Sunday, May 01, 2016

Road Rage Kuwaiti Style

(Photo Credit:  Gulf News)

I drive a sports car.  Some man-children here don't like the fact that a female drives a sports car; like I'm a "bitch" with an attitude and I think that I'm better than them.  Or whatever.  I have just tried to figure out their silly little mindsets when they pull maneuvers like swerving in front of me trying to goad me into racing.  Or getting really close on my bumper trying to get me to go faster.

Case in point:  other day - I'm on a 1-lane off ramp and JeepMonkey is inches from my back bumper.  There is no room for him to get around.  There aren't any other cars around.  So, I speed up.  JeepMonkey gets his panties in a wad because (what exactly?)  It doesn't end there because he's a roid-tard and has to get in front of me and try to slam on his brakes (meanwhile, almost causing several accidents with cars in front of me).  Then, as I pull out my mobile phone and start taking videos of his antics, he puts his window down and tells me to pull over.

Aaaah... this is classic Kuwait road rage.  Pull over to "talk".

F no!  I'm not pulling over.  I'm not putting my window down.  I saw someone refuse to "talk" one time and the driver of the other car threw hot coffee at the other driver's closed window.  What would have happened if it had been opened...  (As I'm mouthing the words to "go have intimate relations with yourself" at him. - that is only a 40KD ticket by the way.  So is flippin the bird.) And you are a creep that I would never hold a discussion with.  So he continues his freakshow as I continue to gather photo evidence with my cell phone. Eventually, other drivers are in danger and are starting to get pissed off at him, so he flees.  (As a woman, if there had been an accident and we went to the police station, I could have filed a case against him which may end in 6 months in jail for chasing me.)

This is the way road rage is handled here.  Pull over to talk ends with street fights.  (Note that these incidents usually don't involve a woman.  However, there are a lot of non-men lately, so perhaps.)

Here is the incident that prompted me to post:
Coming home from dinner on Blajaat Street.  2 idiots in a (chick) Mercedes were holding up traffic consistently - all the way down the street - talking to a girl next to them. (OMG!  Just give her the number and MOVE!)  We were right next to them.  The guy behind the Merc was really upset because he couldn't get around him and had to put up with his abrupt stops.  The Merc stopped abruptly; and the Suzuki behind bumped him.  The Merc dude jumped out  (all pumped up like a rooster) with his passenger/friend (show for the girl?).  The Suzuki dude made the mistake of getting out of his car...  And that's when the Merc driver hit him in the face.  The passenger didn't do anything.  An innocent bystander walking by tried to intervene and stop him.  He almost got hit as well.  Even dude's friend (the passenger) couldn't calm him down and you could hear them shouting at each other.

Here is the thing: Stay in your car.  Lock the doors. Keep the windows up.  Take out your cell phone and start videoing the assailant and his license plate number.  Call the po-po (who won't arrive in time to help you, but you will have the video and can use that as evidence).

Who invites violence?  I don't get it.  You would think this would be common sense.  You can't talk sense with a crazy person.  They're crazy.  People have knives and are tweakin on meth.  WTF.  Even teenagers are killing each other lately [few days ago in Sabah Al-Salem.  A 18 year old Kuwaiti kid stared at (or spit on - depends on the version) a 16 year old Kuwaiti kid, so the 18 year old stabbed him to death] .

Kuwait isn't the safe place it was before.  Watch your 6 out there.


Monday, April 18, 2016

Kuwait EPA where are you????

Mishref, Block 4 in front of the walking track.
Road 51 which runs parallel to 303


Would someone please explain to me what the new and improved EPA in Kuwait does?  I see them smiling a lot in photos and shaking hands/patting each other on the back.  Yuckin it up for photos...

But seriously...  WHAT are they doing?

LOOK at this photo!  I moved to Mishref partly because of the trees. Lovely tree-lined streets.  Instead of pruning the trees, they are hacking at them with machetes like some horror movie.   If you're going to prune (at all) it should be at the beginning of the winter - NOT summer when they could provide (get this concept) SHADE and oxygen.

The baladiya (municipality) has pissed me off in general for years.  But now there is a law for destroying trees, right?  5000KD?  Enforcement much or what?   And where is Mishref co-op council?

Does the whole country have to be a sand pit?  Is that what they want?  The Talaban were really great about chopping down all the trees in Afghanistan.  Same mentality.

