Tuesday, October 21, 2014

No Duuh


Old News, But Here Ya Go...

Kuwait Ranks Last In List Of Best World Nations For Expats To Live‘Inter-Nations Connecting Global Minds’ Issues Report

KUWAIT CITY, Oct 7: Kuwait has been ranked last in the list of best countries in the world for expatriates to live and work, based on a report titled ‘Expats Insider Survey 2014’ issued by the ‘Inter- Nations Connecting Global Minds’, which is the first international community for expatriates, reports Al-Qabas daily.

According to the report, the survey rates different countries based on the quality of life, employment, social relations, entertainment and financial benefits for the expatriates.
Kuwait was placed in 61st position internationally after Qatar, Greece and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The main reason for Kuwait’s rate is the decrease in the individual happiness index of expatriates. Settling in Kuwait is not at all easy for the expatriates in Kuwait. It is also not easy to make lasting friendship or even feel at home in Kuwait.

Only five percent of the respondents admitted that they feel like they are in their own country while they are in Kuwait while only 7 percent said it is easy to make lasting friendships in Kuwait. Regarding the quality of life, Kuwait was placed in the second last position.

Kuwait was placed in the 60th position in terms of entertainment options for expatriates, and in 50th position in terms of traveling and moving around in the country.

Ranked 

Kuwait was ranked 59th in the health, safety and care aspects while it was last in terms of balance between work and life for the expatriates. It was placed in the 60th position in terms of work and employment, and in 36th position in terms of job security.

The report ranked Kuwait at 56th position regarding financial benefits for expatriates and its value to cater for the family while it was placed in 47th position in terms of the living standards. In addition, expatriates in Kuwait are considered to have the highest working hours in a week, as they work an average of 44.8 hours per week while expatriates in UAE work 45.6 hours per week, 44.8 hours in Qatar and 44.3 hours in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. According to the report, expatriates enjoy least working hours in Ecuador, Israel, France, Norway, Australia and Costa Rica.

Regarding the cost of accommodation, Kuwait is among the countries worldwide with most expensive accommodation costs for expatriates besides Hong Kong, Singapore, Luxemburg and Qatar. The cheapest countries for expatriates in terms of accommodation cost are Ecuador, Hungary, Thailand, Mexico and Egypt.

In this regard, 21 percent of expatriates in Kuwait claimed that the accommodation cost in Kuwait is very high while only 4 percent consider the rents as acceptable. Regarding the Expats Insider Survey, it uses a methodology that focuses on the quality of life and ranks over 60 countries based on a variety of factors such as leisure, travel and transportation, health and safety, as well as personal happiness.


What’s happening in the wonderful world of US government contracting (Kuwait)

So, since 2003, I’ve been piddlin around with USG/military contracting. 

My fascination (or complete lack thereof – because truth-be-told, it is kind of a snooze fest)  started in the winter/early Spring of 2003.  One of my Kuwaiti friends invited me to lunch at his camp in Southern Kuwait, close to Wafra.  It was a gorgeous day; the sky was blue.  Small plants (afraj) poked their heads through the sand.  We sat in an original bait shaar tent (camels hair and open on one side).  No one was around.  You could just hear the sound of wind and occasionally their herd of camels calling out to each other.  We ate barbecued meat and drank camels milk and tea.  It was lovely.

Ya know – I shoulda known my friend had something up his dishtasha sleeve….

I looked out over the hills to see 2 beautiful white (not horses, but) Mercedes sedans, b-lining it to the tent.  Mohammed said with a smile, “Oh, I want you to meet my friend from Saudi Arabia…” (they had just driven up from Dammam to make my acquaintance).

For the next hour, I was bombarded with questions (meeting venue:  Front seat of one of those giant sedans) about my work background and how we might be able to do business together.  Turns out Saudi friend owns the agency rights to (a large American vehicle company) and wants to work with the military.  Now, to this very point, at this very camp, I had never had any introduction to military contracting.  All I now knew was that I was armed with a whole bunch of company profiles, some stationary, and was told to go to Camp Doha and find the contracting people to see what contracts they had.

In early ’03, you could walk right up to Camp Doha and see what they had.  I asked around and found out who the main contracting guy was.  I said I wanted to work with them leasing or selling trucks.  Just so happened that Heavy Lift 1 (can you believe it! I think they are now on 7 or 8) had just been put out for bid.  They handed me a 10 paged hard-copy RFP.  (These days, everything is done through a website and you will probably never meet a contracting officer in person.)

I took the information back to Saudi Friend and asked him how he wanted me to proceed.  A week later, he called back and said he had decided not to work with the military.  This coulda been for several reasons:  Most likely he didn’t want to work with someone as inexperienced as I was; or perhaps my job of finding the contact was complete; or perhaps he was a total dumbass and had the opportunity to do big business and dropped it.  I never followed up to find out.  Whatever.

