Though we were up early last Saturday, it was a pretty uneventful morning except from almost having a heart attack from a pigeon flying into the window. Elham’s Father invited us to lunch and we absolutely wanted to accept, so we tried to save our energy for that. The house was stunning and the feast was extravagant. Everyone was very welcoming of the fact that I could not sample everything which was nice. In fact, it is apparently very Kuwaiti to keep everything very relaxed including coming and going as you please and not being required to sit together for an allotted period of time at the table or to wait for everyone to be served, etc. It was comfortable and easy going for what looked like a very formal effort to produce this table full of food. We had soups, salads, rice and couscous dishes, chicken, lamb, samosas, a variety of designated sauces, and yogurt milk. Becca and I call this yogurt milk because of an extensive process of Peter explaining which was milk and which was pourable yogurt (both in identical containers), however, Elham’s family referred to it as buttermilk, so I am unsure what its true identity is. It tasted like yogurt milk and it was tasty and I imagine would be delicious with spicy food. There were several desserts as well as a variety of dates to sample (which we are mildly obsessed with), but I was somewhat glad I had to decline pie and cakes and could stick with some arabic ice cream which was made with mastic creating a floral taste. Though all of the food was delicious, the conversation was even better. Elham is Greek-Kuwaiti and it was interesting to learn about her life and see the blend of cultures in her family. Her father is from Kuwait and used local paintings from the 40-50’s to show us how the city and lifestyle has changed over the years. One painting depicted modest houses and sun shades made of logs, clay, and palm leaves. Well water was not desalinated and any fresh water came from rain water collections, which were hard to come by, or brought by boat from Iran. He also joked of how many plates and dishes we use now over how many he had as a child. The second painting we saw is actually in the same vicinity as our clinic. It was complete desert with a view of the water 2 km away. There was a small stream that carried water 8-9 months out of the year and tents set up where people camped to be near the greenery which popped up in small patches that close to the water. We haven’t seen our clinic yet, but I can guarantee it will not look like the desert depicted in that image prior to the oil industry emerging in Kuwait. Along with some understanding of the history, our conversations throughout the afternoon led to a deeper understanding of islamic culture, education, world events, politics, and social issues in Kuwait. Basically all of the topics you are told not to discuss at a first encounter 😉 It was a very enriching experience and we were very appreciative of not only the generosity to host us but the openness of the discussion and opportunity to learn. There is something very inspiring about deep conversations that make a lunch into a 5 hour affair. Though there was much serious conversation, on a lighter note, the most fascinating thing I learned today was that mail is really not a thing in Kuwait. If you wish to receive mail, most people use a courier service which provides you with postal addresses in multiple countries around the world. Then a Kuwaiti courier picks up the mail and delivers it to you. Apparently, this system was set up as some wise person realized that the postal service in Kuwait was ineffective and decided to provide this seemingly elaborate alternative. I guess it is quiet affordable and lots of people do it, so it works, I was just very surprised to hear that. Needless to say we will save any mailing of things for emergencies only and be delivering all post cards by hand. I guess it makes sense now why we don’t really have an address where we live.