Thursday, February 20, 2014

Emergency Alert Jewelry: Cuff

Get ready for the wave of the future, my friends.  I saw a story on this on local (Virginia) TV this morning.  This is jewelry that alerts a group of your friends or family members when you are in trouble; providing them with your location.  It is an outstanding idea.  Check out a review on CNET HERE. Another HERE.  If someone is looking for a good stock to invest in, here ya go.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Animal Care - Obedience Training: Post 3 of DG Series

So, last night, I got obedience trained.  (No, pervs, not like THAT!)

Animal Care's behaviorist came over to do an analysis of my beast; now 4 and a half months old.  Mikey is a good dog, really, for his age, but he is really big and coming up on puppy puberty.  He doesn't quite have a grip on house training and he is "competitive" with Desert Dawg (in other words, he bops her, bites her, and herds her like a little sheep at whim).  At an old and wise bitchy 17, she is nonplussed.

Basically, Gill teaches dog owners how to teach their dogs.  Train the trainer.  I learned a lot just by having her observe my home environment and how the dogs interacted.

And, if you are like me (born before the 90's), if you grew up with dogs, your idea of obedience training meant a rolled-up newspaper to the snout.  Gill is into positive reinforcement/force free training which she says resolves the issue rather than masking it.  I think I'm going to need more training on this because I've just been conditioned to bop, not reward.  (Dayum!  Come to think of it, maybe that is the problem with my relationshits too:  Puppy Training 101.)

So like, for example,  when your puppy (or boyfriend) pees all over the floor (chats with bimbo-ho's on whatever app-de-jour he is on), you don't go apeshit and turn all crazy-lady, but reward him when he does the right thing.  "Good boy!"  Huh.  Fascinating.  Actually, Libra was trying to teach me this technique and I just didn't listen....

I'm going to have to get a clicker and some Scooby snacks.

Gill recommends (back to "real" dog talk now) that I put Mikey on a leash as soon as I wake up (or now, as soon as HE wakes me up - which may be at 1, 2 or 3 am) and walk him out to where I want him to do his business.  Reward him with a little treat when he does the right thing.

She said that the competition thing is going to take more work.  Yeah, Mikey herds DD, but then DD instigates drama and often bites him or growls/barks at him.  Gill said that Mikey will take it to a point, but then the drama may turn on her.  I have to be careful.  She showed me some techniques for getting them both to relax and share.  Lots of repetition.  I also have to get between them or learn to walk away when they're not doing what I want (SNAP!  Again, a useful relationship technique that I haven't been able to master!  Yikes!)

So ok, nuts and bolts:    Gill will come to your house and for a meager hourly fee, she will work with you and your dog(s).  She'll give you LOTS of information (I should have recorded it!) and great advice.Gill has only been in Kuwati for 3 short weeks, bless her!  I'm surprised she got to my house as easily as she did.  It wasn't just work for me - we had a lovely chat over coffee and it was comfortable because it was my house.  I could have been in my PJs and she's the kind of person who wouldn't have even batted an eye.  I like her! I'm sure  you will too:  she's just good people.  Good energy.

Gill wants to do puppy classes, so I am trying to generate interest for that (because I want to be involved). She want so do small classes to teach/socialize dogs AND their owners.

She said it isn't just play, it is serious business, as the development cycle for dog learning is the first 16 weeks.  (I didn't know that!  I guess it is similar to a relationship also, come to think of it... You only have a limited amount of time to set the standard.)  That is when they learn some behaviors that may last the rest of their lives.  It is important to get them accustomed to different situations, sounds, textures, animals and kids during this time.  (Thank God I got Mikey out of that cage Puppy Dude had him in!)

Gill wants to educate people on animal behavior and training.  Please help me spread the word about this great service!

Again, if you want info on Gill and Animal Care, check out their website or their Facebook page.  Gill rocks!  Meet her.  Talk to her.

Again, I can't believe I didn't get involved with Animal Care/PetSpa before!  I love K'S PATH and this group is closely affiliated with them.  Why am I so dumb?!  Yeh.

