Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Vote Green!

I know this might have been put out there as a joke, how many of the parliaments that we've seen come and go have been joke-worthy, a waste of time, and downright ridiculous?!  Is it a satire?  A farce?  A joke?  Or something deeper, intended to stir people's consciousness?  

This guy is making valid points for the country and creating controversy and conversation.    Commentaries are showing up in mainstream media like this article today in the Kuwait Times.  I've been watching the buzz in blogsphere and on the social media sites.  People are talking.

This is the first time - ever - in recent history when someone/ANYONE had the balls to ask that alcohol be legalized.  It is now precedent-setting.  Joke or no joke, Mr. Green is now a pioneer.    Everyone has whispered about legalizing alcohol for YEARS.  It has been the topic of conversation at more than one party I've been to with politicians, lawyers, and even a few MPs.  (Cheers, my friends!)

And, I whole-heartedly agree with the concept of the establishment of Islamic resorts.  Fundamental Islamists should not HAVE to see women scantily clad in bathing suits!  They should have the freedom to vacation "skin-free" in resorts to cater to their beliefs.  However, they can do the same by driving a few miles down to Saudi Arabia, but a whole lot of people seem to be complaining in Kuwait, so why not make it easier for them with Islamic resort options and let the rest of us wear our thongs? - not me, per se, but just saying.  Furthermore, I do not believe these resorts should be built next to "open" or non-fundamentally-Islamic resorts, however.  Far too much temptation.

And while I'm agreeable, I completely agree (yet again) with Green's  stand on achieving people's demands and economic development.  I don't think that either one of these issues is being met. The country has been in stagnation mode even though they put a heck of a lot of work into a tourism and development plan while back, didn't they?  Built a whole lot of (now-empty) hotels (perhaps they aren't fundamental enough?); and a few major international hotel chains pulled out of Kuwait all together.  Other GCC countries very happy;  like Abu Dhabi where hotel bookings by Kuwaitis has increased by 61% in the 1st Quarter of 2014 from the previous year.

And as for people's demands?  I know a whole lot of Kuwaiti friends who fly down Dubai - to their apartments (they own)  to have a drink and a dance on the weekends.  Why shouldn't they be able to do that (dance, drink, afford an apartment) in their own country should they CHOOSE to (and it should be a choice in my opinion).  God gives you free will; you can choose what you want to do.  Dubai:  choose to go to a bar or to a shopping mall or to an entertainment park.  CHOICE.  People don't decide if you go to Heaven or Hell.  God does.  It's between you and God.  Kuwait isn't any "MORE Muslim" than Bahrain, UAE, Qatar or Oman.  All Islamic countries.  Only difference is that Kuwait's economy is stagnating.  

Right now in Kuwait, drugs are SO much less expensive than alcohol.  There are increasing number of overdoses and guess what has just been introduced recently to Kuwait:  Meth.   Oh joy.  Now THAT should be fun on the highways. Let's call a thing a thing, people (Ilanya!)  

Where is Waleed Al-Nasser's diwaniya?  Lets go show him our support!

Handsome Kuwaiti Youth Caught Swindling Girls Through KIK

Arab times, 28 May 2014
Handsome Youth Caught Swindling Girls

KUWAIT CITY, May 27: The Mubarak Al-Kabir police have arrested a young handsome Kuwaiti for swindling girls, reports Al-Anba daily.   The suspect used to befriend young girls through the social media application KIK and rob them. He was arrested after he dated a young woman and asked her to pick him up from an unidentified area. He then requested the victim to allow him to drive the car and when she stepped out he got behind the wheel and drove off. Police then set a trap for him and caught him while playing the same game with another woman.  He has admitted to robbing 12 young women.

- - - 

More Douchebag Swindlers on the Internet  (When I first saw this article, I immediately wondered if it was Mr. Clean....)

This is the age of technology and douchebaggery - regardless of the nationality.  It used to be that a Kuwaiti man was just that - a MAN.  Dignity.  Honor.  Protection/respect for women.  Now it's all about the money and getting one over on whatever person you can.  Masla7a.

Kuwaiti women have better jobs/incomes now than they ever had before.  I'm proud of my sistahs.  They (like other women anywhere) are also in a position to be taken advantage of for what they have.  It is sad that the girls/women fall for this stuff, however "charming" a handsome douchebag may be.  

Everybody wants to be loved, but if you have to take my car or my wallet, that ain't love.  You don't HAVE to show your love/loyalty to a guy by "helping him" with what you own.  Brokeass should have his own - OR have the ambition/desire to get his own and then take care of YOU because you're his girl.

When you want to find out who your real friends are, act broke.  

Monday, May 26, 2014

10 Old-Fashioned Dating Habits We Should Bring Back by Kate Bailey

Someone posted this article on Facebook and I'm going to re-post it here on me blog with DG comments.  Yeah, at 29, I should be married by now with several kids and a (I shudder) mini-van (never ever ever gonna happen), but that wasn't in God's plan, so I continue to be out there in the Wonderful World of Dating - and yes, even more of a challenge in Kuwait where the norms and rules of the West don't always apply.

My thoughts/comments are in italics.  You can comment if you want with thoughts of your own.  (Disclaimer:  If I receive comments that start with, "Are you really 29?" I will immediately zap you....)

10 Old-Fashioned Dating Habits We Should Bring Back.
Kate Bailey wrote this and posted it on Thought Catalog.

Most of us are too young to know about old-fashioned dating habits  (my mother taught me dating etiquette - more often what the guy should do if he wanted to be with you).  But if you’ve seen old movies, then you know men used to call a lady to ask her on a date several days before. Then come date night, he’d show up all dressed up at her door with a bouquet of flowers, and take her to the movies. What if old-fashioned dating habits came back in style? (More men would get laid, I'm guessin....)

