Thursday, March 27, 2008

It's Desert Girl, Bitch! Danger, Danger, Danger, Danger

Have you heard Britney's song, "Gimme More"? That is The Romanian and my theme song. I like 2 parts of the song: in the beginning when she says, "It's Britney BITCH" [which in Kuwait sounds like, "It's Britney bi" (and then leaves you hangin')] and at the end when dude says, "danger, danger, danger, danger." And the main morale of the song is that if you get a leetle sex, you want a leetle more (that's just a DG's interpretation). Anyhoo, a wonderful theme song for me this morning. (Need I say more; wink wink, nudge nudge?)

Let’s start with some amusing, creative bitching, shall we? Usually, when I’m naked and running around my apartment trying to get ready for work in the morning (my neighbors across the street love me), I turn on CNN. I would just like to know WHAT THE PHUCK WERE THEY THINKING this morning? Who CARES about Heathrow’s Terminal 5? (I stopped traveling on BA when they got all weird on their security procedures – shit BA/Heathrow – take an example from KLM/Schipol. All the security without the 3-hour lines and luggage limitations. How many customers did you lose forever???) Ok, interesting news snipet, but just that – a snipet. Nothing to go on and on about for 30 minutes when people are trying to find out what the PHUCK is happening in the world! They could have turned to Kuwait and the tribal riots last night. Riots! In Kuwait. Way cool.

What I want to know is this: What happens when the riot police are from the same tribe that is rioting? Is that why some of them had their faces covered? Dudes, can’t we all just get along? I noticed that Al-Watan Daily had much more coverage of the story than the Arab Times (the usually-outspoken Mr. Ahmed Al-Jarallah wrote about Syria...). I wish someone would have told me that there was going to be such a large gathering of Bedouin men so close to my home. Damn – it was like a buffet. I would have put on something cheap and slutty and gone down there (perhaps even my new PINK shoes!). So much passion in the air! This photo (in the Arab Times today) shows security forces grabbing the problem by the ...

So much excitement! Cojones.

I have met some VERY funny people lately through this blog. OMG! I sit at my desk cracking up all day (no! Of course I’m not getting any work done – I’m still in recovery. It pissed me off that I got sick while on a BUSINESS trip and no one even called me from my office – except our HR/Admin guy who I’m crushin on – to see if I was still alive. They owe me.).

Anyhoo, back to my caffeine-induced story.

There must be something in da stahs (the stars) lately. The people I am meeting – who know very little about me other than years of BS on this here blog – as so much like me and so “in tune” with me. It is as if we are long-lost friends or something. I love it, but at the same time, it is freaky how accurately they know me. Me likes.

I met a friend, Spawn, who has been kicked out of anger management several times and I SO AGREE with his philosophy: you go to anger management to sit in a room full of stupid people because stupid people have pissed you off. Do you catch the irony? This is why it probably wouldn’t work for me either. Stupid people piss me off. He’s moving to Kuwait soon and I have already warned him that Kuwait is the Center of the Universe for Stupid People. I’m not generalizing on any nationality/race/creed/color/sexual preference: I’m just saying that ALL the stupid people everywhere in the world converge in Kuwait to drive (for example): Most recently, on 4th & 5th ring roads. Lots of them have also been spotted around Hawalli and Shuwaikh recently.

I, through the help of Spawn, have concluded that I am an ENCE: Emotionally Needy, Challenged, and Explosive. (ENCE could also refer to the photo above, but we're talking about ME now!)

Well, dude sounds a lot more relaxed now and maybe he can help me work through some of my many many many ENCE issues. If not, Ace Hardware has a lovely selection of chainsaws and maybe I can work off some of my pent up aggression in that manner.

Spawn says that his anger management coach’s name is Dick. Well, my anger management coach could be Dick too. So could be my stress manager – Dick. Personally, I could use Dick to solve many of my problems. I think that those people who are able to overcome obstacles in their lives – with the help of Dick – are generally kinder, nicer people. All we really need in the world is MORE DICK. (Ok, perhaps a little less at riots...)

Okay, and on to my other new buddy that I met over this blog – I will call him Energy Guy – has been sending amazingly insightful e-mails. It is like we have known eachother forever and we just haven’t called.

