Friday, September 5, 2008

Holy Day...




Friday is the Holy Day of Islam and starts the weekend. On our day off, some of us new teachers decided to go out shopping. The new AUK professor of economics, Hanas, has a good friend in Kuwait who provided us with a driver and huge SUV for the day. Drivers and maids for the rich (primarily Kuwaitis) are quite common and I've heard you can get a part-time individual (usually from Sri Lanka or the Philippines) to cook and clean for as little as $75 USD a month. We drove out to Ikea, the first I've ever been in, looking for items for our new apartments (although I have not settled yet on a place). I was impressed with the variety of items available and reasonable prices, especially since I need to purchase so many new things! It was very interesting to see how Ikea was being marketed to Kuwaitis - with a "special gift" being given out to all customers during Ramadan and Ikea providing a Prayer Room to its patrons. Quickly after, we rushed off to find a mosque for Hanas to attend Friday prayers. Unfortunately we could not find a mosque providing English services in time so we stopped at an Arabic mosque. Woman were not allowed in, so Sharon, my new AUK studio art colleague, had to wait in the car. As a male, it was no problem for me to go in, but it was suggested that I sit in the back since I am not Muslim. I was also the first Islamic service that I've attended, although I've been inside a mosque in Taiwan and China. Shoes had to be removed and the floors were wall to wall carpet. I was surprised by the variety of individuals attending, from very rich to very poor, to men looking very European to very black Africans and of course many from the Indian Subcontinent. The most striking part of the service was when everyone gathered towards the front of the mosque, lined up along stripes on the carpet, and chanted and prostrated together in unison, then the service was over and we rushed off for more shopping at the City Center. Along the way we found the mosque with English service and we stopped in to meet many prominent friends of Hanas. Most were doctors and professors and they welcomed us in, even Sharon, for a look around and invited us to come next week and to attend their cultural center for Islamic/Arabic understanding... After shopping for food, appliances and clothes at the City Center, I was bushed and just vegged out at the hotel the rest of the night...
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