Lord, I miss Baba Jaber....

Bilbayt - Online Catering Service

I loved the Talabat concept when it first came about and I promoted the F out of it to restaurant owner friends (they're all on board now).

This seems like my week for promoting new (to me anyways) online services.

I've been here for many moons and ordering catering is usually a major pain in the butt.  I hated having to call around (or worse - get in my car and GO places to get catering menus).  Most of the time, I was met with, "Maafi Engleeeesi." (no English).  RRRR.  Frustrating and time-consuming.

Today, I saw these guys' ad on Facebook.  Nice format.  In English.  Lots of selections.  It's called, "Bilbayt" or "at home".  It gives you the option of ordering a variety of foods/themes from a variety of caterers.

www.bilbayt.com
Wish these guys were around when I had my big apartment.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Groceries home delivery that actually work! Maachla ("Groceries" in Arabic)

We have been using these guys for a while now and they're great.  Reliable.  Friendly.  Professional  They deliver to your doorstep and accept cash and KNET on delivery.  They have a decent selection to choose from and you choose your delivery time slot. They even have pet food!   Very easy and user friendly.

Check them out.


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Laundry Service on a Mobile App

I freakin LOVE it when someone comes up with a totally new business concept in Kuwait.  This one is great.

People ask me all the time - from an Expat's perspective - what a good business idea would be for Kuwait; something different.  I have to really focus on that question sometimes because the market is almost saturated with just about every type of business.

Sidenote:  15 years ago a Kuwaiti entrepreneur friend asked me this question and I said, 'Open a business that is pet-related.  Big profits.' He laughed at me and told me that Kuwaitis don't like pets.  Who is laughing now - all the way to the bank?  Way to go, PetZone (pioneers), Royal Pet, Pet Planet... etc etc etc.

So now, for something new....  Along come these guys.

Masbagti is a mobile phone app that lets you alert them to pick up and delivery of your laundry.   I know from friends with laundry services in Kuwait that the industry is suffering.  Prices are low - especially if you have a laundry in an out-of the way area.  Customers don't have the time (or patience) to drive to a laundry.  This new concept would allow laundry services throughout Kuwait to partner with Masbagti and have them do all their marketing and orders.  Awesome.  It is like a Talabat type of concept.

I haven't tried them yet and I am hoping that nothing gets lost in translation when trying to place an order. Also hoping that their prices are good.  However, in theory, I think it is fabulous.  For them as business owners, it is low/no overhead and they will make a good profit taking a margin on their partners' work.  For the laundries, it is a win/win as they have the additional revenue from the work that is being promoted by someone else.

Check them out:


Website:  http://www.masbagti.com/

Barbs | بربس





So supposedly this is a dance range in KSA/Region?  I guess I'm just not that clued in...

It made the news in The Washington Post.    Okey dokey.

I don't think the song or the dance is that great.  Some of the Gulf Arab guys I've seen in clubs dancing to mixed music are way better than these guys.


Monday, April 11, 2016

Beaches off 285 - Khiran

Back in 2014, I wrote a blog post about "discovering" the beaches at Zor (post linked here) off of Road 278 from 40.  Well, that area is now pretty built-up with chalets and a lot of people have also "discovered" it since then.  So... I've now moved on to more secluded beaches - completely empty - at 285.

video

It is hot enough now to swim.  The water is a little cool, but it is ok once you get in.  The thing I love most about this area is you can let your dog run free without anyone or anything around.  I had to stop doing that in Zor because too many people were around.

To get to 285, it is about an hour drive from the city.  Pass the Wafra and Khiran Resort exits and the next exit to your left will be 285.  You can pull up to any of the man-made berms (dunes) and walk over to reach the beach.

Bring food and drinks with you because there is absolutely nothing around for miles.  The closest store (I think) is at the 40/Wafra Road intersection.

Friday, April 08, 2016

2 Female American Contractors Jailed will be Freed

On April 4, 2016, two female American contractors wrongfully jailed were declared innocent by a Kuwaiti court. The Law team of Legal Right Group first heard about the women who had been incarcerated for 10 months at that time; and determined that they had a moral obligation to seek justice on behalf of the women, Monique and Larissa.

