Thursday, July 28, 2016


Wasta or wasata (Arabic: وَاسِطة wāsiṭah) is an Arabic word that loosely translates into nepotism or 'clout' or 'who you know'. It refers to using one’s connections and/or influence to get things done, including government transactions such as the quick renewal of a passport, waiving of traffic fines, and getting hired for or promoted in a job. (source)

As many of my Facebook friends know, shortly after arriving in Kuwait, I experienced moderately severe abdominal pain.  As I had had previously experienced something similarly about 5 years ago and it turned out to be a mild diverticulitis attack, I thought I would just go to the post doctor and she would prescribe me antibiotics and I would go home and that would be that. What transpired next was quite the adventure.

On Wednesday, after enduring a few days of increasing pain, I made an appointment for Thursday afternoon with the post doc.  It is worth pointing out that here in Kuwait the work week is Sun - Thur, so this was for all intents and purposes a Friday afternoon as the weekend was upon us.  Also, worth noting is that it was my parents last full day of their visit with us.

Our fabulous doctor advised that rather than just prescribing antibiotics that I should be seen by a gastroenterologist and that she would call the post liaison doctor for a recommendation.  In the states, I would've just gone to a hospital ER and been seen by whomever was on call.  Not so here.  :)

I decided I would just take myself to this doctor.  However, it was suggested that I have someone drive me. As Ian was in meetings and my parents weren't permitted to drive here, I was offered a driver from the motor pool.  Best decision ever.  For privacy, I'll refer to him as E.  E is a Syrian who has worked for the embassy in Kuwait for 17 years.  He is married with 2 boys (9 and 6) and he was amazing. Not only did he know where we were going, he spoke English and Arabic and was incredibly kind the entire day.

Upon arrival at the doctor's office, I was asked for my Civil ID.  I don't have one, yet.  So, I was asked for my passport.  Don't have it, because it was turned in to get my Civil ID.  I was asked for insurance, which isn't accepted in this country. This scenario played out multiple times and each time E smoothed it over and got me what I needed.  Wasta in action.

After meeting with the doctor, he wanted me admitted to the hospital, but he just changed offices, so he had to refer me again. Wasta in action.

In the meantime, I had to go downstairs to a lab for bloodwork.  I was asked for my Civil ID, which I don't have.  I was asked for my passport, which I don't have. E to the rescue.

After bloodwork, E had to drive me across town for a CT scan and Xray.  Upon arrival, I was asked for my Civil ID,...E to the rescue again.  More Wasta.

After a couple of hours here, with CDs but no reports in hand, we drove to Al Seef Hospital.

 Guy at checkin at the ER did not like being told by western woman that she was here to meet a specialist. No.  I would see whomever they had available, GPs only. E stepped in and was told the same thing.  We both shrugged and sat down. After a few minutes, the guy from check in was not at all happy to have tell me that the specialist I was waiting for had arrived would see me now. Wasta in full force.  Guess he didn't think I would have any. 

Doc comes in to admit me and asked for my CT report.  When I told him I didn't have a written report, just the CDs, he asked me who I knew that could call the imaging center and get them.  My father? A brother, perhaps?  Blatant wasta.  I told him that I had no wasta and he burst out laughing.  He said nevermind, he would call for me.  Perhaps, I have some after all. ;)

All in all, it took 7 hours to actually get to my hospital room and get hooked up to fluids and IV antibiotics after driving around Kuwait City in rush hour on a Thursday (think Friday) night. This was also the hottest day ever on record in the Eastern Hemisphere.  54C (129.3F) and E and I were out driving all over town, oblivious. 

For the next 48 hours, I had this amazing view:

All's well that ends well.  I'm feeling much better and a lot wiser.

Braden being silly: