Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

“I Miss Hamad. . . “

Talk was desultory as the book club broke up, several women had already left when Hannah hit us with this bombshell. It was a most puzzling statement. We had all passed Hamad in the hallway on our way to bookclub. He would greet us gruffly, but not really look at us as we buzzed into the women’s diwaniyya.

“What are you talking about?” popped up Lena, never at a loss for words. “How can you miss Hamad? He’s right here!”

Hannah exchanged glances with Diana, also married to a Kuwaiti. They grinned, ruefully.

“You’ve only been back a week,” Diana said.

“Yes, but I MISS that sweet, loving husband. When we are away, he turns back into the delightful, charming man I married! He holds my hand, he takes me out for dinner, it’s like when we first met! He’s a different man! Oh, how I miss him! And we’ve only been back a week.” She echoed Diana.

Diana sighed.

“And is he playing the ‘ayb’ card?” she asked? “‘Ayb’ how you walk around the house, ‘ayb’ how you smile too much, ‘ayb’ here, ‘ayb’ there, ‘ayb ayb’ everywhere?”

They started giggling. Others joined in, their giggles were so infectious. Soon, the seven women remaining from the book club meeting were gasping for air, they were laughing so hard.

“I’ve stopped changing!” Hannah hooted! “Every time I changed what he asked, he found something new!”

And the laughter started again – it’s an international group, and the critical husband thing is something that is easily understood by women of all nations.

“I want him back!” Hannah moaned, weak from laughter. “I want my Hamad back!”

August 28, 2007 - Posted by | Community, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Humor, Kuwait, Marriage, Women's Issues


  1. I don’t know how you girls were able to laugh about it! I would just simply cry! That was one of the main reasons I left from there at first place!

    3eb!! Why is 3eb for a woman to smile a lot or like motorbikes or anything else in that matter!? Well they are definitely different out of the country, like they change to sweetest man, as you mentioned the man we first met! I couldn’t and will never be able to live in such an act!

    That was the reason my mother left my dad too! She missed him every time they were back in Kuwait!

    Comment by noracassandra | August 28, 2007 | Reply

  2. i hate that about men! 😦

    why the two-faced attitude!?

    Comment by Swair | August 28, 2007 | Reply

  3. You stole this from Jewaira?

    Comment by Purgatory | August 28, 2007 | Reply

  4. Well, Noracassandra, all the crying in the world isn’t going to change these guys. They are what they are. Thank God for girlfriends, and giggles, and roars of laughter. Whatever gets us through the night, you know?

    Swair – oh sweetie! And woman aren’t two faced?

    This is particular to husbands who feel more free to be themselves other places, but then revert to strict – and sometimes unfathomable, to us non-Kuwaitis – standards of behavior when they are in Kuwait.

    Purg – Naaaahhhh. I am honored you would think so, but no, this one is mine. I am, however, a great admirer of Jewaira and feel totally flattered you would think I stole this from her. Here is the litmus test – we were talking about husbands without talking about SEX. How very un-Jewaira of me!

    Comment by intlxpatr | August 28, 2007 | Reply

  5. Yes I know! May the lord just give you all the strength that you need! I know he did to me for 15 years in there and now at last I can smile, giggle and laugh with out some one telling me 3eb!

    Comment by noracassandra | August 28, 2007 | Reply

  6. Yeah public display of affection is totally taboo in Kuwait. But frankly, I think that’s a good thing because if you’re in the vicinity of people who are displaying a bit too much affection in public it embarrasses you if they’re standing in front of you in line or in the subway. Hehehe 🙂

    To be honest, I don’t think it’s a particularly wise decision to marry from outside your own culture to begin with. But I understand it can be particularly hard when something like smiling or laughing is seen as “3aib”. But see it’s just a different view of the same activity. For example if you walk into a Japanese person’s home with your shoes on it’s seen as inappropriate. Laughing is not considered wrong for a woman; being loud is what’s seen as wrong and therefore laughing loudly is seen as inappropriate. A woman being loud in this culture is seen as a method of attracting men’s attention.

    I don’t get the holding hands thing though because I do see husbands and wives holding hands in Kuwait and there’s nothing wrong with that at all. Also, Kuwaiti men take their wives out for dinner all the time so I don’t get that either.

    Comment by 1001 Nights | August 29, 2007 | Reply

  7. I agree, Noracassandra, it is a daunting task to marry across cultures. The women I meet who have done it are really heroes. And to make it work 20, 30, 40 years or more – that’s better than we often do in same-culture marriages. It looks like a great adventure, from the outside, but also one fraught with peril and hardships. It takes very special people to make it work. I honor those men and women!

    Zin, I am probably talking about a generation before your time. The younger men in Kuwait seem to be more into restaurant-going, but most of the older Kuwaitis married to these women above prefer to eat at home, go to diwwaniyya, and live more quietly. They are educated men, familiar with other cultures, becoming more traditional as they age. I don’t see older men and women holding hands, except in the hospitals, do you?

    And I have to wonder if becoming more traditional isn’t something that happens to all of us as we get older? When we are twenty, we are so much more open to new things, and as time passes, we get more set in our ways, no matter what we promised ourselves in our 20’s!

    Comment by intlxpatr | August 29, 2007 | Reply

  8. Yeah you’re right but it’s very rare to see older couples holding hands anywhere not just in Kuwait. I wish we’d see it more often though, it’s really cute when you see old couples in love 😀

    I definitely agree about us becoming more traditional as we get older. I definitely feel that trend in my personality. I think as we grow older we mature into seeing the merit in what we used to think was old-fashioned. It just takes time for us to be convinced through our own experience.

    Comment by 1001 Nights | August 29, 2007 | Reply

  9. Zin – 😉 You’re hardly old enough to have those feelings! Then again, you have always had a very mature point of view. You gave me a great grin, habeebti.

    Comment by intlxpatr | August 29, 2007 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: