Thursday, July 31, 2008

Arrival in Kuwait

"Have you got your passports?", the taxi driver asked Tom and me at 3am this morning as we left for Heathrow. "You'd be surprised how many people leave for the airport without them!". Even in my tired state, I wondered how it would be possible to do such a thing. Nevertheless, I took my passport out and stared at it to make sure it was there.

An hour later, at the KLM check-in queue, I reached for my passport again. It wasn't there. After several panicky phone calls, it turned out it was on its way to Stansted airport, on the back seat of the taxi. Luckily it was retrieved in time and we touched down in Kuwait this afternoon. The plane was half full of expatriates and we queued for ages at passport control. Just behind us was a group of very large American soldiers. One was talking about his recent tour in Afghanistan.

Tom and I shared a car to our hotel with an Arab man who wore white robes and a diamond-encrusted watch. We both greeted each other formally when we got in the car. Tom and I chatted a bit on the way to the hotel, but we never spoke to the man and he never spoke to us. When the car pulled up at the hotel he seemed in a hurry to get out, but then hesitated a bit, raised his hand and said goodbye quietly.

Outside on the street, even at 9pm, it is too hot to stay outside for long. It is so hot that there seem to be no public spaces outside in the city. Everything is indoors. Street life happens in air conditioned malls, where a cup of coffee costs £4 and where men and women sit around in separate groups.

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