Monday, October 05, 2015

Move-in Day

Thought I would share a photo of the moving truck that came with my stuff.  Yes, all that is mine (but - they even bubble-wrapped my bathroom waste baskets, covered them with plastic and cardboard and then taped.  

 I moved into my new apartment.  15 movers.  2 days.  210 boxes.  BAM.  5 months in storage.

If you look off to the left of the photo, sitting in a chair he "procured" from our building, is the smelly truck driver who decided it was appropriate to get a piece of cardboard and make himself a sleeping area in my living room for the entire time people moved furniture around him.  Smelly only moved when I brought out my German Shepherd from the bathroom where he was quietly content to listen to people outside rather than barking at them (he has been SUCH a great dog, Mashallah).  Smelly was the only crew member who Mikey didn't like - and I was happy that Mikey let him know it.  Tee hee.  Good boy!

Hairytale Ending: Hair by Connie

Every once in a while I seem to stumble upon someone truly exceptional.  It usually happens in an odd way and I'm sure that The Universe has set it up in some mysterious and magical weave of journeys.

My hair girl of the past 4 years left Kuwait a month ago.  I'm a loyal hair person. I don't switch.   I thought she was doing a pretty good job.  I was really upset because she had gone and hadn't been able to refer me to anyone else. I had finally gotten the closest to Gwen Stefani hair color that I ever had - but it wasn't in the best of health and a couple of choice words from my tell-it-like-it-is sister made me question the inevitable:  Had I gone too blonde?  ("The girls in my office didn't recognize you. They asked if you had decided to go white.")  DAAAAYUM!

The most commonly asked question I receive from female readers is:  Where do you recommend for either highlights or a cut?  (Male readers' most commonly asked question is;  How much do you charge for a massage.  I DON'T DO THAT!  Sheesh!  I wrote one innocent post about legal! massages in Kuwait and it turned into a free-for-all that has now lasted over a decade.)


Someone asked recently so I posed to my DG Facebook account asking the question.  Then saying, 'Hey, while I'm out here - if someone wants to do my highlights in exchange for a POSSIBLE blog post/review (if it is a positive experience - and only then), write to me."

I got a nice message from an American lady named Connie who does hair from her home salon in Fintas.

Ok, ok, so I have been to "home salons" in Kuwait before and had to stick my head under someone's kitchen sink tap when it came time to wash out the foils.  NOT for me.  Equally degrading is having to stick your head in their sink and then being charged the same amount of money you would AT a real salon where you would be pampered and offered something to drink and finished with the latest products offered to you (but not at the home salon).  That just has never done it for me.

But, I thought - ok, I will give it a try and Connie seemed nice.  I knew very little else about her, but I did see some of the photos of people's hair she had cut/colored and they were all fabulous.

I made an appointment.  I got directions to her house. I went.  Didn't know what to expect.

Out came this petite woman with a shiny mane of long, thick hair.  It was sooo pretty (Mashallah) and she probably thought I was being weird because I couldn't stop staring at her!  Was it real?  Was it a wig?  Who did that??  (Her daughter - who she taught.  OMG.)

Connie's salon really is just that - a salon.  Ok, let me back up a little.  It could be a salon in the South (US) maybe - comfortable seating area and nice kitchen area as well as a little terrace outside.  A real salon wash station (reclining chair and salon sink), comfortable salon chairs - the whole experience.  She also has quite a bit of high-dollar products to choose from.

And... Let me just say... ho lee sheet.  Girlfriend is more hair technologically-advanced than almost all of the salons I have been to in Kuwait - and that includes Tony and Guy; which is right up there.  Connie receives more regular training than most stylists in Kuwait do (regularly attending hair shows and conventions and training in the US).  She uses the latest techniques and the equipment she's got in her basement salon is shock-and-awe level.  She's got over $10,000 in sheers, a Wella Climazone (which is a 7000KD piece of equipment used for processing hair color), and uses Jaguar Thermo Sheers (which seal in hair during a cut and makes your hair healthier).  She's got an enormous array of brushes and insists on using only natural bristles.  Me likes.

(Not me)  Photo by @hairbyconniekw

What I liked the most was the personal touch.  There were no snooty, staring customers.  Just me.  I got her full attention. Connie doesn't double-book and likes to take her time (in my case, it was about 4 hours from beginning to end).  Don't freak!  She offered me chicken pot pie that she had just made and has lots of snacks on hand.  Connie's from Kentucky and those women are constantly trying to feed you (love it!!!).  Even when they are about a size 2....

And like most Southern girls, she's gonna tell it like it is.   If you are used to people cow-towing to you and BSing you, Connie is not your girl. She is a straight-talker just like me.  So, when I first sat down and heard her (first, but not last) expression of, "I gotta be honest with you...." about how my hair looked like, "trailer trash", I was like, 'Ok, let's do this.  Show me what you got.  Bring it on.'

