Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Hug a Tree, Kuwait! Kuwait's Environmental Projects

New National Motto: Come to Kuwait! We have no bush.....
tee hee

If Kuwait has plans to plant 1 million trees, why is the municipality cutting down the existing ones? Ok, I know that the municipality is just the hit man, but that someone else is giving the order – a cabinet maybe? Well, come out of that closet and hug a tree!

All over Kuwait, tree murders are taking place at an astronomical rate. Look around and you will find bush whackers. Bayam! Another tree or bush or shrub bites the dust – and I do mean dust because in a short while, that is all that will be left anywhere. I thought Kuwait was trying to be "progressive". What UP?

Powers that be: Puhleeze – make it against the law for the government and anyone else to cut down a tree!

Who has the contract for procurement and installation of trees? Just wondering. I know that someone had the ugly plastic light-up tree contract for several years. Ugly plastic light-up palm trees were everywhere in Kuwait. It looked like a 70's disco around here for a while. All they needed were the plastic lei's (don't get me started).... I can't help it. Plastic lays aren't even real lays. Artificial lays. Go for the real lays. Uh.. I mean lei....

“Thursday, October 23, 2008 - The Higher Committee of the Friends of the Environment Campaign Thursday reported the launch of the second phase of a project, which involves planting one million trees in Kuwait, upon directives of and encouragement of His Highness the Amir. LINK

The first phase of this project was launched November 6, 2007 and ended in December 9. It comprised distribution of a million paper bags made from recycled material to be used at the state's different cooperative societies free of charge.”

The paper bag drive at Kuwait's co-ops was the brainchild of Environment Friends Campaign (EFC). EFC is a project which was coordinated between many local companies by a company called Challenge the Era Company (CEC). It is owned by the Al-Wazzan family/group (incase ya don't know: Mowasat Hospital, Ford, etc).

National Bank of Kuwait has recently started a paper waste reduction program through a company called Green Target Company . (I don't have a link to the article, but it was in Al-Watan's Daily paper on November 3, 2008.) GTC lists INJAZ and RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland??? - Dunno) on their site.

INJAZ has an impressive board of directors and I hope they are all participating in recycling efforts. I hope companies like Agility, which has been forward-thinking in their Corporate Social Responsibility endeavors (they actually HAVE an entire CSR department – way to go, Tarek Sultan!) will take up paper recycling efforts also.

Maybe these companies should also look into tire recycling in Kuwait. This photo was in Al-Watan about the increasing amount of tires building up in Jahra. With 1.5 million cars currently on the road in Kuwait, and 50-70,000 more being added each years, that is a hell of a lot of tires. Plans are underway for tire recycling plants in UAE and Saudi Arabia (don't know the status). Kuwait might be selling tires, but someone could be making a huge ROI through recycled products gleaned from tires: For example, 1 car tire produces 4.3 litres of No. 4 fuel oil, 1.4 cubic meters of syngas, 0.9 kilos of steel, and 3.4 kilos of residual carbon. Microwave technology (although expensive) has zero emissions for the recycling of tires.

While the stock market is crashing around us, the businesses that will emerge in Kuwait will be sustainable like the recycling and environmental industries. Kuwait is a consumer country and these business areas haven't even been touched upon.

Mold removal. (I'm giving you free business development advice.). Is anyone in Kuwait doing mold removal; either residentially or commercially? More and more houses are being built close to water. We have several very humid seasons in Kuwait. On my recent apartment search, I can't even tell you how many apartments and homes I've been in with mold growing on the walls. Tremendous ROI: Labor in Kuwait is cheap. Equipment is cheap (sprayers, fans/ventilation, cheap chemicals, biohazard suiting for the labor, maybe a van or two). The process is simple. The key is going to be educating the Kuwaiti public about how dangerous that black stuff on their wall is to their children. It can cause brain problems, respiratory problems, skin rashes, etc. How many kids in Kuwait already have asthma? How much of that is caused by what is in their bedroom and bathroom? Nobody knows. Sorry, but your kadama can only clean so much.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Who's Down with OPP?

I went to another fortune teller (cups, cards). FREAKY real; she gave exact names and described situations.

Having said all that, she didn’t try to sell me this, but I think she may have hoodwinked Sheikha Minor into buying an animal part; supposedly supposed to attract love, money, and good fortune. Somebody tried to sell me a crystal 3 years ago for KD 200 ("from the desert in Morocco") and I bought one in the US instead for $5. I’m blonde, but I’m not stupid. (And just for those of you who THINK that a smart blonde is a fabled creature – NOT SO.)

I do NOT believe in buying animal parts for any reason (ok, except to eat, but this being what it was - let's not even go there...LITERALLY) – but especially for superstition or magic purposes. That is how tigers are becoming extinct, for one thing. That is also black magic: whatever you do returns to you threefold. Bad bad bad. For example, birch bark kept under your matress on the side where you sleep is supposed to reveal the truth through dreams. If you take anything from something living (even if it just fell off the tree), you are supposed to ask it first. So killing is baaaaaad.

This did, however, provoke considerable preponderance on my part:

What IS the particular animal part you may ask: The dried vagina of an animal ("thaaba" - fox?) that lives in the mountains of Kazakhstan. (No, I’m not making this up.) And the price: KD 800!

I’m pretty sure that I couldn’t get 800 for MINE and it isn’t even dried (…. yet). I’m pretty sure that most of my friends couldn’t get 800 for theirs either – whether it be for sale or for rent. Maybe there are those who would pay KD 800 (around $3,000 US) to say… a celebrity dried private or maybe a politician’s dried private…. But an animal? That lives in the mountains? Of Kazakhstan? What were they thinking?

