Monday, October 29, 2007

The Bedoon Crisis*

“He was about thirty-something years old, decently dressed and soft-spoken. As he drove me from the airport to my house, he told me about how he is forced to drive his cab illegally. He complained about not being able to get a proper job due to his stateless status in Kuwait. He said that he was in love with a Kuwaiti woman, but he cannot marry her. Erzulie, this is a humanitarian issue, don’t you think so?” My friend looked at me waiting for an answer. I nodded in agreement but I knew there were more sides to the presence of the Bedoon in Kuwait.

But who are the Bedoon? In summary, the Bedoon are people who have come to Kuwait from Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria, Iran and other countries of the Arab world. The term “Bedoon” literally means “without,” meaning without any sort of official identification to where the person had come from and where they belong.

Due to my unfamiliarity with the issue, I asked about the history and current situation of the Bedoon in Kuwait. “They don’t deserve to be given the citizenship! They’re trash and are the source of many of Kuwait’s problems. Most of them have their old passports from their countries of origin; they just hide or destroy them so they could get a Kuwaiti citizenship. Even the columnist Muhammed Musa’ed Al-Saleh, a man who is known as a pacifist and humanitarian, stated that out of all the 100,000 Bedoon population in Kuwait, only 20,000 are worthy of the Kuwaiti citizenship,” a young woman I know informed me over coffee last week.

“A while ago, the Bedoon in Kuwait, who are already poor as it is, could only enroll their children in private schools and never in public schools since the Kuwaiti government did not officially recognize their presence in the country. They were also forced to pay for medical care. That is mainly because the Kuwaiti government tried to force some of the Bedoon to handover their original passports that they kept in secret,” a friend of mine told me a few days ago, “However now, the Bedoon have access to medical care and schooling due to the watchful eye of the West and other humanitarian institutions that might zero in on the issue, an act that would probably force the Kuwaiti government into providing many of the Bedoon with the sought-after Kuwaiti citizenship. In general, the Bedoon have low paying jobs. Many years ago, they were heavily used in Kuwait’s secret police but now, they are struggling about in squalid living conditions and other personal hardships. Surprisingly, more than half of the Kuwaiti army constitutes of Bedoon who are originally Iraqi and who have fought with the Iraqi army during the Gulf War.”

But is Kuwait in need of more citizens? In general, Kuwaiti citizens enjoy many benefits that expatriates do not let alone stateless individuals. Kuwaitis have the upper hand in terms of socio-political and commercial matters. Kuwaiti children have the chance to earn a full scholarship and study at the best colleges in the West. There are a multitude of advantages that Kuwaitis enjoy, so it is of no surprise that an individual will try his/her best to obtain that edge.

“The problem lies with the way the Bedoon are. They are a tribal people who are mostly uneducated. Moreover, they are growing in population. The fear lies in their gain and control over governmental posts to secure themselves, their families and overall presence and future in this country. There is a stereotype about the Bedoon, about how they have no solid values and their only want is to reap the benefits off of this country. And when you really think about it Erzulie, why would they want to benefit Kuwait when they could only work on their own betterment? They come from different parts of the Middle East, why should they dedicate their life’s work and sweat on this tiny country that has turned a blind eye at their low status from the start? Personally, I would be quite anxious if a newly Kuwaitized individual held a powerful post in the government,” another person told me, “But the fact is that they are a problem in Kuwait and it is growing, literally. In some way, I see them as a threat. Who knows, they might actually revolt against the government and Kuwaitis as a whole.”

Personally, I refuse to believe that all people think the same way just because they come from similar backgrounds. “But what if some of the Bedoon are truly loyal to Kuwait and they see it as their homeland and not as a patch of dirt they can get their hands on? I mean, I am sure that a very small portion of the Bedoon do want to benefit Kuwait.”

