Monday, May 11, 2009

Graduation Analysis

Last night, I attended a very formal sounding graduation at the lovely and opulent ballroom of the Hashemi II at the SAS. I hadn’t been there for a while. Slaperella got her MBA and I am so proud of her. She was a real bitch for several years, “I’m STUDYING!” (waaaaaaa!) but she is returning to her former glory – this time with a diploma and a funny hat. She’s laughing more and all is right in the world. If she goes for her PhD, I’m gonna have to smack her.

Slaps’ mother came from Scotland to attend the ceremony. I was told WAY in advance to be on my best behavior (which probably still isn’t really as good as Slaps would like). It has been a struggle to find conservative clothing. I even wore a minimizer bra last night – just so that everything (including The Girls) would be low-key (I had threatened sequins and feathers, but as it turned out, many of the ladies in the audience wore just that, so I didn’t have to). I was frickin demure! I think I accomplished my task. Anyways, I think her moms is cool – probably cooler than Slaps thinks, but the same could probably be said about my moms and I. No, that’s not true – I know my moms is cool. I saw the photos from Australia. I found the contraband in her suitcase. Me knows.

Back to the story…

It started late (as usual – it’s Kuwait) and rows of seats were reserved in the front for the grads. So, bien sur, the people who came in the latest were the ones who thought they were entitled to sit there. The ushers kicked them out. Tee hee. I love it when that happens. Small justice. The Entitlement looked so forlorn when they were told to go to the back. I like.

I guess there were about 200 people there – some big names in the lineup - and only a few foreigners graduating. There was a really interesting cross-section of Kuwaitis: Hathar, Bedu, Shiite, Sunni - from young grads to old. There were also some Egyptians; and some names that sounded like children of cross-cultural marriages (anglo first names with Kuwaiti last names). The audience was also very mixed in terms of age, nationality, color, and varying degrees of religion. I wasn't even the only American there. I saw more. Fascinating.

I’ve never been to a graduation ceremony in Kuwait, but I thought that it would be more formal/sophisticated than other celebrations – like weddings for example. Well, the program was very well structured and planned. The invitations and programs were elegant. They had placed Patchi chocolates in the school’s colors on the chairs. The atmosphere was elegant. Most people wore elegant clothes (except those with the taste of circus clowns). Everything throughout went smoothly. The grads were announced in order and presented their diplomas by Mrs. Noureah Sabih. The staff gave speeches – it all went very well: It was the audience that was unsophisticated.

Do you remember the days of the national cinemas in Kuwait? It wasn’t too long ago, but it almost seems like ancient history. Sulaibikhat and Salmiya cinemas were full of exuberant youth – all armed with pagers and laser pointers. People talked all the way through the movies. Pagers went off. Those who had mobile phones were on them, telling people that they were in the movie, what movie they were seeing, what they had for dinner, etc. The chatty folks never considered for a moment that the people next to them might be there to see the movie. The boys positioned the laser pointers at the private parts. People laughed. People talked. More pagers went off. More people talked on mobile phones.

Ok, that’s how it was last night - only the instigators were older folk. The only thing missing was the laser pointers.

These people (or their families) shelled out KD 7,000 and spent 2 years in the process. Do ya think the spectators could have like maybe stayed in their seats through the ceremony at least? Noooooo. Do you think they might have listened to the speakers? Noooooooo.

Ya nas, where is the prestige? This was an educated, well-to-do crowd. (One lady next to me had a rock on her finger the size of Ivana Trump's. I almost had to put my sunglasses on.) I could have understood the audience immaturity if it was a pre/high school graduation, but an MBA program? Some of the graduates looked slightly embarrassed. One young lady smiled for an endless amount of time while her mother, standing in the main aisle - taking up space, tried to fix the camera to get her photo. Grad Girl finally just walked around her with the “Oh mom!” look on her face.

The sophistication level was such that they could have invited Chicky to come dance and sing.

Initially, you get miffed with it all, but at a point, it just got funny and you just had to laugh (which made the 3 ladies sitting directly behind us give a play-by-play commentary on how hilarious we foreigners thought it was; leading them to say how cute they thought we were). I wished for a laser pointer and a horn-in-a-can. Most of the women udulated (I don’t know what you call that in Arabic) when their grad’s name was called. Some of the guys called out the name of their friends as they were announced, “Ya BU FLAN!” It got to be a competition to see who could do it the loudest and the longest. Cool!! Bedouin wedding!!! When do we dance?