Is the Universe phuckin with me again? It seems to happen in Spring.

Did I mention how much I adore Spring? It is the time of rebirth and renewal: everything comes full circle again and the flowers are blooming.

My dad died on March 29th, two years ago. The wind blew as I walked up to his home and I remember the smell of the flowers and the cherry blossoms sweeping across his walkway. If he had died during the cold of winter, it would have been much worse. I think that it is just the continuation/cycle of life. I think that he was ready to go – maybe to join his sister, my aunt Virginia, who he loved so much. I miss you, Daddy.

The day that my father died, I got into a huge “emotional state” with The Man. I can’t remember being so sad and upset: I was on the sofa just sobbing. At the time, I thought it was all about The Man: Not so in reality. It was at the same time that my father was passing away. I think part of me knew that my dad was going. I’m kind of psychic (especially when I’m emotional) and I remember asking The Man if one of his uncles was sick because I felt very strongly that he would die. I remember telling him that if he knew someone like that, he should go to him and talk to him immediately. I was projecting – it was about my own father. We all get signs, it is just how you interpret them.

The Man has managed to piss me off again – though, truth be told, it is my fault. It is so interesting with some creative psychological aspects; and I wish I could write more, but so many people here know who I am and I can’t be anonymous about it – too personal. Basically, whenever I have sent him any messages or SMSs during this past year, he has shown other people, who then send me messages mocking me. It seems rather cruel and childish, doesn’t it? Why not just ignore the messages? Why would I continue to send him messages one might ask? Well, probably because I don’t care if I’m mocked – I want him to know that (at least my) love doesn’t die (even if you try your damndest to kill it); that sometimes you just miss someone and want to reach out: Even if the recipient takes what is intended to be a gesture of kindness and turns it into something ugly. In my opinion, if I do something good intentions; then it is just that. If someone twists it somehow, well… that’s between them and powers-that-be on judgment day. It is interesting how people have different perspectives (vantage points).

And now – for something completely different.

My mommy will be here soon. Yippeeeeeee! I can’t wait. She hasn’t been here since 2000, and this is her 4th or 5th trip here. I’ve changed most of my living room furniture and I’m cleaning everything and buying new stuff. I’m on a mission. I had 2 sets of slipcovers made for my sofa (off white and deep purple/eggplant). The dude at the furniture store said that only 1 in 100 customers ask for slipcovers when they are making their sofas. I don’t understand that – especially if you have kids that mess everything up. It just makes sense to be able to change the entire look of your place with different fabrics and colors.

(Sidebar: On the subject of decorating/creative types: Have you noticed on Showtime how the series "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" is called "Fab 5"? Is "queer" a bad word? Methinks not; especially when the word "transvestite" has been plastered all over the newspapers here lately as they are rounding up and arresting tranies in Kuwait.)

Anyways, I’m trying to plan a large dinner party for when my mother comes here (wish the Fab 5 were here!), but I haven’t been able to find a suitable venue. I don’t want someplace impersonal like a banquet hall. I was thinking about someplace with a pool. Does anyone know a villa you can rent? It’s a party for my mother not for strippers for crying out loud!

Bunny was there when I made my furniture back in 2003 and he has been helping me with the new stuff. I can’t wait till its done. I’ve been running around to all the cool furniture stores taking pictures of what I want (before the security guards catch me) to have made in Dhajeej. Well, my kickass entertainment stand was off the intenet. Anyhoo, I wish Bunny had more time in his life for me, me, me. Between his job, his 5 kids, his widowed-sister’s 5 kids, his need to buy cars for every single person old enough to drive in his family… there is no time for me me me. I’m an ENCE! I need the attention.

I thank God for friends like him (and my new friends and my not-so-new friends) every day of my life.

