Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem
Alhamdulillaah, my wife & I are en route to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where we’ll be staying one night with her brother & his family before continuing on our way to home in Kuala Terengganu, in shaaʾ Allaah. Right now we’re in the Kuwait International Airport, and, alhamdulillaah, they have free wifi throughout the airport. This is even more wonderful given the fact that we have a 7 hour layover here. Alhamdulillaah.
One thing that I’ve had a hard time getting used during our stay in Egypt and now as we transit through Kuwait is the sheer prevalence of smoking in the society. Easily one third to one half of all men in Arab society, at least amongst Egyptians & Kuwaitees (according to the sample here in the airport) are chain smokers. It is so bad that, despite a widespread policy if non-smoking in public places, this rule is completely ignored. In fact, I would hazard to guess that some of them purposefully smoke right next to the no-smoking sign, as it cannot be a coincidence that we noticed a cluster of them surrounding the very visible sign at the Alexandria Nouzha airport.
Another interesting observation I’ve made during our “brief” stay in the Kuwait airport is that, apparently, I’m far more approachable than most people here, despite not speaking most of the international traveler’s native languages. First, two Filipino ladies stopped to ask me where a particular flight’s gate was. Before answering, I was “rescued” by one of the airport staff who quickly showed the ladies to the right (I hope!) gate.
After this, while my wife & I were sitting having some refreshments a few hours before our flight, I one of the Filipino McCafe workers who spoke English quite well approached me asking if I could translate some names from a series of cards printed entirely in Arabic. I tried to sound out the letters at first, finding them surprisingly difficult and unrecognizable, until she quickly recognized the name and completed it for me. This continued with approximately eight cards in total. I realized, after she left, that I had just sounded out the names of the other Filipino staff members to her, which is why she recognized it, and she simply didn’t know how to read the Arabic letters. For the record, the transliterations of the Latin Filipino names into Arabic letters was quite poor.
The third incident that added to my suspicions about my approachability was when an Arab lady stopped me to ask where she needed to go to get her visa. I quickly pointed her in the direction she was already going (no more than 10 meters in front of her) and escorted her there, pointing out the sign to her. She was quite grateful, and I was quite happy for having performed yet another good deed for day.
So, there you have it. Conclusive, scientific evidence that I am above-average in approachability in the Kuwait airport.
Or..did it have something to do with my attire (dress slacks & shirt, sans tie), which happened to be suspiciously similar to that of other “in-the-know” information types amongst the staff of the airport?
Disclaimer: This was written while still at the Kuwait airport, but it was not saved to the blog until after we arrived in Kuala Terengganu.