K'S PATH Golf Tournament: 15 March

I do loves me some K'S PATH...

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Valentine's Weekend

(Photo:  American Bedu Blog, KSA)

This past weekend, I was at the family's having lunch on Valentine's Day.  Clean/Dirty was there.  Just seeing him makes me unhappy.  He's so fake and such a user.  Fake smile.  Fake laugh.  Fake OTT sincerity.  Empty words.    I wish he wasn't around for lunch (yeah ok - it IS his house, but still - go away).  Everybody gets quiet when he walks in the room, as if they are taking sides with me and then suddenly get busted.  We don't laugh as much when he's there.  Yeah,  just go away and nurse his hangover or his latest bimbo-internet-soft-porn-girlfriend.  Ick.

His birthday was last week.  I have no reason to give him the time of day;  a gift would be far far from anything I would do for him.  I did, however, bring his dad a little gift last week - just because; I wasn't even thinking in terms of Dirty's birthday; didn't care, didn't remember.  Dirty sent me an SMS the next day saying, "Where is MY gift?  It was my birthday!"  So I retaliated with, "Valentine's day is this coming Friday. Where is MY gift?"  He's always trying to get something for nothing.  We're not even together!  He doesn't even like me - say nothing about respecting me!

So, at lunch this week, Valentine's Day, he went out of his way to tell me that it is not religiously correct for him to practice the day.  Oh really?  So the same logic must apply to his birthday in that case, n'est pas?  BAM.  'I'm sorry, but I must respect your religious beliefs so a birthday or any other gift is out of the question.' A-hole.  He uses religion when it suits his purposes.  I guess dating and drinking is ok, right?  Oh and having webcam sex with someone you think is a girl, but later turns out to be a guy is ok too, right?  I pray for you, bless your God-fearing heart!

He was being OTT nice to me (thinking that I would bring his birthday gift when I go to the US this week). Not.  He asked me again about helping him get his visa to the States. (He must have done something really bad or come off as arrogant as he is during his first interview because they said, "Try again next time."  HA!)

... and then his sister told me that she thinks he wants to go to the States because he has a girlfriend there; most likely met over the internet and he wants to go and test the water "try before  you buy" before moving forward with her.  And HE wants me to help him?  F that!  Get internet Barbie to help you.  Yeh.  He's got a lot of balls to pull that with me.  Again - trying to get something for nothing.

I finally met one of his older sisters at lunch on Friday.  She's very very pretty (Mashallah).  I think she might have been a little surprised that I know so much about Islam.  Fascinating.  I guess no one talked about me to her.  Her jaw dropped when I went to leave and put on my abaya and shayla (Bedouin family, Bedouin neighborhood; I respect the family.  The head gear comes off on the highway on the way back from the house.)  Like the mom told me, "He is lucky to have met you.  He may meet someone else (I think they were referring to an American or Western girl), but someone else may not have respected us as much and worn tight jeans or something."

Anyhoo...  Good luck, buddy.  I pray for you. (Lyrics - love that song!)

 (Look what happens at the end:  #17 is my house number in Kuwait! HA!)

Other than that little episode, I had a fan-tabulous weekend with friends.  I can't remember when I've had so much fun.  I returned from Dubai on Thursday, changed clothes, and went to the desert.  Hmood's girlfriend is such a sweet person and gave me a teddy bear, a rose, and a gift (yep - romantic gifts - all from a girl.  And that was it for Valentine's Day.  Maybe next year... sniffle).    Friday night was with the Messila Gang; a lot of dancing and laughing.  Yesterday, back to the camp and had a brief romantic moment with someone I didn't expect to feel romantic about (no, not my goat, Paco!)  Dude makes me laugh all the time.  That's the best place to be:  laughing and happy.  Love shouldn't make you feel like crap, but like you are giggling your way on an orbit around the Earth.  Yuppers.

So, I leave for the States again this week to see my American fam.  I needed a sanity break.  Dubai wasn't meant to be a pleasure trip cause I had work to do, but it turned out to be very relaxing, hangin with Stella and walking around Dubai Marina.  (I was good and I didn't buy shoes this time....)

