It’s over! I never thought I would be expressing these feelings with a bit of dismay, sadness, and nostalgia. Kuwait is a place I never imagined in my wildest dreams I would have ever ended up. Yet all it took was an email about basketball to get me there. The place grew on me though and its a place I know I can always call home. I made friendships and connections that I know won’t end with me leaving.
A country governed by Sharia Law didn’t seem like my ideal destination as 24 year old man but before going in I figured if I could have fun in this country I could have fun anywhere in the world, a true test to my creativity. Let's see, Kuwait is a dry country so no alcohol and premarital sex is against the law just what I want to worry about as a 24 year old. First question, where do I get booze? I turned to tinder and tinder again came up big. Not only was I able to get connected with people who could provide alcohol but I was able to meet plenty of single, and not so single women. How you say, "killing two birds with one stone", without actually being stoned to death. That might actually be three birds with one stone. However seeking to have a drinks and socialize late into the evening definitely almost cost me a few fingers and some jail time. I don't know if being caught with alcohol would have led to the loss of any limbs, I just ignorantly assumed. I'll never forget the time that me, a friend and two girls were stopped by a full police car. We were leaving a party with a few bottles in our hand, the bottles all reading, "RUSSIAN VODKA". Luckily the friend with me and my other white counterparts spoke Arabic. He talked them all off the ledge and somehow we were able to drive off not just with all of our limbs but the alcohol as well.
My ignorance got the best of me as well when it came to dating and socializing with Arab women. Those assumptions got the best of me and I can't stop laughing at myself as I write this post. Although I think the list of cultural rules, given to me my boss upon my arrival, didn't help with that. One of those rules was to never extend my hand to a women, unless she extends her hand to you. I only imagined the trouble my eyes could get me into. I connected with several other expats chicks on tinder or at parties and kept away from Arab chicks. Until I matched one on tinder. We messaged on and off for 7 months until we finally got together and hung out. Now this chick wore a head scarf so going in I did not know what was going on under the head scarf and the sleeves. I was really blown away when she came to my apartment and took off her headscarf. Not only did my face get flushed but I panicked. I demanded to know if what she was doing was acceptable? After laughing at my ridiculous antics she assured me that there was nothing to fear. We hung out for a few hours and really hit it off. Before I walked her to her car I needed her to again reassure me that there was nothing against the law or wrong with walking her to car. Knowing I had the green light to be outdoors with her I assumed that this was that kind of green light and asked if I could have a kiss good night and she hit me with, "it took you long enough!" What I noticed was I wasn't treating this girl as a human being but more like an alien from a completely different world when really we are from different sides of the same world. Human beings want to be human beings and at the end of the day we want to do the things that make us happiest. I couldn't believe how asinine I was to hold another human in such light. But was this really the first time this had happen? The answer is no and I don't believe I am the only person who is plagued with thoughts like these.
Yes growing up on different sides of our same world there is so much more that we have in common than how we differ. From a evolutionary stand point, no matter how unique our understanding of our existence or consciousness grows we cant seem to fight the basic drive of our genes. Eat and fuck!
If you were reading this article you'd think the motive of my trip was, Black Market & Broads. I went to Kuwait to coach at a basketball academy called Hoop Mountain. I coached predominately kids but trained a few adults in my time at Hoop Mountain. I trained some great kids in Kuwait and even dealt with a few characters. I'll never forget one kid explaining to me how he is a wave of problems. He can either be tsunami or a wave you never noticed. He told me he would a be tsunami of problems to my life if I didn't let him do whatever he wanted in class. If this kid doesn't eventually become a dictator than I can say I made a direct influence on his life.
I had some hard workers as well and kids who had a love for the game. If only they had the physical ability to get them to next level. Even through the power of the internet connecting our huge planet the kids I trained lacked the experience. Not just experience but experience against top talent. Watching the top 5 sophomore in the US is one thing, but getting an opportunity to guard that kid an entire week at a skills camp is a whole different world. I tried to complete and demonstrate some of my basketball ability to the kids so they would be able to get an idea of what top flight basketball talent looks like but I still felt it was never enough for them to understand the level the US played basketball on
My last few weeks with the kids I taught were actually bittersweet. Had some great conversation with a few of them and I heard how much of an impact I had left on them. I received a few gifts, loads of sweets, and even cards from some of the younger kids. I never thought I'd be this down although I knew I would probably not see many of these kids again. It wasn't until my last day at camp that I realized this place has really grown on me. I had immersed myself in the place I called home for two years and realized that change was upon me once again.
I could not put a price on the life experiences I had in Kuwait. Yes I could have worked at a basketball academy in America and I could have traveled with friends and family I have known my life but for me that’s too comfortable. It’s too easy! There is no adversity there is not enough unknown in that. Not knowing anyone, not fully understanding a culture or a language helped me develop new communication skills I could have never gained, by staying at home. As I look back on myself two years ago to who I am now the two people don’t even compare. And now that the change is upon me again I have to find a way to take those same ideas that drove me to come out here to push me to my next stop.
Now that I am home I can't but get nostaligic but its simple things I miss. I miss my schedule, I miss my routine, I miss my steady pay check. To be honest I got comfortable with my settings and situation. Now a bus driver may drive a scheduled route, and get people along their way but a nomadic bus driver isn't confined to one route. The routes he can take can lead to any place he seeks to explore. Yet it doesn't meant the route he chooses to take won't intersect with all the friends he met working his route in Kuwait for those two years.
Kuwait you are beautiful and I am ever greatful for your kindness and hospitaltity these past two years and wish nothing but love to everyone.