Monday, March 24, 2008

My Business Trip to Mersin, Turkey

I went to Turkey – to Mersin on the eastern Mediterranean coast. I had only heard of Mersin before when I worked for PWC/Agility and they were just breaking ground on a warehouse there. I knew very little about the country. The area is kind of like the Turkish version of our very own Redneck Riviera in the US. I arrived at the airport in Adana, which is approximately 45 minutes to my final destination. I went without (really) studying a map or learning any Turkish – which I regretted. Adana airport is very small, but it does house two large duty free shops full of liquor (and very little else). As I waited for my luggage to arrive on the airports one carousel, the shop clerks waved me in. They had vodka from everywhere in the world – in ever imaginable bottle. I liked the hot-pink bottle called, “For Girls”. I asked the burly Turkish clerk if he had ever tried it. He shook his head rigorously and made me laugh. (I bet he had!) Out there, in the middle of nowhere, I found a very nice bottle of 2005 Chilean Cabernet Savignon – my favorite (unfortunately, I got sick as soon as I got to the hotel and only enjoyed half a glass. The bottle looked pretty in the room, however.).

I was invited to attend the “1st International Business Women Congress” by The Association of Enterprising Business Women, GISKAD. 250 women from different countries… and then me. There were women from Kazakhstan, Egypt, Moldova, Syria, UAE, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Sudan, Tunisia, Ukraine, Italy, Pakistan and Turkey.

I was the only person representing Kuwait. That’s right – me, an American – representing my country, Kuwait. [H.E. Nouriyah Sabieh (Minister of Education) was also supposed to attend from Kuwait, but didn’t. I had really looked forward to meeting her too, so I was quite disappointed.] In a strange, ironic way; many of the women at the conference actually thought I was Kuwaiti. “Why do you speak with an American accent?” (Not that I would mind being Kuwaiti, but what is wrong with that picture? Ever played that game as a kid, “One of these things doesn’t fit with the others”?) I really felt duty-bound to be on my best behavior (or at least appear to be). I was the only Westerner there (but definitely NOT the only blonde there – and OMG what blondes!) The CEO of our company asked me if I was behaving as an American or a Kuwaiti. After pondering that question: I think that perhaps due to the level of diplomacy required, I behaved more like a Brit.

As far as appearances go, I was one of the few who weren’t wearing spandex, stretch-satin, sequins, fishnet stockings, or rhinestones. One young lady had the words, “playboy” prominently displayed down both arms on her shirt. There were many mini-skirts and lots of tricky-clicky stiletto shoes. Lots of women wore jeans or athletic clothing. There was an enormous amount of hideous hairstyles that seemed to have come out of the early ‘60s, held together obviously with glue and boatloads of hairspray. There were equal amounts of Russian Red (that is actually a color by MAC) lipstick, black nail polish and bad perfume. Yes yes, did I mention it was a business conference? Out of all fairness, the exact type of business was only mentioned in the invitations/documents several hundred times.

I would love to be able to write a saleable story about this, but I can’t. First, because the tourism people paid for (most of) my trip and their hospitality was just overwhelming. I don’t want to dis a group of people who have been so kind (and get paid for it), so I can vent here in an anonymous forum (my blog) with (hopefully) no fear of getting in trouble or upsetting anyone. Well, I’m not disrespecting the organizers: It was, after all, their first attempt at such a forum. Organizing an event with 250 women can not possibly go off without a hitch. Hopefully, if any one of them ever reads this, they’ll know that I’m looking at it from a humorous/interesting perspective rather than trying to be demeaning.

We were organized into 2 groups: The group at the good hotel and the group at “the other one”. I was in the “other one”: The Taksim Hotel: 46 floors and no air conditioning; Every room a smoking room and not a single window that you could open. I asked for a room on a lower floor (fire, earthquake?) and was told that the hotel level starts at 32. I was on 37. My ears popped every time I rode the elevator. It was the first “5 star” hotel that I’ve ever stayed in that didn’t accept American Express. It was also the only “5 star” with actual holes in the furniture and stains on the floors. The good hotel was the Hilton right on the sea. I couldn’t even see the sea from my room. The Taksim reminded me A LOT of the Al-Rasheed Hotel in Baghdad. I think they both used the same decorator: NASTEH. Whatever 3rd world cleaning fluid they used on the floors was also identical; I don’t know what it is, but it smells like burning wood. I smelled it in Egypt as well.

Everybody smokes in Turkey! I thought that Kuwait was bad in this regard, but Turkey is the worst. I went to Turkey with a bad cold. I’ve got asthma and couldn’t breathe. Then, I got feverish. I went outside at one point to “get some fresh air” and a little old lady wearing hejab sat down right next to me and lit up! Even little old ladies?