So all of a sudden, I was getting job offers left and right from Kuwaiti friends and companies who wanted an American face to sell their stuff/services to the military.  It was a free-for-all and ethics weren’t a consideration (to the employers).  They sure as Hell have always been a consideration to me, which is why I am still poor and didn’t take any of those easy-come-easy go-to-jail jobs. (If you are American and represent a company and are charged with wrongdoing, you are going to jail.  If you are a foreigner without a green card - not likely).

I’ve seen some extreeeemely unethical stuff since 2003.  I was invited to “drive up to Balad” in May of 2003 (an ADVENTURE!  It’s on!  I didn’t tell my mom) in a Toyota Prada.  I went with another Kuwaiti friend who was selling light stands/generators to a contracting officer.  I stocked up on food and water at Sultan Center.  My friend laughed at me; saying we wouldn’t need any of it (we used everything).   The light stands were shipped up separately by truck.  Another American was along for the ride (he spent the entire trip laying down in the back seat, asleep – or afraid, I couldn’t tell).  They assured me that we would be with a convoy and have US military protection.  Yeah… didn’t happen.  We crossed on the Kuwaiti side with a single piece of paper from the contracting officer, stating that we had business.  It wasn’t even official.  The 2 guards let us through the berm that divided Kuwait from Iraq.  No barbed wire.  No surveillance.  Nothing.  We were in. 

Immediately, as was the case almost everywhere we went in Iraq, people seemed to come up from the sand.  You could be miles and miles into a bleak and barren desert, and all of a sudden, as soon as you stopped the car, there would be 5 people asking for either food or water.  20 feet into Iraq, little barefoot kids came up and asked us for candy.  I knew it would come in handy!  My greatest gift during the trip was a half-eaten box of Cocoa Puffs that I gave to a little boy playing on tank.  I’ll never forget the loving look he gave me.  I wanted to adopt him on the spot.

The other thing that I had the foresight to bring was medicine that stopped me from having to pee every 5 seconds.  I get nervous.  I’m a girl.  I gotta pee.  Maybe other girls cry.  Not me.  I pee.  Anyways, I popped some of those pills and for 10 hours, I was pee-free.

We stayed in Baghdad the first night and then continued on to Camp Anaconda (“my anaconda don’t want none unless you got buns, hun” … ok, never mind the rap reference…) at Balad.  Balad Air Base used to be where Saddam’s “elite” air force was housed.  It was a fascinating drive in, as there was still a lot of evidence left of the US’ brief invasion.  All around Balad there were corn and sunflower fields with tall green plants stretching into the sun.  You would never know that they quietly hid a multitude of aircraft; spread out throughout the fields so that they might not all be destroyed in a singular US air assault.  We saw Migs, helicopters, freight planes -  you name it.  Stuck right out there in between the stalks.  Miles and miles of them.

There is so much more that I could write about this experience in Iraq; the land, the kindness of people that I met, the food; because it was early in 2003 and for a very brief period of time, a westerner could be a tourist.  But for now, I just want to focus on the contracting, so I’ll leave out a bunch and maybe I’ll write about it later (or save it for that tell-all book and screen play that someday I will write). 

When we got to the contracting office on Balad (which was very loosely secured – I think we might have stopped just once on the way in to show the piece of paper), we met a female colonel.  I can’t remember her name, but I admired her immediately.  My Kuwaiti friend offered her a sandwich and she said, “Unless my troops get the same thing, I can’t take it, but I thank you.” 

The contracting officer we were there to meet with was a polar opposite.  I honestly didn’t know it (they told me on the return trip to Kuwait), but we were there to pay him off for accepting sub-standard light sets (many were broken on the trip) that had been fabricated in Shuwaikh.  I noted how easily he left his side-arm on the table as he went out to fake-inspect and sign off on the goods.  It was right on the table next to me.

Approximately 6 months later, I learned that he had used his gun to commit suicide after being caught sending thousands of bribe dollars in cash rolled up in textiles and sent via DHL to his wife in the States.  I never wanted to be part of corruption and there I was; witness to the absolute worst repercussion of it.

Anyhow…. Sigh…. I think of him every now and then.  He had a great laugh and was a good story-teller. He was like so many who gave into temptation.  I suspect that perhaps if  you are making $40,000 a year and have an opportunity to become rich overnight, the temptation sometimes proves to be too much.   Some who were caught committed suicide so their families would still be able to receive military benefits later.  It happened quite often during 2003-2006 in Iraq and several in Kuwait.  They were usually  listed as “death by non-combat gunshot wound”.

Contingency Vs Sustainment:  When war happens, in the contingency stage is when the military spends money with not a while lot of oversight.  Later, the military operation moves into sustainment and auditors and military law enforcement moves in to verify purchases and make sure everything is Kosher.  Contingency in Kuwait was like the wild West.  Combine a culture where “gift giving” and graft is an acceptable form of business conduct, with (young, inexperienced, low-paid?) contacting officers being sent out to spend in a hurry… well, there was bound to be trouble. 