The women were sentenced to 25 years each in Kuwaits central prison. They were being held for possession of a substance which was independently tested at a German facility and determined to be a legal synthetic drug in Kuwait. Their sentences should have been overturned at that point, however sentencing for both women continued. Further, the investigating officer failed repeatedly to appear at hearings leading to speculation as to weather any evidence was found or not. Only One of the women had traces of any drug in her system at time of arrest.

Very little has appeared in local media regarding the case, however many articles have appeared in the US media as their mothers fought to seek the release of their daughters.

Legal Rights Group, headed by former Kuwait Speaker of Parliament, Ali Al-Rashed, first heard of the case from a local contractor, Mike S. Seeking the women's release quickly escalated as all members of their legal team banded together to expedite work on the case. After completion of official procedures, both women should be freed this week.


Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Increase in number of incidents against women in Kuwait lately


I don't know what it is lately, but there has been an increased amount of discussions on social media of women being molested, harassed and stalked.  Ladies Who Do Lunch in Kuwait Blog discusses this subject today.  I've seen a lot on Facebook also.



There are no laws against stalking in Kuwait.  This applies to many Western countries around the world (South Africa, for example)  where laws have not advanced to keep up with current problems in society.  (Although there has been a recent social media law introduced in Kuwait that I am very happy about making the sending of indecent photos punishable by a jail sentence and 5,000 KD fine.  So... baby steps....)

Even as far back as 10 years ago, having a guy follow you in his car to give you his number was one of the major forms of dating/meeting entertainment in Kuwait. Before, if the girl refused the advance, the guy would usually drive away.  So by Western standards, this is a form of stalking, but in Kuwait it was either a mere annoyance or something young people did.  (I'm guilty of this form of meet-up.  I met several of my very good friends this way.  One is a Minister.  No joke.)    It wasn't necessarily a bad thing to get the attention back in the day (especially if  you were having a good hair day!)  but now it has taken a scary turn. You're more like prey than a potential friend.

Stalking is now a serious issue without any law to prevent it.  I have an acquaintance who was maliciously stalked for months in Kuwait.  She knew who he was.  He came into her business, so he obtained her phone number early on and "fell in love with her."  She took photos.  She went to the police department numerous times.  She moved several times. The police couldn't do anything.

20 years in Kuwait has taught me a thing or two.   I hate to go to police stations.  But I might also hate it in the States - I dunno.  I think I only had to go to one police station in the US in my life. Traffic accidents are handled roadside by the police in the States and then you follow up with  your insurance companies.  Here, you've got an entirely different system PLUS the language barrier to contend with.  If it is a crime against a woman, they look at you funny (blame the victim?).  It isn't a friendly ordeal and under most circumstances, there maybe little or no resolution.

Reporting/Filing a Complaint

Generally, (in Kuwait - which is what our story is about) if you want to file a complaint against some sick perv, the  police will take a REPORT, not necessarily a CASE. To do this, you must go to the police station in the jurisdiction/area where the incident took place. If you call the police first (112) they will ask you to follow them to the police station where 1) they will tell the investigating officer what took place and 2) You will tell the investigating officer what happened and they will make a report.  They don't use computers to file reports in Kuwait. Everything is hand-written, not even typed (and maybe from that you can understand why the court processes take so long in Kuwait!)   A report will be filed and that's basically it unless more reports come in for the same person. And/or - depending on how bad the crime, it may turn into a case.  If it does, you are looking at a very long process of hearings and court dates and your presence being requested for all as a witness.

In any event, you kind of ask yourself - so what is the point?

The point is:  so it doesn't happen to another woman.  So if the perv escalates or kidnaps/rapes someone, there will be logged evidence to build a solid case against him. If you are like me, you want to see justice done.  You have been violated.  The person who did it shouldn't get away with it.

But even if it reaches a case - the suspect may just claim mental instability and get away with it (or even continue).  (Such was the case I heard of years ago when a known child molester entered a Westerner apartment complex  in Salwa and attempted to molest a child at the pool.  He was beaten pretty badly by the father of one of the children, but ultimately, sent back out on the street again because he had "psychological problems.")

Kuwait's laws have not caught up with the times.  It's unfortunate, but true (and again - true in many other countries in the world).  There are no "women's rights" advocates in Kuwait.  No one you can contact (to my knowledge - and correct me if I'm wrong) to help you or give you legal advice - or even emotional support.  If there is - it is going to be Arabic-speaking only, which eliminates women of 2/3 of the population.

