Sunday, May 29, 2016
The time I walked into the wrong house: A Ramadan Story
This is a true story in the true spirit of Ramadan. It is funny and you can laugh at my foibles (because Lord knows - I do!) but it is also a story that will stay with me for the rest of my life because it has such a great moral.
My friend, Um Salah, (former parliamentarian Rola Dashti's mother and a long-time friend) invited me to ftour at her house during Ramadan. I hadn't been to their house in over a year and wasn't really sure if I remembered the way. She told me, "If you get lost, you'll see my son's Pajero parked in front."
(Clue #1: Everyone in Kuwait owns a Pajero.)
So, off I went before sunset.
I went to the house and low and behold: a Pajero was parked outside. I rang the front bell and a housekeeper answered. I asked if it was the Dashti house. She said yes and brought me into the house and I sat in the living room.
One by one, family members appeared and asked the same polite questions. "Salam alaykum." 'Alaykum salam.' "Mubarak alayk shahar..." "How are you? How is your family?" 'I'm fine thank you. How have you been? How is your family?' and so on...
So this went on and on with family members I didn't recognize. But - that's not unusual in Kuwait because it is Ramadan and family members are visiting and people are coming and going.
(Should have been Clue #2: but... notsomuch)
As I sat there, I admired Um Salah's new furniture.
So finally, a very nice young lady about my age comes down. She's super friendly and I immediately like her (do I know her? Have we met? Is she a sister or cousin? Dunno.) She goes through the polite questions (as above). And then says,
"Habibti. I think you're in the wrong house." Completely kindly and with total grace and hospitality.
Me: 'Oh, I asked your maid if this was the Dashti house and she said yes.'
Her: "She's an idiot. Um Salah lives behind us. Would you like to join us for ftour?"
OMG! How incredibly kind! THAT is the true spirit of Ramadan. Welcoming people to join in breaking fast together. I really was overwhelmed (not by my own stupidity or the situation I was in, but by blind kindness!). THAT is the Kuwait I know and love. THOSE are my people!
I turned around and the entire group had come down and everyone was smiling and welcoming me. You know - God sends you angels. I should have gotten the name of their family. Maybe one of them will read this and remember. I remember them distinctly - every Ramadan and occasionally other times like now.
I sent them flowers the next day to thank them. I love this Ramadan story. I am hopeful that there are more people out there like them.
Blondeness Side Note:
This was not the first time I walked into the wrong house. My first job was as a housekeeper. (yes me - scrubbing toilets and washing floors). My mother made me get a job to teach me the value of money. It worked. I'm grateful. I worked on a street where most of the houses looked the same. I usually started my work in the basement, ironing shirts in their laundry room and then working up to the top floor (with a stop in the kitchen because I was 14 years old and of course I was going to raid their refrigerator!). So, I did what I normally did: Let myself in and started ironing shirts. It took me a while to figure out that things were slightly different and I was in the wrong place. They got several shirts ironed for free (with starch - I was gooood at ironing). I dashed off to the right house before I got caught.