Why buy a dried private when you can take the money and buy a used Corolla mithilin?

If this is true - why wasn't it in Borat?

One of my friends wrote to say that his sister said that it is some kind of bovine vagina. Huh? This thing was pretty small (about 2.5" long). I would think bovine P would be larger (never seen one, I'm just hypothesizing).

They made me touch it. I do believe that is the first time I've ever touched OPP before. Does that make me a lesbian? I'm feeling rather faint....

Hey, I ask ya… would you pay KD 800 for a dried “p”?

Who's down with OPP? NO, NO Not Me!

OPP update

Ok, so after further investigation, from what I am able to ascertain, it was the P of a Corsac fox (vulpes corsac) - which is actually a threatened species as it is hunted for its fur (often by use of Kazakhs hunting with golden eagles - freaky!). So, I'm guessin this fox is thinking, "Yo! Who stole my P.."

There are 15 endangered fox species.
Foxes mate for life (unlike HUMANS who need to buy fox Ps for 800 KD in some vain attempt to snag their mates)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I have been toying with the idea of writing a comparative article on massages in Kuwait. The only problem with this idea is that usually, most newspapers and magazines only pay an average of around 20 KD per article – and the average massage is around 20 KD. If I did a comparison, I would be plenty outa pocket.

An anonymous commenter asked where he/she should go for a good massage. I have a problem now because I don’t know if it is a male or female anonymous person. Massages (in Kuwait) must be done by the same gender (even if the person on the receiving end of the massage is gender-confused). For a member of the opposite gender to touch any part of the person’s body – it is considered prostitution in Kuwait. That includes having a man cut a woman’s hair and vice versa.

Since I’m female (still and to the best of my knowledge), I’ll give it to you from a female perspective.

The commenter said, “by a certified masseuse”. Certified by WHOM? Kuwait doesn’t certify to my knowledge: Housemaid one day, masseuse the next day. Western folk are generally certified in their home countries.

Okey dokey, having disclaimed all that….

The places I have tried:

The Palms: Cold room, cold oil, cold “hot” stones, cold hands, room facing the pool with people walking by and nothing but shuttered blinds covering the window. I walked out.

The Hilton: Great massage, poor atmosphere. The treatment rooms open towards the pool (that day – full of hairy men). If there is loud noise at the pool, you can’t relax.

Oriental Princess, Salmiya: Inexpensive/great massage, expensive surroundings. Believe it or not, Oriental Princess had one of the best massages I’ve had in Kuwait. The masseuses are all Thai. The décor in the room was Thai/Asian and very clean. It was tranquil and they provided lots of small details (like fresh flowers in a bowl of water under the table where your head is through the hole).

La Fem Salon, Salmiya: I am a sucker to advertising. They always run ads for their new treatments. The massage started off bad, but got much better. The environment is very bad, but the massage was good. I also had to copy my spa music CD’s because they played 50’s R&R which is a bad choice for a relaxing massage!

Places I want to go:

I visited the Spa at the Movenpick at Bidaaa. OMG gorgeous and clean! I really want to go there for a massage sometime.

Crowne Plaza, Farwaniya, has a new spa that I haven’t had the time to go to for a walk-through. It looks fantastic, although the sales girl for the new spa had no clue (deer-in-the-headlights look) what a hot stone massage is! (Training, people!) Unfortunately, as of this writing, nothing is even mentioned about it on their website. If you want info, write to them at and they will send you info and pricing.

Spatime and Lavender in Mahalabiya Mall, Hawalli: I have heard really really good things about both of these places, but the whole idea of going to a mall for a massage is kind of a turn-off to me. I haven’t been able to get my head around it yet.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Fashion Peeves

When I used to work retail in the US of Hey, the merchandising rule was that if we only had one piece left of a particular item, we weren’t allowed to put it on display. Whatup stores in Kuwait??

Zara is the #1 culprit: They put one piece in a store window and every time you (or the other elf million customers) ask if you can buy it, they say, “No. Sorry, Madame, but it is our last piece.” Yeah, well no shit. I want to BUY it. Do I care if it is your last piece? If it has a price tag on it, sell me the damn thing! Right now, it is a particular black bag in the window of their store in the Avenues. Zara manager (kind of scoffing), “Yes, we have had 4 other customers insist on buying it also.” Well no duuuuuuuh!!!! Someone should go home with it! What is it – a frickin CONTEST???

Zara also has my peeve in terms of sizes. Who the F does their buying???? When in doubt, buy mediums. That’s all they always have! Medium. I have spoken to several Zara managers about this. Me: Why don’t you buy more large and extra large? Them: Because they sell out first. Me: That defies logic. If they sell out first, wouldn’t you want to stock more of them than of medium?

By the by, Zara ALWAYS has the same stock answer when getting rid of irate customers, “Come back on Monday or Tuesday. We will have another shipment….” BULL HOOEY!

Like lots of other encounters, I leave feeling frustrated and pissed off. So I ask – do I trouble myself for the better good or just to piss myself off? Does anyone listen?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

I saved a mall bird

I saved a bird this weekend. I was in The Avenues and walked into a store where a little sparrow was darting around. The guy said it had been in there for 2 hours (dumbass didn't even bother to call anyone!). It fluttered around and landed on the case in front of me. I guess it was in shock. I picked it up and took it outside. I thought it was almost dead because it didn't move at all in my hands. I was going to put him under some bushes, but as soon as I opened my hands, he flew high up and away into the sky.

I have always wanted to save a "mall bird". I get very upset when I see birds flying around walls and trying to escape from windows; banging their little heads in a vain attempt to fly skyward. It is so sad. Anyways, this little episode made my day/weekend.

