at 5:51 AM  
    "You're arab?.. so you guys like eat bugs and shit?"

    This is less than 6 hours ago ..
  22. Blogger Erzulie posted at 7:22 AM  
    Leeno: Are you serious? Were THEY serious??? That's just insulting.
  23. Blogger Sedna posted at 11:59 AM  
    I loooove the new look :) Wayed a7la!!
  24. Blogger Erzulie posted at 12:26 PM  
    Sedna: Thanks :) Equalizer was "khanbijiying" with it...*tips hat* :)
  25. Blogger Equalizer posted at 1:17 PM  
    Erzulie: I like it when you fuse two foreign words together, reminds me of a friend of mine. I think someone had a post regarding this. Anyways..my pleasure :)
  26. Blogger Equalizer posted at 1:26 PM  
    I have accuweather service on my firefox browser. Last week they "accidentally" placed Kuwait city within Iraq. :S
  27. Blogger Erzulie posted at 1:27 PM  
    Equalizer: Hehehe...'more to come...
  28. Blogger Sami posted at 1:46 PM  
    "that's not an excuse, to dismiss and disregard other cultures"
    We do that, too :p
  29. Blogger Erzulie posted at 2:38 PM  
    Sami: :) True...but still...still.
  30. Blogger Trevelyana posted at 8:08 PM  
    Erzulie..
    I would take offense.. but it's hard to take idiots seriously..

    I told him we do, and we eat vermin like him too..

    .. barradt kabdi..
  31. Blogger Erzulie posted at 12:27 AM  
    Leeno: Hehehehehehe :P
  32. Blogger Schelldun posted at 12:52 AM  
    Does "looooooool" mean "laugh out out out out out out out out out out loud? That seems an odd thing to say, I guess.

    Heart.
  33. Blogger Erzulie posted at 1:24 AM  
    Schelldun: Haaa! Glad and surprised you're reading my posts :) Hmmm, I might want to rethink the whole "Jaded American" take :P
  34. Blogger snookie posted at 7:00 AM  
    LOOOOOL.. im studying in the basement.. and this guy and girl start chatting with me and stuff.. then the guy says.. "kuwait huh.. so u speak kuwaitian?"

    i remembered u and burst into laughter (in my head).. :P
  35. Blogger Erzulie posted at 8:57 AM  
    Snookie: Haha :P Better start a tally... :)
  36. Blogger *-fwai7-* posted at 9:15 AM  
    HAHAHA!! this is all too hilarious.. some kid on the bus thought Kuwait was in Serbia.
    SERBIA.
    COME ON.
  37. Blogger Kthekuwaiti posted at 10:16 AM  
    Nothing beats the pimped out camel (chrome seat/speakers) or the 4 floor tent.

    Erzulie, your new layout is cool .. but it makes stuff hard to read! I am going blind..
  38. Blogger Erzulie posted at 10:51 AM  
    Fwai7: *shaking head and smiling*

    KtheKuwait: Oh really? Hard to read? Crap. Okay...lemme see what my little ol' skills can do...I might make the text larger or something...hmm...okay...I was afraid of that...
  39. Blogger kila ma6goog posted at 11:35 AM  
    sorry guys but i couldnt read all the comments, so i might re say what was already said!.

    بالنسبة للأمريكان صراحة أنا وايد أحبهم مثل ما قلتي وايد طيبين و حبوبين

    أما ان اهم ما يعرفون شيصير حوالينهم فالجواب ان اهم مو محتاجين يعرفون شنو بره ديرتهم, ليش؟

    خل نتكلم عن ليش احنا ككويتيين نعرف شيصير حوالينه
    1-24 ساعة نطالع أفلام اجنبية و نسمع اغانيهم و نقرا كتبهم و مجلاتهم
    2-ديرتنا نتفة ما فيها شي فأكيد نحتاج نتعلم شنو حوالينه
    3-أذكر أيامنا برابعة متوسط درسنا عن أمريكا و اليابان و فرنسا بشكل مكثف
    احنا وضعنا بالعالم وضع المفعول به مو4 الفاعل, فأكيد نبي نعرف الفاعل شنو ناوي يسوي

    أهم الأمريكان ديرتهم واحد و خمسين ولاية يعني الياهل لو يدرس مية سنة ما يخلص كل المعلومات و المناطق الي عندهم

    اهم عندهم أحسن الأفلام و الأغاني و الشركات و المنجات فما يصادف الأمريكي انه و اهو ماشي بالسوق يشتري تي شيرت كويتي! أو كمبيوتر سعودي فأكيد ما راح تهمه هالأماكن

