I am not going to lie, there isn’t oodles to do in Kuwait and it seems that the mainstays of recreational activities, falls into either eating or shopping. Now I am not complaining as these are two of my favourite things, so last week. when the ladies that brunch managed to combine the two, I was more than happy. As the week progressed I had been drawn into shopping true Kuwaiti style; with three contrasting experiences I realised, they were things about Kuwait I will never forget and how, after 3 years, I adjusted so quickly to the culture shop!
The week started well with the ladies that brunch taking session at Veranda, the fabulous brassiere situated at the golden temple for shoppers, Harvey Nichs. After enjoying a breakfast feast, shared Arabic style, as we are a desert family and sharing is caring, even if we did fight over the last bit of cinnamon roll, we left ourselves enough time to mooch the shops. One of my ladies was specifically after shoes, so you only have to say that once, for me to get goose bumps and quickly march the ladies into designer wing of the mall. It is like stepping into another world, just like the horse of many colours parades around Oz, here we are welcomed by a fountain of many colours, we all ooo and aww and I come out in a cold sweat, gazing at handbag and shoe heaven.
We walked into Jimmy Choo and rather embarrassingly the shop assistant knew us! Now don’t get me wrong we aren’t rocking up there every week, in fact I think this was only the third time I had ever stepped foot inside (I frequently have my nose up against the window drooling though) but from a previous visit a month before he clearly remembered the 3 giggling western women, who just spend time trying stuff on, exclaiming ” OMG they are incredible” or “WOW they are soooooo you!” Either way we always walk out empty-handed but he still welcomed us with big smile and I’m sure he laughed at us, on more than one occasion, whilst we got giddy over Choos. That’s the thing I love about here, there is no pretension, no Rodeo Drive, Pretty Women moment (I don’t mean we look like hookers!) where we walk in flip flops and high street apparel and are immediately thrown out……Big mistake stylee
We maybe a couple of crazy women acting like three year olds on a sugar high, but we were allowed to continue happily trying on the beautiful things and knowing there are some “must haves” to return for, I mean I don’t need to eat right when I have pretty shoes!
I have this little substance abuse problem … Expensive footwear
After a beautiful, sophisticated, designer mooch in shoppers heaven, the following day couldn’t have been more different. Once a year there is an urban myth here in Kuwait, a 3 day designer flash sale hidden in the depths of Misref. My ladies and I decided we would check it out, as last year we weren’t in the know and missed out on grabbing a bargain. We had no idea what to expect but as we loaded Google maps we were über excited. As we approached the entrance we joked that we needed out Monica whistles, to alert each other if the perfect shoe was found, oh we didn’t care about the clothes, we wanted SHOES or should I say CHOOS
We walked in and stopped in our tracks. There was just a mass of people, I mean hundreds running around with arms full of stuff and dragging huge over flowing Ikea bags behind them. I did get a slight sweat on, this isn’t my kind of shopping and actually my worse nightmare of a gloried jumble sale! But in the name of shoes, that were 80% off and all the happiness they bring, I took a deep breath, grabbed each other’s hands and I’m sure one of us declared
ladies I’m going in……cover me!
We went straight to the shoe stand and I could have cried, seeing all these Choos strung across the table without their boxes and little shoe bags keeping them safe, the other part of me was elbowing people out the way, to get to the front to witness the battle field of stilettos. The protocol was to grab a shoe you liked, scream at one of the men if they had your size, attempt to try it on without loosing your place at the table and then attempt to get the box. No box no sale. We positioned ourselves next to a women who was clearly a pro, as she had already found 8 pairs, staked her boxes and was eagerly waiting for the final box for her stunning gold espadrilles. As these golden gems where roaming free on top of her stack of boxes, there were at risk, as arms kept coming from behind attempting to nab the pair from under her. I don’t know what came over me but at one point I batted someone away and shouted NOOOOOO!!
They weren’t even my shoes but my survival instinct kicked in.
Protect and serve Jimmy!
By this stage one of our crew had claimed her stake on a pair and strategically got us a place in the queue (which at this point had to be 300+ deep) the rest of us battled on. Eventually I was victorious and practically crawled out from the table clutching my box, having learnt in the past 20 minutes NEVER leave a Choo unattended, you snooze you loose. So very pleased with ourselves we then queued for well over an hour, chatting away to other bargain hunters, even stooping as low as to rummage (I know I don’t rummage what is the matter with me!?) in the designer debris that shoppers had abandoned on the long wait to pay. Ok, this was hardly the shoppers heaven from the previous day, but what I loved was there was anyone and everyone at this event. It doesn’t matter what walk of life you come from, even if you can afford the original prices, people love a deal and boy did we get one.
The final shopping trip of the week, was at an easier pace and far more authentic. A few of my desert girls decided on a spontaneous trip to the Fabric Souk. I don’t go down there very often but I love it when I do. In the corner of the City, this hive of activity houses a multitude of vendors, selling all things haberdashery. Rolls upon rolls of fabrics to suit every taste, ribbons, trimmings and mezzanine of tailors, who will whip up a creation from your purchases below. The atmosphere is buzzing and it doesn’t matter what time of day you go, there are always plenty of people milling around. Large burners of intense fills the air with that distinctive middle eastern waft, contrasting the falafel and samosa stand cooking its wears at the other end.
I hadn’t come armed for buying and was happily taking it all in with the girls but I did come across some beautiful things, which I’m sure Jersey Mummy will be able to turn into something. I also managed to source some stunning fabrics for my sister’s business, allowing her to have something different and unique for her creations. I love that this random and very authentic part of the culture still exists in modern Arabia and whilst us western expats still see it as a novelty and sometimes forget the gems that can be found, I do quickly appreciate the experience once there.
So I will be heading back this week, armed with a brief from my sister and my barter buddy in tow, because if you’ve learnt something from this week, I love a bargain!