Oh, I made myself laugh until I cried. I was having coffee with The Romanian and she was on the phone with someone (Someyoung Guy, most likely). As she usually does whenever we sit down, she took off her shoe. So, while she was concentrating on Someyoung Guy, I grabbed her toe under the table. The look was priceless. I know - stupid and pathetic, right? Shut up. I thought it was funny.

I got to work this morning and used the fuckingfingerprint machine as usual. Ruined my mood (although, admittedly, it wouldn't have taken much to do that). I am the only one in the company who uses their middle finger (can't help it - the rest have no fingerprints as they were 'horribly burned in a tragic car accident - leaving only my middle finger useable.' Go figure.) Anyhoo, sometimes I have to make 2 or 3 attempts poking at the fuckingfingerprint machine - much to the delight of my colleagues. Sometimes, I even warm it up first....

Our work atmosphere has been so bad lately that I now make the IT dude blast "Don't worry, Be happy" exactly at opening time when all the employees are coming in.

Do you know what is really sad and good at the same time? The Sultan Center has mojito mix. I just don't have rum, damnitalltohell. Would somebody please send me some? I'm not picky about brands - any ole rum will do.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Moving to Kuwait

I received the comment below today from someone and I really thought I should post it as others might be in the same boat as this gentleman. I have seen/heard similar sentiments lately and for the record, I would like to state my opinion and provide information that may be of assistance.


"I read your entire blog... I was planning on moving to Kuwait and I was so excited. I started to read about Kuwait and all I read, not just from you, is NEGATIVITY. Its sad because I got a extraordinary job offer that would make my career take off. It sounds like a nightmare living there. I've lost countless hours of sleep and wasted months of preparation agonizing over this. It makes me depressed, I'm scared to move there and have to drive. I'm scared I might get beat up in the mall.

Best of all... I quit my f-ing job already and can't get rehired due to company policy.

I doubt you will post this, but I wanted you to know..."

Desert Girl:

I have no problem posting your comment, but equally - I will post my reply.

Ok, my posts have been negative of late - in a self proclaimed state of depression - but I gotta tell you, your comments were equally as negative. Didn't you read any of my positive posts if you have read my entire blog? Look right to the right side of this page, at "life in the desert". I WROTE that and I MEAN it.

I come from the Washington DC area. If you don't think there is negativity THERE - in the seat of (American) our country/government, you are sadly mistaken. (New York had major crime problems in the 80's too BTW and several million people managed to live there regardless.) EVERY country in the world has pros and cons. Kuwait is a completely different culture and environment than the country you are coming from and you should expect differences.

In the US, we live in Virginia. It, like other US states, has a concealed weapon law (allowing both bullets and guns to be marketed) which means that if someone gets road rage, you risk life and limb in a shoot out. Neither are legal in Kuwait and those who posess guns are dealt with very severely. I have seen 3 shoot outs at close range in Washington DC between police and average Joe- looking folks of the criminal element.

In all honesty, if I didn't love some aspects of this country, I wouldn't stay here - there would be no reason to. I've been here for 12 years and I took a 2/3 paycut to get here. Why? Because I love the culture, the people, THE FOOD, the laid-back lifestyle, and both the sea and the desert. I learn something new here every single day (positive or negative).

And by the way, I came here to work in 1996 as a single woman travelling alone. In 1996, there weren't a whole lot of resources for people moving here. For that matter - there weren't a whole lot of Westerners here - period. The internet was not what it is now (and neither was the embassy nor other Western organizations). Most people/places didn't have internet or e-mail. (I typed or hand-wrote letters to my family.) When I first arrived, I had 2 suitcases and my teddy bear. I lived in a downtown hotel with NO other woman in the hotel. I worked at a company where I was forced to wear a hejab. Be strong, little buckaroo! If I made it under those circumstances - I am SURE you will do well here in 2008/9!

I mean no disrepect to you, but anyone who would move to a foreign country without visiting it first is taking a TREMENDOUS risk/leap in the dark (unless you are in the military and have no choice - are obligated to move). If you are a diplomat or in the military, you are covered by their security and resources; if you are a civilian and working for a private company, you must work out all the angles by yourself. I don't even want to visit a foreign country before first knowing complete details about it (which I guess you have been trying to gather from blogs). Without being on the ground, you can't get a feel for it. Spend the extra money on a ticket and visit. Then, ask perspectives from different people. I spent a month here living with a Kuwaiti family (on my first visit in 1993) before I ever moved here - and even armed with all the information I gathered during that time, it was still a difficult decision. Knowledge is power.

If, as you say, you got an "extraordinary job offer that would make my career take off" - I am sure you will do just fine and in a few years time, it will look fantastic on your resume. You will look back at your memories of Kuwait and the region and have something to tell (if not bitch about to) your grandkids.

Further, everything happens for a reason. Maybe you were meant to come here; to meet people who (or see a culture/community that) might affect your life in some profound way. Maybe it will take the course of your life to a new and unexpected level. You quit your job and decided to move here, didn't you? Don't doubt the plan at the 11th hour.

Oh, and lease a big car like a Yukon or Tahoe with full coverage if you are worried about the driving. Get something big and safe and intimidating. No problems.

Nobody is going to jump you in a mall unless you jump into a fight. The problems that are happening here are between young Kuwaiti boys (not men). I doubt that anybody is going to steal a man's bling. They've got easier targets.

