(Written February 2012) During our years in Cairo, my husband devised a game called “Why Would They?” It proved to be an expat game of trying to hold your tongue.
The rules in Cairo were simple, for every, "Why would they?" exclamation -- typically uttered when witnessing some fantastical, or wildly amazing, or just implausible and gravity-defying feat, such as "Why would they carry a plate glass window on a motorbike?", or "Why would they step out into traffic without ever looking?" -- you would get one point against you. If you were somehow able to NOT exclaim this constantly, then you were probably asleep; there's really no other explanation. Our favorite supplementary game, was to see how long it took visitors to utter their first “Why would they” sentence, which was sometimes within minutes of leaving the airport.
We have tried to play the game outside of Egypt, but frankly it’s just not as fun. Yes, wild and wacky sights can be spotted in Venice, or London, or Alaska, or Muscat, but so far nothing can compare with the sheer volume of wondrous mind-bending sights in Cairo.
Life is much more sane and less like a carnival in Kuwait, but having said that, we have come up with two “Why Would They’s”. The first is quite simply, “Why would they constantly drive with such recklessness?” No, it’s not as much fun as “Why would they put grandma on top of the pile of watermelons in the back of the truck (in Cairo)?”, but we work with what we’re given. The driving remains a constant source of stress here, but I am trying to train myself to fully expect to be passed on an on-ramp and cut-off in a merge lane, so as to lessen the stress spikes. Not to mention constantly checking rear and side mirrors; I’ve learned all too often that just because it’s clear one second doesn’t mean there won’t be a Hummer H2 climbing up your tailpipe in the next.
Our second “Why Would They?” comes from something I have failed to share, until now. It’s not because I’m trying to hide it, but frankly I find it so baffling that I can’t wrap my head around it. It’s simply this, is certain areas of town, Kuwait City stinks.
It really stinks. The sewage smell can be overwhelming in some neighborhoods, particularly those close to the water. I've heard all sorts of rumors as to why, including a broken sewage pipe flooding Kuwait Bay and the Persian Gulf with raw sewage, and an on-going search for an engineering firm to fix it. I don't know what the real story is, but I can certainly attest to the real result. Pew.
So, sadly, one of the best parts about Kuwait, their 180 miles of coastline, is strongly affected by this. No one wants to come to the beach, when the beach doesn't smell like a beach should. Personally, I would think that the high-end resorts lining the waterfront would team up and demand that the problem be addressed. I can’t imagine paying $500 a night for a room with a waterfront view (and complementary smell), let alone trying to take a dip in the water and dodge the debris (I'm making an assumption here; I have yet to take a dip in the Gulf and frankly can't see it happening anytime soon).
And so, it still stinks. We recently visited friends who had a gorgeous villa, just a block from the water, but when we parked and open the car doors the stench was so overwhelming we ran for their front door with our breaths held. We’ve taken walks along the beach on the promenade, and one minute everything is lovely, the next the wind changes and you’re suddenly speed-walking to the car.
So it comes down to this. In a country as flush with cash as Kuwait is, "Why Wouldn’t They Fix the Sewage Smell?" Okay, one point against me; let the game begin!