I met some really nice people in the airport on the way home.  That's another story.  God sends you angels all the time if  you take a minute to notice the signs.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

PetSpa - Animal Care: Part 2

I posted earlier about the grand opening of PetSpa in Shaab.  The GM, Lee Williams, sent me a generic blogger invite (get 'em every once in a while) which I responded to (just cause I was in the mood for a nanosecond and slightly energetic.  It mighta been the day after I had my B12 shot).   Anyhoo, Lee is VERY good at PR and invited me to check out the spa and learn about their services.  I'm so glad he sent me the e-mail because this has opened up doors for me.  I've been hearing about Animal Care for years, but I have never checked them out (why did God make me so lazy? There's a reason for everything, right?  hmmmmm....)

(Grand Opening of PetSpa Shaab)

Lee's invitation for grooming was for both dogs. At the same time.  EEEEK!  I was reluctant to have both of my dogs in the car at the same time, but it worked out really well.  They were quiet and well-behaved (probably thinking, "OMG!  What is she doing NOW?!  Why are we BOTH here?")  I could smell the fear. Fear is good.  It means they won't be ripping out the interior of the car - or worse - each other.

Desert Dawg and Mikey still aren't getting along (although it is getting better).  Now they seem to be working together against me; barking at each other just when I'm relaxed on the sofa. Peeing in unison on the floor.  Finding a hidden place to poo when I'm not looking (AND the door to the terrace is OPEN!  Whyyyyyyyyy???)  Mike is now big enough to jump onto my high bed - and push DD off with one bat of his gigantic paw.  That is her Supreme Territory and not allowed.

Back to my story (sorry - I digress....)

So, finding PetSpa is a no-brainer:  Fahaheel Expressway (30) towards Kuwait City, the 1st Shaab exit, then bang a right and it is down about a block on the right.  You can't miss the sign.

PetSpa does grooming at this location, but I am finding out more and more about their services; and I'll write more later about it because I'm thrilled by their pet-friendly education philosophy and overall caring for animals in Kuwait.  I need to actually sit down and talk to them about it all; it was a bit much trying to take it all in with the wolves in tow.

I was very impressed.  Smiles all around when I walked in the door (unlike a few other places I won't mention where the receptionists refuse to make eye contact, acknowledge your presence, or look up from their busy work.  Am I invisible??)   Not at PetSpa.  I swear, it was like walking into a daycare facility (yeah yeah, I know - I don't have kids, but I have dropped my nephew off many times when he was little).  Smiling faces, colors, murals on the wall.    And - you don't have to drive 45 minutes to get there or worry about your dog catching Parvo from something that just walked in from the horrible Friday Market. I noticed immediately how clean the shop is.  Everything was shiny new and they were disinfecting the grooming tables when I walked in.  It smelled clean. You can see the grooming tables from the reception area through a glass wall.  It is a happy place. They also have a little shop where they sell food, toys, and items like leashes and collars (I'm going to have to talk to them about ordering some of those LED leashes and collars - too cool.)

Both the groomers that I met that day are European:  VERY nice ladies and (get this) professional.  Oooo saaaaaa - refreshing!    The head groomer is British and we had a nice chat about why Mikey's skin is dry.  I didn't know that you have to cure internally.  I was thinking I could grab some doggy conditioner or oatmeal shampoo and bam, but no.  She said that even the more expensive dog foods on the market don't have the oils essential to keep dog's skin moisturized here and she recommended putting a little olive oil in his food.   She said fish oil would work too.Huh.  Who knew?  He'll probably love it.  Good to know cause I just plunked down 30kd for a 50lb bag of chow that's making Mike itch and keeping me up all night. Greeeeat.

My 2 wolves took a few hours total to groom (I had lunch with a friend in the meantime until they called me).  Mikey came out with a "boy bandana" on (which he ate in the car on the way home); and Desert Dawg had a pretty pink ribbon in her hair.  I've NEVER been able to get a bow in her hair in the past 17 years that wasn't out in 2.5 nanoseconds, but this bow stayed in for a few days.  Cool.  She looked so preeeety.  I love how they did her little bangs ("fringe" in Briddish!)

