Friday, May 15, 2009

Parked In

I was supposed to move today but in true Kuwait fashion, I found out yesterday morning that our move has been postponed 10 here I sit, in a packed up apartment with suitcases everywhere. Oh well. In any case, since I had planned on moving all day I had some spare time on my I decided to get a hair cut. One of my friends found a little salon right down the street from my apartment, so I drove my car over and looked for parking. The term "parking" in my neighborhood basically means a place to stop your car with no regard for rules, laws, or other drivers. I couldn't find any spots that wouldn't involve parking in some other poor person, so I decided to pull into the "driveway" of what looked to be a condemned building. The building itself was a mess of crumbling concrete and glass. Many of the apartments were open to the outside, since the walls had caved in. The roof of each floor had gaping holes, and it would be impossible to walk through the building without stepping over large mounds of trash. So I pulled into the driveway, trying to avoid the fallen bricks, wood, and shards of glass. I locked up the car and went in to get my hair cut. An hour later, I came back out only to find to my dismay that I shiny new SUV had parked me in. I had a friend with me, so she and I circled the car looking for a way to edge out. Unfortunately, the only space wide enough for my car was blocked by a 1 foot piece of metal sticking out of the ground. I nudged it with my foot, but it was planted in concrete. I went around the building to see if I could drive on the sidewalk and get out another way, but it was just more concrete, glass, and a big wall. Sad me. There were a ton of people on the street, so I tried my best helpless look, and started beckoning toward my car saying "sayara, sayara" (car, car)...I'm guessing a single white female standing in a derelict driveway pointing at her car saying "car car" looked a bit odd (I didn't know how to say "my car is parked in, could someone please help?"). Hah. So anyway, I got a lot of stares and shrugs, but not much help. My friend stopped a young guy on the street, and he told us that he knew who owned the car and that the guy lived in the building...pointing toward the abandoned half-demolished apartment building beside my car. Both of us shook our heads and told him that no one could live in that building. He pointed to a second floor window that had the only non-broken pane, and said the guy lived in there. Our helpful dude went into the building to find the aforementioned car owner, but came out five minutes later shrugging. Apparently he wasn't home. We stood there a few more minutes until another helpful guy came over and pointed again toward the window, telling us the owner was inside. So, we hesitantly decided to go try to find the guy. When I say that I have never been inside a building like this, I mean it. As we picked our way over glass and concrete, I just couldn't imagine any people living inside. As we walked up the stairs, we passed apartment after apartment without doors, open to the outside because the walls had crumbled down. Amazingly, we got to the second floor, and there was a wood door and shoes sitting on the mat outside! So we knocked. No answer. We knocked again, no answer. I turned around to leave, resigned to the fact that I would need to leave my car and come back tomorrow in the hope of finding it free to move. As I started walking down the stairs, I realized my friend wasn't beside me. She had stayed by the door and started pounding on it with her fists, yelling "hello, hello!" Embarrassed, I told her we should just leave. She didn't stop...and then to my surprise, the door opened. The man standing inside had obviously just woken up. He was in a wrinkled dishdasha (white robe) and looked very surprised to find two western girls standing on his doorstep. I used my handy dandy arabic word "sayara" (car) and pointed outside the building. He must have understood because he nodded and grabbed his keys. Delighted, my friend and I started walking downstairs, but then realized he had disappeared. Suddenly, he reappeared out of an elevator...who would have thought there would be a functioning elevator in a building that could have been on CNN when they show bombed out buildings in a war zone? He came outside, moved his car, and we were free!!! One interesting thing about the guy is that he had a large bruise on his forehead. I found out later that this can be seen a lot on Egyptians who are devout muslims. It happens because the men pray so often, that they end up with permanent bruises on their foreheads (when Muslims pray, they kneel and repeatedly touch their heads to the ground). Wow. All in all, a strange experience. But I'm guessing that the dude will be telling the story often do a couple american gals, one with flaming orange hair (my friend just had bright orange henna put in her hair) show up pounding on their door? I'm wondering if the building is a remnant of the Gulf War, but I will probably never know for sure. In any case, I've learned that it's better to park someone else in, than to be parked in myself. Lesson learned.

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