Days 480-486: Boiling Point

25.04.10–01.05.10:

This week I’ve been staying with a guy from Austria called Martin.  His flat is spanking – it’s in a brand new apartment complex and the apartment is so neat and tidy just my mere presence is enough to destabilise the Xi.  It’s warming up here in Kuwait – the rains of last week are but a distant memory and it’s hard not to be enchanted by the thought of running from one air-conditioned building to another.

There was still no sign of my Saudi Letter of Invitation coming through and so I cracked on with website updates.  On Friday I met with Ruban and we crashed a rooftop party held by a cool British guy called Wes.  There I met a ton of tip-top people.  First up, there was Kassie from Australia, who offered me a place to crash now that I was in serious danger of outstaying my welcome at Martin’s.

Secondly, I met Andrea and Eric from Canada who gave me a ton of advice about getting the Saudi visa – telling me I was best going to a little copy shop in Salmiya which is tasked with processing the Saudi visas.  Yeah, a copy shop – go figure.  Andrea would also be instrumental in introducing me to the British Ladies Society and thereafter the British Embassy.  Thirdly, I met Bernie, an Aussie living in Dubai who put me in touch with Colin, an intellectual copyright lawyer from Sydney who might be interested in helping out my poor impoverished ass to, you know, make some money out of this whole hilarious adventure thing because I sure as hell made no money out of that television show I made.

After Wes’s we crashed another party – I don’t know how to spell her name, but it was pronounced ‘E’, so maybe I’ll just call her E until somebody corrects me.  This party was even better than the last and – oh yes – there was alcohol!  Homebrew and ethanol, but hell, it did the trick!  It was like the goddamn United Nations (only more use) with not two people from the same country at the entire shindig.  As my friends can no doubt attest, I’m a huge fan of house parties (it’s the Gatsby in me) and if I could attend a couple of these things a week I can see why Kuwait has its appeals.

But the moonshine will no doubt break your head in the morning, as I found the following day.  It was the evening before I shook off my hangover, gathered up my things and moved my stuff to Kassie’s flat, just over the road from Martin’s.  Something you should know – staying with (or even visiting) a member of the opposite sex is against the law here (as is Skype!) and they think nothing of throwing people in jail for six months without charge for even lesser misdemeanours – so I’ve got to keep my head down.

Yes, we are children in a 1950s all-boys boarding school.  Females are dangerous creatures who must be avoided at all costs lest you – you know – fall in love.  Love is not a big thing in the Middle East.  Sex and money – that’s all marriages are about here – children and dowries.  I can’t be the only one who finds the whole set up (arranged marriages and the like) dripping with sin and depravity.  To remove the whole love thing from getting hitched removes the only wholesome aspect of this marriage business, leaving only a seedy transaction that might as well be sorted out with a prostitute.  My dad gives you money, you lie back and think of England.  Deal?

Cheer up love, it’s your wedding day!

Days 501-507: What Happened, Happened

16.05.10-22.05.10:

500 days on the road and a good 200 of them have been wasted waiting for either visas or boats.  In situations like this you can’t help but acquiesce and go with the flow.  The other plans you could have gone for – maybe a new visa for Iran would have been quicker (and cheaper) – will only serve to taunt you.  I’ve made my bed and one way or another I’ll have to lie in it.  The maddening thing is that I know once I reach the UAE and Oman I’m going to be stuck there, perhaps for a comparable time, waiting for a way to get to Eritrea.

On Thursday this week my dad returned to London for a third time.  The visa was ready.  We looked into getting my Eritrea and Indian visas, but they would both take too long to come through, so we looked at just getting the passport back to me asap.  As Friday and Saturday are the weekend here, sending it DHL would not get here until Sunday.  That being the case I roped in the magnificent Stan Standryt into helping me get the passport back the next day.

How do you do that Graham?  Well, you do what Bono did when he forget his stupid hat – put it on a plane.  Only I’d be using a scheduled service – not a charter job BECAUSE I’M NOT A SMUG MULTI-MILLIONAIRE TAX-DODGING CREEP. Sorry – Bono.  Hate him.  Can’t help it.  So ANYWAYS… Stan picked the passport up off my dad went all the way to Heathrow.  BA were happy to put it on tonight’s flight – that was until they discovered it was a passport.  Can’t send passports – use DHL.

I understand why courier services are reluctant to take passports – they could lead to all kinds of trouble.  But this wasn’t a stack of dubious passports on their way to Nigeria – this was a single passport that would be picked up by the guy whose passport it was.  After wasting £47 in taxis getting shunted from pillar to post around the Heathrow site, Stan was forced to give up and send it DHL the next day anyway.  BA – you just posted another massive loss.  I was willing to pay you twice the cost of an average easyjet flight (for a person) just to put a document on your damn aeroplane.

You fools.  Your airline is made of poo and FAIL!

Well, one way or another this was my final weekend in Kuwait.  I have been here for SIX WEEKS waiting for this damn stamp in my passport.  On Friday I was desperate for a party, so I met up with a cute CSer from South Africa called Janine.  On discovering she was being put up by her company all expenses paid in the five-star Marriot Courtyard Hotel, I suggested we invade the buffet.  Yes I have no shame and nothing cheers me up more than turning up to a posh do in my scuffs looking like I’ve just stumbled out of a particularly gritty western onto the dancefloor of the Ritz.

Later, Ruban got everyone around the pool at Jannie’s place for some final soft drinks and Pringles.  Awesomely enough, there was another party happening down the road later on.  We crashed it with aplomb and – joy of joys – they had a cooler filled with REAL ice-cold beer!!

So so happy!  We shimmy shake-shaked the night away with our chums from the four corners of the planet.  If nothing else, Kuwait is one hell of a melting pot.  And you want to know something cool?  I had been to everybody’s country (with the notable exception of the Philippines – why didn’t I hit that gaff in ’02, I’ll never know).

No worries – I’ll remedy that soon enough…