I was really happy with the outcome for both dogs.  .... And I totally forgot to tell them not to put on the puppy perfume that other groomers often add.  DD is extremely allergic.  They didn't put any perfume on at all which is probably in keeping with their natural product philosophy.

When it was all done, I got a card with the services they had received on it and 2 follow up e-mails (one from each dog) with before and after photos.  They were so cute - as if the e-mails were written by my little monsters (only in Briddish rather than American English, addressed to "Dear Mummy."  Oh well, my mother always wanted children with a British accent, so maybe now she is getting them with her grand children.  Ha ha.).  Check out the e-mail I got "from Mike":

"OK Mum,

You are soooo right the spa isn’t just for Girls its cool for boys to, I love my new super soft shiny coat and cant wait to show it off to all my friends.

I promise to be a good boy and keep myself clean.




Sadly, I know Mike didn't write it, however, because we both know he'll never promise to keep himself clean.  Aint gonna happen.  I thought it was SUCH a cute touch, though.  Loved it!

PetSpa also has a mobile grooming van.  Joseph (who j'adore!) who was formerly at IVH works in the van.  He's really good - and loves animals, so he's gentle.

They also have a mobile vet van which I will learn more about later and post about.  Photo courtesy of some other blog I "borrowed" it from...

Like a parent with legitimate concern for their children's well-being,  I take the selection of schools for my dogs very very seriously.  I'm not going to leave them in the care of just anyone.  I was REALLY impressed to know that PetSpa/PetCare's South African behaviorist, Gill (Gillian Pirow), will come to your home for an assessment; to educate not only the dog, but the owner (the Dog Whisperer always says how important this is).  I have an appointment with Jill to stop by and assess Mikey for obedience school this summer.  Lee tells me that Gill has brought a new level of sophistication to Kuwait in terms of dog training (force free training).  I was very concerned about stories (past and present) I have heard from people about supposed "dog training" in Kuwait (often located in Kabd which immediately makes me nervous).  One friend's dog went "missing" and I later discovered that the man she left it to train had been involved in dog fighting.  Another friend's dog "mysteriously died" while in the care of an obedience school (and his body was not,  returned leading to speculation).  I've also heard stories of well-reputed obedience schools in Kuwait that use physical punishment as a way to train the dogs. I am already fascinated by PetSpa's approach and  I can't wait to learn more.

I'll keep you posted as I'm going to write about PetSpa/Animal Care in a mini-series - now that I have "discovered them".  I think it is important as many of my readers are pet-owners and I get a lot of questions from people.

Go get your pet groomed there.  Seriously worth a visit.

Shaab Phones:  5001-5757 / 5001 5858 / 5001 5959
(They also have locations in Rai and Mahboula)

More on PetSpa and Animal Care:  (Note that their website needs work, but they may have done that on purpose - I dunno.  The most informative page is their facebook page. and they are also on Twitter for notifications at AnimalCareKuwai)

Back the F off! Get out of my personal space!

So there are some overt differences between Kuwait and Dubai, but whenever I come down here, I note the more covert ones:  Like personal space.

I was in a mall in Dubai some time ago and the woman standing in line for a taxi behind me literally shoved her shopping cart into me. Back OFF!

In general, if you don't get out of the way, people will literally walk into you, as if you're not there.  It is weird!  I can't imagine that happening in Kuwait.  Why is it so different here?

As an American, we have a larger personal space than many other cultures.  If people get too close, we get nervous.  I'm much more jumpy about this than I used to be after I got back flu's and colds a few times.  Yuk.  Who wants someone spreading their germs on you?

Its almost as if the people here just don't care how close they get to you.  You're stacked up like cord wood next to each other.  To me, that's just disgusting.  Dude, I don't want to be close enough to smell your breath.  Nas-teh.

Permits? We don't need no stinkin' permits!

