Monday, July 31, 2017

Dear Expat-Bashers

And I might add:  Specifically those in law-making positions:

Kuwait National unity law number 19/2012,  includes “criminalizing any form of agitation and incitement of public through any means, instigating hatred and disdain towards any sect, initiating sectarian or tribal crises, and publishing ideologies to encourage racial, class or group discrimination or the superiority of a certain race, group, color, origin, doctrine or lineage to others.” The law also penalizes whoever commits such a crime by “a maximum of seven years in prison and/or a KD 10,000-100,000 fine.”

What are your intentions, young man?

Well, I should say, "older man."

In my 22 years in Kuwait, I've had 2 relationships where I was head-over-heels, madly in love.  That's not to say that I haven't had other relationshits, but these 2 were the biggest and meant the most to me.

It's easy to find "love" (or a perception/idea of "love") in Kuwait.  When you first come here, if you are dating someone from the Arab culture, you are charmed by all the flowery words, even poetry, that you hear.  They make it sound as if they've never seen a woman like you.  But you quickly realize that that's the culture: everything is OTT and you're not so special.  All the females are special.  And princesses.  You're just girl-of-the-moment waiting to be won over (and most likely, inevitably "screwed over" at some point in the future).  The same flowery poetry that he's quoting to you, he's quoting to the next few females he calls or texts.  Or picks up in his car driving down the street.  Or meets in the mall.  Or at work.  Or standing in line at the co-op.  Whatever.

When I first came here, I loved the hunt.  I wasn't into anything serious.  It was fun (and an ego boost) to go out and see how many numbers that I could go home with.  More than likely, never to be called.  It was a game.  Hunting on the Gulf Road on a weekend night with my BFF was what we looked forward to.

But somewhere either I got older and more jaded to it, or realized what a tiresome and even cheap game it was.  It  lost its appeal. I didn't care about the ego boost.  The novelty had run its course.

So, I met the occasional potential through going to parties with friends.  But that lost it's lure too.  The music was too loud.  The smoke was too thick.  The lights were too low.  You couldn't talk to anyone and even if you did, they were more about hooking up for the night with the hoochies in the room than talking to respectfully-dressed good-friends-of -their-good-friends.

And my good guy friends who had guy friends kind of put the block on anything. Their guy friends wouldn't go near me for fear of offending my "brothers."  They would sit there and give me longing eyes all night, ask a few questions about me and then I might or might not see them the next weekend when the group got together for barbecues or whatever.  It took me a long time to realize that I wasn't the one with the problem (was I too ugly or too something or what?); potential guys weren't talking to me because it was ayeb:  the Arab brother respect code.

So, back to my story about intentions and the 2 long-term relationships:

The Man:  He showed me his intentions within the first 2 months of meeting.  "I WILL marry you."  Followed by a ring.   I had met most of his group of friends by then.  To be followed by his family - including his sisters (mother and father were dead).  We started talking about having kids. We lasted on/off for about 6 years, but we had a major issue:  He was already married.  (Say what you will about me, but she knew and I like her a lot.)  I just couldn't do the second wife thing and the logistics are really hard!  We tried for a while, but it just wasn't happening.  To this day, I love his kids and we send messages once in a while. His wife is a dear person and I wish her well and I hope that they're happy.  He and I no longer speak and that is probably for the best.  Although I miss his advice and his sense of humor and perspective on life.

Why was he different?  Because he made me feel secure from the start.  I was included in his life with family (even though ok it was weird by Western standards).  Some of his friends didn't approve of our relationship and he stood up for me.  I felt secure with him.

Mr. Clean (who I later referred to as Mr. Dirty or something like that):  He showed his intentions within the first 2 months of meeting also.  This time, he didn't ask me to marry him, he started with his father, the head of the family.  Then I was invited to their home to meet everyone (and to get their approval).  I think inevitably, his father loved me more than Clean ever did.  We hit it off immediately and he told Clean to marry me.  We dated on/off for about 3 years, but we had a major issue:  He is a cheating, lying, money-stealing asshole.  (Tell us how you really feel, DG.) I caught him at too many things.  He eventually got away with around 2,000 KD of my money which I haven't been able to recover, and asked me to buy him a Lexus.

Why was he different (in the beginning)?  Same reason.  I was not only included, but immersed in his family life. His sister was a best friend.  All the little kids in the family loved me.  I knew his whole extended family and they all accepted me.  It was about security.

So here I am now.  I have someone in my life that doesn't make me feel secure. This guy literally walked through my door with a big smile on his face.  He is a cousin of my dear friends.  It started off like a honeymoon, but at this point,  I don't know if his parents even know about me.  "When someone tells you who they are; believe them":  He has also told me that he doesn't want to get married for 10 years.

And look - let me just stop right here and say that I'm not a big fan of marriage.  I sincerely admire people who can make it work, but I haven't seen a lot of that and I can only pray that I'm that kind of person who can make it work.  But I know I have a short Aries/Irish fuse and it isn't always pretty. Regardless:  It's about the intention.  It is about knowing that you want to be with someone for the long run (regardless of the "type" of marriage or how it will turn out).