(At this point, I already knew that she was about to get a favorable review.)  "We're going to do something different.  Something that  you've probably never had before."  Yup.  It's true.  It happened.

I had asked her just to touch up my roots, but she asked me if she could make my hair healthier and put in some lowlights.  She started by painting my roots with color and then proceeded to do balayage (hand painting individual strands - similar to foil highlights, but she could do several different colors and it is less harsh than foils).

During the time that she was doing my hair, I got to hear about her life's adventures in Kuwait (and how similar we both are).  She's been here for 25 years.  I've been here coming up on 19.  So we played the, "Do you know...." game.  I knew some of her friends.  She knew some of mine.  Kuwait is small. I'm sorry that I hadn't met Connie before because I just felt like I've known her forever in a matter of hours.  My new best friend.

We ended with a lovely cut - just a little off, but it all fell into place with the thermo sheers.  She knew immediately what type of cut I had received before (bad! "chemical cut").  ... Live and learn.

We hugged.  I promised to see her soon.  I went home happy and sleepy and with bagorgeous new hair.  When I got home, Dorothy and BFF were in the kitchen and the "Oh my God!  Oh my God's" started.  "WHERE did you have it done?  Let's call her!  We're going!"

I thought I would freak out by not having platinum blonde hair anymore, but I really like it. It feels better.  It looks better and I have had a lot of compliments (but not at work, where I could walk in wearing a pink wig and a tutu and no one would bat an eye.... Don't dare me... don't....).

So, go to Connie.
As her card says, 
"Free driver service available for those who do NOT have a car.  
Minimum salon service 25kd or 3kd round trip"  
Instagram:  hairbyconniekw.  
Phone 9922-2331

As her card also says, "The greatest form of flattery is a referral."  Connie, consider yourself flattered, girl, because it just doesn't get any better than this.  I can NOT say enough good things about you!  Looking forward to our next hair story.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Lingerie Bandit Strikes Kuwait!!!

Arab Times
4 October 2015

Lingerie thrown on road causes traffic chaos
An unknown individual threw several lingerie materials while driving on Sixth Ring Road, causing traffic congestion. According to sources, motorists driving on Sixth Ring Road were surprised to see several lingerie pieces of various colors lying on the road.

Many of them slowed down while some even stopped to check, which resulted in traffic congestion. When the Operations Room of Ministry of Interior received information about the presence of female underclothes on Sixth Ring Road, securitymen rushed to the location and removed them. 

Investigations have been launched to find and arrest the suspect who threw the lingerie on the road. 
  – end –

Seriously??? Police have nothing better to do than to chase down a lingerie bandit?  You want "shock and awe" in Kuwait?  Throw us your panties.

And puhleeze - from the looks of it, these are "A cups".  Not even worthy of a mention.  You want to do something truly poetic, drop some DDs or larger.  Plenty of big girls around.  I didn't even see any leopard print in these photos and therefore, I am guessing that these were dropped by a teenaged expat.  Fer sure, not Kuwaiti.

(I can't help it.  I love the "Underwear in Kuwait" stories.  Like the many times that bandits hung undergarments from flagpoles and police searched for the suspects....)

Monday, September 28, 2015

Why bother?

Zor, during the Super Moon.  The night of the lunar eclipse.  Warm, balmy temperatures.  No one around.  Peaceful, quiet.  Floating effortlessly in canal of clear sea water.  Little lights flickering in the distance.

There we were; just he and I.  Under the moonlight. No phones.  No friends.  Just talking about our future together.  Re-stating what we had talked about many times before.  Putting the logistics together.  Planning.  Planning when to tell our families.  When we would look for a home,  etc... Holding hands all the way home in the car. Love texts at home to say goodnight.  Making more plans to see each other the next day.

..... Yeah.... I saw him.

I was driving BFF's car when he pulled through the gas station.  I know the car.  I've driven it 100 times before.  His license plate number is burned into my head. He didn't stop to get gas.  I called him and asked him, jokingly, what he was doing and/or who was driving his car.  He laughed and said that I must be crazy; that he was in another part of town in his (male) friend's car, going somewhere with "him".  I know the guy, so I said, "Oh, say hi to Ahmed for me."  He didn't.  Usually he does if the person is sitting next to him. Whatever.

Ok fine, so I drove BFF home and picked up my car to go back to my  house.  Dorothy was with me when I saw him about 10 miles away - in his car - with another woman.  Well, I couldn't tell if she was actually a woman or an under-aged thang, but it was definitely female. Possibly a McChicken.  Maybe she was a young thing and could only see him after school or before 9pm.

I couldn't pull through traffic fast enough and he must have seen me because he made a quick U-turn. I managed to follow.