I don’t know if their local community is really ready for a business women’s conference. The night before the conference, we were provided with packets including our itinerary and “Guide for Businessmen”. We were herded like cattle into the little ballroom of the Hilton in Mersin, and then practically trampled by the onslaught of male Turkish media covering the event who bumped the participants out of the way; I’m sure you know the type – pony tails and khaki men.

Unfortunately, the female participants talked, and generally behaved badly through most of the opening presentations (and not even in a “reserved” Kuwaiti fashion). It reminded me of the old days in Salmiya Cinema. All that was missing were the laser pointers. It was disheartening that women in a group should prove the stereotype that women talk too much (obviously, some do!). It wasn’t a civilized group. The Russians were shouting translations across to each other behind me. The Syrians were just talking to each other as if nothing was happening at the front of the room. The Sudanese women were actually pretty well behaved throughout the opening – probably because they had a speaker in the opening ceremony. People smoked in the back of the room. It was a circus. We had an interpreter into English through headsets, but unfortunately I couldn’t understand a word of what they were saying because the accents were so thick. I finally got up and walked in front of the sea (I couldn’t walk too close because unfortunately there was a chain link fence between the sea and the hotel.)

During lunch at the 1st International Business WOMEN Congress, the men rushed first to the buffet line: So much for ladies first. Even the rent-a-cops ate first. To add insult to injury, I stood in the corridor outside the ballroom after lunch waiting for the next program and a man started shouting at me in Turkish. I had no idea what he wanted, so I asked him, “What do you want?” He pushed me! It turned out that he was one of the Minister of State’s security guards. Well gee, no one told me. I had no idea. I was wearing a badge and everything – he wasn’t. (Once again, at the Business WOMEN Congress!). It was so insulting that I thought about getting on the next plane. One of the Egyptian women told me to “calm down”. Later in the day, the same man tried to push her too and she had the same reaction. The next insult came when one of the men from the Trade Commission asked me if I wanted to take a tour of the city after dinner… meaning at midnight. AS IF. Yeah, let’s go watch the submarine races… Several of the other women were also propositioned in the same way, much to the disgust of the Turkish delegates.

I like how the meetings were organized to promote trade with local companies: Each participant (or group of participants from the same country) had their own table with a Turkish flag and their home country flag (in my case, Kuwait). The organization had pre-arranged meetings with local companies wanting to do business with particular countries or companies. An organizers representative told me that my table was the most popular. I talked for almost 5 consecutive hours. My throat was raw, my head ached, and I didn’t have time to go back to the hotel to change for the Gala Banquet – and I was too tired anyways. Some of the women wore ball gowns. I wore sensible shoes and a black suit and the same make up for 12 hours. Even my push-up bra went South.

The cultural differences among the ladies were quite amusing. We had an interesting cross-section of ages, sizes, colors, religions, and ethnicities. We never really cracked the language barrier, but most of us did okay with hand signals. I had a really hard time trying to explain to an Azerbaijani woman, diplomatically, that her name is the same as my dogs. The very tall Sudani women got into a huge fight and shouted at each other (staying at the same hotel, so they were on the bus with the Russians and I). I think I was the only person who understood what they were saying. One of the Sudani women kept saying, “Diplomacy! Diplomacy!” as she tried to get her friends to stop shouting at each other. It was the only phrase in English – the rest was Sudani Arabic which as a dialect, I can’t understand very well. The Russians claimed their own bus and kicked everybody else off. One of the Russian women pushed me out of the way at a clothes rack during our stop at the mall. (Mahmut, one of the young Turkish men who were guides came to my rescue. I miss Mahmut. I could use him at Mubarakiya) The Emirati women kept to themselves most of the time (telling jokes and talking about people) and all the Russian women wanted to have their pictures taken with them (now there was a contrast!).

Sometime along the line, I introduced myself to the Emirati group and said, “I’m from Kuwait.” Immediately they said, “Wheeeeee! We have been looking for you. Are you all alone? Come join us, ya Kuwait!” They turned out to be very nice and very funny. We are, after all, neighbors. A woman who I referred to as “maynoona” (because two minutes after I met her was cracking dirty jokes in Arabic) owns a dayn al oud business and she had several vials and shared it with everyone on the bus – including the driver. Another of the Emirati women (Dr. Raja) was absolutely gorgeous, tall and statuesque. She told me that her son is going off to school in Boston and how sad she is going to be without him. She is already losing sleep and shedding tears. We’re all different, but we’re all the same, really.