Do an internet search for “Contractor fraud Kuwait” or something similar and see what comes up.  Probably the most infamous was Maj. Cockerham who walked away with $9 million.

"How did this culture of corruption come to pass in the office in Kuwait?" committee Chairman Ike Skelton, D-Mo., demanded during a hearing on the issue.  Regardless of the stock-answer of “I believe this is an isolated incident” (and I have heard that several times directly in contracting conferences held in Kuwait), it was not isolated.  It was indeed a culture of corruption.  I have no doubt that it continues, but perhaps it is just better hidden now or criminals have found alternative ways of getting money.

Personally, I have been offered gifts and money to “go down to Arifjan and buy us a contract.”  Integrity has been the reason behind my termination with two separate employers in Kuwait.  That is a badge that I proudly wear.  When/if asked in job interviews,  “Have you ever been terminated from a job?”  I can answer, ‘Yes.  And I am proud of it.’

So here I am in Kuwait working for an ethical company.   I’m still working on military contracts. This time, on yet another KBOS (Kuwait Base Operations & Security Support Services) contract.  And you know what?  This time, I like what I’m hearing. I also like who I’m meeting and dealing with (on the prime bidders side).  Overall, the people that I have met are like-minded (making my job a lot easier):  sincere and who believe in integrity.  They have asked succinct questions about ethics in abiding by the Kuwait Labor Law; which has always been a gray area in Kuwait contracting.  They’re also asking about life in Kuwait in general and advice from people on the ground (which many of their predecessors have not).

One very good question I was asked was, “Let’s say I have an American employee who has agreed to a set salary and agreed to work 12 hours a day and no overtime?”  I say, ‘That’s great, but it is illegal as per Kuwait Labor Law if you do not abide by the stipulations of the local law.  You run the risk of that employee suing and later being compensated for all of his (tracked) overtime.”  For example, maybe in the US I agree to work 6 days a week, 12 hours a day.  Then, I come to Kuwait and find out that by law – I don’t HAVE to work that many hours per day/week and that the company, by law, should pay me overtime, regardless of what I agreed to in the States.  Ooops.   Now, if these employers bid the contract by Kuwait Labor Law, agreeing for time off and/or overtime (which may not exceed 180 hours in a year, by the way), they are going to bid too high.  So, this puts the employers in a precarious position of wanting to be ethical, yet wanting to win the business.  How is that fair?

Unfortunately, the US military still refuses to interpret the labor law or provide any guidance.  And unfortunately yet again, the USG is prone to look at the lowest price, technically qualified bid; without digging into reasons WHY the price might be the lowest (unfair business practices – not abiding by or pricing for local labor law, etc.)  An ethics hotline poster isn’t going to do a whole lot in a country where workers are afraid to (and will) lose their jobs for speaking up.  And even then, are there enough investigators to process the complaints?  And more pertinently:  Does the US military actually CARE about combatting in trafficking in persons as they claim?  If so, it isn’t American contractors coming to work in Kuwait who stand to lose the most on not being given their rights as employees on these contracts:  it is the TCNs who are making very low salaries and are the true beneficiaries of overtime and a legal work week. 
  
I’ve been in Kuwait for 18 years.  I never in a million years thought I would have gone into this field of work, but I’ve received a heck of an education by seeing it here “on the front lines”.  Ok, so from that perspective, it has been fascinating.  Filling out forms and looking up FAR clauses is NOT fascinating.  Meeting interesting people and learning is.  Like many other things in Kuwait, I have had opportunities that I probably wouldn’t have “lucked into” in the States.  I sincerely believe that every experience you have; ever person you meet; everything you do is for a reason.  


