Ihave been experiencing something different for almost a week now while driving. It gave me a feeling that violence and cruelty have increased. Drivers seem more aggressive, less respectful, less tolerant and more willing to cut me off while driving. I did not understand the reason why. It seemed like Kuwait and all of its vehicles have suddenly turned against me.
The straw that broke the camel’s back came recently when I was driving at the Arabian Gulf Road. As I was approaching a traffic light, I slowed down and eventually stopped when the light turned yellow. But the car behind me was moving too fast, which forced me to move right to avoid impact. The young lady behind the wheel started honking furiously, which left me perplexed since I was thinking she should thank me because I helped her avoid an accident for which she would have definitely been held at fault. But soon after the traffic light turned green, the young head-scarfed lady, who had a lab coat hanging on the passenger’s seat, drove by me quickly and gave me an obscene gesture in front of everyone before driving away, leaving me in complete shock.
I gave a lot of thinking into what could have changed within a week and turned all drivers against me. My driving is the same, and the streets have not changed. Only one thing have changed, which is the car I am driving. I am currently using a small ‘humble’ car that my dad graciously gave me while my original car is in repair. Could it be that this small and durable yet humble looking and of modest social status vehicle could be the reason? Can people categorize me in a way that makes them believe that all of this rudeness and humiliation are acceptable bearing in mind that I was from the ‘class’ or ‘citizenship’ of people who drive those kind of cars?
The issue is not about my hurt feelings or frayed nerves of course. It is about a whole nation, public mood and common ethics. It is the issue of our guests in Kuwait, from low-wage workers, to teachers, to every low and middle class person who comes to work among us. Do they have to go through this suffering every day? Do they feel the bitter discrimination just because they are not ‘citizens’ or of higher financial status? One week in my humble car made me experience a daily struggle on the street. It made me taste the bitter taste of aggression and inferiority. It helped me realize how superficial, stereotypical and racist we are. Not all of us are like that of course, but lately it has been a situation so prevalent that it became a phenomenon, especially with the deteriorating services’ level and increased pressure on public services, which generated a sense of intolerance against non-Kuwaitis that is increasing among Kuwaitis; the same Kuwaitis who have always been generous and lived as a minority among their guests who served and build the country with them, from cleaning workers to state consultants.
But the case is different today. Hearts have become like stone, morals have deteriorated and hate has prevailed to a point in which a young lady wearing a head scarf that shows her religious devoutness and a coat that indicates her role as an ‘angel of mercy’ (nurse) would not hesitate to publicly degrade herself in order to take revenge from a ‘poor foreigner’ who stopped at the yellow light, thus slowed her down for a few minutes.
I only tasted a small portion from a large plate that our guests eat from every day, so are way a nation that presents poison to its visitors?