The group organizers took us on tours of the neighboring town of Tarsus which was interesting in an out-of-body/surreal kind of way. It has ancient buildings and roads and lots of history; most of which was not explained in very much detail. In order to get around, we went in approximately 7 large busses. Apparently, no one told the villagers that we would be invading their town. It became pretty funny. The Syrian women started singing and people from everywhere opened their windows and peered out to get a look. The police stopped traffic and stopped where they were standing and stared. The street vendors made a fortune selling bread, baklava and lemonade. We went to see churches and mosques, museums and malls. One of the young Emirati ladies asked me if it was okay to go in the church. I told her that nothing would fall on her head. It was the Church of St. Paul – very old with beautiful mosaics on the ceiling and a lovely garden. I ran off on my own to find ice cream – which is really good in Turkey. I was tired and ended up back at the bus watching a group of old men play (and cheat at) backgammon on the sidewalk.

Unfortunately, the “person in charge” of the entire entourage was the only person who really must have known what was going on throughout the tour. We didn’t know where we were going next and we sure didn’t know where any bathrooms were located (um, it must have been a man doing the organizing because any woman would know that if you have a group of 250 women, there should really be bathrooms). At the lunch stop at a restaurant overlooking beautiful waterfalls, for example….. there were only 2 bathrooms and one of them was for men. The guys were just SOL because we invaded. On the flip side, anyone had provided us bottled water during either the conference or the tours, that might have been nice too. I thought I would literally faint several times – and I’m not a fainting kinda gal.

The last night of the conference, a “dinner” was on the agenda. It turned out to be a several-hour performance of cultural classical Turkish music and dance – which was amazing. I loved it. The voices were fantastic and they had choreographed everything so well; really went to a lot of time and trouble. Too bad I was sitting in the middle of the Syrians. One of them was loudly complaining about how long it was taking. Why can’t people just shut the F up and be gracious? I was hungry too, but people went to so much care to arrange the show for us. Retards. Obviously, they’ve nevah had any cultcha.

During the performance, gift bags containing small items were handed out to all the participants. Wonder of wonders – it also contained a map of the area (which would have really been nice to have on the first day).

I was so sick through all of this. I had a fever and problems breathing. I blame our IT manager at work who coughed all over our office before I left Kuwait. (WHY don’t mothers teach their kids to cover their damn mouths???). It was pretty scary being alone in a hotel room in a country where not many people speak English and not being able to breathe. The last night we were there, it was hot during the day and really cold and windy at night. I couldn’t even eat much (fer sure no great desire for fried food) and I was dying for soup. Mahmout felt sorry for me – I could tell. I got on 3 flights (congested) to go back to Kuwait and I really messed myself up.

Have you ever wanted to kiss the ground when you have gotten off a plane? I have felt that way the first time I came to Kuwait after the invasion and this time.

The Romanian picked me up at the airport and drove me to the hospital. Whenever your doctor checks you out and continually repeats, “Oh my God! Oh my God! Are you in pain?” …something is very wrong. No, it wasn’t TB and it wasn’t Bird Flu or pneumonia (I know because I made them check). I spent a week on outpatient treatment for 2 “severely infected” ears and severe bronchitis. I got nebulized in the mornings and the nights and had an IV antibiotic course daily for the week. My doctor said that my ears “looked like someone stuck 2 tomatoes on your head.” (I am still recovering after being at home in bed and at the hospital for a week.)

My dad once called me a “slob kid” for not appreciating these types of gifts; being able to take the trips that I do and see the things that I get to see. I do appreciate it and I am very grateful (of course to God, but also to everyone who went to so much trouble), but it was one of those experiences that I’m glad that I had, but wouldn’t want to repeat. I’m happy to be home.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

One year since I've Heard The Man's Voice

I haven't posted because I've been dead - I'll write more about that later.

Today, it is the one year anniversary of the last time I spoke to The Man. It is the day of The Incident. One year in which he has proven that he didn't choose to be with me. He could have come and found me. He could have called me. He could have showed me that he wanted ME, but he didn't.