Review of Dogs Spa Hotel (Boarding Kennel) Kuwait


When my GS, Mikey, came back from obedience school, I expected him to be skinny.  I think that is pretty standard for most obedience schools where treats are rewards for the dogs to do better.  For this reason, I intentionally fattened him up before he went off to school to make sure he would be ok.
Trying to be a good parent, I always ask to see where my boy is going to sleep.  I go check out his dorm room, find out about his neighbors, etc.  I also learned the hard way to make sure he’s had his flea/tick medication before going anywhere (and of course that he’s had all his vaccinations including kennel cough).  You can’t always depend on the kennel to provide anti-pest remedies.  Bugs happen.  Especially in areas with a lot of foliage/vegetation and other animals.
So, I’ve checked the rooms and safety features to make sure that he’s ok, but if you care about your pet, you’re always wondering what is really going on with him/her (similar to a child).  You want to know that they’re being given the best care.
When I boarded Mikey at International Veterinary Hospital (IVH), I looked at the facilities.  Again, very good and clean.  He was taken for walks 3 times a day, but I wasn’t sure (and they were vague about) socialization with other dogs.  I would have preferred to know that he would be having fun while I was away.  My friend, Dr. Paola, worked there at the time, so I wasn’t too concerned because I knew she would be keeping  an eye on him.  As it turned out, they let him into the offices and by the time I got back from my trip, almost everyone there was coming out to say goodbye to him and giving him hugs.  But, he was still skinny when I got him back.  Now, this could have been because it was only the 2nd time that I had left him for a period of time.
I met Angel and Ahmed from Pet Spa Hotel and got to know them long before I left Mikey in their care.  They both truly love dogs and breed German Shepherds, so I go the full tour of their facilities (which include large, clean, well ventilated/AC'ed rooms) and got to know who would be looking after him and what the program would be. 
They guaranteed socialization.  Angel, who trains and socializes both her own dogs and the dogs (of many breeds) belonging to clients, worked with Mikey several times a day.  Since they breed showline German Shepherds (which are the pretty, spoiled types rather than their cousins, the worklines, which tend to be a little more aggressive), Mikey was able to socialize with his own kind.  When they got together to run around their big open yard, it was like watching a pack of wild wolves running free (not in a scary way, but in a beautiful, ethereal way).
Angel and Ahmed use Skype if you want a real-time view of what your dog is doing.  I don’t do all that video chat stuff (primarily because I don’t want others to see what a mess I am without a hair and make-up crew!), so they set up a Whatsapp group so that I could get daily (sometimes several times per day) videos of how Mikey was getting along; inside and outside of his kennel, swimming, and having a bath. Mikey’s brood brother, Bruno, was also there and they, along with one of Angel and Ahmed’s dogs, Kimmy (about the same age), played together every day.  My whole family loved getting the videos and I could even forward them to my other friends both in the US and in other countries.  

video
Mikey playing with his brother, Bruno

They are also planning to install webcams in the kennels soon so that owners can monitor their pets from where ever in the world they are.  Awesome.  (Now I just have to figure out how to do that...)

Pet Spa Hotel picks up and delivers your pet also – which is a huge plus when you are getting ready to go on a trip; or tired from just returning from one.  When Ahmed pulled up, Mikey bounded out happy, healthy, and with full weight.  It was instantly apparent that he had had a great time (so much that I worried that he wouldn’t be happy going home to such quiet surroundings).  He seems to be adjusting to home-life well, however.  He ran off to check on his little sister, Desert Dawg, and then check his toy box to ensure that nothing precious was missing.
Dogs Spa Hotel is located in Kabd (close to KFC and the grocery store/co-op) – which is really no big deal.  People in Kuwait are spoiled in terms of the amount of time they want to drive.  I’m from the DC area.  A 30 minute ride isn’t going to kill you, trust me.  You can go there and visit their facilities and let them show you around.  The kennel takes all types of dogs and they all socialize with similar types/sizes.  Angel gives them an evaluation first to see how they’ll fit in.  Socialization is a huge plus and something that you would have to pay for (as an education experience for  your dog) other places.  Mikey had a leap in confidence and in most of the videos appeared to be the pack leader (I've always thought of him as a woosy!  Who knew?)
Clients dogs are given a flea/tip bath prior to their departure and are bathed once a week.  Mikey came home in great shape. 

Contacts:
Instagram:  Dogs_spa_hotel
Phone:  9494-0004


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Getting back to personal - Part Deux

I meet a lot of men and one would think that there would be something to be said about the law of averages.  You would think that through volume, I might find someone acceptable for a relationship. 

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. 

I liked Mr. Monte Carlo.  Seemingly good catch, but just wanted me around to show off to his friends that he could “catch” an ajnabia (foreigner).  No dinner.  No dates.  Nada.  And please, I don’t belong to a college club/frat:  No one drinks as much as you do and that is not all that everyone is interested in.  Grow up.  You’re 45.

I gave up on his sorry ass.

Then, I met another guy that I liked.  (I call him, “Envoy” because that’s what he drives.)  Lives in the next block (how convenient!).  Divorced.  2 boys.  Loves my dog.  We went out to dinner a few times to nice restaurants.  Walk on the beach.   Took me by his house (after he fixed my car – to pick it up).  Told his sons about me.  But, during our brief relationshit, he was a no-show twice and the third time was 3 hours late. So, of course, he was dumpsville.  I gave him the opportunity to explain, but he couldn’t produce any words after almost a week, so I showed him my 2014 dance.  It's a little thing I like to call BLOCK – DELETE.