I called him and asked him to pull over.  I passed him to get a better look and I was directly in front of him.  He slowed to a crawl. I told him that I wanted to trust him, so if she was just a friend, pull over and let me meet her.  He made another quick, evasive U-turn and told me (emphatically) to "go home."  (Really?  Do I ever do what I'm "told" to do?)  He was digging himself in deep and trying to flip it on me, "Why are you following me?!  I hate that.  I don't want this relationship!" I said, 'Why?  Because I just caught you with another woman in your car?'  and so I knew he was a cornered rat and we weren't going to get anywhere with it.

God loves me because He always reveals things like this to me.  Ironically, I hadn't seen his car on the road in maybe 8 months.  He must be an amateur serseree because a professional would have taken her to someplace like Fahaheel; not 5 minutes from my house.

2015 sucks

Ok so here is my question:  If you are a serseree lying no-good so-and-so, why talk about marriage?  It's not necessary.  I'm not a 20 year old, wide-eyed gullible girl who cares about all that.  There is nothing to gain.  He even told his OTT religious mother about it (yes I know it because I know his sisters).  Why bring your family into it?  If  you are a player, spin on, playerman, spin.  (But hey - thank you because you just saved me a shitload of money!)

What was my reaction?   I laughed and shook my head.  I mean - what can you do?  Anybody who is that pathological is sick and it is a blessing that it happened as fast as it did.  I took my dog for a walk.  Sweat it out a little bit.  Ate some lemon cookies and went to sleep (like a baby).  Dorothy and BFF didn't sleep last night. They were worried about me.  I had a feeling that they would take it harder than me.

...  Probably because they know all the horrible, awful, disgraceful, mean things that have happened to me this year and are most likely wondering when I'm going to erupt.    I'm not there quite yet.  At the same time, I would prefer, Dear Universe, that you might give me a break sometime soon?  That would be really nice.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

I had plastic surgery (graphic post-surgery photo)

I've never had surgery.  Not that it freaks me out or anything, but never really thought about it.  So for my 29th (regrettably, again) birthday, my kind/generous/beautiful younger (ok now I'm ready to admit that - but only by 11 months) sister gifted me an upper blepharoplasty and a partial lower bleph.

Here is what they do YOUTUBE CLIP (not me).  The whole procedure took about an hour and a half.  I was asleep. I was all warm and cozy and sedated.  It was like getting a really good massage only coming out looking like a truck hit your face.

Sent the post-surgery pic to some friends via Whatsapp for shock appeal and they thought I was in a car accident.  Ya know.... friends, right?  If they think you have been in a car accident, mighten they try to contact your family and send flowers.  WTF?!

This is when I was all bruised and zombie looking.  Sexy, no?
(my eyes are closed here)

One of my male Kuwaiti friends said to me (after I sent him the gross "after surgery" photo), "Why would you do your eyes?  All I hear about in Kuwait is boobs, but and stomachs.  Why eyes?"  Well friends, I guess it depends what you want out of plastic surgery. I like my B&B.  My stomach I can usually Spanx it if I care to at all (or just stop eating carbs and sugar for like a month and then ... ok still wear Spanx maybe but maybe not.  (Refer to A, please)

When I look at someone, I look at their eyes, not their B&B or upper crotch area, but that's just me.

Is it a huge difference?  Not so that you would notice, but it does make you look less tired and more like "yourself" (or how "yourself" used to look maybe like 3,000 man hours, many meetings, and 100 business proposals/presentations ago).  I have noticed, however, that it is now apparent to myself that I am wearing eye shadow.  Previously, it was lost in there somewhere like a sharpei puppy's folds.

I can hear my sister now...


A) Because I just don't give a shit - at all - ever
2) Because maybe somebody out there is thinking of doing it too and they can axe me what happened.
C) refer to A

Anyhow, my eyes look really good now and I'm happy I did it.  It didn't hurt. I got to take oxy for 2 days and sleep without anybody bothering me.  People have told me that I look "different" but can't figure out why.  Maybe I should tell them I had butt implants and see if they look.  Ha!

I found a place to live

... and it only took 5 months.

Mishref.  It is pretty. There are trees and grass and people who are kind to dogs and even walk them around.  And they don't look at  you funny or stare at your butt.

Tomas Czerwinski at Kuwait 4 Rent found it for me. He's my hero.  He probably knows it by this point.  He seems like a shy young fellow so I can't tell.

This has been the Year of Disappointment.  I have had so many apartments fall through at the last minute.

Jambalaya boy, I hate you, seriously.  I understand why you don't want to leave, but I still hate you for it. JB showed me his apartment in a lovely little villa.  JB said he was going to move out soon and I could come see it, so I did.   It is older and has character.  I walked in and it felt like home.  Several days prior, I had taken Lovely Libra's advice and asked for Divine intervention.  After looking at several shithole apartments, I pulled the car over and requested that God help me find an apartment with 2 bedrooms, a yard for my dogs, a swimming pool and I didn't want to pay more than 500kd.  BFF was with me and interjected, "and a jacuzzi," so I added that too.  JB's place was all that.  I had some things to fix, but ohmydamn... perfect.  I was hooked and I started looking at paint samples and thinking about furniture placement.  Ok so JB gets to looking around in the local market and best I can tell, he's not liking what he's seeing either and decides not to move.