Here is the best advice I can give you (or anyone else moving here):

Visit Kuwait first. Invest in your future by coming here before you move. Do not blindly go where no one you know has ever gone before. Some places aren't for everyone. You don't know until you go!
Read travel guides, blogs, forums, books, etc.
Contact business and social groups in Kuwait with questions and become a member to help you transition into life/meet people/network.
Contact your embassy to see if they have any publications and/or advice - perhaps through an public outreach office.
Contact the Embassy of Kuwait in your home country. Ask them for books, pamphlets, information on Kuwait and their advice for people wanting to move here. The Kuwait Information Office in Washington DC does a great job of this.
Ask your new employers what information they can recommend/provide to you to help with your move/transition to Kuwait. Ask them if they know specific people who can assist you. Often, it won't occur to employers that they should provide this information, but if you ask for help, they will be willing to assist (if they are Kuwaiti, then it is cultural and they will feel obligated to help - most especially with newcomers to Kuwait - you will probably receive dinner and wedding invitations!).

If you have problems when you get to Kuwait, I'm happy to help you and anyone else who asks me. I promise. I really hope this helps you, dude!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Ambassadors in the Fitting Room

I wrote this right after I got back from my trip to the States. There was a little incident that I witnessed while in the States that perturbed me into writing something about it.

I was in a clothing store behind two Middle Eastern women who were buying clothing from the cashier in front of me. After they finished and left the store, one of the sales ladies walked into the fitting room, came out and said with a certain degree of contempt in front of everyone else waiting in line, “Can you believe that? Those Arab women just throw the clothes on the floor! They don’t even bother to hang them up. They think that we are here to serve them!”

This offense could have been committed by anyone from anywhere in the world with bad manners (as a former retail salesperson myself, I know this), but it was singled out as an “Arab” trait singularly by appearances. I couldn’t tell what country the women were from. Just that they had been labeled as “Arab” by the hejabs they wore and by the language they spoke. It didn’t matter. We are all ambassadors of our country and perhaps beyond that, our cultures.

I wanted to say to the sales people, 'Don't make the assumption that everyone in the Arab world behaves like that.' However, what could I say? I don't condone bad behavior either. It also would have taken far longer than the 3 minutes I had at the check out stand to articulate the reasons why they shouldn't be prejudice.

Dumping clothes on the fitting room floor (one of my many pet peeves) not only makes life harder for the sales people, but for the other customers (usually waiting in line) to try on clothes. Furthermore, who wants to buy clothing that has been left in a pile on the floor? Garments get dirty and wrinkled – regardless of how inexpensive or expensive the item is. Sales people are not there to clean up after other people’s messes in any country; although perhaps some customers wrongly assume that they are. In the States, sales people in retail stores make minimum wage (in Kuwait, even less). They are there to work – as we all are in the working world for money. Sales people are not there to be housemaids to lazy, arrogant, selfish people who are somehow unable to take the two more minutes it would take to hang the garment on the hanger. Sales people have made a choice to work in a store and not in a home.

People visiting foreign countries should be sensitive to what is considered appropriate and inappropriate behavior. Visitors to any country should know what behaviors are appropriate/accepted (“when in Rome…”). What is acceptable behavior in one country may be insulting in another.

Although a small incident by comparison to global politics, this incident revealed how people are affected by first impressions. The sales personnel and the people standing in line on this particular day may not have Middle Eastern friends or acquaintances; they may not ever get to know anyone from the Middle East. They judge the few as a whole. They’ll go home, tell their friends and their family about it; and those people will form an opinion (ergo the term "prejudice"). As a bystander to this incident, it made me sad - as I love this part of the world - and wished I had an opportunity to defend it. Although an isolated incident, it had an affect the progress that has been made – if nothing else than for the the small group of people who were there that day to witness to it.

My 50 KD drive to work

So, I played bumper cars again this morning in traffic. DOINK! I was moving into a lane. A woman behind me in another lane decided she wanted to be in the same lane. I was already in it when she came over and we bumped. No damage to my RENTAL car; hers had a scrape on the front bumber of her older-model Landcruiser.

Hard to determine who was at fault, but since it was the rear-end of my car, it was probably her fault. Not that it matters in Kuwait, but just in terms of the arrogance factor. Take the higher ground...

We look at both cars and I ask her if she wants to call the police or go. “Who will fix my car,” she asks me demurely. Well, technically, either way, she will (or if she is lucky and can sucker some poor guy into doing it for her - then HE will). She’s going to get the police report, then take it to her insurance company; then, depending on if she has full coverage or liability she will have to take it to (full coverage) the garage that the insurance company uses or; (liability) to whatever garage she chooses – AFTER waiting about a year for the payment to process. On liability, she’ll have to go to the traffic department and try to get her money from them after all that time. Major pain in the ass. Been there, done that, drive a rental car now.

I told her that we are both looking at 5 hours of police stations (PLURAL) with lots of disgusting people. She shrugged. I called 777 and the new non-English-speaking female call attendant hung up on me TWICE. What would happen if it was a real emergency. Yeah, that’s Kuwaiti “emergency” services for ya! So much for training. Transfer the call to someone who DOES speak English, Mdme. Disfunctional! (I called back later and asked for a 777 supervisor. I told another lady my story about woman #1 and she said, “I am really sorry. I work with idiots.” HA! At least a bit of honesty to brighten my day. Gave me a giggle.)

Anyhoo, we waited for 10 minutes and I’m thinking about how shitty my day is going to be, so I hop out and tell her that we both have jobs and why don’t we just solve the problem. She mumbles something about working for both Kuwait University and the Ministry of Health (as IF I giveashit). I should have told her a little bit about where I work and waited for her reaction. (But I DIDN'T - I was GOOD.) Anyhooo, I offer her 50 kd. She pouts, she shrugs, she waves her 600 kd watch in the air, she agrees.