It is like I don't even know him because when he sees me, he looks right through me as if I'm not there. He doesn't speak to me, or to my friends, or to people that we know. I'm just not there.

When you love someone so much, how is it so easy to just forget them as if they never were? How can you do that? How can you go so far and then shift gears to reverse like nothing ever happened?

I've talked about this a million times with my girlfriends. I am/we are still confused. If our situation is the way it is now - does that mean that he never even cared to begin with? How is it possible that it was "real" love if the same person who loves you now doesn't know you? It goes against everything that I've ever believed in.

I think I am a good judge of character. I think I can determine when someone is good and decent or if someone will betray me. Why can't I understand this?

Sunday, March 09, 2008

F-ed up recruiting ads

Ads in Kuwait never cease to crack me up. Take, for example, this one in today's Arab Times. Note the "Preconditions" - "Must be good looking." I wonder why they don't include measurement specifications. Or maybe hair color? ...... Finance, investment, and banking seem to come in secondary, as they are not in bold. "Female" is mentioned 3 times.... one time it even got an asterik.

I always like the ads with no website and you are sending to or Murooj Holding is real estate, I believe.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

I got stoned last night at the Hilton...

Yeah, that's right. The Romanian and I got hot stone massages at the spa at the Hilton last night. What did you think I meant?

I have had hot stone massages at several places around Kuwait before, so I wanted to try the Hilton because they have that gorgeous thalassotherapy pool (basically, a big pool with a bunch of Jaccuzi sprays and several water spouts that do different things). They also have a hot tub (with no Jaccuzi sprays, unfortunately), a rain-forest shower (with different lights and sounds of the rain forest, and a sauna and steam room (the only problem there was that they were full of icky men). You can use the spa area for 5kd per day which is good.

I had taken the tour several years ago and didn't remember that their pool is mixed-gender. Now, you would think that because I am open-minded about most stuff that mixed-gender wouldn't bother me, but it does. I don't like it. It is one thing to be on a hunting mission; it is another to unwind and get a massage. I dunno, but the guys who were there last night were the leery/hairy/pudgy/balding types that looked like they should be at a peep show rather than a 5-star. I don't believe I've ever seen such a large congregation of hairy-backed men in one place. Unfortunately, the spa's women-only hours are when most working women actually WORK (9am - 1 pm, Sun-Thurs).

I also didn't like that the treatment/massage rooms are right off the pool. It created several problems: Dudes peering at you from the pool every time the door opened; chlorine smell in the massage room; and loud voices/shouting from the pool. The table seemed to be a "mini" size also. I don't think that my head is THAT big, but both of us complained that the face hole in the bed was too small and that our arms were falling off the table.

The massage was fantastic. The Romanian (previously a hot-stone virgin) both blessed me and cursed me (she's addicted now and the average price in Kuwait is 25-30 kd for a hot stone massage - still better than the $265 per hour I was paying in the US).

I offered to take Bunny there in 2003, when he came back from Iraq where he had been with the British troops as an interpreter. I wanted to do something nice for him because he had been sleeping on cots. He didn't want to go. Oh well. He had his chance. I made him the same offer now. I think he thinks that all the masseuse guys are gay. Sheeeeeeet - he is in the military and he cares about gays? LOL! Ever look around in a shower? ok.....

I think I am going back to Oriental Princess for another hot stone massage. For 30 kd, you get a 90 minute massage and a facial. Their room is gorgeous - and how it should be: clean, nice-smelling, dimly lit, and the massage table is amazing (big bed, big face hole, and you are peering down to a bowl of water filled with flowers and a scented candle; an excellent touch). It is also women-only. No pool, but a nice shower. Someone obviously took great care in the interior design. For an inexpensive salon, Oriental Princess is decorated very well.

I had another good experience at La Fem in Salmiya. The first try was a disaster, but then I complained and they gave me another booking. 2 hours of hot stone massage - and I mean - that girl massaged all over (not the private part, but everywhere else which might seem weird, but it isn't really). It was a great massage. I think I payed 25 kd there. The atmosphere is bad, however. It is a cheap place with a cheap massage room and cheap music (which I fixed by giving them copies of all my good spa music CDs).