Anyhooser, after that came disappointment after disappointment.  I even left the farm so I had no where to keep even my furniture. Disappointed also in my farm friends, but totally different story.

I just arrived last Thursday from the States ('nother post).  We had to move out of BFF's home by Thursday morning because her family was scheduled in for a vacation at her place.

I have a friend who was looking for a place too, so we decided to share (I refuse to call her a room mate because we are both adults and I never thought I would be sharing again. I feel like one of the Golden Girls.  Preferably Blanche.)  She found a place. Sounded perfect.  I decided to take it sight-unseen.  Came back Thursday.  By Monday, was told of the 1100 kd deposit that everybody neglected to tell me about.  'Why you lookin' at me?  I'm not paying 1100 kd..... ' Anyhoo, looked at another shithole Monday night (if you can't read your customer, you are in the wrong business).  and looked at 2 nice places on Tuesday.

Sidebar:  Real estate people:  Read your customers well. Size them up.  Look at what they are wearing.  What kind of car they are driving.  Footwear.  You can probably determine what type of a place they are looking for.  I don't think I scream, 'Please sir, show me a shithole because I really would love to live there.'

Frost Real Estate and my friend, Marty, were very kind in helping me out. They had a few places.  The problem is that I'm incurring storage fees every month and I needed unfurnished,  Anyways, long-story-short, I took the second one that Tomas showed me in Mishref.   (Tomas' business partner is a man I've met a few times and that knows most of my friends.  Small world.)

Signed on it Wednesday morning and moved in that same night.  I still have to wait to get my furniture out of storage, but that's no big deal.  They also have to do some painting between now and Sunday, so I'll pick up my big dog on Sunday night.

The family will be reunited.

Let's just see if Mikey eats Dorothy's cat.  (That wasn't a metaphor, pervs.  I mean the girl I'm living with has a cat.)

Oh!  This morning (first morning in the new apartment) I woke up to hear a lawnmower.  I have been hearing that noise all summer in Virginia because either our lawn or the neighbors' is getting cut.  But wait... where am I and whaaaaaaaaat?  GRASS!  I live somewhere where there is grass and trees.

Orangutan Smuggled into Kuwait Repatriated

Finally!  I have something decent to post about.

I met a Kuwaiti someone over the summer who was trying to buy a chimp.  He didn't make it to friend level.  Anyone who would do that isn't worth my spit if they were on fire.  Most of the babies are taken from the lifeless bodies of their dead mothers; as poachers shoot the mothers so they can snatch the babies.  Effing sick.  (Think about THAT one next time you drive by the maternity hospital...)

Staff from Indonesian embassy and Kuwait Zoo bid farewell to the primate

The Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in Kuwait in cooperation with the Kuwait Zoo has successfully and safely returned home the orangutan, that was illegally smuggled to Kuwait in July 2015, to Indonesia by Kuwait Airways KU415 on Sept 13 and landed in Jakarta on Sept 14 at 15:50 local time. The repatriation of the orangutan is an implementation of the strong commitment both from Government of Indonesia and authorities in Kuwait to preserve the endangered species as listed by CITES which, unfortunately, includes the orangutan.  (DG note:  WHY is that unfortunate?  It is GREAT.  GREAT that they are listing these animals and confiscating them!)

The Government of Indonesia will hold into account anyone involved in this illegal activity and bring the perpetrator to the court. There were two female orangutans of 1,5 years and 6 months respectively sent to Kuwait without proper documentation in July 2015. The baby orangutan will be taken care of in Kuwait in order to give it the ability of feeding by herself before being flown home

--- end ---

And WTF was Kuwait Airways doing allowing an endangered animal to be brought to Kuwait?  Oh wait... I just said "Kuwait Airways," didn't I?    Duuh moment.

Whoever did the busting in Kuwait:  I LOVE YOU!!!  Some of us have been waiting for this type of law enforcement for DECADES.  Good for you guys!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

US Defense Contractors in Kuwait - Read This

Ah, you can smell it in the air... the adrenaline is running a little higher.  The twitch of an eye.  The discreet American business development people quietly filtering through Kuwait International Airport with their heads down, as if not to attract attention. ("Who do you work for?") The increase of American guests at the Hilton....

That's right... KBOSSS is up for re-bid this year.
(More on KBOSSS to follow below)

This post relates to employee rights for people working on US military contracts in Kuwait.  What you should know. What you're probably not being told.  It is relevant now, as this 5-year contract will attract more employees to Kuwait who probably have no clue what to ask for and/or expect. Relevant also for those who have been working 18 hour days (as an example) on the current contract, and have never been paid overtime.

