Casablanca Moment in Halawalli Lockdown

Today was the first time in a couple of months that I go out of my apartment before 4:30 pm.

I’ll get back to the hair later, but I did a run towards the Fourth Ring Road – for those of you in the know – that’s it behind me.

All the roads in and out of Halawalli are blocked by those yellow and concrete barriers and one main entrance at Beirut street (opposite the Sultan Centre) he a pretty no nonsense checkpoint. I did a couple of other runs over the last few days around the perimeter and it’s the same everywhere. There are also patrol cars parked every mile or so with cops who couldn’t be more polite and friendly.

It’s soft, it’s gentle, but it’s a non nonsense restriction of movement in and out of the area.

In fact if you look in the shade of the bushes behinds me, in the middle of the road, you’d see the shiny new barbed wire barrier they where people can cross onto the Fourth Ring. After all, there’s knuckleheads going to try something or the other.

It’s the first time I seen barbed wire deployed for civilian use in Kuwait which pushed the point home. Don’t exit Halawalli, a roughly 3 x 3 km suburb of Kuwait City.

Resident are now permitted out from 6-6pm as is the rest of the country. Shops, supermarkets, clinics, pharmacies, garages, and many restaurants are open (for takeaway so it’ll be chicken rotisserie for lunch tomorrow!).

We can also drive cars around but can only leave the area with one of several permits we can apply for online.

The streets of this usually bustling suburb were very quiet (almost deserted) with few cars and people mostly going off to get something and go back home. With the sunshine and the breeze, the place had the feel of a sleepy off-the-tourist-track Mediterranean port town.

Over the last month the entire country was under total lockdown except for two hours (4:30-6.60 pm) when people were allowed out to walk. Cars were strictly forbidden except for those with permits and checkpoints made sure it was strictly enforced.

It’s been a little weird, like one of those seventies sci-fi series where everyone in some peculiar town acted upon hidden cues, everything seemed a bit too normal and everyone is vaguely out of tune. I suppose also a bit like the Stepford Wives, if you’ve seen that bit of strangeness.

In any case, I left home about 11:45 and ran the 2k to the end of Muthanna Street where it meets the Fourth because my nearest and dearest was going to be driving past there from a job where she’s volunteering to her apartment in Jabriya. So we arranged I’d be there and wave her by in what felt like a Casablanca moment.

And yes I know, it’s Hawalli, but my kids get great delight from correcting me whenever I mispronounce it so I thought I’d share some of their delight with you.

Had you read this far you would not have corrected me in the comments. 

As for the hair, it’s the second reason why my students were calling me Mr. Einstein.

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