Ok, back to my story.  ANY woman ANYwhere should be vigilant of her surroundings.  You should always be prepared.  Here are some ways to take precautions, local style:

112 is the emergency number for police/fire/rescue in Kuwait.  Immediately ask for an English speaking person.  They will get one on the line immediately.

  • Listen to "that little voice." God gave women instincts for a reason.  Back in cavemen days, we were prey.  We still are.  If something feels wrong; it is.
  • Take photos with your mobile phone if you can.  This is often a detriment. 
  • Keep your car doors locked - ALWAYS.  The minute you get in your car, lock the door and keep the window up.
  • Do not open your car windows for anyone for any reason.  Unless you see a badge/ID, you don't have to.  There are many plain-clothed police officers on patrol these days.  If one approaches your car, ask for his ID from your CLOSED car.  If he doesn't give it to you, call 112.
  • Scream and draw attention to yourself.  If you say something like, "Rape!" many people will be shamed and afraid to help.  Scream, "Thief" (or "haramy" in Arabic) and it is more likely to bring help.  (God knows money is a motivator...)
  • Pepper spray:  Not available in Kuwait.  You can bring it into the country without any difficulties (I do) or learn how to make your own and keep it on  you  (or in your car door compartment) at all times.
  • Self-Defense:  Learn how to defend yourself.  YouTube has lots of videos with techniques.  I've only seen one self defense course offered for women in Kuwait.  Ever.    (I had to fight a man late at night who followed me home and ran after me into my apartment building in Salmiya.  I could tell he was high on something - and had already taken down his pants.  I started kicking, screaming and punching.  He ran (with his pants down around his ankles).  When I called the police - from the safety of my apartment - they told me to go downstairs and wait for the police cruiser to arrive!!!  Whaaat?!  So he could finish the job?  No thanks!)  Sometimes you are alone and have no choice:  FIGHT.  
  • NEVER let anyone take you to a secondary location. If you are being abducted.  FIGHT at the first location.  Don't let them take you somewhere remote. If  the cab starts taking you on an unknown or long route away from your destination, ask the driver to turn around. If he doesn't, FIGHT.  Use whatever means you can.  If you're in the back seat, use a belt or a purse handle to put around his neck.  Hit him with a hard object. Whatever.  Getting hurt in an accident is better than being raped or killed in a remote location; and you are more likely to get help faster.
  • Fight back if there is no other choice.  Kick him in the groin.  If he's on top of you, take your thumb and apply pressure to the side of his eye and pop his eyeball out.  It will hurt him like hell, but they can pop it back in at the hospital and you'll be alive.  Think of  yourself first.

God forbid anything bad happens to anyone (anywhere).  Stay safe.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Kuwait's Fabulous Tourism Plans

I've been around the Kuwaiti block a few hundred thousand times and seen quite a few "new ideas" resurrected.  So, without further adieu... here we go again.

Today's news story, "Government eyes tourism as new source of income:  Minister."
(Read the full story here because I'm too bored to re-print it.)

(Sound of me, snoring...)

Really?
No, really?
Seriously?

In 2004 [yes, that's right - 2004.  As in TWELVE (12) years ago], Kuwait announced its 20-year plan for ... what?... TOURISM.  (Read about that here.)

And again in 2010 it was talked about.  (Read about that one here.)

Kuwait is GREAT at planning.  And talking.  And discussing.  And arguing. And procrastinating.  It's not so great at what?.... TOURISM.

For one thing, during my multiple trips around the block in Kuwait, I have come across only 2 tour companies of legitimate quality.  I only recommend one, and it is a small, non-governmental group of private Kuwaiti citizens who actually use their own private funds to buy little souvenir gifts for special customers. (They go by "Naronda or  Morqab Tours. 6009-0364. See my blog post about them HERE.)

For the next issue:  Kuwait needs to take a much closer look at its infrastructure FIRST.  Just last month, they didn't want to let people over 50 into Kuwait.  That is kinda sucky for tourism, isn't it? And official hotel packages have not been offered/allowed to SINGLE women in the past.  Many nationalities aren't allowed in Kuwait.  Can the airport accommodate tourism?

And I sincerely do not mean any disrespect to those who want to resurrect the concept of tourism to Kuwait.  I applaud them. I wish there were a lot more of them.  I just wish they would get it all going; like, ten years ago.