We drive to the bank. I take out the money, thinking that regardless of who is at fault and how arrogant they are, I don’t want a bunch of grungy cigarette-smoking men in a hygienically-challenged office looking at my ass for the entire day; so I hand over the money. She says, “It will cost 70. I take it to Sayer…” Bullfuckinshit. The car is over 5 years old! Take it to any guy in Shuwaikh and in 2 hours, it will be brand new for 30 or less. Puhleeeeze. You can’t bullshit a bullshitter! I bullshit for a living. I have a PhD in Bullshit.

I was GOOD. I behaved myself. I didn’t break a sweat. I didn’t loose my cool. Nada. I should receive extra vertical mileage for this.

God bless her heart.

Yo - Anonymous commenter.... IN your face. Arab Times, November 6, 2008:

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Best places in Kuwait to have a fist fight

The MALL, of course, Silly!!!!

Al Watan: “Fights break out in Marina Mall: Marina Mall in Salmiya was the scene of a fierce fist fight on Saturday morning when a number of youth tried to steal the jewelry of a 58-year-old Egyptian woman (gee, maybe they wanted to get their mommy a present?). Some witnesses intervened to help the woman (well, finally, there are men!) They got involved in a fight with the thieves who were arrested and delivered to police officers. Similarly, three citizens were involved in another fight at the same shopping mall. Each of the three Kuwaitis suffered injuries including deep wounds to the hands, faces, and bruises…”

Isn’t the mall just the best place to go when you want to get into a fist fight? First, Marina Mall has valet parking, so if you want to extend the lifespan of the roid rage, it makes it that much quicker from the car to the Scene of The Crime. There is, of course, very little security and wide-open spaces with lots of room for fighting and for spectators. Heck, they even have a spectator balcony, so the contenders can feel like they're in a real fight pit!! The maintenance guys can clean up the blood - and its a FREE service. Once you are done fist fighting, you can go get a cool drink and perhaps something to eat at any one of the wonderful restaurants.... Maybe later, walk around and gzzzz some girls, looking macho and puffed up from your recent altercation. Ah, smell the testoserone!

I have noticed that the police were actually present at The Avenues this weekend. I counted two and – surprisingly and to my delight – neither of them was a stick man with a walrus moustache. One wonders: Could it be progress?

Arab Times yesterday: “Kuwaiti cuts friend’s throat: victim stabbed, dragged into bathroom”. Hey – what are friends for anyways? If you’re my friend, you’ll let me slit your throat; I love you. I promise to go to your funeral. Really. Because I love you. You're my best friend.

People have commented here previously with questions like, “If you don’t like it here, why do you stay?” As someone insightful has answered, “If you love something, you try to improve it when you see something wrong.” Personally, I think Kuwait needs a lot of help right now. It seems to be at a very low point in its history and it seems like every weekend, it escallates a notch or two.

Bad boyz, bad boyz whatchagonna do... whatchagonna do when they come for you... bad boyz bad boyz....

If I throw up, will you hold my hair?

Yeah, it's like that.

I am in the middle of a low-level depression; a funk if you will. It usually doesn’t last long with me, but it is hitting me as odd that not only friends, but colleagues have noticed it. Friends who “usually wouldn’t say anything” have started saying things. I don’t really feel so depressed, but I guess I’m just not myself and things are bothering me on several different fronts; which is making the little things piss me off even more.

So, as part of stress therapy, I spent the day yesterday on my friend’s boat (photo by moi). Incase you don’t know me or my blog, I love the sea in Kuwait equally as much as the desert. My friend bought a new boat; it is 86 feet long and I can’t even imagine how much fuel it sucks up. 6 of us went fishing. Ok, they fished; I sat around. It was humid out, but I still had a great time. It was so peaceful and relaxing. He has called me a lot of times in the past year to go out with him, his brothers, and friends, but I always say no (partially because of previous drunken moonings on their part which gave me nightmares). I said no this time too, but then I called him right back and went. I’m so glad I did. I should go out with them more often. They are always fun and make me feel energized. Sometimes I forget to remember what truly great friends I have (despite the moonings).

Which leads me to another wonderful friend, Bunny… (he doesn't moon. He isn't the mooning type. In fact, I believe that just the mention of his name associated with mooning will greatly disturb him). He has been so helpful and kind and I’ve been in such a crap mood that I have bitten off his head several times lately (sorta like what I do to chocolate bunnies around Easter time). Me sorry. Je t’adore.

I got my sea and city bases covered this weekend, but not the desert. Bu Merdas has been out hunting gerbils (or whatever the f he does up in the desert – alone – with men). I didn’t get to Kabd and I am on an official Bu Merdas strike now regardless. EMBARGO ON!

So Not Zain…. I owed Zain a nice chunkachange, so as soon as my salary went into my account, I got online and paid them… only in my haste (pre-coffee and blondeness), I incorrectly paid it to a wrong number (one digit off). (The frickin extra 9 number is confusing me! Shut up!) Since September 30th, ten minutes after I made the mistake, I have been trying to get the problem resolved. Their customer service guys are soooooooooooooooo nice, but about as useful as tits on a bull. Don’t make promises you can’t deliver – that’s all I’m sayin. I finally called Saad Al-Barrak’s (Director General of Zain) office because no one in the entire organization seemed to know the extension to their Finance Department. I have discovered that if you are nice to the secretaries, you can usually get things resolved in a nanosecond. tee hee. Which reminds me, I gotta send her flowers.... (sounds of asses being kissed).