One of my good friends closed her eyes while she listened to me before replying back, “That is true Erzulie. Unfortunately, the Bedoon are famed more for the bad than the good they bring to Kuwait. The minority of Bedoon who have worked for Kuwait’s welfare were given the citizenship. Yet on the other hand, a lot of individuals and their families who were given the Kuwaiti citizenship only sought after it as a result of their bribes or want of political and/or commercial control. But overall, the Bedoon are victims of the system here and it is hard for them to do something for the sake of Kuwait because that requires a good education and money, something which only a small number of the Bedoon possess.”

I wondered to myself about how impractical Kuwaiti law was. You are either a citizen, expatriate or stateless. As for the latter, I do not agree with providing all the Bedoon citizenship. There should be some sort of a citizenship buffer or in other words, official papers provided from the government that identify the Bedoon as permanent residents with social security. They would be able to attend academic institutions, have the full right to travel the world and basically have similar rights as expatriates do in Kuwait. When that law is instituted, citizenship will be provided only after a certain period of time has passed and every single individual will be treated as a separate case. Personally, I do see this as a rather touchy issue since it involves my country. It is my home and it is mine forever. I would truly hate it if something terrible happens to it. However, generalizing and being judgmental are not particularly positive traits. The Bedoon are part of my home, and they are all human beings in the end…

* These facts have been collected from individuals that I personally know. If you have any corrections or other details regarding this issue, please feel free to post a note or more in the comments section. Thank you.


MP3's...
The Temptations - Papa Was a Rollin' Stone
New Radicals - You Get What You Give
Blue Six - Tropicalia
Blue Six - Here I Come
Blue Six - Aquarian Angel
Dave Matthews Band - Crash Into Me
The Rolling Stones - You Got the Silver
Slick Rick Ft. Outkast - Street Talkin'
Dimitri from Paris - Une Very Stylish Fille
Pizzicato Five - The Girl from Ipanema
Towa Tei - Technova (O-Dubnova Edit)

at 8:00 AM 16 comments

Monday, October 22, 2007

Outlaws Teaching in Kuwait?

During a recent visit to my extended family, the subject of schooling and education was brought up. A young woman mentioned a conversation she had with a friend of hers who works in some sort of Kuwaiti dock in Canada that gives out visas primarily to teachers. That friend of hers noticed that hoards of Canadians were applying for visas and flying across the Atlantic for the sole reason of teaching in our beloved desert land. “But she was seriously wondering why the teachers chose Kuwait out of all places,” the woman remarked. It turned out that some of the applicants had a criminal record and thus, were banned from teaching in Canada. Their way out would be to pursue their career in an obscure place on earth that is oblivious to their shady past and would not go into the hassle of having a complete background check on that individual. This was the first time I heard of such stories with a source I can track down. A while ago, I read about a British teacher who was banned from the UK due to his pedophilic crime(s).

Now, I know many parents are paying despicably huge sums of money to grant their children the best education in Kuwait amidst a healthy environment. But to think that we are paying crooks, pedophiles and rapists to teach our future generation is quite a horrendous thought let alone it being a terribly disappointing and quite alarming reality. We shrugged our shoulders when private schools hailing American titles hired cheap, young labor from the likes of Australia and New Zealand, but convicts? That is a tad bit harder to swallow, to say the very least.

I think that both the Kuwaiti government as well as the institutions that hire such people are at fault. Entry to Kuwait is easier than it was before; however, since we are aware of this problem – frolicking academic fugitives – I think the government should be a little more stringent when accepting applicants that specify the reason for their extended visit, “I’m doing it for the children!” Yeah I bet you are.

Schools as well should be wary of admitting everyone and anyone. Just the mere thought of a Wacko Jacko-esque man teaching at my young brother’s school makes me blush with fury.