So when I don't get the security I want, my mind and my heart start to wander.  Faith is a bad thing to lose in someone. It has a domino affect that makes other pieces fall.  He has redeeming qualities:  He's faithful and loyal and my family loves him (he's Arab-American and works for my family's business). He's got his security, but I don't.  ... and he's starting to fall off my radar.  And that's where I'm at.

Disclaimer:  After  Clean,  I took a vow to stop having relationships and concentrate on my dog and K9 training. To set the story straight:  My dog is still the most important man in my life.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Female Expat Beaten at Animal Hospital

I don't know if you've seen the film clip being circulated on social media, but it is a short video taken in Royal Animal Hospital in Rai.  A man in dishtasha was arguing with a blonde lady at the reception desk, when he suddenly spits in her face (not once, not twice, but three times) before taking off his aghal and hitting her with it.

Lovely and oh so respectful.  To a woman.

Then, other staff members joined in trying to usher the man out of the hospital lobby, wherein the man's wife suddenly jumped in on the action and started beating people.  Classy.

All of this is recorded on a variety of their CCTV cameras (his furious face clearly visible)- and turned over to the police.  The man has since been arrested and the whole country is abuzz over how despicable his actions were.

Person held for beating receptionist in animal hospitalArab Times KuwaitKUWAIT CITY, July 15: An unidentified person wearing the national dress has been detained for interrogation for beating a female receptionist at a hospital in Kuwait that is taking care of animals, reports Al- Qabas daily. The incident has been recorded by the hospital’s surveillance camera. The man appears angry and is seen asking something to the receptionist before attacking her and other hospital staff with his Oqal. The man reportedly got angry when the receptionist, angry at the man’s behavior asked him to leave. It is not known why the man turned angry.

So here is my point:  If the people at the highest levels of lawmaking (parliament members) in the country are going to incite hatred of expats, I expect more of this type of behavior from the dredges of society who have now been validated to express their racial hatred publicly.  (I can say the same of the top politicians of my own country as well of course.)  I do find it rather ironic (appropriate even?) that the 2-legged animals chose to manifest their violence in a 4-legged animal venue, however.  The 4-legged animals were well behaved and did not partake in the mayhem.

God save civilization.

Canine Clubs in Kuwait: Trash Talk and More

I'm not naming names, but OMG the drama that goes on in the dog clubs in Kuwait.  I try to equally promote different canine clubs and activities because I think everyone is working towards the same goal: education and promotion of the sport in Kuwait.  They've made huge strides over the years and there is a lot more dog-ownership and subsequent service business operation in the country.  But... everybody talks trash about each other.  It is constant.  In general (like many other aspects of our community), there is no unity.  It is sad. And it is occasionally just downright vicious.

There is a huge row going on right now and legal action is being taken.  I'm going to be intentionally vague but I'll give you a metaphorical anecdote as to the situation:

Once upon a time, there was a shop owner.  He bought the shop and paid for it with his own money. Kept it running for years.  Everybody enjoyed the benefits of the shop and people enjoyed visiting to get advice.   Over time, several people volunteered at the shop.  Perhaps some of the visitors even liked the volunteers better. They did great work.  They brought in more customers.  Everything was going well until....

The volunteers decided to take over the shop and claim it as their own.  They went to (the equivalent of) the city council and said, "We held an election and everyone decided it is ours now." and suddenly, the shop keeper was no longer welcome in his own place.

Now, it is great that the volunteers are doing so much.  Everyone welcomes their hard work and dedication.  However, if the shop is not yours; why not just open another shop and go into friendly competition?  Why is it necessary to use the same branding as the man's shop and to push him out of something that he has built, paid for and is legally his?

As a strong believer in karma (and hey "what's right and what's wrong" for that matter), I'm waiting with popcorn in hand to see how this is going to play out.  Such drama. Such a small country.  I'm rooting for the shop keeper.  At the same time, I hope that the volunteers will start their own organization and get on with it.

August 2, 2017 Update

So now there are lawyers in both Germany and Kuwait involved.  Karma may come sooner than expected for some.  And it is getting nastier.  Fake social media accounts have been created with photos taken from others' Facebook accounts.  Bad accusations, etc.   I'm watching with popcorn in hand.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Labor Hotline: Kuwait Society for Human Rights

Arab Times
July 12, 2017

KUWAIT CITY, July 11: Kuwait Society for Human Rights has launched a “hotline 22215150” to raise awareness of migrant workers in Kuwait of their various legal rights and duties. Khalid Al-Hamidi, Chairman of the board of Kuwait Society for Human Rights, said that the hotline operates in five different languages: “Arabic, English, Filipino, Hindi and Urdu” in order to receive as many inquiries as possible about labor laws, ministerial decisions and legal procedures to protect rights.
He pointed out that this contributes to the reduction of abuses and violations that occur against migrant workers. He also added, “Through the hotline, legal advice can be sought as it will be answered by specialized experts and it provides a service of responding to all the migrant workers’ questions on laws and procedures concerning labor rights”.