#1. Coming to the door to pick someone up.

(Good place to start.  My mother and father - although in separate houses - would never allow us to go out with someone unless he came to the door.  When I met Shamlan, he had to go through my entire extended family to take me out.... and that love has lasted me a lifetime even though he hasn't.)

I think we’ve all had it with the incredibly unromantic “here” text, and meeting up always seems to be more casual and platonic than the alternative. Of course, meeting someone from online or any circumstance like that would probably be the exception to this rule, but generally: the 30 seconds it takes to get out of a car or cab and knock on the door makes a huge difference.

(Ok, F text messages in general.  My personal feeling is that if  you are into someone, you pick up the phone or go have a conversation with them.  Texts don't cut it; are confusing and can easily be misinterpreted, leading to blocking the other person.)

#2. Trying to dress really nicely for a date.

“Nicely” means different things for different people, so I think it’s just a matter of putting effort into how you put yourself together to go out with someone. It’s not about wearing suits and petticoats again, but just realizing that, whether or not we like to accept it, appearance does count for something, and we should do our best to make sure that our appearance says something about us, in whatever way we’d like it to.

(I swear to God, I will never ever go out with a guy again if he shows up in shorts and Crocs.  Ick and ew.  it has happened to me several times.  What I DO like is when a guy takes the time to go to the barber, wears a clean, crisp dishtasha, burns some bkhoor smoke into it, and puts on hot cologne.  That's it.....)

#3. Bringing flowers or other tokens of affection to the first date.

Now, many lucky ladies (and some men) I know get this regularly, and in fact, I have myself as well, but only ever with people I’d been dating for a while. I think there’s something to be said for bringing flowers to the door on your first date. It’s become uncool because it’s forward and it’s a gesture that confirms their interest, but we should definitely get past that idea and worry more about how we’re going to let someone know we really do care and appreciate that they want to spend time with us.

(Arab hospitality extends to this:  You don't show up the first time empty-handed.  Usually, it isn't flowers, but sweets. If the guy is really into you, he won't show up without something in his hand.)

#4. Going dancing that’s not grinding on a grimy club floor.

Whatever happened to this? Dancing for the sake of dancing, like fun, not essentially sex on a dance floor dancing. What’s a better way to literally shake off nerves than seeing them bust a really dorky move on a dance floor? And the art of slow dancing has generally been lost, though I’ve been one to do it in my living room with my slightly coerced significant other, and I’ll tell you he’s said on numerous occasions it ended up being one of the most romantic nights we had together.

(Not really applicable in Kuwait unless you're at a party and IF someone is up grinding on my leg, I'm leaving.)

#5. Straightforwardly asking someone out and not calling it “hanging out.”

Or, as is very popular these days, “talking.” “Oh, we’re just… talking.” As in, seeing one another and speaking frequently as to get to know each other? So… dating? We’ve found these really convenient ways to skirt around the issue of having to put our hearts on the line, but honestly, it just ends up being messy and confusing for all parties involved. There’s no need to go back to the idea of courting or anything, unless you want to, but simply being direct about whether or not you’d like to go on a date with someone is a truly lost art, one that really shouldn’t be.

[Ok, this one is a real pet peeve of mine.  If  you want to be WITH me, be straight-forward, frank and state your intentions clearly.  For example, "I would like to take you to dinner.  I would like to get to know you.  Are  you free this Friday night?  Would you like to go to X restaurant?" (and NOT in an F-ing cabina!)  NOT, "Let me see you sometime. Call me.... uh uh uh...."  I need a man, not an indecisive little boy.]

#6. Additionally, being clear about when you’re “going steady.”

Oh, the awkward, “so… are we… you know… what are we?” talk. Classic. We should go back to asking one another if the other person would like to “go steady” or something. There’s something about asking them if they’d like to rather than assuming that you are or aren’t anything that’s just very cute, in my opinion.

(Introducing me as or referring to me as his "girlfriend" - instant relationship security builder.   I love that. I heard one guy I was dating for a while repeatedly refer to me as "his friend" and that was a buzz kill.  I started referring to him as "my friend" and then I stopped contacting him.  Game over.  BUT, if the guy jumps the gun too soon, it is an immediate turn off.  Like, sending OTT  photo messages and "I love you so much." right after the 2nd date. It's insulting.)

#7. Romantic gestures like writing poems.

Writing poems may not be for you, I know mine would look something like “Roses are red, violets are blue, I hate poetry but I love you.” I literally just made that up thank you please quote me when you inevitably post that gem on Tumblr. But seriously, like a handwritten letter in the mail or just surprising them with something you made even if it looks like the macaroni necklace you made when you were 5 is cute just because you tried and were thinking of them.

(This is NOT OTT!  Mr. Clean  had one redeeming quality:  He left notes all over my apartment and sometimes car telling me that he loved me and that I was beautiful.  Although not completely "poetry" - it was so romantic and sweet and I loved it.  Best of all - it was free for him!)

#8. Turning electronics off and just being with one another.

I’m not sure there is anything worse than the person who picks up their phone and starts staring at it in the middle of dinner, or at any point while you’re together and having a conversation. I’m not anti-technology here (hello, I work for the Internet) but I am saying that there comes a time to turn it off and disconnect and remember what actually matters. People.

(Oh for the Love of God - everyone knows how I feel about this.  Just recently, I met a man (let me re-phrase:  he literally RAN after me trying to exchange numbers. He took me out with his friends to get to know him. When we were finally alone together, he was SMSing so much that I started laughing and asked him to leave!  Why????  He begged me to see him again.  Why should I?  I wasn't important to him the first time.  Should I make him my priority the second time around?  The same goes for when you're already in an established relationship.  What makes the person on the phone more important than the person in front of you?!  This is little boy stuff.  Stop it.)