If you can't run with the big dogs, stay on the porch.  Forget it.  You have my number.  You want to make it better?  Send me flowers with an explanation and I MIGHT talk to you.   If not, bah byyyyyye.  I’m not in the mood.  While you are sitting there with your thumb up your ass, trying to figure out what you want to do with me, I’m out meeting more men.  It’s simple.  If you can’t impress me, I’m on to the next best thing.  I don’t care.  You don’t get it.  I’m not home, crying into my pillow. Second rate isn't worth it.  I’m out meeting the next potential (whatever).

So, I met another guy I liked.  Divorced with 3 kids (only he neglected to mention to me that it was the Islamic 1st divorce).  Owns horses.  Cool badass job.  We talked on the phone for hours.  Indications good for a nice guy.  After standing me up for our first date, sent me a message saying that he would never be able to marry me, so we should just stop talking.  Okey dokey. Thanks.  That saved me from having to block/delete you.  Whatever happened to being friends and letting a relationship progress?  We haven’t even had a date yet and he’s talking about how he’ll never marry me.  Did I miss something?  (Like my 5K diamond engagement ring, perhapsee?)

Yawn.

So I met another guy (who was way too short for me) I liked.  First date, brought me a pink rose (without knowing they are my favorite.)   We went out to dinner (in an out-of-the way place.  Nice place, but there were only 2 other people there.  I kinda felt like he didn’t want to be seen out, although he never said it.  Date #2 was at a club with a restaurant.  His brother is a manager of the club I guess.  I thought we would be eating with the other restaurant patrons, but it turned out that we had a meal in his brother’s office.  If he was maybe 2’ taller, I probably could have dealt with this situation better.  I have a problem with men just tall enough to stare into my boobs and then take me to dinner seated in office/closets.

Sigh.


This year sucks for me in the relationship department.  My birthday horoscope said that it would.  

Getting back to personal

I haven’t blogged about personal stuff for a while.  I was inspired to do so by a new blog I found called “I Date Kuwait” by a Kuwaiti woman telling her perspective of the scene here.  She will probably eventually become old and jaded like me and realize that a whole lot of her friends, family members, and colleagues have figured out who she really is.  At that point in time, she’ll decide to start posting info about her dog (cat?) and less and less info on her real personal life (just like me!).  Until then, I’m really enjoying her perspective.

So let’s talk about me!

Post 1

Mr. Clean et al:  I shoulda stopped going to his family a long time ago.  Y’alls told me to stop.  But, I just really longed for that family gathering feeling that I’m lacking here as my family is on the other side of the World.  So Clean’s family became my Friday afternoon crutch.  Which was fine, for a while.  Until September 11th (2014, that is).  I’m Instagram buddies with Clean’s brothers (all 5 of them).  A few of which I’ve always thought have had prejudiced or judgmental opinions, but hey – to each his own.  That’s their karma.   However, on September 11th, the Challenged One posted a photo of Osama Bin Ga7aba with a caption that read something like, “The day Osama made the Americans cry.  May he rest in peace.”  It was “liked” by Clean.  It was commented on by another brother who said something in agreement like, “Yes!  Great!”

And if anyone from Kuwait State Security wants details on the
people posting or "liking", write to me at amerab@gmail.com

Ok, Osama Bin Ga7aba was no friend to Moslems anywhere.  He was evil.  Moslems do not kill innocent people.  Terrorists and demons do.  September 11th did not make life for most Moslems easier or happier, as we all know.  So why idolize him?  And if you do idolize him and make a statement like this about Americans, does that mean that you hate me also, as an American?  Yes, I did cry on September 11, 2001.  So did many people around the World because, not only did it affect many of us personally (as it did similar to when Kuwait was invaded in August of 1990), but it affected the World as we knew it.

I went ballistic when I saw the Instagram message.  I sent it to his other family members.  One of his sisters answered immediately, “Ha ha ha.  He’s stupid.”  I didn’t see the humor.  I sent it to his father.  No response.  I finally called one of the brothers that I’m closest to and told him and I sent along a threat that if his family was pro-terrorism, they should probably be more aware of the investigations that are going on in Kuwait right now and that perhaps they should re-think promoting terrorism via the internet.  The Challenged One took it down [but not until people like his friend (7son_alqallaf” tagline Special forces… explosives – kinda scary if he’s in the Kuwait forces!) and 30 other people in Kuwait had “liked” it or commented positively.]

It is now September 25th.  I think I have been rather vocal about how I felt about that message.  I stopped going to their house for lunches and I haven’t called any of them.  How have they responded?  With silence.

Ok, so it’s like that.  If you hate Americans, you hate me.  You can’t call someone a racial slur and then expect them to go to family lunch at your home (for example).   I’m not in the habit of hangin’ with people who are pro-terrorist.  Especially these days.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Kuwait: Animal Torture Case September 2014

Horrific photos and video of man on a residential street in Kuwait torturing a rabbit and skinning it alive with his teeth
WARNING:  Don't scroll down if you are sensitive. GRAPHIC CONTENT 


I saw part of the torture video on Instagram last night, posted by a lawyer.  I immediately blocked the lawyer (regardless of his intentions, I was so traumatized by the 2 seconds I saw; without even knowing what would happen next,  that I have no intention of associating myself with the person who would post it).

