Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A rose is a rose is a rose is a thorn

As this has a lot to do with our LB o J'zazz shop in Shaab el Bahry this post is dedicated to what's in a name or street designation and on as lightly a satirical note as I can summon.  When we first opened our shop and still to this day two years later, our landlords are still working on a sign and a name for the building.  We just about passed out holding our breaths waiting.  So, instead the new Executive Flex adjacent to our two storey nameless shopping complex got free promotion on all our communication materials, our business cards, receipts, virtual communications and what not.  Anytime we would describe our main street location people were able to find Ibn al Khatib Street quite easily. We even had it Google Mapped. It's been there for years and was an easy name. The way it sounded was pretty catchy and cool also.   That too was on all our communications.
LB o J'zazz today | Photo by Chaminda
Approximately  a month ago, a journalist was trying to reach us and she called me at the shop,  I was giving her my directions which were : " So you get off Route 30 right after the bridge and you make a right immediately onto Ibn al Khatib Street" well, she kept insisting the street did not exist and was some sort of fuzzy figment of my already vivid imagination.  Chaminda then responds to me and says :  "Oh yes, they changed it to Mohammed Darwish Al Aradi a few days ago."   "Mohammed Darwish who?" I ask and still ask.  I then walk out onto the main street and sure enough Ibn al Khatib is nowhere to be found.  Where did he go Ibn al Khatib, has the road designation been sent to  Baladia exile in less desirable areas and just who is Mr. Al Aradi and what did he do to deserve eliminating a slice of our memory, consciousness and street?

Streets, social and civic centers and schools become part of our landmarks and cultural points of reference.  That is why this naming process is of serious concern.  It  seems that the criteria for naming is seriously lacking in substance, values and devoid of meaning.  I constantly insist that our creative members of our community can and should be recognized in our daily lives. This is for a start. We should also consider and recognize those people who lost their lives during the Invasion of Kuwait in 1990 along with the citizens who were kidnapped and taken as Prisoners of War never to return.
If the street was going to change it would have resonated a vital chord if for example it was changed from Ibn al Khatib (a historic figure not related to Kuwait's history) to say Aisha Al Marta's or Asrar Al Qabandi Street.  (These are only examples)
However, after my research I found out that Mr. Al Aradi was an adviser to the late ruler and this seemed to hold great merit enough to change the name of a street.  In more civilized societies the people residing and having businesses in an area are asked through Town Councils as to whether they accept the idea of changing the street name and to what the change would be.
Canada Dry Street in Shuwaikh is another example and despite the fact that the Canada Dry Factory no longer exists, the nomenclature still holds. Yet, the Municipality has published the name change and as long as these changes have been published in the newspapers after the fact, they have absolved themselves yet again.  With all the new areas and suburbs that have new fresh un-named streets, I'm sure Mr. Al-Aradi's street sign would have found a more welcome presence. 
Again, someone knowingly or unknowingly is erasing our contemporary memory, just like the old courtyard homes and historical neighborhoods that have been demolished from our consciousness.
Now, when I describe our location the dialogue begins with:  " Do you know Ibn al Khatib Street?" they answer "Yes"  my response is:  " Well now it is Mohammed Darwish Al Aradi's Street formerly known as Ibn al Khatib".  I wonder how our new business cards will look?

1 comment:

Bettina said...

I seriously wonder why they bother educating their youth abroad or even educate them at all.. if the country rather operate in a nonsense manner.
Truly a wasted investment.