What Kuwait needs are people who are passionate about it's history and heritage.  (I am and I'm not even Kuwaiti!)  I wish a committee would go to Qatar and see what they have done with the Msheireb Museum.  

I really wish that Kuwait would start collecting oral histories from elder Kuwaitis to get a feel of how Kuwait used to be.  I talk to these people.  They recount the days of pearling and dhow building and getting water from wells (and I'm talking recent history - like 60 years ago).  THAT is the kind of talk Kuwait needs.  Teach the younger generations - and teach expats what Kuwait truly is; not just shopping malls and driving around in flashy cars.  Tell the grandparents' stories.  Who are your people?  Where are you from?  What makes this country unique?  What's your color, Kuwait? (Shloanik, Kuwait?)

Even the long-time expats in Kuwait are still discovering the country - and getting very little help doing it unless you are out there exploring yourself.  It's hard.  I wish the Government would really help people get to know the country they're living in (and in a language, perhaps, that they can understand?)  A lot of us don't hear about what is going on in Kuwait until it's over because of poor advertising or advertising only in Arabic.

Where is Kuwait's visitors center?  Website?  Why isn't there one?  Why don't they have brochures of local activities?  Gee....

I could go on and on.


Pinkies Salon: At-home services for women in Kuwait




My American friend opened Pinkies years ago when her mother came to visit her in Kuwait.  Her mother isn't able to get around easily and my friend didn't know of any salons that offered at-home service.  Now, there are several, but Pinkies was a pioneer in Kuwait and in my opinion, the best.

I literally have a well known spa in the same office building where I work, but I don't like to travel after a massage and traffic in Kuwait is one of the most stressful things with me.  I called Pinkies for a mani/pedi and a full body massage.

Here is what the Pinkies bring:  Fresh towels, fresh natural rose petals, all equipment including massage table and warmer for paraffin pedicure (which I love), foot massage machine, and a refreshment service which includes tea, chocolates, cookies (Lotus - yummm!) and scented candles.  The 2 women literally rolled in with 4 suitcases and a massage table.


The ladies arrange the tea service



Full body massage is less than you would pay in a spa (20KD).  It was wonderful AND I got to shower and then take a nap because it all happened in my house.  I had my own "refreshments", candles, and music.  So tranquil and relaxing.

The ladies are very discreet and are not allowed to discuss other clients or their homes.  That is an issue in Kuwait as gossip is one of the main forms of communication here.  They show up on time and need very little direction.

Book an appointment at 9718-9700.  They also have gift certificates if you would like to give a service as a gift.

Burt Reynolds Introduces the NEW Bandit Trans Am



I had a 78 TA with the bird and racing slicks, but everyone lusted after the 77 bandit.  That was the car to have.

My friend, Laurie, sent me the article on this limited edition this morning.  I very seldom have the type of reaction I did while watching this clip - goosebumps and tears in my eyes.  I WANT this car. It's a TA based on a Camaro (even more lovable!).   I should have been a guy - I swear.  This car does it for me.  (I'm sure some of you out there will not understand or appreciate my reaction, but some will....those are my kindred spirits.)

840HP  7.4L LSX V8 and only 77 in production. The price starts at $115,000, but with so few in production, I am willing to bet it will be double that if not more.

And Burt Reynolds - I don't care HOW old the man gets, he is still a hottie.

Sigh (all the way around).

Monday, March 28, 2016

Respect the court

I'm with my lawyer and about 50 other people in a small courtroom in Hawalli waiting for part deux of my rental case. Everyone is here on time but the question on everyone's mind is, "When will they start?"



This is the problem. As my new lawyer said, "I was told last week to be in court at 8:30 am. The judge didn't arrive until 12:30." The lawyers are there. The clients are there (people not being paid to sit there for hours on end). Why don't the people who should symbolize leadership in the court system have respect for the legal institution here?  

I have really enjoyed reading about snap inspections by the Minister and Undersecretaries (basically, Vice Ministers) from the Ministry of Interior. They are checking various locations to see if ministry employees are on duty and performing correctly. And catching those who aren't.  Perhaps the Minister of Justice should consider doing the same in courtrooms around Kuwait. 

And if the judges aren't going to show up on time (are hours late), might someone consider the purchase of comfortable chairs? I almost need a wheelchair to leave the place!