Life In Kuwait blog has the full story (Link Here) without the graphic video, thank God.  Pictures however, are pretty graphic.  I cropped the torturer's photo, but he looks like a rabid dog (no insult to dogs) with the rabbit's blood covering his face.



My theory is this:  If this man is finding joy in torturing an animal, he is also finding joy in doing it to his own children, children in his neighborhood, weaker people.  His wife?  He should be sent in immediately for psychiatric evaluation.  Get him OUT of our community!!!

Update:  Arab Times Today - September 18, 2014

Source:  HERE

I am not posting this to encourage him or his followers.  I am posting this because I would like to see him arrested for the safety of animals and humans in our area!  

Mariam Al-Kharafi:  I commend you for immediately stepping forward to take legal action.  You are an outstanding member of this society!

The below was circulated on Facebook.  He obviously has no fear of repercussion as he posts his full, un-edited Civil ID card (Kuwaiti national identity card).  I can't read the name...  It sounds like a subconscious plead for help; that he really does want to be caught.  I hope that happens - and soon.



I will keep you posted as I hear more about this horrific story. 

In my 18 years in Kuwait, this is the 2nd-most-awful story I've heard (and I had the distinct misfortune to see part of this one).  One would think that I would be desensitized to a lot of the things I've seen in my life, but something like this just makes my blood boil to the point that I want to commit homicide against the perpetrator....


Monday, September 15, 2014

Angel appearances

I didn't sleep well last night.  I usually sleep great, but things have been bothering me lately and I haven't been very happy.  My best buddy is out of the country and I've been spending a lot of time alone and with my dogs.

Last night, I couldn't understand why I kept waking up all night.  This morning, I got it: it was foggy, but I had a dream about Shamlan.  Usually, my dreams of him are vivid, but last night it wasn't so much.

But I got his message.

Usually when I feel really low, he comes to my mind (or maybe he just comes to me to help me through it - which is more of how I feel).  I wake up in the morning, and his name is on my lips.  I just say it out of nowhere and I know he's around.

Anyhow, last night his message was that even though I've idolized him all these years, maybe today, at this place in this year, he would not be the man who I wanted him to be.  All is destiny.  Maybe I would have been disillusioned now, if her were alive today.  I'm disillusioned by most men I meet these days in this time of technology; when your most personal relationships are the ones you have via WhatsApp and Instagram.  No one bothers to call or get together anymore.  Are we all so busy?  Maybe he would have been the same way.  The phone calls and personal appearances may have stopped and perhaps he would have just communicated with me the way that many of my old/dear friends currently do now - by chat.

Shamlan died in the prime of his life.  He is eternally youthful and perfect to me.  Nothing will ever change because time stopped when he was killed.

So my perfect angel shows up and gives me little messages every now and then and I totally appreciate it and look forward to it.  Especially when I feel tired and down.



Sunday, September 14, 2014

I'm more important than you are....

I hate rush hour in Kuwait - especially in the morning.  I can't take Fahaheel "Express"way because it is bumper-to-bumper all the way into the city.  So I take the Gulf Road because, for the most part, it keeps moving.

Overall, it isn't a bad drive and very very pretty.  It is much better, of course, when the kiddies are home and out of school and people aren't crowding the streets after taking the little urchins to school and heading to work... with me....

However, I have some peeves I would like to discuss.

Po-Po:  Please read this and do something about it.  Ok?

Where I would like the police to add barriers is along the stretch from Sultan Center to the light at the entrance to the Sea Club (light just past the Yachts Club).  Why?  Because the entitled arseholes of the Universe converge in this area to race in and out of parking lots and entrance ways along both sides of the road to get a few cars ahead of  everyone else because (you guessed it)...

THEY ARE MORE IMPORTANT than every one else.

I try to stay in the middle lane, as close to the ass-end of the car in front of me as possible.  I don't look to the left or to the right (as "jumpers" try to get one over, thinking I'm a "nice" western female and will let them in).  I'm not nice.  I'm bitchy and aggressive in the morning - especially pre-coffee.  I'm not letting SQUAT in.

Another peeve I have is the light at Hamad Mubarak Street.  Fucktards use the left (turn-only) lane to jump back into traffic in front of everyone else who has been waiting for the light because (you guessed it)...

THEY ARE MORE IMPORTANT than every one else.

They really should build a 6' concrete barrier there.  Jersey barrier.  Yeah.  Maybe blast-proof would do it.