#9. The general concept of asking permission for things.

It used to be principle for people to say: oh, when can I see you? Or, when could I call you? Rather than just assuming they can at any point. But I think that old concept could be applied to our modern world by just assuming that, unless told otherwise, you should ask permission to you know, touch them anywhere, take them out, call them at a certain time, etc. Once you’re in a relationship these things usually don’t require asking anymore, but some do, especially when it comes to sexuality. I once knew a person who said that they asked permission before so much as touching a girl’s thigh, and that always stuck with me.

(May I.... ok, never mind... too many people on here know me. I can't go there... Fill in the blanks.  Whispering it my year... O. M. G.)

#10. Not assuming sex is to be had at any point in time.

Now, I’m certainly not saying it should go back to being a taboo that’s unspoken of, but we certainly shouldn’t expect it from someone on the third date, on the first date, because they’re being flirty, because you know they’re into you, or even because they agreed to go out with you. A date does not have to be a precursor to sex, and you shouldn’t be disappointed if it isn’t because you should never assume that it will be. It depends on the person you’re with and what they want to do.

[THANK YOU, MS. KATE BAILEY!!!  The best relationships grow from letting things happen naturally - not on a time schedule. And unless you're in high school and you've never been alone with a man before, hearing, "My doctor told me that if I didn't have sex when I'm (like this), I will have a medical problem." is just a laughable offense. "There's the door...."]

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

My Old Dog

Looking kinda rough just before grooming

So my dog, Lilli Putian, is in her twilight years.  I know that the inevitable is coming soon.  I know her well enough to feel things with her. If you've ever had pets, you know that you can communicate without words.   She's almost 18 years old (119 years old in human years).  She's got cataracts and is almost blind.  I can't tell if she's deaf or it is selective hearing (probably the former).  Her hair is thinning as well as her frame.   She pads around the apartment, aimlessly, like she is feeling every step with creaky arthritic bones.  Sometimes she looks at me like she doesn't know who I am, or snaps at me for no reason and then seems sad because she has done it without meaning to.

Does it sound familiar?  It could be anyone's elderly grandmother/great grandmother. Seeing the people you love (and in this case, I consider my little dog as a "people") age and move on to the other side is never an easy thing.  You want to turn back time and hold on to them.  Give them your strength and breathe life back into their bodies.  

But you can't.  So you have to be a bystander to the whole process.

I've taken Lilli to see many vets to make sure that she doesn't need anything more.  Medicine?  Vitamins?  Additional care that I may not know about?  How do you care properly for a geriatric dog?  

The consensus is:  Make her as comfortable as possible and let her live out her life.  

There are feeding options and vitamins; low protein and senior food.  Unfortunately, she's now a picky eater (as many elders are) and gets sick if I change foods, so she continues on Alpo and a lot of dog-friendly home-made recipes (like dog ice cream made from non-fat yogurt, bananas, and peanut butter).  My friend, Cathy, also recommended feeding both my dogs coconut oil.  It helps their fur and both dogs look amazing after several months of receiving it in their food. (I also slip some to the mangy mother cat that frequents my patio.)
After PetSpa grooming.  NOT happy about the bow!
What's wrong with her eyes?  Until recently, there were no vets in Kuwait that specialized in eye care.  Now, Dr. Jose at IVH is here and has diagnosed what is really going on with Lilli's eyes.  Before, all vets told me not to worry about her "tears" as Maltese are known to have red or brown tear stains.  However, Dr. Jose told me that had she been properly diagnosed when she was young/puppy, they could have surgically installed a shunt that would have allowed her eye ducts to drain properly.  What is happening is that her eyes are filling up with fluid, causing bacterial infections throughout her life (that I wasn't aware of).  I feel like I'm a bad parent.  Now that she is older, Dr. Jose does not advise surgery.

Lilli can't get up on the bed anymore.  She doesn't even try anymore.  I pick her up and place her on her favorite wool blanket, but often now she wants only to sleep on the floor (maybe she's seen Mike fall off the bed in his sleep too many times).  

She's happy inside the apartment, but unless I hold her close to me and take her for a walk (as in literally picking her up and holding her like a baby in my arms), she becomes stressed and nervous.  Inside the apartment, where she knows the furniture placement and can navigate easily by memory and smell, she gets bursts of energy and runs around like a young dog again.  The rest of the time, she sleeps comfortably.  She can no longer watch The Animal Planet as her eyes are so bad.  All she sees is shapes.

Sunbathing close to mom where its safe

Lilli has been with me through a LOT.  She was given to me by a friend, Abdullah, whose sister I had helped when she had to go to the US for cancer treatment; ironically, the same form of cancer my sister had, so it was easy for me to explain in friendly terms what would happen.  I even visited them both when I went to the States during their time there.  Abdullah went to Egypt with a friend when he returned to Kuwait and came back with a tiny white puppy, which they had intended to sell.  He called me many times telling me that he had brought me a dog from Egypt and wanted to gift it to me, but the only image I had in my mind was something that looked like the Sphinx, or maybe one of those weird hairless cats.  I couldn't imagine what kind of a dog they would have in Egypt (terribly judgmental of me I realize).  When he placed the tiny white fluffball in my hand (and it fit in the palm of my hand), it was instant love.  Lilli is a cross between a Maltese and a Poodle (a "Malte-Poo").    She came in a pretty little kennel box (which I wish I had kept); wood with a leopard print.

