Life in Kuwait

I went out last night with one of my Canadian/Kuwaiti friends. We took to one of the main streets in Salmiya for some gossip and some shopping when we should have been headed for the gym. We figure 3 hours of walking around carrying bags is just like 1 hour in a gym class.

We went to some of the older shops when bargaining is the norm. I’m a bad bargainer, unless I know I am being taken for a ridiculous ride, I like to see the price, pay it, and get out. She does not. She knows what she wants and she knows the value of it and will fight until she gets her way. It’s a great ability to have. I swear the shop owners cave so she will buy here things and go away so they don’t have to give the same discount to other people.We stopped at a hole in the walk, literally a little alcove with a table in front. The man was selling Hijab scarves for 3.5KD or 15C$. Not for my friend, 2KD or no sale. In the end she bought 4. She also pointed out that they had some nice inexpensive abaya. The abaya is the long, usually black, covering that many Muslim women wear. The abayas we have seen in store at the mall run from 20KD or 88C$ and up to as much as 70KD or 300C$. The abaya at the local shop was 7.5KD but with my friend I got my first abaya and hijab scarf for 8KD.

I have wanted an abaya for a while. Some can be very nice but I wanted one to able to show understanding and appreciation for a religious and cultural practice that is not my own. As I have spent time in Kuwait I have learned many new things about why women dress and cover themselves as they do and it has greatly broadened by beliefs and horizons.

After was wandered farther into the stalls and shops. We spoke about the things we saw. My friend wanted to stop at one of the many (so many) gold shops that were in the building. She spoke about how she bought gold jewellery as an investment. I can understand that, the value of gold fluctuates but it is a finite resource that will always have value. Shops in the traditional areas are different than other shops. Here there is no set price on an object. You can look at rings and necklaces and charms, what every you desire and when you decide to buy it is weighed and you are charged for the value of the gold.

So she invested in some nice pendents and gold chains and I figured I deserve something nice too and invested in a nice bracelet and ring set. I even got a discount because I went with my friend who shops at the one stop when she wants something gold. That’s the way things work here. It’s about who you know and because I went with a regular I saved over 100C$ on a nice set of jewellery. Now if only I had places where I could wear nice things.