Saturday, August 2, 2008

Tea Time in Kuwait

We both felt it was a small but significant triumph to have found somewhere to sit that wasn't a close relative of Starbucks or a spotless ice-cream parlour in an air-conditioned mall.

We might never have found it apart from the slightly intoxicating smell of sweet tobacco that wafted out to us as we walked through the market.

We both hesitated before walking in. We didn't exactly blend in with the rest of the clientele and wondered if we would be welcome. We needn't have worried. Despite our odd appearance no-one else paid us any attention at all. Most people watched football on one of the seven television screens, or were lost in conversation.

We drank sweet dark tea and smoked. It was funny being in a cafe where you couldn't watch the world go by. The walls were large sheets of translucent plastic hanging from the high ceilings. There were no windows. All you could watch, if you wanted to, were the other customers. It felt like a comfortable interlude between public and private spaces.

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