Her name came to me about a week after she arrived at my door. For those of you who don't know the children's book,  Lilliput is the name of a town in the book, Gulliver's Travels (published in 1726). Lilliputians are the inhabitants and they average at about 6 inches tall.  As Lilli was also very white, her name was also in reference to the flower, lily.  

She loves mint
Lilli has been with me through EVERYTHING in Kuwait:  From jobs and friends/boyfriends, war, sandstorms, good times, bad times, sickness.  She has been my only family in Kuwait and has sat on my bed watching over me when I had the flu, putting her little paws on my face and her head on my chest (as she has done for my friends as well as The Romanian stayed with me several times when she was really sick and needed a little help).  I taught her to beg for her favorite morning treat (Polo mint candies) by saying (in dog-speak), "Mama" (I have it on video if you don't believe me!)  Every morning for the past 18 years, she sits next to me waiting for her treat (although she seems to have forgotten how to "speak" these days).  I've taken her to beaches and let her run wild in the desert.  I've taken her with me to visit endless friends.  She's been to Kubbar and chased rabbits on Um al Moradim Island.  She was in the air-tight room with me when the scuds were falling in 2003 and we both woke up when one scud hit Souq Sharq; shaking our apartment building 5 miles away).  

Lilli has made friends with people who have never liked dogs before.  She seems to have an innate ability to understand that they require persuasion; charming them into liking her.  Like the time when I had to take a taxi and she was with me.  The driver reluctant to take me with a dog.  I promised that she would sit on my lap and she wouldn't touch his taxi.  From where we were sitting in the back, the driver could see us in the rear-view mirror.  He scowled at Lilli.  She stared at him.  And then he sneezed.  And then she sneezed.  And he sneezed again and looked at her in the mirror.  And then she sneezed again, mocking him with a big dog-smile.  She made a friend.  

"If my dog doesn't like you, I won't like you."  It has always been that way.  And vice-versa:   If they don't like my dog; they don't like me.  The Man found this out immediately; a big, bad, Bedouin man he was who did not like "unclean" dogs.  She won him over the first time she met him.  He stood tensely with his arms at his side while she sized him up; eventually breaking into the doggy-dance of spinning around, wagging her tail.  He was "in" and I was often jealous of "their" relationship!   He has always been compassionate and kind towards dogs ever since.  He's helped stray dogs and even rescued a family of dogs close to his home when neighborhood boys threw rocks at a female, "Dusty", and her puppies.

Now when new guests come to my home, Lilli is reluctant to go near them.  I guess it is "stranger danger".  She fears that they might pet her too hard or harm her in some way.  I'm sure that this is because she can't see well.  She is no longer my friend barometer.  All of her senses have become dulled over time and she prefers to stay alone in her corner.  (Most people automatically go to pat her on the head and this hurts her, so she knows better now and just runs away.)

Several well-intentioned friends have asked me if I wouldn't consider humane euthanization at her age.  Although I know that they mean well, I want to hit them with my chankleta (shoe).  I know that most people see animals as animals.  And maybe they think that she is in pain and it would be merciful somehow.  Lilli doesn’t have health issues other than those that affect the elderly.  (Yet, animals deal with pain differently than humans.  They deal.  We complain.)  Would you have your grandmother killed because she’s slow and arthritic (ok, some of you might answer, “yes” for different reasons, I’m sure)?  No, Lilli will live out her life in as much comfort as I can bestow on her until it is her time as God has destined. That’s the way it's going to be.

And when that time comes, I’ve made arrangements with my friend to bury her on his property in Kabd in dignity.  She has given me so much. These are the least things I can do for her now.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Importance of Saying, "I love you."

I say, "I love you" often.  Some people believe that when you throw that word around, that you can't be very sincere.  But that's not what I believe (of course, there are exceptions - like the guys who call you, drunk, at 3 am and want to come to your house, saying I love you.  That's just BS.)

I say, "I love you" to my friends and family; to people that I truly like or have impacted my life in some positive way. I believe that love is religion.  The more you spread it, the more you'll find it; and it can be anywhere.

So, I say it when I leave and sometimes on the phone.  A lot of my friends do too.

This past week, I was very grateful that I have said, "I love you," as often as I do, to a particular friend, Ali,  who just got into a very bad motorcycle accident.  He's one of his group (of real cousins) that I call my "cousins".  Ali is a happy, sunny guy who is never down.

That is what's left of the motorcycle.  He wasn't wearing a helmet or any protective gear and I don't think he is very experienced in riding a cycle.

He's been in the ICU since Friday night.  They had him in an induced coma until they assessed how bad it was and gave his body a chance to heal.

I know a lot of people in his extended family, so most of them know me or have heard about me.  But not all.  I've been to the hospital every day to visit him and all the ladies stare at me, wondering who this blonde foreign woman is who has come to visit him.  I've met his mother now and a lot of the aunts and uncles, but it seems like every day, more people come to see him and to pray.  

Last night I was escorted to his room (window actually) in the ICU by his brother.  There were a bunch of elderly women there.  His mother wasn't there.  One of the women turned to the brother (one of my other cousins) and asked, "Who is she?" in Arabic.  I immediately responded (in Arabic), "I'm Ali's wife."  Everything stopped.  Time stood still.  Jaws dropped.  And then I started laughing.  And then they started laughing. And then I got invitations to their homes for lunch.

He will be moved soon and he'll start real treatment. It could have been a lot worse.  He didn't hit his head. His spine and legs are fine.  He had several chest punctures from metal and he broke his shoulder (the fact that it was heavily padded by steroid-induced muscles probably helped).  Last night, I saw him wiggle his toes and I was so relieved.

You never know when someone you care about will bare something traumatic.  They should know they are loved.  I'm pretty sure my cousin does.