I posted several articles previously regarding how foreign companies (non-Kuwaiti that is) handle overtime to their employees and enforcement of the Kuwait Labor Law.  To date, most companies do not comply/work in accordance with local law (even though they specifically state on ALL US Government contracts that they are).  Why not?  Because if they wrote overtime into their proposals, the prices would increase dramatically.

Also, there is a cap on overtime an employee is ALLOWED to work in Kuwait:  180 hours per YEAR (not week/month).  YEAR.  If you're working more than this, it is illegal.

Anyhoo, here are several previous posts on the Kuwait Labor Law and how it applies to folks hired to work here:

 (American Girl's World Post) Americans Seek Dues Per Kuwait Labor Law (Update)

Kuwait Base Operations & Security Support Services (KBOSSS)

KBOSSS is not the only US military contract in Kuwait, but it is one of the largest;  employing a majority of Western contractors.

Contract Summary

The KBOSSS contract covers peripheral services to the US Military that can be completed by one single large contractor (called the “prime contractor”) and subcontracted to local or international vendors.  The prime contractor must be large enough to be able to handle the entire workload of the contract.  The contract covers all US military installations in Kuwait.

Areas of Coverage of the KBOSSS Contract

The major functional areas of this contract include but are not limited to:

  • Administrative Publications
  • Postal Services
  • Operations
  • Logistics (DOL) – Travel, lease vehicles
  • Safety
  • Information Management Systems
  • Engineering (DPW)
  • Medical Services
  • Installation Support (Morale, Welfare, and Recreation – MWR)
  • Security and Fire (DES) 

Civilian Entitlements 

Through local and international law, the following entitlements are basic to employees working on US Military installations in Kuwait:

Article 18 Visa – In order to be badged (granted access to work on bases/camps), employees must have a valid Kuwaiti Article 18 visa.  (That means that they are covered under the Kuwait Labor Law.)

Kuwait Labor Law Entitlements.  Specifically overtime stipulations (Article 66):

The local labor law, Kuwait Labor Law, is very specific as to the number of hours each employee can work and sets a cap on the number of hours per week and per year that an employee can work:

Kuwait Labor Law Overtime Stipulation:
Article 66:  Without prejudice to Articles (21) and (64) of this Law, the employer may, by means of a written order,  have workers work overtime if the necessity arises for the purpose of preventing a dangerous accident, repairing damages arising from such accident, avoiding a loss or facing an unusual work load.  The overtime work should not exceed two hours a day, a maximum of 180 hours a year, three days a week or 90 days a year.  The worker shall have the right to prove by any means that the employer required him to perform additional works for an additional period of time. The worker shall also be entitled to a 25 percent increase over his original remuneration for the period of overtime.

Combatting in Human Trafficking (CIHT) – (Federal Acquisition Regulation Subpart 22-17).  This is an “anti-slavery” requirement and it applies to fair and ethical treatment of employees; how they are paid; how they are housed, etc.  The US Government is taking a very firm stand on CIHT and this law applies to employees in Kuwait on this contract.

DBA - Western employees must be covered (by law and by contract) by Defense Base Act Insurance.  DBA Insurance is in addition to either local (Government) insurance or private insurance.  DBA is designed to provide medical treatment and compensation to employees of defense contractors injured in the scope and course of employment.  Are you covered under DBA?  Ask your employer to see their certificate with your name on it.  BAM.

Cutting Corners

In order to win the prime contract, some  bidders have (historically) cut corners by not abiding by the Kuwait Labor Law.  They do not factor overtime, 30 days paid vacation, or other stipulations which would increase their labor costs into their proposals. 

Employees hired in the US may be asked to sign papers stating that they agree to work extended periods (even up to 18 hour days, 6 days a week) at a single salary rate.  These documents are not valid or legal in Kuwait as there is no jurisdiction and employees hold Article 18 visas.  They are civilians and therefore not covered under any military exemptions as service members.

Note that in the US there is a difference between management and labor.  Management is not paid overtime (and generally receives a higher salary); whereas labor is paid overtime.  Under the Kuwait Labor Law, there is no difference between management and labor; all fall under the Kuwait Labor Law (and please - do not take my word for it - ask a lawyer).

All prime contractors have both local and international legal advisors.  The local labor law has historically been brushed aside by all prime contractors.  Small numbers of employees have filed class action suits.

Lack of Labor Monitoring of Subcontractors

Prime contractors often (again historically) do not properly monitor subcontractors (usually local vendors):  Local vendors may propose much lower prices because they are practicing illegally and not paying in accordance with the Kuwait labor Law or CIHT laws.  Subcontractors most likely utilize only TCN labor, so these employees are less likely to be able to stand up for their rights.