My friend came to visit last night. She works for a local company where they are not only implementing a fingerprint system for time and attendance, but also installing a camera to go with it (I told her about one of the many uses of Vaseline; nicely covers camera lenses and it is indistinguishable). So basically, the only thing that is left is a retina scan. I know of a company that installed a fingerprint machine to provide “discipline” to their management. Well, if a manager isn’t doing his/her job – terminate them (hopefully after productive communication). You have to trust the people who work for you; if not, why do they work for you to begin with? This has been stuck in my craw lately about local companies. People have choices and demoralizing employees will only develop a lack of trust and then a lack of productivity. If you treat your employees well, they will do anything for you (if you don't, some of them may spit in your tea; personally, I prefer eyedrops). It is the old “you get more bees with honey than you do with vinegar” adage. I watched a documentary on a successful US company a long time ago and I love the quote that the CEO made, "Every night at 5 pm, I watch as 95% of my company's assets drive through the front gates." Under a similar belief: I downloaded a presentation that Saad Al-Barrak gave some time ago on his HR philosophy titled, “HR - The Sole Sustainable Competitive Advantage.” It is an old presentation and not formatted very well, but provides a good insight into their strategy. Basically, it states that a company’s greatest assets are their employees. I believe that Zain has proven that it is a methodology that works (although perhaps some of their employees still need better training and others need to learn to look at an internal phone directory instead of saying, “Wallah ma’adri” when they don’t know how to answer a question). At least all of the people I have ever spoken to who work for Zain have always said that they love their jobs. That is much more than I can say for other sweatshops and workhouses 'round here. Bada BING.

On a complimentary note, "The Friday Times" had a lot of really good articles this weekend. Way to go, dudes. Someone FINALLY wrote a story about earthquakes in Kuwait. Have you noticed that often the only time that you hear about an earthquake in Kuwait is 5 days later when one of your friends sends you a link to somewhere like CNN from Europe? I've been here and felt tremors and when I tell people, they give me that, "Oh my God, not you and your wacky theories again!" (Which, by my own admission, is usually justified.) This is really funny, but one time, I was praying (it could happen! Shut UP!) for something, and my building started to shake. I actually thought it was the Desert-Girl-to-God connection that was making things move. I thought maybe I should pray more often cause it was cool (kinda "biblical" if I may), but then I found out that it was an earthquake several days later. (And as they say, God always answers, but sometimes the answer is NO! LOL) There was also a rather odd (we like weird) article in the local section, called, "The Cheating Kind; To use the excuse that it's in men's nature to cheat - now that's totally lame. They should say, men are a**holes by nature. That would make more sense." No, once again, je ne shit you pas - this was actually the byline - in print. I believe it is the FIRST time I have ever seen "a**holes" appear in print in a daily. We certainly are MAVERICKS in this country, aren't we?! It is quite an insightful little diddy about cheating in Kuwait. Me likes that someone is TALKING about it (and it isn't me).

Have you ever just felt like everything around you is going to shit and you might as well sit at your desk and write a blog post and make yourself giggle? Yeah, that happened to me today too.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

FMPs on the Cheap - Real Estate "Professionals"

Slaperella wrote to me, all excited, this morning about a new shoe store chain coming to the Middle East in 2009 - courtesy of Al Shaya. I could almost feel the waves of anxious delight... I had to explain about Payless Shoes - in simple terms that Slaps could understand...

Enter Villa Moda: Smell the designer perfume.
Enter Payless: Smell the naughahide (plastic).

(Call PETA!!!! How many innocent naughas had to die to make their shoes???)

Dolce & Gabbana they aint.

I know that Payless will do REALLY well around this neighborhood because TCN nationals from many many countries flock to Payless like a 70% sale at Sana'a; like chicken fat sticks to basmati; like used electrical appliances at Souq al Juma; like Mirah Center right before Ramadan. Yeah, it like dat.

Segue to the continuing search for a DG home....

Who the phuck designs these places anyways? Do the building owners’ wives sit down at the dining room table and say, “Ok honey, I would like to see a wall here, and a bathroom there…” Have these people never heard of interior design and architecture? Cost cutting in Kuwait is at an ultimate low. Some of the buildings are so strangely configured (and “finished”) that most furniture can’t be placed in them without a struggle. I saw a brandspankinnew building in Salmiya; the light fixtures over the front doors were actually overhead dome lights for a child’s room with little butterflies on them. Idiot must have bought them wholesale on the cheap: Romper Room a la “prime” Kuwaiti real estate.

Stupid real estate morons (no doubt upon hearing the blondeness in my voice): "You will never find a 2 bedroom flat in this area for less than 650kd." Oh yeah? IN YOUR FACE! I'm finding 2 AND 3 bedrooms (sea views even) in my price range. You just have to look really hard (and sometimes wear something tight fitting and low cut, and giggle a lot. Work it, baybee, work it.)

More Realtors Smokin Crack.... A mind is a terrible thing to waste (well, perhaps not if they never had one to begin with).

I called one realtor dude a few days ago. He told me about an apartment that 1) didn't meet my criteria and 2) was too expensive. I said that I wasn't interested, but if he could find a 2 br w a balcony in my price range to call me back. Dude calls back and says that he has other apartment with no balcony. I explain that I have a small dog, yada yada... and he said, "you can put her on the roof". WTF??? Put MY dogbaby on a roof? Put your kid on a roof, dumbass! (Ok, that probably isn't a good example because I'm sure he wouldn't see anything wrong with that scenario.) Yesterday, I got a call from a number I didn't recognize and an Indian guy shouted at me in (Urdu? - like THIS) and then hung up on me. Speeeecial. He called a few minutes later, so I sent it to voicemail. The message he left: the sound of someone hockin' a loogie (clearing his throat in an uncivilized manner). Do they not get the concept of voicemail – that when you hear the beep….. I only then realized that it was the same realtor dude's number, but that he had his piggy man-servant call me.