    و ديرتهم أقوى دولة و محد يهددهم فمو خايفين من أحد عشان يتعلمون عنه

    لا تلومونهم لو احنه مكانهم جان صرنا أخس منهم
    و شكرا و اسف للاطالة

    و الله يخليج شيلي الوورد فاركاشون
  40. Blogger Erzulie posted at 12:02 PM  
    و ديرتهم أقوى دولة و محد يهددهم فمو خايفين من أحد عشان يتعلمون عنه
    Thank you Kila Ma6goog for commenting :) Hathi il 3ebara eli ma dkhalat rasi...ehya moo salfat khof aw who's leading what/who in the world...it's just basic common sense. Oo a9lan fee Amreekan WAYED may3arfon 3an mana6eq bara wilayat'hom; fee wa7da ib 9afi, mathalan, akbar minee ib shway oo wala mara 6la3at bara welayat'ha khair shar. Fa 6ab3an I would expect her to not know. Bes ana ga3da a7kom 3ala nas kobree min 3awayel "upper middle class" ma3ay bil jam3a. Okay, I wouldn't expect ay wa7id bil share3 e3arf wein ma wein bes hal awadim 20+ oo mit'thaqfeen...3ashan chithee inbahart...that's why :)
  41. Blogger U.E. posted at 12:28 PM  
    Oye, get over yourselves, for real. :) I totally agree (as I earlier commented) that Americans are entirely too ethnocentric. But, wallah, you aren't? Like being offended that someone thought you ate bugs. Lots of cultures eat bugs on a daily basis... do you know which ones? Can you tell me five true facts about Croatia, Samoa, Liechtenstein, Laos or even a rough count of hom many recognized soverign countries there are in the world right now? Probably not.

    It's fun to laugh at the ridiculous things people wrongly 'know' about other countries. But don't take it to the extreme and definitely don't be offended.. we all have alot to learn about the world around us. That's what makes it so interesting!
  42. Blogger Erzulie posted at 1:25 PM  
    Unknown Entity: I'm not at all offended. I just find it amusing that some people jump to extreme conclusions about others. But again, I think the media has A LOT to do with it, ranging from movies to the news itself. I mean, every time Kuwait is mentioned on the news you see a drab desert. So I do not condemn anyone for not knowing more about ANY location; their sources evidently provide biased examples. Then again, I am a little bit surprised because all these kids are educated and generally come from well-to-do families. PS Where are you from! I'm confused. I thought you were American, but then I saw the "wallah" in your comment and I was like "Waaaait a minute." Take care :)
  43. Blogger Temetwir posted at 2:13 PM  
    erzulie, akhalsich?
    majority of people will have greater faith in anything they SEE, no matter how far it is from the truth; and no matter how convincing you are by TELLING them the truth, they will still believe in what they SEE

    i just love ur emphasis on the media in almost all ur posts, thats what i ALWAYS do but i always get "theba7tna bel media, its getting old"
    well now ill say "i have an ad-major that supports me"
  44. Blogger Delicately Realistic posted at 2:20 PM  
    like the new template...!
    bs shwaya painful on the eyes, bes 3alashanich we'll still read :*
  45. Blogger Erzulie posted at 2:26 PM  
    Temetwir: :P~~ I'm all about the media...

    DR: Awwwwwww craaaap! Another sore-eyed reader!
  46. Blogger MBH posted at 3:55 AM  
    Even after the liberation of Kuwait in 1991, not all Americans knew of Kuwait.

    Now that they're being "shipped" to Iraq, some blame Kuwait for that! Which made Kuwait, eventually, famous and known. So much for fame.

    btw, I tagged you.
  47. Blogger Erzulie posted at 3:56 AM  
    MBH: Hmm...yeah I already mentioned that Kuwait is in the media and although it's as small as New Jersey, it sure does get a lot of coverage...In other words, it's not THAT obscure of a country. And lemme see the tag thingi... :)
  48. Blogger U.E. posted at 3:45 PM  
    :-) I love that my shameful arabic vocabulary (about the same as a Kuwaiti two-year-old, maybe less) made you wonder. :-D No, you were right before. I'm American. I've been in Kuwait about 18 months; I'd love to know more Arabic but I don't work with any native speakers. My girlz help me out though! Again... WELCOME HOME!
  49. Blogger Abu Sinan posted at 5:56 PM  
    Funny and sad but true. As an American man married to a Saudi woman I get all sorts of silly questions like this. They just dont bother to see anything around them.

    Like one American lady said to me once "why would I want to go anywhere else, we have everything here!"
  50. Blogger Erzulie posted at 11:04 PM  
    Unknown: :)

    Abu: :)) Thanks for coming...

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