FROM a young age, we were raised in our schools, neighborhoods and homes on spontaneity, which might rise to the point of chaos at times. We did not line up in front of the school canteen. Instead, everyone who had strength, tricks and length would take what they wanted before us. We also crowded in front of the windows of Al-Hamra, Al Firdous, Hawalli, and Sharq! This is one of the things that the people of that era did not lack.
After I finished high school, I chose to study law. Because Kuwait University, which had just opened at that time, did not have the Faculty of Law among its faculties, we chose to study law in France based on an agreement between Kuwait and France, which was concluded by our late Minister Khaled Al-Masoud (May God have mercy on him), to accept us in the College of Law.
There were 14 of us who had graduated from a Kuwaiti high school in the first batch of Kuwaiti students who studied in France. There were vast differences between the French and Kuwaitis those days in various aspects including behavior, appearance, clothing, food and many others, most of which we adopted since it is the right attitude, behavior and appearance.
I remember standing in queues to reach the buffet table in the university city. If anyone tried to skip the queue, he would hear shouts from all who were standing in the queue – La Queue, or standing in line or sticking to the turn. Likewise, it used to happen in large and small stores, restaurants and streets, and this attitude was entrenched in our minds.
In the French Republic, I studied language, political science, and some law studies in its impressive cities such as Paris, Besancon, Dijon, X-Provence, Montpellier and then finally Nice on the French Riviera.
On our return to Kuwait, our lives were turned upside down, both in appearance and behavior. This is because we were really moved by what we had adopted in France at the time.
I remember going to the cooperative society in Abdullah Al-Salem suburb to buy cheese and olives based on the request of my mother (May God prolong her life). I still remember the moment when a woman wearing a black abaya and “mulfa” interrupted me while I was telling the seller what I wanted, and directed her request for a kilogram of white cheese! I reacted against her, saying, “Hajiya … Hajiya, what is this? Respect the rule!” She then said something that is still stuck in my mind until today, despite the passing of tens of years. She asked, “Even cheese has a turn?!”
She was Iraqi, as indicated by her accent, and she laughed when I said to the seller, “Give her what she wants before me”. We then smiled at each other and at the Egyptian seller as well.
I don’t know why my life in France, what I learned there, and my conversation with the Iraqi woman who did not adhere to her turn at the cooperative society came into my mind.
Maybe it did after I heard about the official decision taken by our Ministry of Interior to permit cars to drive on the left emergency lanes of the roads and that those who want to use the emergency lane must use the right lane! This is in contradiction to our affairs that have been going on for decades prior to the current laws and the decisions that God sent down to us.
We urge our brothers in the Ministry of Interior to include another decision in their decision to state that the users of the left safety lane must at least respect the legal speed limits on those roads, following the example of the Iraqi woman’s question for years, “Even cheese has a turn?!”
We say to the Ministry of Interior and the users of the left safety lanes – “Even on the safety lanes, you must abide by the laws”.
By Ali Ahmed Al-Baghli
Former Minister of Oil