Monday, May 22, 2006

Bohemia in Kuwait...

A question....

A Common Definition:

Bohemia: [bo·he·mi·ya] noun - A community of people with artistic or literary tastes who adopt manners conspicuously different from those expected or approved of by the majority of society.

Do you believe that bohemianism exsist in Kuwait?

Many people in Kuwait are comfortable with an alternative lifesyle...not necessarily defying the tradional culture of Kuwait, but rather not fully follow what is considered the cultural and social norm of Kuwait. Many of them artists, and respect the arts in gerneral. They do respect their culture, their roots, their customs, but tend to live outside the box and live a lifestyle that many people consider "taboo"...or 7aram. They travelled and seen the world, lived and been well-educated in other countries for many years, they've experienced different cultures, which then makes them used to live a different social lifestyle. So when they come back to Kuwait, they can't seem to settle to what the social norm is.

There are many examples and many extremes to this issue of Bohemia in Kuwait. Minor examples such as partying, drinking, smoking (including females), hanging out with mixed crowds in public are all evident around Kuwait. Many been criticized for living such an alternative lifestyle and defying the culture of Kuwait and religion.

Are they really defying or making a mockery of their own culture or roots? Or are they just expressing themselves (and not to others) what they are comfortable with and used to. Art shows, galleries, independent films, plays international music shows (not arabic) are popping up here and there. From piants on a canvas to transcripts for a personal novel to film for a documentary...they are finding various means to express themselves.

So what do you think? Wandering minds wanna know :)


At 7:13 PM, Blogger Purgatory said...

I am wondering why you keep mentioning alternative life style ;) something we should worry about Master Jazz :P

At 9:01 PM, Blogger Delicately Realistic said...

Great post Jazz.

At 10:09 PM, Blogger The Stallion said...

My stance regarding this is that people should live they way they want to willi mo 3ajba 6aga midfa3 aw yigdar i6ig rasa 3a6ofa!

A person should live his or her life they way they want! That person will respect their culture but that person will not let the culture hold him/her down! They do what they want!

We need more people like this to change society and change the backward mindset!

I love the culture here but times change and so must the society! Keep in mind that when change occurs that it should be for the good and not the bad!

The trend seems to be heading backwards but there is a rare few that are making an attempt to bring it forward but their attempts are hidden and secretive and only the minority know about it!

At 12:11 AM, Blogger NuNu™ said...

Are you thinking of choosing a new life style as an alternative?

At 2:22 AM, Blogger :: muslim artist :: said...

Hi Jazz,

I consider myself to be very much a "Boho", and a year and a half later, still have a little difficulty adapting to Kuwait's social norm. Mainly, this is due to the fact that despite being Kuwaiti, I was born and raised overseas by a very untraditional Kuwaiti mother.

However, I do not drink, nor smoke (anymore) for health purposes, rather than strictly religious ones.

While drinking, smoking and partying may be deemed part of an alternative lifestyle, I wouldn't strictly attribute it to the Bohemian lifestyle.

If any synonyme comes to mind for a 'Boho', it would be 'hippy'.

At 6:46 AM, Blogger Caffeinated said...

I agree with Stallion's perspective.

When I returned to Kuwait, I was often called a "gypsy" by the family...I think they meant "bohemian".

You mentioned that wondering minds want to know...

Well, wandering minds have the answers

At 10:14 AM, Blogger Pheras said...

I think they're trying to live their life. What you said certainly isn't a Bohemian Lifestyle. It's normal.

At 11:35 AM, Anonymous fractal00 said...

People grow and learn depending on whatever they get from their parents and the society they live in, inside they may not be content with it but they accept it and live their life following it.

So when these people are then exposed to a different lifestyle, something that attracts them, something that makes them comfortable they tend to make the leap and change to become part of that lifestyle.

As you mentioned earlier these people who adapted to that lifestyle often have to come back to their own society sooner or later. This is where their they have to make a decesion, people who were following that lifestyle just for the sake of fun (i wont get into the details of this) usually go back to the way they have lived before. People who were really affected and whoa dopted this new way of thinking or acting stick to it, within the norms of acceptable social behaviour i can't judge that. But they tend to bring out their individuality in choosing what they want to do and how they want to do it.

The worst thing possible is having a society where everyone is the same doing the same things over and over again.

As Stallion said before, one should love their own culture, respect it, but they don't have to neccessarily abide by all it's rules. Change is the basis of prosperity after all.

At 2:53 PM, Blogger MissCosmoKuwait said...