These are the "REAL ESTATE PROFESSIONALS" Kuwait has: Arrogant, pushy, ignorant, uncivilized, and in some cases - with poor personal hygiene. For Gods sake - take the cigarette out of your mouth while you are talking to me and stop staring at my ass!!!! Wash your feet!!!!

I have met only a few realtors who have been very professional: Target, AAA, Saba, Eastern Homes and a guy named Joey. I like that AAA website displays pictures of properties (although unfortunately, they aren't updated very often). And, don't bother filling out their online forms or sending e-mails: they will never ever return the contact. The technology is just not that advanced yet.

If a realtor would go around with a digital camera (most mobile phones have them ya know) and e-mail me (or MMS) photos of properties, I would probably fly backwards off my chair, do a flip, and hit my head on the wall (now that thar would be a photo op!) I know that making it convenient and less work/stress for a customer is a far-reaching concept, but one can wish.

I have several friends who own buildings that I have checked recently for apartments. One is so overpriced that I doubt they'll ever rent it; one is priced right, but will require a lot of design work/expense on my part; and one I WANT badly. I have been eyeing the last one for several years and no one ever moves out of that building. It faces the sea, in a perfect location (mashallah mashallah mashallah) and is really big (we DO like BIG). I just sent the guy flowers because he didn’t tell me that he and his wife just had a baby. He’s such a sweetheart and I wish him so much happiness (and hopefully happiness for me too if he lets me live there). Please pray for me. Make him WANT me (living in his building, that is). Ok, he’s cute, so the other isn’t so bad either… except that he just had a baby… which makes me a sinner (again)… Oh, just pray that I get the apartment please. Need it, want it, gotta have it.

Happy weekend y’alls. Thank you for all the nice things you have written to me this week and encouraging me to stay positive. I send you all lots of good thoughts and kind acts in return (except for the guy who "had intimate relations with himself" while reading my blog. I wish him therapy).

… Off to drink the desert thirst-quencher-of-choice: tequila…. It has been a very long week.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Realtors Smokin Crack!

I shit you not. I can't make this stuff up.

I responded to an ad in the paper for a guy who showed me an apartment in Spanish Villas - in Area 11. First, the place was a DIVE; mold growing on the walls, stuff falling off of everything - a pit. I can't believe that the place has gone so far downhill. I used to party there with Western freinds 10 years ago and it was gorgeous. What a frick-in DUMP. Ew. Well, the realtor's name is "DC" - a fast-talking hustler of an Indian guy. DC Dude just called me now and said, "My wife is sick and needs an injection. Can I borrow 50 KD?"


I know that we have a drug problem in Kuwait, but OMG....

News Commentary

From today's papers.

Story: Investors go to court to close bourse
“KUWAIT: More than 20 Kuwaiti attorneys filed a case against His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser AlـMohammed AlـSabah and Minister of Commerce and Industry Ahmad Baqer on Tuesday demanding the closure of the Kuwait Stock Exchange (KSE) because of losses inflicted on traders and until the situation at the bourse is restored back to normal. The court slated Thursday, Oct. 9 to hear the plaintiff''s arguments. One of the lawyers representing a Kuwaiti stock trader says he filed the case to compel the government to temporarily close the slipping stock exchange to curb losses”

DG Commentary:
Oh my God. The Chosen Ones…. Dudes, playing the stock exchange is a risk. Similar to gambling, you are risking by investments. No pain, no gain. “Restored back to normal” ???? Have these guys actually been paying attention to what is happening around the world (and they are attorney’s right?). It is GLOBAL. Have they noticed stock markets everywhere else? What makes Kuwait unique? Gee, let’s petition the US government to close down NASDAQ because of what is happening there. Let’s suspend it until it is restored back to normal – like with a time machine maybe – to when stocks were at an all-time high.

If you wanna play, you gotta pay.


Story: Large Workers Strike Likely today
KUWAIT: A large group of Bengali workers are expected to stage a strike in Jleeb AlـShuyoukh today to protest against a decision by their cleaning company to take 170 dinars from their wages as residency permit and health insurance fees. Reports reaching the paper have it that the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor is exerting efforts to contain the issue before it spins out of control.

DG Commentary:
Um, geee, wait a minute… didn’t we just go through something like this in July? Wasn’t the MOSAL going to take measures at that point in time? 170 dinars from workers who are making what – 40 kd/mo? It is just another way for business here to take advantage of/extort money from poor laborers. HERE WE GO AGAIN!

Why don't they make it easier for these poor laborers to report their problems? For example, one Bengali cleaning lady I know at a school has had to pay for her visa. The cleaning company has kept her passport and won't give her her basic rights: ticket home, vacation, they even didn't pay her a salary for 7 months. She has gone to report it at the MOSAL and (told me that) was treated like a criminal. They shouted at her and told her to leave. What does she do? She goes door to door in my neighborhood begging. Crime in Kuwait? Gee, why would people choose crime? You mean they have to EAT? Why? Let them eat cake!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

My cow is dead. Why do I need your bull?

Let me begin with the good thing:

I saw something nice on my way to work today: There is a grey-haired traffic policeman who stands at the U-turn between the fire brigade and the gas station on 4th Ring Road every morning. He stops traffic on 4th ring towards Fahaheel Expressway/Shuwaikh so that people at the U-turn can get into traffic. My car was one of the first 3 that was stopped to let them through. I watched as car after car of people of different nationalities (from Kuwait and other nations) waved and smiled at him. He waved back to a few. It was just such a small gesture of kindness and totally random by everyone in the line. It made my day.

I needed that today, as I’ve been hit by stress on all fronts lately - both personal and business related.