And what is the deal with using camera phones? Digital cameras are so inexpensive and the quality is so much better (they also have zoom lenses, so you don’t have to be in-your-face to get a photo). You would think that a once-in-a-lifetime photo op would be facilitated with a good quality camera. Nooooooooo. And with everyone on their feet taking pictures, no one could get a good shot anyways. Why not just wait until after when you can take photos on the stage or at a pretty place in the hall? Why would you want a hundred photos of the backs of people’s heads? Je ne get it pas. If there is a Kodak in Kuwait, why aren’t you guys taking advantage of these opportunities? Must I plan EVERYONE’s marketing for them? Kodak: Go to these events and set up a “Kodak corner” like they have in the States (an area allocated only for taking photos with a nice backdrop). It is a way for you to advertise your services and at the same time, do a little PR in the community.

Kuwait is full of posers – everyone poses for pictures. They’re lovin’ it. Men, women – doesn’t matter. I saw some really good “pouty looks” with the mandatory head tilt… and I’m not talking about the women.

Hey – what’s with the flowers around the neck of the graduates? That must be a cultural thing to Kuwait (?). I dunno. We don’t do that in the States. It just reminded me of racehorses being decorated after a win. Also people, pink rose garlands on 30-something-year-old men just look gay. WHYYYYY? If I had the chance to do it over again, I would have ordered some really tacky fluorescent plastic flower leis for Slaperella (she looked so cute in her graduation gown/abaya).

I had a great time - it was fabulous. I’m just making my usual observations (Masters in Bullshit Analysis). It’s what I do. It was fun to see the crowd and their reactions. It was honestly one of those rare occasions in Kuwait where everybody was happy for a little while. I don’t even find that at weddings anymore. I remember those happy Kuwaitis – I just haven’t seen them for some time (maybe before the invasion).

We went to The Boom to have dinner afterwards. (Sorry, no way in Hell I’m eating buffet at a reception with that many people and a global swine flu epidemic. Ick.) The Boom used to be the most expensive place to eat in Kuwait. Do you remember that? 6 KD was something that you did something like every 6 months. And now… well, it is 12 KD now, but that is no longer a big deal. I like The Boom, but I can’t take it for too long – I get claustrophobic and want to break out (either into song or out-of-doors).

It also freaks me out that they flash-cook food (open fire - behind a glass wall) closest to the door in a room that is made of aged wood and with no windows. Call me an alarmist if you will. I can see the headlines, “Desert Girl dies in shipboard fire while dining on lobster… only not at sea. Firemen were unable to contain the fire due to the high number of MBA graduates and their families taking photos and standing in the way of fire equipment. Scottish graduate died of injuries related to polyester gown meltdown.” Ok, that didn’t happen and Slaps is too elegant to wear shiny polyester ever again (except maybe a nurses’ uniform in the boudoir – I don’t know/don’t want to know – just the fact that I wrote it gives me the heebie jeebies).

You may be thinkin right about now – WTF is she ON? Well, I can tell you: BLOOD PRESSURE MEDICATION. The men in my life – both at work and in my personal life – have given me high blood pressure (140/100 was what set it off). It isn’t my eating habits, of course. It is because I’m generally uptight all the time. Now, I’m just pissed off at the world because I can’t eat Doritos anymore (PHUCK THAT!!!!) and I’m on a diet. What is my life coming to? Well, as the doctor said, “You’re only 29, Desert Girl, so you don’t have to worry about it too much” (SMACK!) Ok, I’m back to reality. Gotta get my Desert Girl ass into a gym - tout suite. I’ve already started my exercise regime.

Mark (248 AM blog) has acid reflux. I have blood pressure. What is happening to the bloggers?!

Hey – how is the Crowne Plaza gym? Does anyone go there? I heard that it is packed right around the time I would want to go – 5ish. Comments please. Also, I would like to know if there are good looking men there because I don’t want to waste my time working out for nothing. (Oh yeah – health, that’s right.) The good thing is that Sakura is in the Crowne Plaza so I can go there after and get my sushi fix on. I just can’t have shrimp because my cholesterol is high too. DAMN those men!


jessyz said...

I laughed teeheeeehee.

About the gym, I've been wanting to try the Pilates and More gym, that might help you relax too.

Abdullah said...

First Congratulations on your friends MBA I hope she have a great future. :)
Hilarious post! made me rofl seriously!.
I haven't been to any university graduation yet :P hopefully soon tough.
but i have been to my little sister 3ed grade excellent students honoring it was alot like you mentioned I laughed alot my mom kept pinching me to make me stop until some kid blow fire cracker on the stage and made the photographer,principle and some of front raw parent's jump.
I laughed out loud LOL! and had to keep my head down for few minutes because i know if i raise my head up and see the principle face i will blow up with laughter hehe. :P

Zarrar said...

I go to the Crown Plaza Gym. It is quite ok except for the fact that between 7 and 9 it is really crowded. Especially, the treadmills and not available, neither are the exercise bikes. The crowd coming there is cultured and they dont hog the machines for too long.