Personally, I've never seen a car flip ("turn turtle" in Briddish) on this stretch, but fer damn sure, I wish I had.  I wish it could be because the (imaginary) giant cattle pusher I've had installed for this very purpose (like the one pictured below) has sent all the cars trying to weasel their entitled-jumper-asses off the side of the road. One by one, they would just flip and tumble out of my way.  That's right.




Guess what's coming? The Causeway....



Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah Causeway

I've been looking out my window (and the window of my physical therapists) for the past several months now, watching this thing be created out in the water... and wondering if it could be the causeway starting.

Kuwait is full of hachi al fathi and  you never know what project is actually going to get off the ground.  Heck, I didn't even know/believe that Khiran city was down there until I actually went to see it.  However, I'm seeing this causeway go in with my very own eyes.

Here is what I see:  Progress!  (Amateur photo taken by serious amateur through dirty window, same time/day with 2 different colors.  Why??)


Now, just imagine flippin your Mitsubishi Gallant doing 200kms/hr flying over THAT thing!  Wooo hooo.  Makes "seafood" take on a totally different meaning.  Awesome.


More on the causeway HERE and HERE  and yo, again HERE.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Departures

So many people I know are leaving Kuwait permanently that it feels kinda weird.  Stella has been gone for a while now, but at least she's close in Dubai.  I didn't get a chance to say goodbye to Slaperella before she moved to Australia.  Butterfly flew the coop months ago and has her old gig back at CNN in Atlanta.

And now, come to find out (only through our shared part-time housekeeper) that Spanx is leaving after 5 years.  5 years?!  How did that happen?  It seems like just the other day I was introducing her to Butterfly and they were both newbies here.

I really don't socialize as much as I used to.  My time is filled with dogs (well, the big one mostly) and work.  My free time is now downtime or re-charge time and I swear I would never get to this place in life.

When did I get to be the kind of person who doesn't get around to see my friends that are leaving? Slaps and I have been friends for years, but then both of us got so busy and took different directions. I really should have called her (guilt...)

So for those friends that I haven't gotten around to see or to keep in touch with lately, I am sincerely sorry.  I should be a better friend.  I promise to get in touch soon.  I always tell other people that you can maintain friendships if you just MAKE the time to do it.  I need to take my own advice.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

I LOVE this quote!


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“I no longer have patience for certain things, not because I’ve become arrogant, but simply because I reached a point in my life where I do not want to waste more time with what displeases me or hurts me. I have no patience for cynicism, excessive criticism and demands of any nature. I lost the will to please those who do not like me, to love those who do not love me and to smile at those who do not want to smile at me. I no longer spend a single minute on those who lie or want to manipulate. I decided not to coexist anymore with pretense, hypocrisy, dishonesty and cheap praise. I do not tolerate selective erudition nor academic arrogance. I do not adjust either to popular gossiping. I hate conflict and comparisons. I believe in a world of opposites and that’s why I avoid people with rigid and inflexible personalities. In friendship I dislike the lack of loyalty and betrayal. I do not get along with those who do not know how to give a compliment or a word of encouragement. Exaggerations bore me and I have difficulty accepting those who do not like animals. And on top of everything I have no patience for anyone who does not deserve my patience.” _ Meryl Streep

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

More Kuwait Labor Problems

This article was in the Arab Times today:

Disgruntled Cleaning Company Workers Seek Backpay, Justice
Basic Rights Violated In Massive Exploitation
KUWAIT CITY, Aug 26: Two managers and dozens of employees working for one of the cleaning companies reportedly refused to go to work and stayed put at their accommodation in Hassawi because the company has not paid them their salaries for two months, reports Al-Qabas daily.
The daily added, some of them even complained that the company is refusing to grant them annual leave and that some of them have not visited their families for the past eight or nine years. The workers also complained that they are deprived of their basic rights, particularly any sort of leave, even in the event of death of close relative including father and mother.
The workers say if they apply for one month leave they are required to deposit with the company KD 120 and for two months KD 240. This is in addition to forcing them to sign a document prior to proceeding on leave stating they have received all their dues.


This kind of thing goes on - unchecked - all the time.  It doesn't just happen to low-level employees (although their living situations are must worse and they can do very little until the actually tipping point), but also to expats in general.  Finding a company that pays consistently, on time, and gives employees their basic rights is RARE in Kuwait.  Sad, but true.  Once you find an ethical company, you're really reluctant to leave them.

The Government and media has been talking talking talking about this problem for years; yet very little has been done to rectify the situation.

For example, if I, as an employee, want to voice a complaint against my employer (and this is a what-if scenario because ThanksToAllah, the company I work for is one of those rare companies I mentioned that does things ethically):  I have to go to the ministry of social affairs and labor and lodge a complaint.  My employer would immediately know.  They could find another reason to terminate my employment - and it might be something like a criminal charge; putting me in real jeopardy (and slapping on a travel ban - then what?  Stuck with no employment?).  So, many employees shut up and take it, hoping that their employer will pay.