Please say a special prayer for his recovery.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Is no place sacred anymore?! Kabd

Kuwait Times
11 May 2014
Party Raided in Kabd

KUWAIT CITY, May 10: Officers from the Moral Guidance Unit of General Investigation Department thwarted an immoral night party that was taking place inside a livestock pen (DG comment:  it probably had a pool and 10,000 KD decor)  at Kabad and arrested 32 Kuwaitis and foreigners, including drunken persons cross-dressers and tomboys. (Oh my!)

They were referred to the concerned authorities for necessary action. Security sources said police detectives received a tip-off about immoral night parties held inside the livestock pens in Kabad area and formed a team of officers under the command of Brigadier Muhammad Al-Sharhan to pursue the party-goers.

Guarded by warrant from the Public Prosecution, the livestock pen was raided by security operatives. 

Sources indicated a number of foreigners caught in the raid will be deported and legal action will be taken against others, as per directives from the Assistant Undersecretary for Criminal Affairs Major General Abdulhamid Al-Awadhi. They reiterated the raids on suspected locations will continue over an indeterminate period to stamp out vice, stressing any foreigner caught in such places will be deported.

- - - End - - -

This makes me sad.  

These guys really do wish that the party-goers in Kuwait would  leave every weekend and promote the economies of Bahrain and UAE.  That's just great.  May I make a recommendation?  BUILD A BIGGER AIRPORT.

This just in today....

Oh, ok, here is the real scoop.  It was a witch hunt for transvestites, God help them.

13 May  Kuwait Times

...  a security source said vice detectives raided a jakhour (animal pen) where homosexual parties for both genders were being organized. The source said that 32 men and women were arrested in the pen in Kabd. Liquor and women’s clothing were also confiscated.

DG Info - Personal Info on DG

A Facebook friend on my DG account asked me several questions.  Since I don't have anything like this anywhere on the blog, I thought I would post it and will probably add to it later.

Why am I living in Kuwait? 

I have known Kuwaitis for most of my life. They always made it seem like an interesting place. In 1993, I came here to visit a Kuwaiti family and I loved Kuwait. It was so different and interesting and the family embraced me like I was one of their own. I moved here in 1996 following a job offer I got on that initial visit in 1993.  (In 1996,  I was only making 600KD a month and could afford a nice place to live, a car, and I traveled often to Bahrain.  Imagine!)  

How am I handling life in Kuwait? (2014)

It is a routine now after 17 years, like you would form a routine anywhere else in the world. I work. I visit friends. I go to the beach in the summer and the desert in the winter. In between, I visit friends with several farms in Kabd and I love animals, so I try to spend time with like-minded people who have dogs like I do (I have a German Shepherd, a Maltese, and a Czech goat). 

Is life easy enough in Kuwait? 

Yes and no. It is a very lazy lifestyle (being able to have a PT maid, a PT gardener, a guy who washes my car every day, cleaners who deliver, valet parking at the grocery store, etc.) and for the most part, everything is still less expensive than in the US (with perhaps the exception of dining out – which I don’t do very often anymore because there is just too much traffic and parking lots piss me off).  It is always hard living away from your family; however.

It is VERY important to find a like-minded group of friends here who will become your support system.  I started my "group" when I met a few other single Western girls at a gym.  We got invitations and made a lot more friends.  If you don't have good friends here, you will have a hard, lonely life.

Has it become much harder to live in Kuwait?

Yes. I think that foreigners who have lived in Kuwait for as long as I have, have seen the changes. The cost of living is higher (you used to be able to get a shawarma for about .250 fils) and there really aren’t cost of living increases or a true desire by employers to want to change with the times. For example, cost of living wage increases, true salary surveys for similar job categories in the country, etc.

The traffic is horrible now.   I don’t think you can “blame” foreigners for the increase of traffic problems; however, it is inevitable that now that Kuwait is a safe country to live in (Saddam is no longer a threat and Kuwait is not considered a semi-combat-zone), more people are going to come. It is now a global village:  people move around!   I think the Kuwaiti government is to blame for the traffic problems as ANY country should have developed mass transportation plans years ago and implemented them by now. Look at the advances that Dubai has made, for example. Urban planning is imperative and Kuwait hasn’t lived up to its potential. 

On the other hand....

When I first came here in 1993, the big clothing store was "Fashion Way" (Where BHS is housed now in the building next to The Sultan Center in Salmiya).  The malls were Laila Gallery and (one down the same street that I can't remember right now).  Most people still shopped for quality clothing overseas (during their summer vacations) or at local souqs.  Hard to believe that now, you can find almost anything you want in Kuwait.  From that aspect, life here has gotten better.

In 1996 when I first arrived, most people still weren't using the internet.  No e-mail.  Everybody still had pagers in Kuwait and mobile phone prices were still really high (service prices and the hardware).  So communicating with my family was difficult.  Even getting to my family was more difficult because the only direct flights to the US were on Kuwait ScAirways - and I would have to go through New York, which I hated to do.

Integrity, Gratitude, and Karma

I have a lot of acquaintances and I get asked for a lot of help.  (In my real life, not here in virtual world.)  Last year, a friend and his family asked* me to help him find a job.(I’m going to call him “bear” because that’s what his car is called in Arabic.)
*I don't want to say "begged" because that would appear OTT and narcissistic, but seriously, that’s what they did.

So, being the good friend that I am (also known as “sucker,” “pushover,” and sometimes, “door mat”), I worked on his resume for him, mentored him on what he should do/say in an interview, gave him advice.  He got the job....

And then he started asking the company for more.  More salary.  More benefits.  More perks.  He got more.  And no, he was not grateful.  It was simply about getting what he could out of it.  