Arab Times
11 February 2014
‘Stopping Citizens, Expats At Checkpoints Is Illegal’Legal Permit Must: Judges, Lawyers

KUWAIT CITY, Feb 10: A number of judges and attorneys have agreed on the illegality of the inspection of citizens and expatriates in the security checkpoints without obtaining permission from the Public Prosecution.
They then advised the public not to allow security men to inspect them or their vehicles if the officers will not present the permit, reports Al- Jarida daily.

A judge specialized in penal cases said Article 31 of the Constitution prohibits the arrest or detention of anyone, as well as the restriction of his freedom or home confinement, if the action is not in line with the law.
He clarified the legislator wants to protect freedom of the individual and his rights from the oppression of public authorities, as well as anything related to his private life, unless a legal permit is obtained.

Accordingly, it is not allowed to inspect any person, his vehicle or his accommodation except in two cases; the first is after getting permission from the Public Prosecution or General Investigation Department and second, if the person is caught red-handed.

- End -

In the US, it is called, "Illegal search and seizure."  I've always heard here that the police can not just search your vehicle.  YOU must allow them to enter and you can refuse if you want.  If the officer insists, lock your doors/windows and call 112 and ask for a higher ranking officer to assist.  Tell them that there is no permit from the Public Prosecution and the officers won't let you go without a search.  

I have also heard (and I don't know if it true or not) that some unscrupulous officers have planted items in people's cars because, if they reach their quotas, they get time off work or incentives.  So, be careful out there.  Don't just let anyone who asks (with a badge or not) into your vehicle.

In Kuwait, like anywhere else, you should know your rights.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Valentine's Day "Gift"

I’ve written about this before.  He was the love of my life.  I met him when I was 15. He was 19.  He changed my world the day I saw his face.  He changed my world again the day I learned he was dead (many years later on Valentine’s Day).

The night before (years ago this very day), he came to me in a dream.  We were sitting in a garden in DC.  He held my hand as he told me that the days he spent with me were the happiest days in his life.  It has turned out to be the best gift he could have given me on any day:  A parting gift that has remained embedded with me as if it was yesterday. His gift.  Who gets that? 

This year, I got another gift from Helen DaVita, the medium lady who came to visit Kuwait.   You can read about my experience with her on my post, “My visit with a lovely medium.”  She helped me understand the real circumstances surrounding his death – and also reminded me facts about his life that I had forgotten.  I, like many others, thank her for giving us some peace of mind; and for reaffirming what I already knew:

Shamlan is around me.  I feel him there sometimes.  I'm always thinking about him and remember him in little ways - always on Valentine's Day.  Yeah, it is bitter-sweet, but I still see that powerful, life-altering,  never-ending kind of love to be a tremendous blessing.  It is timeless and ageless. Valentine's Day is just a reminder of that.

--- I'm back in Dubai this February 13 and I'm feeling more surrounded by him than ever.  He's here.  This is his place.  I'm glad to be close today.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Have a Sexy Kuwait Valentine's Day with this!

Disclaimer:  Ok, the owner of this bakery might be a little upset that I used that as a title, but I do this with good intentions:  Honestly, it gets me much more traffic having anything with "sex" and "Kuwait" in the title than anything else I could possibly do.  

Still looking for the "sexy" part?  Yeh, ya pervs!  Sexy cakes.  
After all, who doesn't get turned on by.... CAKE!  yeah.


I have a bunch of guy friends and I never know what to get them as gifts, so baked goods are always a good idea.  I was searching on for "male-appropriate" gift items.  It is a hard call to find something that is even slightly masculine and that they might actually enjoy.  Yes, I've sent flowers before, but that can get some giggles in the office, so I try not to offend/embarrass (unless it is on purpose and then it is just purple ALL the way).

I placed 2 orders from CRUMBS Bakery through  I chose them purely for aesthetic reasons:  they made a nice presentation and the baked goods looked like they could be gender-appropriate. I sent one box as a thank-you gift to a friend at the US Embassy (and dude please - any time you want to invite me back, it has been a YEAR now.  I sent BAKED GOODS!); and the other to a friend who had a birthday recently (an assortment of cake balls in a nice box).

