thawb wa bukhnaq

Today's guest post comes from a Kuwaiti designer with a sharp eye on the country's arts scene and a gift for pulling the rug from under everyone's feet, as you'll see.

Some years ago, I stumbled upon a blog written by a somewhat mysterious figure named Tea Girl. What surprised me is that the site was one of the most comprehensive directories of the museums and galleries in Kuwait, and all down to this one individual.

Several months after discovering the blog, Tea Girl and I were - fittingly - having tea at a mixed diwaniyyah in Hawally, her twin brother chaperoning, while talking about strange coincidences in life. I was eager for her to tell me all about her life in Kuwait. The following is one of the stories she shared: 
"When I was little, I used to look forward to the nights of girgay:aan. Each year, my grandfather would gather the grandchildren together, the girls dressed in their thawb wa bukhnaq and he would take us out to collect sweets.

"We'd stop at every door, asking the family their son's name so as to sing and wish him a long life, and that his family might visit Makkah one day. If we did a good job, the mothers would always give us more than one handful of candy, so we were eager to please. 

"On the second and third night of girgay:aan, my grandfather would take us to neighbourhoods we hadn't been to before. Sometimes the women who opened the door would look down at me and gasp: "Look how white she is! Look at her hair!" But my grandfather would just smile, put an arm around my shoulder and another around my cousin and just say, 'All our girls are beautiful.' It was impossible to feel like an outsider when I was with my grandfather. It's a shame he died before I was born."