I don't understand why Kuwait can't have a hotline like they do in the States.  (See the US Department of Labor's poster, which should be posted at workplaces in the US HERE.)


Why all the years of talk?  Why no action?  Am I missing something?

Welcome to Kuwait Orientation for Newcomers (aka "Newbies")



I just saw this on Life in Kuwait blog.  AWARE usually sends me info, but maybe they forgot me.  Sniffle, whimper.

AWARE holds a lot of activities for free (they are non-commercial and just out there to benefit people transitioning here!).  Their website is http://www.aware.com.kw/.  They're not going to try to get you to convert!  Stop being so skeptical, newbies.  OMG.  They're there to promote Kuwait and form a better understanding between cultures.

I think any orientation for incoming newbies is a great idea!  The transition is scary; especially now when you're hearing all the crazy stuff about ISIS so close up North.  EEEK, right?

By the by: One of the best orientations (the most welcoming) was basically a meet-and-greet at the British Embassy in 1997.  A woman in line in front of me was wearing an evening gown and I totally freaked when I thought I was under-dressed. (it was "business attire").   I sipped Pimms all night before realizing that it WASN'T iced tea.  That was fun.  I was literally a hot mess....

Way back in early 2000's (holy snap - I just realized that there is such a thing now!), I tried to promote a concept of an orientation package (including seminar/s follow-up, booklets) to Westerners arriving in Kuwait (catering to large companies like CSA/later ITT contract, basically) and it never got off the ground.  What I suggested was more of a commercial concept, targeting companies that hired a large employment force of Western expats.  Various Kuwait-based service organizations that cater to Western expats (banks, short and long term accommodations, lease car companies, satellite, etc.; and then follow-on with handy-men, drivers with cars, tours, etc.) would provide a commission to the "orientation" company to promote their services (and would be ranked by users).   At the same time, it would be of great benefit to incoming Westerners.  I didn't promote the idea very well and, of course, life gets in your way and  your full time job comes first to pay the bills, so nothing ever emerged.  It would have been outstanding in/around 2003 when the workforce for one company alone was what -  10,000...  But hey, KBOS3 is coming up for re-bid in 2015, so maybe some entrepreneur will step up to the plate with an entirely new crop of incoming Western expats.  Thar ya go.  Free concept.  (Nobody listens to me because I'm blonde.  I've accepted it and moved on...)

Howefah,  if someone wants to hire me as a consultant for these kinds of ideas (Sheikh Hamad, perhaps??), please contact me.  I got a million of 'em...  

For the moment, it is just me trying to help people through my weeeee little blog and disseminating information from the various groups/organizations that aim at assisting expats... like my friends at AWARE.



Monday, August 25, 2014

Falcon Mobile Pet Clinic Van in Kuwait

Look!  It's Dr. Angelo!  THAT's where he is....







Mikey has been to 5 vets now as he continues to have bad skin problems.  I've known Dr. Angelo for years, so I decided that since Dr. Paola was out of town, I would have him check out Mike for the possibility of Demodex mange (as Al-Rai had diagnosed him with - without testing first).  Dr. Angelo ruled out demodex through a scratch test; Mike has bad infections, so we're doing a blood test to determine exactly what the cause is.  For now:  No chicken, no lamb, no beef.  Raw fish and potatoes.  Who knew?  I now have about 40 pounds of chicken in my freezer.  (Barbecue, anyone?)

I found out that Angelo had moved from IVH when I went there to board Mike and Angleo's picture was no longer hanging behind the reception desk.  I called him and discovered that he's with Falcon now (owned by a member of the Al-Ghanim family).

Falcon recently purchased a large mobile vet clinic truck/van from the States and have started a test market to determine if they would like to create a veterinary hospital and possibly add more trucks/services.  Angelo tells me that he is continually busy (his phone rang several times during my appointment) and so far, business is good (Mashallah!).

IVH has had a van in their parking lot at their hospital for years and I've never understood why it is wasting away there.  It has never been used. It's a shame.  Anyhoo....

Falcon's van is sparkling (and I mean that literally) clean.  There wasn't a piece of dust or dirt or animal hair anywhere.  It is non-descript from the outside:  Just a white camper-looking vehicle.  Inside, it is loaded with the latest technology:  X-ray machine, surgical equipment and operating table, microscopes, a full array of medicine, cages, tables, and a very expensive-looking generator system.

Anyone who has ever dealt with Dr. Angelo and/or Dr. Paola know how what exceptionally kind and compassionate people they are.  They are outstanding vets and go the extra mile to take care of critters in Kuwait.  They have long-held dreams of helping animals outside the confines of a stationary clinic/hospital and now it appears that these dreams are coming true.

I am thoroughly impressed and I wish them complete success.

To book an appointment with Falcon, call or Whatsapp 5111-9696.