Employee Legal Alternatives

When employees educate themselves on the Kuwait Labor Law, and document (keep track of their accumulated overtime), they have a case in the Kuwait courts. 

However, the prime contractor may choose to disregard the Kuwait Labor Law and immediately ask the employee to board a plane and leave the country without indemnity or the legally-required 90 days termination notification.  In this case, it becomes a very expensive, difficult, and lengthy process for the employee and he/she usually gives up without a fight.

With the risk of immediate termination/return to the US, employees who have accumulated and documented overtime and have any further entitlements (vacation pay, etc), may choose to wait until the end of the contract period (NOW) to contact legal representation in Kuwait; as they are in less danger of losing their jobs.

Process for Suing for Back-Pay in Kuwait

Prime Contractors always use sponsorship companies in Kuwait.  There are several sponsorship companies in Kuwait. Several may be used in the local market.   These companies are responsible for processing all employee documentation, providing drivers licenses, and sometimes providing accommodation, vehicles, and travel.

As the employee is under a sponsor company’s visa, and not directly with the prime contractor, the employee must sue the sponsor company; and in turn, the sponsor company must request the funds be paid by the prime contractor (or the sponsor company must sue the prime contractor).

Consider also filing the case with colleagues under a class-action type suit.

Finding a Lawyer

I've been here 20 years.  I have talked to a LOT of lawyers.  I've asked for advice, mostly.  I have had several instances (including recently) where I have had to retain a lawyer.  It is mostly word-of-mouth.  You will find lawyers through the US Embassy's website.  (The mission of the US Embassy is NOT to help Americans with their legal problems, so don't try to go that route.)

Here is who I choose to endorse/recommend:

Pauline Bond
International Paralegal & Business Development Mgr
Universal Legal Group
Web site :
E-Mail :
Mob : +965 51787843
Hot-line : 1844440

Pauline is British, and is a paralegal.  She is not a lawyer. She is a paralegal and will listen to your issue, provide advise on how to proceed, and then basically package it for the legal group of lawyers to determine if  you have a case and what the next steps are. 

And no, I'm not getting paid to endorse her or her firm.  She is a friend and genuinely wants to assist people.  How did I find her?  She found me - through the blog when she heard I was having problems with my landlord.  She reached out and has been very informative, supportive, and tenacious (which is important in Kuwait as a lot of firms will take your money and sit on it without any results). I met with 3 other lawyers before I met with Pauline on my case.  One of them took 100KD from me (non-refundable) just for signing a power of attorney with him and then never answered ANY of my calls.

I have reached out to a LOT of firms in Kuwait during my  years here and it is hard to find people who actually listen to you, speak the same language, and can be of assistance.  If I endorse anyone, it is because I believe in their service or product.

Your choice. 

How Much is It Going to Cost You?

Your initial consultation should be free.  Get ready to drink some tea/coffee and make small talk.  (And please- PR people!  If you want to be remembered or have people do stuff for you - send your lawyer a little gift or whatever. Stand out and get results.)

Generally, a lawyer will take between 500 - 1000 KD for a civil labor suit of this nature and 10-15% of any settlement money.  There are also filing fees with the court that you must pay (I believe approximately 130 KD for a civil suit).

You don't HAVE to be in the country to receive your settlement.  As long as you have signed a power of attorney allowing your lawyer to act on your behalf, your settlement can be sent to you where ever in the world you are.

[Note this:  Usually refers to criminal acts where the po-po pick you up for drinking or whatever.  If a lawyer (or their associate) is EVER called out of the office, be sure that there is a fee involved (usually hourly rate); ASK before having them come out to (where ever) to help you.]

How long is it going to take?

It could take years and your court date may be set back several times based on whims.  Be patient.  It will happen.  I've never heard of a labor case being lost by any employee who was trying to fight it. You might not get the maximum amount, but the case is generally won.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Truly Fascinating Summer

....  not....

This has been one of the hottest summers that I can remember.  Heat approaches 50c almost on a daily basis and if there isn't a dust storm on the weekend, it is a miracle.  I (like most people here this summer) am tired, cranky and just not in a mood.

I'm not even in a mood to post stuff on the blog. That's really bad because it is therapy.

I have tried hanging out at the farm, but that gets boring.  Now, my farm mates want to rent it out to strangers on the weekends because THEY need the money.  I'm going to look for my own damn farm with a few female friends who are reliable and (obviously) won't try to sneak ho's in every now and then or wait till I'm sleeping at 2 am to turn the music up full blast so that the planes passing overhead at 30,000 feet can hear.  F that.  I'm going to move my goats and pack up my junk.  Que cera.  It makes me sad, but alas I guess change is good.

I'm still not in my own apartment yet.  I'm staying with BFF.   She's on vacation in a foreign and exotic country.   I have decided (by friends repeatedly asking me a question: "What is it that you really want to do with your life?") that I am an interior decorator at heart.  BFF leaves the country and (with her permission this time), I start to decorate.  Her place is looking faaaabulous and I am actually going to be sad to move out.  I hope she's going to like it.  (I do....)

