R.I.P. Tchantcho Augustin

Posted by Mark

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Last month my old karate coach, Tchantcho Augustin passed away. I’m not sure how many of you know Tchantcho but he was my karate coach back in the mid 80s when he used to give lessons at the now demolished Hilton Hotel on the Gulf Road. Up until recently he was the PE teacher at Le Lycée Français and the karate coach at The Little Gym. He was always super nice and he was really loved by everyone. I used to run into him randomly at Sultan Center every now and then and he’d always remember who I was. He taught a lot of children in Kuwait and he will be terribly missed. May he rest in peace.

The picture above was taken around 1985, I’m the white boy in the front row middle.


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Flashback: Gazelle Club

Posted by Mark

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Gazelle Club was THE club in Kuwait back in the 60s and up until the 1990 Gulf War. I went there only a few times back in the 80s and so have very faint memories of the place. I actually remember only two things, one was a large trampoline I used to play on, and two a very disturbing incident where a kid fell off the swimming pool slide, hit his head on the floor and later passed away. Gazelle Club was located in Fintas and got destroyed by the Iraqis during the 1990 invasion. I never understood why it was never rebuilt again.

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The photos below are ones I found from a bunch of sources (all listed below) and show Gazelle Club during it’s greatest days as well as the current state of the club.

via @gharabally, @amerhilal, Kuwait-History and Gazelle Club on Facebook


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The Pen Specialist

Posted by Mark

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Thursday night I passed by the Souk Al-Mubarakiya Festival for the second time to meet up with a friend and while taking a shortcut to avoid the crowds I ended up passing by a very unique pen store. It didn’t look like much from the outside but something caught my eye and I ended up walking in.

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The store, not very big maybe 3×4 meters was just covered wall to wall with displays filled with pens and just two brands, Parker and Shaeffer. I was in awe, the displays were filled with a lot of intricate items, like they’ve been gathering up over the years and I had so many questions but the shop keeper was with a customer so I waited overhearing the conversation. The shop keeper was telling the customer how the Parker pen he was buying was made in the USA and was from the last series that was produced in the States back in 1984.

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Once the customer left I started talking to the shop keeper who was called Gomes. According to Gomes the store originally opened back in the 50s but he had been working at the store since he came to Kuwait in 1977. It used to be located in a different part of the souk but that building had gotten demolished and they had moved into the current store in 1988. The store still contained a lot of old stock or in other words, vintage pens. Gomes had taken it upon himself to display some of the most vintage pens in the display cases with little hand written notes (in a beautiful handwriting I must say) about the pens. Over the years he’s also collected trinkets from here and there and he kept adding them to the display cases and now they’re all full of random objects that add so much character to the store.

I told him how much I loved the store and how I had been coming to the souk since I was a kid but how I never m
noticed the store even though it was on the main road. I didn’t buy anything since I was on my way to meet up with my friend but I did promise him I would come back. If anyone is interested in visiting the store it’s located across from the Green Land vegetarian restaurant in Souk Al-Mubarakiya. They’re open from 8AM to 1PM and then again from 4PM to 9PM and the store is called Al-Muneefi. Here is the approximate location on [Google Maps]


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Offshore Powerboat Race in Kuwait

Posted by Mark

Since we’re on the subject on how much cooler Kuwait was back in the day, the video above is of an Offshore Powerboat Race that was held in Kuwait back in 1990, a few months before the Iraqi invasion. [YouTube]


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Old Kuwait Postcards

Posted by Mark

I was searching for random stuff on eBay when I spotted a bunch of different sellers selling old postcards of Kuwait. I saved the most interesting ones to share below. Notice how much greener Kuwait was back in the old days? Also you might notice some of the postcards feature the Kuwait Towers while still under construction. The postcard I decided to highlight above is of “The Yachting Club”. [eBay Link]

There are two images of the back of the postcards with writings. I don’t know what language they’re in (my guess Bulgarian and Italian?) but if anyone can translate them to English that would be fantastic. Also what happened to all the seagulls??

Update: A friend noted the seagulls might have been super imposed on that shot. Looking at it closely I can’t seem to find any shadows of the seagulls so that’s probably the case.


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Kuwait by Brett Jordan

Posted by Mark

For those of you who attended the showing of the short film “Playtime” this past Thursday (a great film btw) will probably recall the director during the Q&A session mentioning Brett Jordan’s photos as being one of his sources of inspiration.

Brett Jordan’s parents lived in Kuwait back in the 60s and he managed to scan a ton of his parents photos and then uploaded them onto Flickr. I’ve already posted about Brett’s photos a number of times over the years but I know many of you haven’t seen them before. Also, Brett keeps adding photos as he finds them so there might be a bunch that weren’t there the last time you saw them.

Check out all the photos on Brett’s Flickr page [Here]


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When Buffalo Bill’s came to Kuwait

Posted by Mark

Does anyone remember when the Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show came to Kuwait? It was back in the 80’s and I think it was held at the Mishref Fairs Ground. I just remembered it today for some reason and I can’t find anything on Google about it. If you happen to remember it or have any photos leave a comment below.

Update: A reader found the following quote in an article about Kuwait from the Chicago Tribune back in 1987 which I thought was hilarious..

When an American Wild West show visited recently, cowboys were forced to ride around an arena pointing their fingers in the air and shouting “bang, bang,“ because Kuwaiti authorities would not permit them to bring in their blank-firing six-shooters.


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Boat Trip in London – 1955

Posted by Mark

I saw this picture today and loved it. According to the Instagrammer who posted it:

This photograph was taken on a boat trip in London in 1955. From left to right, His Royal Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Salim Al-Sabah the former Emir of Kuwait, their British escort, Abdul-Rahman Al-Ateeqi and Sheikh Salem Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah the previous Minister of Defense.

via @gurwic


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The story of the Rolls Royce taxi

Posted by Mark

I don’t remember exactly when I heard this story for the very first time and there are different variations but the one I remember went something like this:

Supposedly a man who wasn’t dressed well walked into the Rolls Royce dealer and was checking out the cars. The man asked the salesman how much the car cost and the salesman replied you wouldn’t be able to afford it. The man upset left the dealership and came back another day, purchased the Rolls Royce, had it painted orange and turned it into a taxi cab.

I always thought it was just a myth but I got the photograph above today on Whatsapp and turns out the story did happen although not like the one I had heard. The story apparently is that the local dealerships were at a car show in Geneva and the Rolls Royce dealer teased the Buick dealer telling him that he was practically selling taxis. The Buick dealer got bothered and bought the Rolls Royce and turned it into a taxi to piss him off.


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Kuwait 1969

Posted by Mark

A combination sand and rain storm batters a lone automobile in Kuwait, May 1969.
PHOTOGRAPH BY DAVID CUPP, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

The cool and eerie photograph above was featured today on the National Geographic Tumblr, Found. [Link]


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