In Kuwait, this is a pervasive, fast-moving parasitic virus known as “Masla7a” or benefiting from or using others.  This virus took hold in Kuwait following the liberation of Kuwait in 1991.  It wasn’t really prevalent before.  Many people don’t even know that they have it.  It lies dormant and suddenly, they become Masla7a.

Let me pause here to say that I am a FIRM believer in the power of gratitude.  If someone does something for you; you’d better be grateful.  It isn’t between you and that person; it is between you and God.  You are blessed.  It didn’t happen all by itself.  There was a higher power pushing it along.  I send thank-you notes and little gifts.  If there is a job that I really want, I sent flowers to the interview team.  I don’t take this stuff lightly.  If there is one prayer you should say, it is “Thank You.”  God watches and listens.

So, along the way, Bear asked for more and got more.  He didn’t have to work very long hours.  He got to take his company car home.  He even asked for and was granted English courses.  Never grateful.

Then he got a better job; something that he has always wanted to do.  (Again, this kind of thing doesn’t happen by itself.  God is blessing you and testing you at the same time.  How will you react?  Will you do the right thing or the wrong thing?) 

He gave 4 day’s notice when he resigned.  4 days.  The law in Kuwait is 90 days.  Because he is of a nationality that does not require him to be sponsored by the company, they couldn’t hold him with that.  They may be able to pursue legal action and I don’t know if they will choose to do that.  Bear asked me if the company might ask for him to repay 3 months’ salary.  I told him that if they did, it was a result of his own actions.

I helped him get this job and the people in the company know me.  It is my reputation; but that didn’t matter to Bear.  All he thought about was his, “Big chance.” And how fast he could get there.

I had a chat with Bear about karma and ethics.  It was like talking to a brick wall.  I see companies not as institutions of employment, but a group of people.  Bear hurt humans in his actions; people that gave him a chance and believed in him (like me).  I worry about his soul.  I’m sure my reputation will endure this.  But everything you do comes back to you; good or bad.  It all has ripple effect.  Bear will eventually acknowledge this.

He has burnt a bridge.  Well, Kuwait is small, so in reality, he has burnt a lot of bridges because people talk.  He can’t ask anyone for help at the company.  It’s done.  And if the company he is going to work for is even slightly professional, they’ll ask for (and check!) a reference and he won’t be able to provide one.  People talk in diwaniyas.  What happens if he is terminated during his upcoming 90-day probation period?  There’s no going back now.

I saw Bear’s family.  They blamed me for not helping Bear resign; for not helping convince the company to let him go without any repercussion.  They thought, wrongly and stupidly, that I was trying to force him to stay at the company.  Why would I do that when all I ever did was try to help him?  Of course I want him to excel, but do it the RIGHT WAY.  Again, no gratitude (I didn't get pink roses, I got a bunch of angry people shouting at me and telling me that I was wrong not to help him MORE.)  They pray.  They fast.  They’re not grateful.  I can’t help them with that (or anything else ever again).

Like I tell my friends, you can call me what you want, but I believe in helping people because that is between myself and God.  If they let me down, it is their own personal relationship (test) with God.  They have had a choice to make and I move on knowing that I did the right thing.  

(This post sounds very mature and gracious, doesn't it?  In reality, I did a lot of cussing and BMCing to my girlfriends and actually had an ugly cry.  It isn't easy to lose friends - especially in a shitty way like this.  Masla7a people suck and there's no cure!)

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Kuwaiti Police Officers Sentenced to ONE YEAR of Prison After Kidnapping/Assaulting Woman

And now, for more anti-woman news from Kuwait....

Kuwait Times
7 May 2014
Officers jailed for kidnapping a woman

Kuwait: In other news, the Court of Misdemeanor sentenced two police officers to one year in prison after they were found guilty of using a patrol vehicle to commit a crime. The policemen were convicted of kidnapping a woman. The Asian housemaid said that the officers forced her into the car when she came out of her employer’s house to take out the trash. The officers argued that they caught the woman because she was nervous which made them grew suspicious, adding that they took her to the police station for an identity check. Despite the investigations which ruled out any criminal intent on the officer’s part, the court convicted them based on the forensic department report which shows bruises on different places on her body.

- - - end - - -

ONE YEAR in prison for kidnapping a woman?  WTF?!  And the most important part of this story, as appears in the newspaper, is that they were guilty of using a patrol vehicle - NOT that they kidnapped and assaulted a woman!

Hey, no wonder violent crime is on the rise in Kuwait when you have the very people entrusted in protecting the community turning to violent crime - and basically getting away with it with a slap on the wrist. I wonder if they'll get their jobs back at the end of the year?  Oh but wait... it is all okay because she was an Asian domestic worker, right?  

Teleban Tagger Tactics: Targeting Women in Kuwait

Photo credits:  Kuwaitiful Blog
The graffiti reads "dating".

I've seen these photos on Instagram, but I didn't know what they were (because I'm illiterate and don't read Arabic).  Then yesterday,  I read about this on Kuwaitiful's Blog (LINK HERE) and this has really disturbed me.  No one has the right to go vigilante and judge the morality of anyone based on their sick sense of logic.

Here's the scoop:

Typically, dating in Kuwait (especially between Kuwaitis) takes place discreetly:  Sometimes a man and a woman meet at a location and the woman parks her car and gets into the man's car and they go off together somewhere.  They might just be driving around (tamesha) talking or going to get a shawarma - who knows?
So some idiot/s have started vandalizing women's cars; targeting women as villains.

(Most likely it isn't the case, HOWEVER;)  Couldn't it be that her brother is picking her up to go somewhere together?  Couldn't it be her father or cousin or uncle or friend?  Are they having intercourse in the car?  Are they violating any laws?  And first and foremost


This is like saying that a woman who wears a mini-skirt is asking to be raped.  No one has the right to do something like this. Who are these people to judge anyone?

