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Friday, July 30, 2010

of sleeping in the car

This summer I heard two stories of people who've chosen to sleep in their cars. In one case, this choice was forced on a friend when the residents of Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh were hit by power cuts, with my friend taking his three-month-old baby out to his car, turning the AC on and staying awake while the baby slept in the backseat.

I took note of that young father's plight and felt relieved at my own good fortune because Hawally, where I live, didn't have the same problems and secondly, because I was heading for a vacation. After I returned, I called the 'car-sleeping-father' who worked at a car sales showroom. He told me he didn't do that any longer as the so-called power crisis had been resolved. 'So, businesswise, cars with a better AC were in higher demand?' I asked.

Nope", he responded; "What sold more were the rechargeable fans." Those little fans, he told me, would work continuously for two hours in the absence of electricity and could then be recharged for the next two hours once the electricity was back. I imagined how young mothers would treat the fans like their beloved babies, as they would find it bizarre, I think, to go to a car to take rest.

The other story - one man's plight in the night-is a bit weird and rather eerie since it happens in the early hours. I have nightmares after listening to the story told to me by Benny, a forty-something Indian expatriate who lives in Hawally and works at a Kuwait City fast food chain outlet and who would certainly qualify as a survivor of any stress test. It goes as follows: Benny came home after a night shift at around 5:30 am and could find no parking space for his small car - no surprise so far.

What he did was an example of the concept of turning a crisis into an opportunity. He parked his car on the road, blocking a car belonging to an acquaintance living in his apartment building. With all the car lights and the engine turned off and the windows half-open, he then went to sleep, in a sitting position, making the steering wheel his provisional pillow. He slept for nearly two hours until he was helped to wake up by his 'apartment-mate' who left for work daily at 5:30 am regularly. The delighted car-sleeper was then able to park his car in the newly vacated and neatly reserved space before going home and sleeping in a more traditional bed.

In this situation, again, I consider myself fortunate as I can always find my parking space, two blocks away from my home, without difficulty. I asked my friend, "Isn't that a problem for you to sleep in the car on the road all alone?"

"No", he said. "It's become a habit. But now I have a new problem".
"What?" I asked nervously, imagining various terrible possibilities - burglary? Threats? Kidnap attempts? "The man from my apartment block has gone on holiday," he answered. "Now I need to find another car to park behind!

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