I had a horrible experience at The Palms for a hot stone massage, but that was years ago and since the management didn't take any steps to rectify how unhappy I was, I made a promise never to go back there. At that time, they had no GM and no duty manager who I could speak to. I complained to the spa manager and then in writing to "whoever was in charge" by fax, but no one ever even acknowledged it. The treatment room I was in faced the pool with just slat-blinds over the windows; meaning as you are neked on the table, people are walking by you outside trying to peer in. The room was cold; the girl's hands were cold; the table was cold; the massage oil was cold; even the damn stones (which were supposed to be hot) were cold. Phuck that. Never again. It takes months/years to develop a customer relationship, it takes minutes to ruin it. Very bad customer service at The Palms.

I want to try the Movenpick at Bidaa next. Their spa wasn't open the last time I went there several months ago, but it looks interesting. I'll let you know. Has anyone else been there?

I'm going to buy my own kit online (they range from $80 to $400, but there really isn't much difference to the stones as long as they are "basalt" which should be lava rocks that retain heat. If you want to "make your own" kit, check here). The Romanian wants to learn how to do it also (but she's so lazy that I doubt she'll actually do it for anyone). A lot of the kits also have instructional CD's. I used to do hot stone massages for The Man (OMG - he was so lucky) and he loved it. If you have anyone in your family with bad muscle aches, it really helps.

Monday, March 03, 2008

You go, K-9 Kuwaiti Police Girlfriend!

Picture was taken after a bomb threat at Marina Mall yesterday. Arab Times 3/3/08.

Isn't this just the coolest? Kuwaiti police women in the K-9 unit? Awesome! You go, girls!

I talked recently with a friend in Customs at the airport. He told us his feelings on dogs and how he had turned down a higher-paying opportunity to work with a sniffer dog. He says he is afraid of dogs and the main problem with the job is that officers are asked to bring the dogs home (as you have to really form a trust relationship). He said that the majority of the Kuwaiti customs officers declined K-9 jobs (even with higher pay and training in Europe).

So... to see WOMEN in HEJAB in a K-9 unit is a major accomplishment. I truely applaud you, ladies. To boldy go where many of your brothers refuse. My compliments!

To all those who say "women are the weaker sex" - I say IN YOUR FACE!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Failacha & Mutlaa: 2008 Travel Destinations

I took 3 days off last week and it felt like a year. Well hey, fellow management here at work seem to think that I took a year. I guess that’s how you know you’re popular, right? Right? Maybe they just have more work (or think they do) and they don’t take time off (ergo the heart attacks, the marital problems, and the health issues that I won’t even get into). Jeez – LIVE ya nas!

Anyhoo, I’m back. I went to Failacha and Mutlaa. Those were my big travel destinations this holiday. Failacha was nice; however, I got a bad sunburn on my chest (upper chest, dingbats) and it still hurts. My nose also completely peeled off. White people need sunblock even when you don’t think that you do. Failacha seems to be the “real” place to celebrate the National/Liberation days; there were Kuwaiti musicians and lots of people waving flags from cars. Mutlaa was an evening/overnight thing, so no sunburn there. We were at Crazy Brigadeer’s camp (sometimes I can’t even remember his real name because I just call him “Crazy”). Decent people, good times. They have a camp guard who has only been in Kuwait for 7 months. His idea of cooking meat “well done” was to light it on fire. As a person who grew up with “barbecue issues” (being forced to eat raw chicken, marinated in wine, which was black on the outside), I KNOW how to barbecue. So, drunk as we were, The Romanian and I managed to feed everybody. Drunken shawwi is sooooooo goooooood. I hate going home smelling like campfire, however. That is just wrong.

OH! I pet a baby gerbil. Those guys know how much I love gerbil hunting, so they found me a baby gerbil. I fed him lettus and radishes and then let him go. No, I didn't barbecue him.

The rest of my holiday was spent furniture shopping. I went to the Complete Living store in the Avenues and love it. It is only slightly overpriced – not as bad as other stores like Bo Design (par example). They have interesting contemporary furnishings (I am so not into antiques – sorry). I also went to Midas. I had stopped going there years ago because of the yawn factor: all their stuff was getting pretty boring. This time, Midas blew me away! The One looks old compared to Midas’ inventory. By the way, The One frustrates me because they hardly ever have what you want in stock. I don’t know who their owners pissed off at Kuwait Customs, but it is obvious. Anyhoo, if you haven’t been to the Midas store in Dhajeej lately, you should check them out. Awesome.