Plain and simple...I think they're just living...but I have to make one thing clear about the women smoking...if you went back into history..(ayam el ba7ara)'d be able to find women in Kuwait who were sitting the choola on the floor..wearing their booshiyas and smoking a gedo and/or a marlboro it existed then...where they bohemians? I don't think so...if you looked into history and say the creation of the National Council of Culture and'd find their were Kuwaitis in love with all sorts of arts, literature, it did it could be that it looks new but it was always there...maybe people are expressing themselves more or maybe the creativity has increased...but in the was always there...some liking it...some hating it...and others just jugding for the hell of it...

I'm not sure if I was able to express myself clearly..:)...hope you get what I mean!..:)

At 2:54 PM, Blogger Jazz Central said...

Purgatory: no...nothing to worry about. Just wanted to get other people's input on the issue :)

delicately realistic: Thanks :)

Stallion: I agree. you said it so well:

"That person will respect their culture but that person will not let the culture hold him/her down! They do what they want."

I believe in change. Change does not have be a negative thing. Change is also for the good :) I agree that we should move forward in this day in age and not move backwards like many incidents that occured recently. Good point :)

Nunu: I'm not thinking of choosing any thing about myself. I'm just inquiring about this issue in Kuwait.

Muslim Artisit: Welcome to my blog :) That also came to mind when I was typing the post...hippy. But the definition of hippie I know is:

"A person who opposes and rejects many of the conventional standards and customs of society, especially one who advocates extreme liberalism in sociopolitical attitudes and lifestyles."

I believe that in Kuwait, the people do not fully "reject" the social norm. They respect the general social standards of Kuwait, but decide to live their own life the way they are comfortable with.

But great comment. Thanks.

Caffeinated: Since you were called a "gypsy" by your family or they meant "bohemian" you believe in that based on how you live your life?

Oh, so it's wandering minds? I thought it in when you wonder why. But I changed it, since I looked up the correct use. Thanks for the heads up :)

pheras: I like that...normal :) It is a normal way of life. A big hello to our friends from Jordan :)

fractal00: True...there is a point in someone's life where they make that decision whether to follow what is expected of them by society or live their own life. Trust me, I've had to make that decision. It's hard to go back and were used to. Living your own life does bring out a person's true individuality. Good point.

At 3:11 PM, Blogger Jazz Central said...

miss cosmo: You did express youself clearly. It does make sense. However, I was not referring to Kuwait in the past. Things were different then. I am referring to Kuwait nowadays and how people live their lives now in Kuwait. Alot of things are considered wrong (either by society or goverment), but people still do them 'cause they want it, need it or dereve it or just plainly used to it. Seems when people start enjoying and adapting themselves, a new law comes along to stop it, such as segregation in schools, ban graduation ceremonies. How "taboo" is a graduation ceremony for them to ban it? Although these examples are of a bigger scale, but it does reflect on an individual's level :) But thanks for the brief history lesson:)

At 6:39 AM, Blogger Caffeinated said...

Actually, it's "inquiring minds want to know"...but I said "wandering" because that's the gypsy lifestyle ;) (my poor attempt at humour)

My dad confuses the two words...

At 12:23 AM, Blogger Raine said...

"A community of people with artistic or literary tastes who adopt manners conspicuously different from those expected or approved of by the majority of society."

We have a handful... but let us remember - several of the people you describe in Kuwait are not boho... They are extremely mainstream - they are just of a more Western mainstream.

Partying, smoking, drinking, etc. do not a bohemian make ;) The term was coined to describe mostly artists and writers... They were people fed up with the way things were. They did not bow to conventions - a lot of the people you describe do... Think about it - how many of them are actually flouting the way things are and the traditions they do not agree with? Sure, they party. But do their parents or society know? Sure, they smoke. But where? Sure, they blog about controversial issues. But would they feel comfortable talking about the same issues without the security of anonymity? Sure, they drink. But how many then shuffle off to the mosque to pray even though they don't really want to because it is what is expected?

I guess what I mean is, a lot of the people you are talking about "believe" cerain things, but will not break from conventions too much, for whatever reasons - fear of family's negative reaction, fear of what society will think, etc. So can we really call these people "bohemian?" Besides which, we cannot ignore the whole intellectual aspect of the term...

I think Kuwait has a long way to go before we can claim a bohemian presence in our society :)

An interesting post!

At 3:24 AM, Blogger Arfana said...


what culture? we've lost what constitutes Kuwait long time ago. This is everyone saying: this is me! like it or... leave it.

This type of "social" environment has always existed in Kuwait. So what's new? it's growing? yeah well more people are studying abroad and being exposed to new experiences adds "culture"... well ok after the partying is over.

The word "alternative" is what i'm uncomfortable with. Alternative to what? Bohemic versus WaHabbi? hmmmmmmm

beautiful post though :-)


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