My Dream Crib should be ready mid-September.  (If not, you will read about my suicide in the paper. Donations should be made to animal rescue organizations in lieu of flowers.)  I have seen about 30,000 apartments now and this place stole my heart.  Its like it is the ONLY one for me and the kids.  My friend lives there now and he's looking for a bigger apartment (3 br).  I know I'm a pain in the ass, but I can't stop worrying that I won't be able to move in, so I send him reminders to the tune of, 'GET OUT!!!' and 'When ya leaving?'  or when I see him on FB at a restaurant, stuff like, 'I hope you're taking a realtor out to lunch....'   (I'm sorry, seriously---  I am.  But I'm pretty sure God has destined me to live there.  I'm an obsessed  woman in love... just so happens to be with your apartment.  I feel that I must stalk it.... yes yes, that is me hiding in the shadows, trying to determine what color I might paint it or where I should place my furniture.... )

My dogs are still with friends. It has been months and months.   I have been very worried about Mike because he stopped eating after I brought him back after he spends weekends with me.  I haven't seen him in a few weeks to let him fatten up.  I haven't seen Desert Dawg at all and I am really guilty of that.  I know she is safe and happy with my friend, but I just haven't gotten down there to visit.

Anyways, I'm tired and I can't wait to go on vacation.  I wish I could take my dogs.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

EEK! Magazine Poll to Expats on the Bombing in Kuwait

I'm glad to see that EEK! Magazine is starting up again after a while out of service.  They sent a very interesting poll a few weeks ago after the suicide bombing at the Imam Sadiq Mosque in Kuwait.  I'm publishing my responses below:

1)   As an expat living in Kuwait, would you mind sending us your thoughts on Friday’s attack in GENERAL TERMS?

I cried.  I am incredibly sad for Kuwait; however I am proud of my second home for how fast they united and showed solidarity between religious sects.  All ONE Kuwait.

I think this event seems more personal because technology has changed and has brought something that might be 5-10-20 miles away from you into your living room.    I've been in Kuwait since 1996.  There have been security issues - big ones - during this time, but not bombings.  We didn't immediately receive information because, until recently, smart phones with apps like Twitter and Instagram weren't common.  Now, everyone has the technology, and you could be sitting in your home (or boat, or car, or at the beach)  watching events evolve.  You see the images instantly.  They're raw and uncensored.  You feel the emotions along with the person feeling them (like when I saw HH the Emir's face after witnessing the aftermath of the bombing).

2)   I more specific terms, could you comments briefly on the following statements:

 a)   I think this was a once-of event and will likely not happen again

This is not a one-off event.  Although it was carried out by a Saudi national, it was assisted by Kuwaiti stateless (Bidoon) people.  The Bidoon situation in Kuwait has been going on for several generations. It is a breeding ground for "deviant" ideology to come in and take root in the country (and I am not placing blame on the Bidoon population).  Young men are hopeless (many are without educations, jobs, a way to help their families, and are not able to marry because of their economic situation). Many are denied drivers licenses or passports.  When you lose hope, there is vulnerability.  Terrorist groups like ISIS (and others) have an open opportunity to offer a little hope through deviant religious beliefs and a sense of (displaced) "family"/community. Before this event, the Bidoon have been blamed for crime in the country.  This suicide bombing may be a turning point as now they are being trained in explosives and other means.   Unless the Bidoon issue is specifically addressed and a solution(s) is found, there will only be an increase in violence. I believe that the Government is aware of the potential threat;   If not, there would be no need to purchase urban warfare equipment, water cannons, rubber bullets, etc.

 b) Malls are targets and I will choose very carefully

This was true even before the recent events.  There is added security at the #1 most popular mall in Kuwait, but there is nothing in place to ensure that large bombs can't be brought into their underground parking lots.  Metal detectors aren't the answer, but sniffer detection dogs are and mall owners should start considering them as an option.  I try to avoid times when there are large amounts of people in the mall. It is never a good idea; from someone with a knife (or a bomb)  to someone with the flu - I don't need to be that close to anyone.

 c)   My concern is real and I feel uneasy

It is a real concern because now this recent attack has shown the vulnerability of security in Kuwait.  There are holes - just like there were prior to 9/11 in the States.  The age of innocence is gone.  

 d)   I will think twice now before attending places frequented by expats

I always think twice, but any time something terrible happens, it just deepens my caution.

 e)   I do not feel threatened by the attack at all, it can happen anywhere

It can happen anywhere, but in my almost 20-years in Kuwait, I've learned to be vigilant.  You have to be.  Don't wear your big American flag T-shirt, for example.  Know your surroundings.  Have a "plan B".  And for your own sake - make friends with Kuwaitis because in a real emergency, they may be the only people who can help you.

 f)   My family and I are so affected we are thinking of leaving Kuwait

I disagree with this statement.  My family here consists of 2 dogs, 1 parrot, and 5 goats,  We are all just fine here.

 g) Another attack like this and we will definitely leave the region

My mother is in her 80's.  I don't know if I want to put HER through the stress, but I feel fine about staying.  I love Kuwait and feel safe here overall.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Illegal Big Cats of Kuwait

Repost from Ladies Who Do Lunch in Kuwait.  (Thanks, Girl!)