I guess the place can do with a capable trainer.


Unknown said...

Crown Plaza Gym is excellent. Lotsa good looking guys. It does get crowded, but more around 6 than 5ish.

Anonymous said...

Great post, DG. BTW, I don't think you've been to any stateside graduations lately. Dignity is a thing of the past.

I think there is some kind of Kuwait syndrome. I've had elevated BP, cholesterol, blood sugar, etc - and so have many of my friends. I am guessing we should all move around a lot more.

I have heard the new Aquatonic pool is fabulous.

Anonymous said...

This may explain the fiance's objection to walking in graduation.

Also, the whole high blood pressure/acid reflux business is probably because of the enormous stress of dealing with fucktards day in, day out. The boy's family had a cat that started losing clumps of hair from stress. The fucking CAT had a nervous breakdown. Plus, you know, customer service in Kuwait will give anyone a coronary (excepting the charming Visa dude at Kuwait airport, who served personal escort for me trying to find the address in my luggage--total sweetheart...possibly because of the cleavage ;b ) with understandable reasons why...


Big Pearls said...

I heard Pilates & More is a good gym.

Dindy said...

Desert Girl:

Okay, so it took me forever to find your blog (cuz it required me to turn on my computer and access the world wide web - pathetic). It looks like I have a little reading to do. Great story - it made me think of my G'town graduation. It was all very dignified until my name was called and my family started hootin' and a hollerin' from the back of the ceremony like they were at a wrestling match.

Desert Girl said...

Dindy -

First of all - how ironic! because I was thinking of you all through this graduation ceremony and remembering your Georgetown graduation. I think you would like my friend, Slaperella - she is a lot like you in many ways; a devoutly loyal and dear friend.

Second, I was ONE of those family members hootin and hollerin like we were at a wrestling match. You have CHARACTER in your life! Celebrate :)

I miss you sooooooooooo much!

Anonymous said...

Ok, completely unrelated but just moved to Kuwait and I realise why Kuwaiti women wear Burqas (don't know if that's the right word). Nothing to do with religeon or culture, it's the fcuking DUST!!! If I wore lipstick here, I'd wear one too....

Desert Girl said...

Anonymous - Dust? You call THIS dust? You aint seen nothin yet! Wait till you're out in your car one day/night and see a wall of mustard-colored stuff moving your way and there is no where to go.

Ok, so you've moved to Kuwait. You must now learn the lingo. "Burka" and "Durka" and all that is from "Team America". We don't do that here. Niqab is the general term for the face covering. (I won't go into details and confuse you about the terms for the different kinds.) I wore it a few times - with lipstick - and let me just tell you that the lipstick sticks to the inside. Also, I would imagine it is FRICKIN hot in there during a dust storm.

United Indian School said...

Haha...that was a funny post. I think most bloggers are FAT because we spend less time at the gym!

countrygent said...

High Blood Pressure is definately something to take serious. If your taking anything that has a form of lisonipril then its made from the venoum of a brazilian poisonous snake and has shown to show kidney damage in some users. If you have stairs where you live then its good to start walking them to moderation as well as evening walks to start out. Diet as you stated is important as well to get BP under control and garlic is a great natural form of BP regulating. If you have time Tai Chi is a great bet for overall stress relief and meditating. I have found that horseback riding has always helped me keep my stress under control although I havent had the oppurtunity since being in Kuwait so I rely on meditation for now. Hope your able to get it down to a normal range.

Anonymous said...

Im sorry but i stumbled on your blog by mistake and i couldn't help but reading.
why so negative ?.. i realize that maybe (most of the time actually) Kuwaitis tend to do things they think is absolutely fine and normal where others might find strange or different! especially for a non Kuwaiti.
but since you've lived here for a while now don't you just become accustomed to it?
plus come on Kuwait is not that bad!
and you always have the choice to leave you know?
this is not an angry comment.. i enjoyed your post but i just couldnt understand you.. i mean iv been here for a while now its a bit late to still be complaining of how ppl are here..
Im not a Kuwaiti my self .. and yes the first few months maybe years it was strange but with time you realize how things are and you get used to them

Desert Girl said...

Anonymous 1:17: I don't think anything I have to say is so negative - its just life here and after 13 years in Kuwait I am definately used to it. Everyone has their own perspective and this blog is mine. If I didn't find humor in Kuwait's quirkiness, wouldn't have much to write about. I can always "go home" or leave, but if you read on you will know that I love this country. If I were in my own country, I would be writing about the day-to-day life there too and my perspective. I'm sure you have your own perspective about Kuwait and if it differs from mine - that's fine too.