It has been 5 years since I changed my furniture, so it is time. Plus, my mother is coming in April, so I want my place to look nice. I bought a lot of electronics from City Center (still haven’t managed to win a BMW).

Sidebar: Can I ask you something? Are BMWs and Range Rovers THE national cars of Lebanon? Just a question.

If you are ever looking for a good place to have your furniture made (including tables and hand-carved items), go to Rawda in Dhajeej (4342594). They are still inexpensive and do a great job. I’m having my entertainment stand made there.

Another sidebar: I saw The Man this past week. I think it was the first time that he acknowledged that I’m alive since March 23, 2007. He actually looked at me. I almost had a heart attack from shock. Had he taken the time to actually speak to me about what happened, he might not think of me as a non-human. There are always several perspectives to any story. I miss talking to him; he knows it, but is more stubborn than anyone I've ever met.

Kuwait National/Liberation Days 2008

"Borrowed" photos of Kuwait of the past: A kinder, gentler form of celebration than we have witnessed in recent history. Note the mural of Saddam in front of the Liberation Tower. If it weren't for the Allied Forces, it would still be there...

Mark posted on his blog ("Never Again") about how this year was his last year on the Gulf Road for National Day/Liberation Day holidays. Last year was my last year (See post). It now just disgusts me and I feel sad for Kuwait. Sad that people don’t remember their own history. Sad that kids are being taught that it is ok to do bad things to other people for the sake of “fun”; during holidays when they should spend time remembering their history/forming character.

I live 2 blocks from the Gulf Road and thankfully, I was able to stay completely off of it during the 2 days of holidays. Last year, young men (not really boys) tried to open the doors of my car on several occasions; we witnessed them doing the same to pull out young Kuwaiti women from their cars. “Kids” put urine in super-soaker water guns and use hair remover instead of “fun” foam. Is this a “celebration” or an opportunity for criminals to band together and create havoc? Faced with growing numbers of disturbing mobs, the police are really helpless to do anything; although their presence was increased substantially this year (note the new helicopters and officers on motorcycles and horseback – thank you MOI).

Bobarino got into a car accident on Liberation Day. Bobarino was one of the FIRST American troops on the ground during the liberation. He was with the Airborne Rangers (which unfortunately, I don’t know a whole lot about) who parachuted into Kuwait. He left a kushy job at the Pentagon, his family, and his friends to kick Iraqi ass (like many other troops did).

On February 26, 2008, he sat in a police station with several Kuwaitis insulting him, obviously a bit of resentment/prejudice going on against him, as an “Amreeki”. The 50+ year old woman wearing niqab (mother of the woman who made an illegal left turn from the middle lane to make a U turn out of a mall – causing the accident) shouted insults in Arabic for over an hour before she was finally thrown out of the police station. The first policeman he encountered at the station chastised Bobarino on the “correct way to speak nicely to Kuwaiti women” (although B was polite and remained quiet during the tantrum).

Gee, let’s think back to what Iraqi soldiers were doing to Kuwaiti women at police stations during the occupation…. I have friends who lived close to police stations who could hear the women’s screams all night long as they were being raped and tortured by the Iraqi soldiers. (Could, perhaps, some of the more violent 15 year old Kuwaiti kids now have Iraqi soldier parentage...)

Allies (again - not just Americans) fought to liberate Kuwait. They helped families here, when their own families were left alone in their home countries facing difficulties.

I have heard over and over through the years, “We don’t want to remember those times.” Well, you should. History defines a country. And…

You can't know where you are going
without first knowing where you have been.

(Parents: For a history refresher, have your kids do a Google search of Desert Storm if you aren’t into books.)

By-the-by: Does anyone know the name of the famous patriotic song that Nabeel Shael sang during the occupation? I had a cassette years ago and lost it. That was probably his most moving/emotional song ever. I had American friends that I played it for during the occupation and although they didn’t understand the words, they cried. Powerful. If you do know it, or know where to find it online, please let me know (