So do we now all have to install webcams and security systems around our cars?  If someone is breaking the law - bring it to the police's attention.  If it is a question of morals and what you think is right or wrong, make sure your own house is in order:   raise your own children well (these taggers weren't)  and try to do something positive to change your society legally; rather than this!

I hope that these are isolated incidents (maybe by scorned lovers, a jealous woman, or others who know the women, seeking revenge).  Regardless, I think this is dangerous and I hope that the police are taking it seriously.  You never know if these types of extremists (because that's what they are if they have actually pre-planned the acts) will do more to escalate.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Middle Eastern Cooking Classes from AWARE Center

(Repost from Life in Kuwait LINK HERE)

Food of the Middle East brings with it a variety of exotic flavors. While some dishes will be fragrant others will be spicy, delicate or at times, even syrupy. From dates, saffron, rose petals and orange blossom to cardamom or cumin - these are but a few of the ingredients comprising the fascinating cuisine of the Middle East. Join us at the AWARE Center to learn more about Middle Eastern food from our cooks. The 4-week course starts Thursday May 8 & ends on May 29, 2014. Course Time: 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Course Fee: K.D. 25 per person Limited seats. Advance registration required at

Here is my wish list of dishes I hope they would teach: Mutabag Zubeidi and Murrubbian.  I can make both, but I want to get better at it.

Monday, May 05, 2014

New Marks & Spencer Store in Salmiya

I recently went to the new Marks & Spencer store in Salmiya.  I love M&S and their clothes actually fit me in the right places.  The new store is awesome; very spacious (unlike the former Salmiya store).  The men's shop occupies most of the top floor and I've never seen such a selection of quality men's suits before in Kuwait.  The new M&S cafe looked interesting;  We didn't eat there, but the prices were good with a lot of menu items under 1KD (rare these days for a quality restaurant here).  It is large and airy and was not very busy when we went.

I apologize for the quality of some of the photos.  I'll have to go back and take better ones.

The new M&S store is on Fahad Al-Salem Street between American University of Kuwait and the Missouni/Symphony complex.

View from the top floor

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Dealing with Back Pain in Kuwait

2 weeks ago, I woke up to very bad back pain.   It was so bad that I found it very difficult to drive myself to the doctor (and then wait in a waiting room full of horribly uncomfortable chairs to see someone).  I’ve had back pain for a long time; as long as I can remember, but it has never been this bad. 

Several years ago, after a trip to the US, I went to a general practitioner here at International Clinic for back pain.  He asked me to walk around the room and told me that I probably had more exercise in the US than I normally have here, and I should take hot showers before going to bed.  Okey dokey.  Did that. Doans pills out the wazoo, hot water bottles, Thermacare pads (LOVE THEM).... Seemed to help. 
Desert Girl's friends
So, with this new terrible pain, I went back to the same GP (because my wonderful doctor is on vacation) who again said it was muscle pain; gave me muscle relaxers and some low-dose pain killers and sent me on my way. (Like so many, "take this pill and it will be ok.")   I was still hurting a few days later, but again, thought it was just muscle pain.  A week later, I went back to him and he did an X-ray.  He read the results to me (while SMSing the entire time!) and said, “I know, right?  I was surprised when I saw it too....”  after noticing that my jaw was on the floor.  (SMS, SMS....).  WTF.  I could see clearly that I had a slipped disc.  It was out of line with the others.  Sheeeeeeeet.  He sent me off to Seef Hospital for an MRI.

Anyhoo, I like Seef Hospital. Everyone from the floor cleaners to the top doctors were friendly (with the exception of one very mean receptionist on the 3rd floor).  It is clean, they have good equipment, they take my insurance.  BAM.  Plus, unlike International Clinic, there aren’t 4000 screaming, crying, snotty kids around.  There were, however, a lot of Americans (insurance, I guess) having very interesting Oprah-esque conversations that I tuned into; many about the differences and similarities of US-Kuwait cultures.  (Quite enjoyable while drinking my Starbuck's latte from the lobby and munching on codeine.)

Side note:  Why is it that when hospitals or clinics know that they have sick patients (especially when you are going somewhere for orthopaedic stuff), they have crappy, uncomfortable, bad-for-you chairs in their waiting rooms?  WTF.  Make an investment!
Did the MRI and within a few days, I had the result.  GP Dude told me I have a fractured disc, ordered me, accusingly, to “lose weight!”  and  told me to go to Seef Hospital to see an orthopedic surgeon.  (Thanks for your friendly advice that I didn’t know before, in-between your personal SMSs....).  Do I need surgery?  Is this going to be life-altering?  Is this pain going to last?  OMG.   

I went to my car and cried for 20 minutes.  What the hell am I going to do with the 3 closets full of sexy high heels (priorities, right)?  How am I going to jet ski this summer?  Can I keep my low-to-the-ground sports car?  What about walking my big dog?   Eeek. 

Back to Seef for the orthopaedic dude.  No appointments were available, so I went in as a walk-in.  (Again, refer to side note above – shitty chairs!) Nurses took my vitals, weighed me, checked my height, and  2 hours later, I got to see dude.  Luckily, he wasn’t SMSing.  He had me walk around, he looked at my MRI.

First, Can you believe that I have shrunk by like 3 centimeters?  WTF!  Maybe it is just the conversion difference between metric and imperial; let us pray.  I’m too short to be shrinking.  Say it aint so.  And no heels?  WTF.