He pointed out that the hotline received many complaints, including: “cancellation and transfer, recovery of passport, claim for financial dues, final cancellation of travel and a number of problems faced by migrant workers.” He said that, during the past period 802 complaints have been received of which 259 are of cancellation and transfer, 175 of claims for financial dues, 122 of passport recovery, 78 of malicious absence, 68 of work suspension without payment, 46 of final cancellation of travel with claim for financial dues, 38 of violation of contract items by the employer to increase working hours more than stipulated in the Labor Law and 16 of work injury. He noted that the complaints were distributed according to the language into “243 in Hindi, 101 in Urdu, 306 in Arabic and 152 in English.” 

The hotline is one of the activities of the project “Together to educate migrant workers in Kuwait”, which is being implemented in partnership with the Embassy of the Netherlands in Kuwait to educate workers in Kuwait on their legal rights and mitigate the violations they face as most of them result from the workers’ lack of knowledge of their rights.

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I think this is a great step in the right direction.  It's also fabulous that a foreign country (The Netherlands) has stepped in and helped implement this project for Kuwait.  Outstanding work.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Tanfastic Salon

The former owner of Tanfastic Salon, Maja, asked me many years ago to stop by and I never did.  Maja has sold it and moved on.  Last night, I finally went in for a mani/pedi and spray tan.  They're located right behind Fanar Mall in Salmiya.

It's a nice salon in black, white and grey colors, with half a dozen professional pedicure chairs with massage.  Those chairs are a huge selling point for me.  I literally hate being bent over a tub of water to have someone do my feet.  It is much more relaxing to be able to recline and have the chair massage me.

I asked for a French shallac mani and a regular French pedi.  Great job on the hands.  The feet - not so much.  Two different ladies working on feet and hands. I don't think the pedi lady knew what she was doing.  She put on one coat of base first and then the white line.  She seemed totally mystified when she went back to do the second base coat, covering the white line, as to why you couldn't see it anymore.  WTF?!  I've also never had a pedicure when Vaseline was applied on the wet nails directly after.

Great Shallac mani.  No issues. She knew her stuff.

There were several other customers coming and going and the mani/pedi took FOREVER to finish because these 2 ladies were the only ones working there!  They constantly stopped to answer the phone or to help other customers.  I have a feeling if Maja was still there, things would have gone differently.

The spray tan was probably the best I've ever had anywhere on any continent (in terms of product).  Streak free and the lady (same one doing the pedi) has 8 years experience.  I didn't come out orange and the coverage is great.  I had a few small issues with the procedure - mainly that it took so long and I had to stand naked in front of a house fan for 30+ minutes, left alone, until it dried. Also, something to think about:  If you are large-breasted, you're going to need to bring a tube or strapless bra to hold up the girls to have the undercarriage sprayed; otherwise, you will end up with "D" shaped white areas underneath.  Not cool.

The main issue that I had with the spray tan was the environment.  Holy shit.  The room itself is fine, but the door they have is frosted glass with lines of transparency through them.  And no door lock. I was more exposed at this salon than I ever have been at my GYN's office, so the least they could do would be to have decent privacy for customers.  While I was there, other customers were walking by the door and looking in at me holding up the twins, buck neked.  To make matters worse, anytime the spray lady walked out of the room, she obviously got great joy in leaving the door open so anyone walking by could see me standing there - either holding my boobies (for an hour in total) or spread-eagle standing in front of the fan.  That is just WRONG.  (If you go there, bring a roll of masking tape so  you can cover the transparent parts on the door.)   I shouted at her finally to close the door and so she then left me standing there for (no joke) 40 minutes while she went to change out of her uniform to go home for the day (no doubt, SHE changed somewhere with better privacy).  It is a large salon and there were no other customers so I guess she didn't hear me calling her.  A lot.  And loud.

Spray Lady recommended (3-4 times actually) that I get into the UV tan machine to dry off the spray.  I explained to her (3-4 times actually) that skin cancer runs in my family and that if I didn't go out in the sun because I don't want to destroy my skin - why should I get into a UV tan machine??  Right.Over.Her.Head.

Sidenote:  Women (mostly Kuwaiti) who go to the UV tan machine more than the recommended 15 minutes per day:  Are you fricking CRAZY?!  Do you know how bad that is for you?  Do you have any idea how bad you are going to look later in life (that is IF you survive the cancer)?  OMG.  There was one woman who came into the salon and the workers told me that she comes in 2 times a day for 30 minute sessions.  Her skin is going to look like leather.  And then they're going to have to cut out those basil cells with a scalpel and she'll have big chunks of skin missing.  I had no idea that people were still that stupid.  But hey - nothing should surprise me anymore.

So now I have a dilema; go back for more great tan (with a roll of masking tape and something to keep the door closed), or never to return.  Does anyone have recommendations of other spray tanning salons that are good?