Following my last order, I got THE most professional response from CRUMBS that I've ever had anywhere.  Now, this was the type of "how did we do?" note that I would send if I owned a business.  It was sincere and showed that they really cared.  I sent her back a note thanking her for the effort she extended through the e-mail; and  that I was embarrassed because I've never actually tried their offerings before, but I ordered due to the reasons I mentioned above.  What happened next (unsolicited because you know me - I don't do that) made my whole week:  She sent me a "Love Box" (first photo above - it is about a 12" square box maybe 5" deep) and a little bouquet of pink roses.  Awwwwwwwwwww.  (Why aren't men like this???)  What an incredibly kind thing to do!

I am now singin' their praises, my friends.  Not only pretty, but really really delicious.  It was melt-in-your-mouth kind of quality.  (I'm so used to getting dried-out, flavorless sweets that these really rocked my world!)  I highly recommend them.  Professional, respectful, considerate, sincere - AND with outstanding, well-presented, FRESH, and well- prepared products.

Readers!  Please feel free to send me more of these.  I was forced to share the first box with friends, so I have a legitimate excuse for "needing" more!  Yummmm.

All in time for Valentine's Day (This Friday - February 14)! takes credit card orders.  Go for it!

The gift box the sent me (first photo above)  is called Love Gift Box and it's KD20. KD1 charge for delivery.

Y'alls can order through 965flowers if you prefer online payment (and you can also add items like cards, flowers, teddy bears, and balloons). Otherwise you can order directly by calling or sending an email.

Contact details:

Shaab Sea Side Tel: 2263-6614 or 5527-8627
Fintas Tel: 2390-8421 or 5010-8886
twitter & instagram @ilovecrumbs

Orders are only by calling or email to

(You can just call them and tell them to send to "Desert Girl" and they will know where to deliver.  I have made it SOOOOOOOOOOOO easy for you!)

Make your loved-people happy this Valentine's Day.  Life is too short not to miss milestones and little moments. Time passes so quickly, my friends.  Moments are too precious to waste.  Doooooooo it!

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Funny Ads

As seen in Al Hadaf classifieds...

Too many things to say about the catering opportunity....

And yup, pumping your p will definitely make you more handsome.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Doubts Over Mixed Marriages Article

So I got pissed off enough to write a letter to the editor after reading this story.  I don't know if it will be published in the Kuwait Times or not.  We'll see.  Her full story is here:

Dear Editor:

Muna Al-Fuzai has written a second article on her perspective on "mixed marriages". The first article appeared approximately one year ago. She seems fascinated by the subject, although married to a Kuwaiti of the same religion.

From Ms. Al-Fuzai's tone, it sounds almost as if her husband has either married another woman or has considered it; leading her to jealousy or petty speculation. Perhaps the object of his eye is blonde with blue eyes as she seems to point towards this with the statement of, "...fulfils their fantasies of getting married to a Western woman with blue eyes and blonde hair..."  (as if there are not hundreds if not thousands of single or divorced Kuwaiti women with dyed blonde hair and blue contact lenses.)   

She goes on to say that, "According to some sources (and she does not name the "sources" revealing a lack of journalistic integrity), these woman are most likely homeless back home and broke.  So they use Islam to solve their personal troubles."  Wow.  Fascinating.  I know of not even one Western woman (blonde or otherwise) who has ever come to Kuwait "homeless or broke."  They have usually come here for work of some kind and have the means to move around the globe freely (financially and otherwise).  And none of the Western women I have ever met during my twenty years in Kuwait have ever married for any reason other than love and respect.

As she is a Muslim woman, I question why she is questioning.  "The increase of such marriages has more negative outputs than good, and yet we are still watching these cases with no one trying to seek the root of the problem..." To which I say, Ms. Al-Fuzai, read the Holy Quran!  It has been written and it has not been changed.  