Sick, horrible, and dangerous trade.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Suicide Bombing in Kuwait: Love Prevails

There are positive things emerging after the bombing here on Friday.  Contrary to the wishes of the terrorists, the country is unifying - and quickly.  Social media is springing to life with positive messages of solidarity.  People are acting out of kindness.

Although on a smaller scale, it is similar to what happened after 9/11 in the States.  "I fear you just woke up a sleeping bear."

Here are links to some of the positive shows of force around the country:

Kuwaitiful:  We Always Thought It Would Never Reach Us
(This one contains a video clip which I LOVE. Translated, it is a father telling his son that if anyone asks you, "Are you Sunni or Shiite?" you look them in the eyes and say, "I am Kuwaiti.")
Alison & Peter:  Dear Kuwait:
Ladies Who Do Lunch in Kuwait: 

Unfortunately, this is not the first time Kuwaitis were killed on their own soil by terrorism.  In the 1980's, the Fisherman's Diwaniya (next to Marina Crescent - at the T of Hamad Mubarak Street and the Gulf Road) was bombed and many innocent people lost their lives.  Someone drove a car into the diwaniya and ignited a bomb.

History is bound to repeat itself as long as people don't know their past!  No one talks about negative history here.  It is like it never happened.  Learn, educate, and find solutions for the future.

But back on a positive note:  Love always wins over hate and I'm glad to see that good things are coming out of bad.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Attack on Kuwait: Sad day for my second home

The attack on a Shiite mosque on Friday morning wasn't about attacking Shiites.  It was an attack on Kuwait.  As such, the country has come together within a few short days.

I cried when I saw the photos on Instagram.  I cried when I saw the emotions on HH the Emir's face as he witnessed the destruction.  This isn't about our divisions; it is about our commonality.

I was at the farm, miles away from where it happened.  But, I know the mosque well (Imam Sadiq Mosque).  It is directly behind the building where I worked for 5 years when I first came to Kuwait.  I was new here.  I didn't know much about anything.  But, from my desk, I could hear the beautiful voice of the muezzin, welcoming people to prayer during the day.  I could always hear the emotion in his voice (and could tell when he wasn't feeling his best or had a cold). It was always very soothing; and I was hoping that he wasn't hurt in the blast.

Kuwait is like a small town.  Everybody knows everybody. (And everybody talks - which is probably why they were able to identify some of the suspects so quickly.)  I was immediately certain that I know someone who was directly affected by the attack; who either had a friend or a loved-one who was injured or killed (27 dead, over 200 injured).  I was correct.  Within hours, friends told me that their friends and professors or someone they worked with had died.

The talk at the farm was all about what happened - and my Kuwaiti friends' solidarity with other Kuwaitis (regardless of religious beliefs).  They were talking about their plans to go to a Shiite mosque for the next Friday prayers to show their support.  All of my friends planned to attend the mass funerals yesterday (where thousands of people showed up and stood together in 107 degree temperatures).

Coming back from the farm yesterday (the day after the attack), I completely expected there to be checkpoints around Kuwait. I had my registration and license close at hand.   There were numerous checkpoints during 2003 when American troops were moving into Iraq.  It only makes sense that there would be checkpoints around Kuwait.  But there wasn't even one.  I noticed more police patrol cars on the roads, but no checkpoints.  Maybe we've had a huge leap in technology since 2003 rendering checkpoints fruitless?  I don't know.  I would probably felt much more secure if I had had to drive through one.

Three weeks ago, I had borrowed a friend's truck to go to the beach to take my big dog, beach gear, and other friends.  The transmission gave out along the way and I was able to pull the truck into a parking lot at a mosque where I thought it would be safe to leave until we could get a tow truck.  The police came around approximately five times, asking us to move it.  They were concerned because there had been a terrorist attack at a mosque in Saudi Arabia recently  They were adamant that we move the car, so we did.  I wasn't upset, but perplexed by the hightened security.  How far do precautions go?

I guess now it is the end of innocence at mosques.  I've seen metal detectors being installed.  I hope that the tighter security will continue.  It is necessary I think.

I'm wondering if this is a spark that will unify the country against a common enemy.  I hope that people's eyes have been opened.  This kind of hatred can't be allowed to continue.  We are all ONE Kuwait.