I recently mentioned to a friend of mine that the general public is aware of such matters along with other wonderfully corrupt goings-on in our country. Personally, the part that infuriates me the most is that people just do not give a damn anymore. As they say, que sera sera…


MP3's...
Joy Division - Dead Souls
The Velvet Underground - What Goes On
David Bowie - Drive in Saturday
The Lemonheads - Paid to Smile
REM - Old Man Kensey
Collective Soul - Forgiveness
Nirvana - You Know You're Right
Gin Blossoms - Hey Jealousy

at 7:30 AM 18 comments

Friday, October 12, 2007

Eid is a Two-Way Street

ولد عمي (8 سنوات): إرزولي, وين عيديتي؟
أنا: هوّ...
ولد عمي: إيه ما عطيتيني فلوس
أنا: قول حق أبوك إعايدني أول بعدين أعطيك
ولد عمي: لا بس إنتي كبيرة
أنا: أبوي ما عطاك فلوس؟
ولد عمي: إيه عطاني
أنا: خلاص عيّل, عايدك عني...يا الله صير شاطر وقوم صبلي قهوة


The good side of being a 22-year-old working woman is that you get to assume an adult mode around children and thus, you can boss them around. The bad part is that you will never get your hands on that once ever-present 3eediya again. Oh well...

at 10:27 PM 10 comments

T'was the Night Before Eid...

T'was the night before Eid,
When all through the house
I scrambled to find
My frilly white blouse.


My mom scratched her head, “The last time I saw it
Was a month ago, hanging in your closet.”


But the thing is, I never wore it before,
Though it is the shirt that I truly adore.


I know that it is not in the laundry bin.
Having it cleaned in our house would be a sin!


The first time I saw it in that little shop
I turned to my good friend and said, “That’s my top!”


I bought it and saved it for this special day,

Yet it’s nowhere to be seen, to my dismay.


”Well, you can wear a similar thing can’t you?
It’s just a top and that’s no reason to be blue.”


I looked mournfully at my mother and sighed,
”But it’s so spot-on and that can’t be denied!”

”I think I have a nice white blouse from Zoran,”
I tried it on, “Mom, I look like Peter Pan.”


My mother stepped back, “Well, I think you look fine.”
I frowned and shrugged, “I guess. But mom I want mine!”


”Well try to remember where you placed it last.”
I sighed and thought about the top’s short past.


”Are you sure you never wore it Erzulie?”
I nodded, “Of course mom I’m sure, totally.”

Suddenly a memory flashed in my mind,
A brief clue to why my blouse was hard to find.


”You know what, I think I did wear it one time
And my friend even said that it was sublime.”


”All right you wore it once. And what happened then?”
I cried, “I was at Starbucks! Ooh I know when!”


She paused, “You wore that blouse to a coffee place?”
”Change in dinner plans,” I stated to save face.


”Three of our good friends could not make it that night,
So instead, we had coffee which wasn’t right.”


My doses of late night coffee kept me up.
Suddenly, I remembered my coffee cup!

”Yes! The darn Venti cup! It dripped on my shirt!
I was sleepy and really not that alert.”


”The cup’s plastic seal leaked coffee on my chest.
I watered it down but didn’t clean the rest.”


”So then it disappeared after that night out?”
”But to where I don’t know,” I said with a pout.


”You said you adore it. That might be a clue.”
”I cannot remember mom. I wish I knew!”

She went to my desk and picked up an old bill,
”Oh look what I found! This’ll give you a thrill.”


The receipt was from our district’s laundry joint.
”I knew where it was. I think I made my point.”


”Erzulie, if you really treasure something
And you love the satisfaction it may bring


You must remember you shouldn’t be careless
To not regret a loss that only brings stress.”


I smiled, stood up and embraced my dear mother.

I cocked my head, “You know, you’re like no other.”


I went to bed and I tried as I hard as I can

To not think about option two, “Darn Peter Pan!”


