Unexpected Challenges: From Kuwait to Kathmandu

We arrived in Kuwait close to sahur and quickly got our visas at the airport. Once we entered the main hall, we realized how heavy the rain was—it was even leaking through the ceiling. We hoped to go outside in the morning, but things didn’t go as planned. After sahur, all the cafes and restaurants in the airport closed one by one. We knew everything in the city would be closed due to Ramadan, but we didn’t expect the same for an international airport. While having our last cigarettes, people warned us about eating and drinking, making us aware of the serious consequences if we broke the rules. We couldn’t decide  wandering outside under the rain, thirsty and hungry, was better than staying in the airport under the rain. Non-Muslims caught eating or drinking in public faced a fine of 1000 dirhams, but for people from a secular country considered an Islamic nation, like us, it meant a month in jail.

We met an Egyptian named Mohammed who worked for a car rental company at the airport. He tried his best to get us into the paid lounge, where these rules didn’t apply. We learned that the Ramadan rules didn’t affect the rich people. He modestly invited us to his small home, saying it would be more comfortable than the airport. I would have accepted his offer if I were alone, as I’ve never been wrong about people while traveling. But my new travel companions’ conspiracy theories made me let them decline his offer. I think this was when the negativity that followed us for the first 15 days of the trip began.

We then spent a total of 17 hours on the tiny airport seats, listening to the leaking ceiling. It felt like we were filming our own version of Tom Hanks’ movie “The Terminal” at Kuwait airport. We smoked e-cigarettes in the restroom, feared dropping water from our bags, and ate the sandwiches we prepared for the trip behind closed doors, all while making jokes to keep our spirits up. Mohammed warned us that people were likely to report us if they saw us eating, making us even more cautious. One of the strangest moments of my life was when I was trying to eat a sandwich in the restroom, and some airport workers came in to eat their meals. Two Filipinos, one Indian, and me…

As the flight time approached, every part of our bodies ached from sitting and walking around. The bucket they placed to catch the dripping water was driving me crazy with every drop. We went through security and headed to the gates as the flight time neared. When it was finally time to break the fast, I found myself in a fast-food place I hadn’t eaten at in years. The real treat for me was having coffee after all that exhaustion.

After the ticket check, we boarded our flight to Kathmandu. After spending 17 hours in the airport, experiencing rare rain in a country that sees rain twice a year, another surprise was waited us on the plane…

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