"The fact that these women accept to stand in line with other women shows how desperate they are...."  and  "... especially if each party has his or her own agenda to hook themselves to a stranger in a serious bond like marriage." Isn't the divorce rate among Kuwaitis (of the same religion, often through arranged marriages where both parties are basically "hooking themselves to a stranger) over 50%?  Shame on you, Ms. Al-Fuzai, to stand in judgement of your own sisters and your own religion!  

Just for the record, the male Kuwaitis I have spoken to do not want to divorce because of their children.  So perhaps Ms. Al-Fuzai should write an informative article on the need for upgrading family law in the country to allow for better custody rights for fathers.

- - - End - - -

I  find it hard to believe that for many years, Ms. Al-Fuzai was Secretary of the AMERICAN Business Council of Kuwait.  Now that she is no longer in her salaried position, representing AMERICAN interests in Kuwait, she can voice her obvious contempt for Western women.  I wonder how it must have been for her to see Western women with Kuwaiti men during her tenure,  and having had to keep her true feelings hidden so that she could conduct business.  What a heavy burden to carry all that time!

On another note:    I always think that if you're not happy in a marriage, your children are going to suffer.  If  you stay together; they learn that it is ok to be unhappy in marriage.  If you divorce, they suffer because they may not receive the support of both parents.   Either way - not a good thing.  I am the product of a happy divorce.  I believe my parents were much better off away from each other, although my parents were always civil to each other and shared  visitation rights.  They never spoke ill of each other in front of us.  Life is too short to be unhappy.  People are not chained to each other.  And if either party (man or woman) is not happy at home, chances are that they are seeking happiness elsewhere.

Glamping: Kuwait Style Camping

The glamorous camping (glamping) that we do in Kuwait is not the camping of my childhood in the States.  As kids, got pup tents and canned kidney beans, while the adults got to sleep in the warm trailer.  We spent long, scary nights at national parks or camp-sites for pay where there was often no running water.  The worst places had outhouses.  I stopped ever being able to use them after one cross-America camping trip with the family.  As tweenagers, we always shined our flashlights down the outhouse hole to make sure no monsters were going to grab us and pull us in.  In Nebraska, the monsters came in the form of a pit filled with writhing black snakes. 

My foray into Kuwaiti camping came the first winter I was in Kuwait.  I can’t call it glamorous.  Just a few tents, nothing special, up in Salmi.  We were there because my friends promised to take me gerbil hunting.  Gerbil hunting is the funniest thing you can do this side of legal; especially if  you go with “hunters” wearing national attire and you might have had something to drink before you left on the adventure.  We never did catch a gerbil.  I was laughing so hard that I wouldn’t have noticed anyways.  It was pure slapstick humour.  Here’s how it’s done:   Get a bunch of friends, gloves,  and a 4 wheel drive.  Similar to a Chinese fire drill, when the jeep comes to a halt after seizing a gerbil’s fixed gaze into the headlights, all vehicle occupants rush out and try to catch the gerbil by hand.  Weapon use is prohibited.   Nonplussed, we returned to sit in the cold tent when, ironically, a gerbil ran in, made a circuit around us, and ran back out. The perfect ending to a great night.

As I later made friends with other single Western female friends, the camp invitations started pouring in.  These were not overnight or extended visits; it was more like going to a nightclub with your girlfriends (without the bouncers or long lines).  We wore high heels and mini-skirts and lots of perfume like all the other girls there.  At that time, squat toilets in some camps made for some thrilling moments.  Balancing yourself, inebriated, in high heels over a squat toilet and perfecting your aim when a cold wind swirls around your nether-region isn’t for everybody;  only the strong-willed survive.

Camping has evolved even during the almost-20 years I’ve been in Kuwait.  For example, I have visited very few camps lately that still have squat toilets.  They have been replaced by the sit-down type (that you can later find after camping season ends April 1st littering the desert). 

Sure camping started out as a Bedouin nomadic custom out of necessity.  Tents were mobile homes moved to better grazing grounds.  When people settled into houses, they would still go out to the deserts to camp – especially when the kids were out of school, usually in the Spring when the weather wasn’t too hot yet nor too cold. 