So dude didn’t do extensive testing.  He just looked at my MRI and told me how bad it was (fractured disc) and that I should start physiotherapy right away at their hospital.   He had me walk a little.  Told me no back brace (it weakens the back muscles when you really need to strengthen them and your core muscles)  and told me to wear heels between 2-3cm (no higher than 5cm).  At least I get SOME heel.  Yippee.   He also handed me a little Xeroxed paper with “Sketchers – foam inserts” on it, so I believe he is getting promotional fees from the only sketchers store in Kuwait. Ok granted,  I’m a sucker for marketing and I know it is blatantly obvious that it’s a plug, but I’m going to buy them anyways. Phuckit phuckit phuckit.    He said no jet skiing until I had a 6-pack like Arnold (I haven’t seen Arnold recently...  do you think his abs have gone flab?)

After-note:  I am not impressed by the care I received at Al-Seef after several visits now.  (As my friend, Bobarino says, "Million dollar airport; 25 cent control tower."  Nice facility, but ....)  The ortho was not thorough and left me with more doubts/worries than I should have had (after waiting to see him with no updates from mean receptionist for 2 hours).  I accidentally left my file; they found it and held it at the reception desk and no one ever called me - I hunted it down by physically going there.  The ortho receptionist was rude and unwelcoming.  They never called me back regarding my physiotherapy (details, and if it was covered under insurance).  When I went back and discussed with the insurance rep at the hospital, he took a personal call in the middle of my conversation and acted like I wasn't sitting there.  I went to the patient care rep to explain all of this and she just kept telling me that "Physiotherapy is in the basement."  I filled out a complaint form.  She said they would call and guess what - THEY DIDN'T.  Obviously, they don't need my insurance money.  Thank you.

And then, and then, and then....

God works in mysterious and wonderful ways....

I have a friend who is known to be the best radiologist in Kuwait.  I haven’t seen him in about 10 years (which is RIDONCULOUS because we used to be such close friends and I truly adore him).   So, I called him to see if he could read my MRI and get a 2nd/3rd opinion.  Turns out that he has another specialty in orthopaedics.  I didn’t know.  Thank you, God.

His waiting room at Dar Al Shifa Hospital kind of freaked me out.  My djinnis don’t like the big religious experience being pushed upon me; and my djinnis started to make me shaky... there were a lot of beardo’s and ninjas and stares.  Oh my.

So when I finally got in, he read the MRI and then had me do some tests; bending over chairs (was that really necessary or might he have a thing for me?), stress tests on my toes, etc . I asked him if I should take off all my clothes (he’s really handsome). (I do this everywhere – even at the dentist.  If I’m going to be uncomfortable, why shouldn’t they?)    He told me that both me and my friend who went with me should take our clothes off.  Ha ha.   Gave his nurse some giggles.   He then handed me a DVD which contained all the exercises/advice (proactive doctor – way to go!)  I would need and told me to join a gym with aquarobics for 3 months.  He said that I was probably born with a defect in that disc (my mom now blames herself) and that I’ve probably had chronic pain my whole life (which I have, but I thought was normal) and that I've just had a bad episode several weeks ago that should pass.  He said even without the physiotherapy or aquarobics, that I would probably feel better anyways in a few weeks with muscle relaxers.  I asked him about shoes and he said I can wear high heels as soon as I’m not in pain anymore.  Whew.  There IS hope!

If anyone needs an outstanding orthopaedic guy, Dr. Tariq Sinan at Dar al Shifa is THE only one I will ever recommend in Kuwait.  I have also heard outstanding things about a man named Adam Harris at Wholistic Health who does physiotherapy.  I have an appointment to go see him later this month.  Does anyone know where they have acquarobics in Kuwait?

Y’alls  know me – I’m a big emotional mess so this has been nothing but one big pity party for me.  It’s all ok.  Sometimes you need to take a few steps back I guess.  Sometimes your true friends reveal themselves when you need them; and there is a time for others to fall by the wayside (Springtime is all about renewal....)

Over the weekend, I was supposed to take Mikey to the obedience school.  It was a big event because I haven't really left the house much.   I have been having trouble taking him out for exercise and now that this disc thang has been diagnosed, dude can’t be pulling my back out of whack.  He needs to learn to listen.  He’s just too big and powerful.

First thing that happened was my car broke down for the first time ever.  It overheated before I ever got out of the neighbourhood (took it by tow truck to a mechanic I know in Shuwaikh and he fixed the water pump in 3 hours).  It’s like someone has cursed me.  Sheeeeet.

My friend (that's right - we're just in the frickin FRIEND ZONE)  came over and drove me and Mike the 45 minutes (he drives like a grandmother) up to where the school is.  I had an appointment to drop Mike off.  Get this:  the trainer dude never answered the phone!  (He called later after we spent almost an hour driving around Kabd waiting.  I was mad to say the least.)   I still feel like the guy is the best in Kuwait, so I am going to give him another try, but I’m concerned now.  I didn’t know (couldn’t remember because I only went there once at night) where the school was, so I couldn’t go bang on the door.  Mikey is so damn smart (cunning, conniving, manipulating) that he’ll learn stuff in no time.  I just worry because he is SERIOUSLY a big, whiny mama’s boy.  I think I’m going to be like my sister was when my nephew first went off to overnight camp; on a rooftop nearby with night-vision goggles and camo, checking to see if he’s hydrated...  He’s got to get obedience training, seriously:   I bought several pairs of new flat shoes and the little shyt managed to open my armoire and eat 3 pairs!  What IS it with dogs and shoes?  He has about $300 worth of chewy toys and yet any shoe, it’s on.  Whyyyyyy?  I’ll buy the Skechers as soon as I’m ok to walk into a mall without pain issues. He better not eat them too or it’s ON.

I'm going to start physiotherapy and hopefully aquarobics.  When I'm done, I'm going to be able to do this and get back to contortions (She looks like a fun gal, right?)