Some days just feel heavy. And it's often on those days that the small things surprise me. I find myself smiling and for a moment the weight is lifted. Yesterday was one of those days. So here are a few of my favorite things...moments that put a smile on my face.
1. The little old man at the bakala (closet-sized grocery store) where I buy my bottled water every few days. He only speaks Arabic. He is old and grizzled and his face just lights up when he sees me. He is determined to teach me Arabic...which he attempts to do through long monologues IN ARABIC aimed at increasing my knowledge of the language (monologues of which I only understand a fraction...but I do pick up words and phrases here and there!). Yesterday I learned the word for water "Mai" and for Pepsi..."bebsi". Hah. We also counted to four together.
2. Stopping to fill up my car with gas. Yes, I know that you're all staring at your computers with a look of incredulous surprise. But here in Kuwait, stopping for gas is just fun because it's like a game...how cheap will it be this time?? Yesterday, my gas light was blinking and I was worried that I would run out of gas on the way to the station. I made it, and was able to fill up a completely empty tank with premium gas for exactly 2KD = $7. Oh happy day.
3. Re-runs of NCIS on my TV. Channels in Kuwait are rather hit or miss. Sometimes they will play the same episode of Simpsons on a rotating schedule for weeks at a time. Right now they're somewhat obsessed with the A-Team and random 80s flics. BUT, they have started airing re-runs of NCIS two times a night. There is some repetition, but I love the show and it's a welcome respite from the boredom of Ramadan. Incidentally, they are also airing episodes of Lost and CSI New York AND Las Vegas. Thank you conservative middle eastern entertainment gurus for catering to my entertainment needs during this long month! It does make me laugh that they keep in every gruesome crime scene on these shows, but cut out even the smallest kiss.
4. The coffee maker/espresso machine that my office gave me for my birthday. I used it off-and-on prior to my summer vacation; however, the advent of Ramadan has increased this little machine's value in my eyes ten-fold. Why? Because prior to Ramadan, I was in the habit of making a Starbucks run every morning when I got to campus (yes, we have a Starbucks on our tiny campus!). Well, due to Ramadan, Starbucks is closed (gasp, horror, noooooooo!). Enter my best friend the coffee maker/espresso machine. The country of Kuwait has been kind enough to mandate shorter work hours during Ramadan, thus the one-hour delay to the start of our work day is perfectly suited to making and drinking my own coffee at home. It's also a heck of a lot cheaper.
5. Cheap haircuts available on every corner. Although I've had a couple haircut disasters, I do appreciate the fact that I can basically stop on any street corner and find a salon where I can get my hair cut for $10.50 (although results are not guaranteed). I also have to smile every time I drive by one of these beauty parlors, since for some reason the entire country of Kuwait seems to be caught in a gigantic spelling error for the word salon, and you will find hundreds of signs all over the country advertising "Ladies' Saloon". Yes, in the midst of an alcohol-free country, you can get your hair cut by a questionably-certified beauty specialist in a ladies' saloon for $10.50. My newest favorite saloon is called "Oriental Princess." I never thought I'd be getting my hair cut in the middle of Kuwait at a saloon called Oriental Princess.