Everything has changed.  It isn’t as family-oriented now, but rather a form of escapism in a society where alcohol and public dancing are illegal.  From November 1 to April 1, the deserts in Kuwait are transformed into cities of tents and lights.  The norm is nightclub-quality sound systems and disco lighting, outdoing the neighbours with barrier lighting systems (latest trends include multi-colored LED displays), and of course, lots of loud ATV’s (known here as “bungees”) that young children without helmets can drive up and down all night (and later give business to local hospitals and clinics).  Now, dune buggies with full-sized car engines (the likes of Corvette V8s) can be seen ripping across the sands with music blasting.

I’ve been to camps with paved/tiled walkways with outdoor lighting leading to individual sleeping tents containing flat screen TVs, HVAC units, waterbeds, and bathrooms with marble fixtures as well as sanitary ware (including Jacuzzis) that would rival what you would find in some of the finer home magazines.  I’ve seen everything you can imagine being trucked in:  A New Years Eve party tent that would put Ringling Brothers big top to shame; housing 5 bars and several dance floors.  A tent modelled after a trendy bar in Los Angeles with flowing white curtains, white lights,  black marble flooring and a black marble fireplace.  Tents with old, large brick fireplaces.  Decorating feats for temporary living.  At the end of it all, what can be re-used is packed into Conex containers and stored for the summer.

A Kuwaiti camp video went viral on the internet in Kuwait several years ago.  Someone dug out an enormous multi-levelled pit  in the desert.   From the outside, it appeared to be just another incongruous beige desert tent.  From the inside, it was a nightclub with a stage and a roped VIP section.

Businesses have sprouted to cater to campers.  Tent companies and outfitters have made fortunes off the season.  I’ve heard of tents selling for as much as $150,000.  And the peripherals:  furnishings, electric systems, sound systems, generators, plumbing, wiring, ceramic and marble work, kitchen equipment, heaters, air conditioners, satellite and internet service, lighting, fencing, pest control (think scorpions and snakes), caterers, DJ’s, and grounds-keepers/guards.    Even restaurants (including Pizza Hut) and some salons will deliver their  services your camp if you give them the GPS coordinates.

For those who want to do it on the cheap, there is a camping scrap yard in Mina Abdullah where various camping stuff has been either salvaged or sold. It is a weird and funky place close to Camp Arifjan where you can find everything from tent posts to used water tanks to the fabric woven from camel hair used in “bait shaar” (hair house) tents.  The entire place looks like something out of a Mad Max movie.

I became addicted to live-in camping last year when I shared a tent with a friend in a quiet area near Wafra and spent every free hour there.  This year, I have my own tent for the first time in probably the busiest/noisiest camping area in Kuwait:  Julai’ia.  We are a group of approximately 10 friends with a compound of tents.  My tent is a 6x6 metre tent; others are either the same size or larger.  All of the sleeping tents have comfortable beds (mine is a queen sized pillow-top) and bathrooms with porcelain sanitary ware and tiled floors.  Most of the sleeping tents have flat-screen televisions.  We have a very large tent for parties and we occasionally bring in live bands.  There are a few tents for when it is warmer and the sides can be removed. When it is cold, everybody has a heater (or two or three) for their tent.   We have 2 mini-ponies,  a goat, a bunch of chickens, and several visiting dogs.  We also have several “diwaniya” style tents where friends come and go; with or without invitation, all are welcome. 

Expat friends ask how you could set up your own camp.  These days, the facilities have become so abundant that it is easy.  If you just want to go with the family over a weekend, you can either rent an entire camp or a tent on a commercial compound.  Unfortunately, most of the companies just advertise in Arabic.  There are many rental camps in Julai’ia (off 40 between 240 and 245 roads at the turn where the temporary police station is set up during camping season) and if you stop to ask, most people (including the police on duty) will be willing to help you find one.   A good rule is that the camps with the enormous bouncy castles are rental camps.   If you want to buy your own tent, the tent market is behind the Friday Market in Rai.  They always have tents on display during any season.