Monday, June 4, 2007

An Odd Encounter

It was around 8:20 pm when I left my house to get in my car to go to the gym. As I closed the gate behind me, I looked about the street before hopping into my car and reversing into the street from the pavement. Just as I was about to put the car in drive, a car approaches me from the left and flashes its light. It was a modest white car with a Saudi license plate. Many Saudis like coming to Kuwait or any easily accessible neighboring country for that matter, as a chance for many them to flee the strictures of their Wahhabi state.

I paused as the Saudi man, the only person in the car and the driver, came out to walk towards me. He appeared to be a youth in his mid 20s. I stepped out of my car and met him. I expected him to ask for directions or the house of so and so, but instead he started talking to me as if he knew me. He quickly picked up that I’m not a Kuwaiti from lack of use of the dialect. I asked him who he was looking for, but it turned out he was looking for me.

He said he wanted to ask me something but I didn’t catch at the time what he said was the reason for his hesitation as I didn’t know the Arabic verb he was using at the time. However, I looked up the word later and he was saying that he wasn’t sure if he could advance his proposal with me. After beating around the bush and telling him to just ask me what was in his mind. I wondered what it could be. Was it something illicit? He said that he is from the Saudi Kingdom and his father was sick at which point he made an indication to his stomach. He said he needed some help and wondered if I could be of some assistance.

I found this to be a very odd request. The young man was neatly dressed in the typical national dress of the dishdasha and associated headgear. He had a thin moustache and was polite. His car was modest, but there was nothing about him to indicate a lack of material goods or poverty. So I couldn’t understand why he was in essence begging me for money. I quickly replied that I was sorry and could not help him.

He then uttered a few sentences praising America and how he would like to travel there because the atmosphere or situation there is good. After that we departed and I continued to the gym. I wondered if his father was really sick why he would be coming to Kuwait to beg for money. Saudi Arabia has hospitals and a fairly decent health care system. But at the same time, I felt it was more likely to be a ploy or scam to perhaps obtain money for drugs.

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