Happy Eid to All!

at 3:05 AM 3 comments

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Start Dreaming

It was a habit of mine to chat with cab drivers even after working on group projects for eight consecutive hours in my university’s library or after a long day of walking all over Chicago with a handful of shopping bags strung on my arms before heading back to Kuwait for Christmas. I heard bountiful stories from these mysterious men who seemed more like a musty version of Sinbad rather than retired, usually obese bums who wanted to collect just enough money for another unfortunate round of poker at the downtown casino that was as interesting as a neutered dog’s flaccid penis. They casually spoke of tales about being held at gunpoint by an unknown hoodlum who was labeled as a serial stalker of drivers working night shifts to a woman in labor in the backseat with her cervix five inches open. Apart from asking my usual and self-entertaining inquiry of “What was the strangest thing that has ever happened to you?” I occasionally asked the cab drivers about their own personal achievements prior to their mobile job as well as other goals they have in mind.

”Oh, I used to teach History in an Ivy League university.”

I frowned, confused and thrown off by his unreasonable response. After a few minutes, I found out that the man driving me had a PhD in History and Philosophy, used to teach the former at the university he mentioned for two decades before deciding, in his own words, “I’ve always wanted to be a cab driver.” And he happily did it.

The thing is, when you reach the uber-saturated peak of your career, when you’ve given it your all and you’ve shown people what you are capable of, there’s nothing else for you to prove. You’re a master of your field and when you reach that pinnacle with a cluster of people staring at you in awe, you can simply do anything you please. You can, in other words, Be Anything.


MP3's...
Edith Piaf - Le Chant du Pirate
Blue Foundation - As I Moved On (Run Jeremy Band - Trentemoller Remix)
Portishead - It's a Fire
Pete Rock - To Each His Own (Instrumental)
Pete Rock - Til I Retire
Mint Royale - Show Me




...home is where the heart is...

at 7:38 AM 7 comments

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

3eedik Embarak Purgatory!

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MP3's for Purgatory...
Phil Collins - In the Air Tonight
The Cure - Lovesong
Gap Band - Early in the Morning
Blue Oyster Cult - Don't Fear the Reaper
Dee Dee Sharp - Mashed Potato Time
Scorpions - Can't Explain
David Bowie - The Man Who Sold the World

Oh and Purg, as soon as I saw this I thought of you (regarding the song of course). I think you might enjoy it since it's off-beat :P See it here:



To all, 3eedkom embarak and have a lovely Eid :)

at 7:30 AM 9 comments

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Kismet

“Look at so-and-so, she knew her husband for one month before they got married.”

I just stared at her, feeling insulted and stunned at the same time.

“I don’t want that. It might work for her but I’m almost positive that it won’t for me.”


The way I see it, you have one life. Every person who reads this will never be in, let’s say, 80 years from now. We will all be nothing but bones under the ground, rotting away. Imagine that for a second. We will all die and we will never be again in this world. At times, people dressed in special UV-protection suits will mention you casually, “Oh, *enter your name* used to eat his rice like that!” or “Your laugh reminds me of *enter your name* …” How gut wrenching is that? Anyhow, back to the way I see things…

So you have one life. Wouldn’t you want to look back and reminisce the feeling, both mental and physical, of being in love? I’m not talking about a silly old crush because those come and go and are usually shattered when the mysterious muse opens his/her mouth. I’m talking about that sort of love that makes you plain old stupid. You just feel a tingling all over you and you shiver in happiness. You feel light and carefree and you want to live in that moment forever.

Now my question is that who the hell would willingly give that experience up? You may call me unrealistic or that I’m living in my own fantasy world – which I love by the way - but why go into a union for life simply because the other person seems suitable? What about passion, that immediate click that makes you want to know more, individual similarities, giggles and weird sounding chuckles, code language and a common understanding that is known from one familiar and heart-warming look? No? Yes? YES!

*sigh*

This country needs a good dose of sincerity.


MP3's...
Felix Da Housecat - It's Your Move
Emotions - Best of My Love
Led Zeppelin - Whole Lotta Love
Golden Earring - Radar Love
Pink Martini - Let's Never Stop Falling in Love
Malcolm Middleton - F*ck it, I Love You

at 1:59 AM 28 comments