The Bull...

Work is hurling some rather nasty large obstacles… but fortunately, they seem to be counter-weighted by knights in shining armor coming to my rescue. What a chess game you play here at work! So much drama and intrigue for silly things. Why can’t we all just get the job done?

I’m still looking for a home (that isn’t a box under the highway somewhere). I can’t believe how difficult it is! I’ve asked The Man to help me – as he was my good luck charm prior to my trip to the US – but unfortunately, I believe the blush is off the rose; the charm has worn off. He seems reluctant now and I can’t really blame him. We have no connections now. I have gone to look at apartments every night after work and I have seen tiny, dirty, disgusting, poorly-lit, poorly-maintained crappy Pigeon Holes for People. I’ve seen holes in the wall, holes in the floor, mold growing all over the place like the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, trash, broken things, BLUE toilets, PINK kitchens, and many many offensive smells. Realtors here are liars for the most part; There are different layers of them. I have found that the female realtors are the most sincere and direct. Egyptian men - not so much. And the PRICES! In my neighborhood (which is ugly by my standards), the 2 bedroom apartments have risen from 250 kd/mo to 650 and up. I go home and cry.

… and cry to who? Well, Bunny is my rock. He’s my Big Shoulder to cry on. Desert Dawg is my constant companion. I am just wondering what the hell I’m doing here, waking up every morning alone, when I could be in a beautiful home that smells sweet, deer running by in the evenings, fat free/low carb meals, with my family. Why am I doing this to myself? Sometimes I just reach a low point.

The Eid break was just too long and upsetting for me. I shoulda gone somewhere, but I didn’t want to spend the money with the move coming up.

During Ramadan, I didn’t see much of Bu Merdas (who I now refer to as “Mr. Excuse”). I got lots of hachi about the religious ramifications… and how he would see me after … It didn’t amount to a hill of beans; a bunch of hooey. Bu Merdas (who I could probably refer to as “BM” and make it equally as “expressive”) had been planning a big dinner for me and my criminal elements for the 2nd day of Eid. I asked Sheikha Minor to invite our other peripheral friends. She promised me and BM they would all be there. BM made plans, ordered food, cleaned for several days (he doesn’t have a hariss at the jkhoor). He was really happy about it. Skip to the day of the event: The Romanian and I called Sheikha Minor and she was in Bahrain. She said that no one else wanted to come. So began The Depression.

We are both depressed. We usually bounce back after a day or two with the help of Mr. Jose Cuervo and/or sushi; however, this is lasting longtime. Both The Romanian and evaluate our friendships on an annual basis. We know that we are both cool, but sometimes you take a look at the other friends around you and wonder who you can really rely on. Who are your real friends – even after you have spent many evenings together for the past year? When you really need them the most – will they be there; or ditch you when something better comes along?

Everything is temporary written on the sand.

Bu Medas cancelled the dinner. I ended up with machboos for 20 people and a whole lot of salads. He stopped by the next night to pick up the trays. Since then, I haven’t seen him and he continues to call me 5 or 6 times a day to ask me where I am; in some pathetically lame attempt at controlling me: “Where were you?! Why didn’t you answer the phone?!” I think of evil things to say in retaliation, but it just isn’t worth the effort. Sigh... BM hasn’t offered to help me with my apartment hunt. If I feel tired or sick, he one-ups me with something bigger, “Aaaah – my back hurts!” He’s like a Jewish grandmother. He has 4 million excuses why he can’t come see me, why he can’t come stay with me, why I can’t go stay with him, why why why…. Zzzzzzzzzzzz. It makes me tired just thinking about it. I’ve stopped answering my phone now.

By the way, if you have a Zain line and you are practicing blondeness and you ever F up using the online payment system and put in an incorrect digit by mistake paying your bill, you are in for a world of trouble. I paid my bill – to the wrong number – and it has taken forever and with many calls to Zain to fix. They promise – they just haven’t delivered. I’ve been their customer for 11 years. One customer “service” rep actually had the balls to tell me, “well, you CHOSE to pay to the wrong number”. I’m like, “Yeah, I CHOSE to give some other subscriber 200 KD. I do that all time.”


What is the connection between petty violence and larger acts of terrorism? A look at recent events in Kuwait (and you can check below in some of my posts) may give clues to their relevance towards worse things to come.

A few years ago in Kuwait, the crime section in most papers was limited to a few stories. Now, it takes up almost an entire page. The current talk in Western circles revolves around the recent bombing outside the US Embassy in Yemen. Let’s look at the violence in Kuwait and their relevance towards larger acts like bombings.

Riots: Rioting laborers, riots in malls, riots during normally peaceful holidays.
Road rage: Commonplace acts of violence on Kuwait’s roads.
Violence against women: Women being pulled from their cars and beaten. Domestic violence.
Violence against children: Various rapes of children, most infamously in current events: the Hawalli monster.
Domestic violence: Family members either harming or killing each other.
Retaliation: Entire families coming to “defend the honor” in retaliation for fights.

There has been a feeling of foreboding doom in Kuwait for some time now. I don’t think that I’m alone – as I’ve talked to other friends about it. Unfortunately, what I don’t see is the presence of security forces. I’m seeing examples of bad things happening and then the police showing up; not of prevention. When the guard is down; it is the time for very bad things to happen.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Mayhem during Eid!

Did Y'alls hear about the fights at the malls and public parks during Eid? OMG. Just as the Arab Times announces on the front page today that "Europeans vow to fight mayhem," (about banking, however), mayhem is happening right here in our little village!

Arab Times, October 5, 2008: Gang Fights over teasing girls dog Eid days; Many youths injured in brawls (which is a totally sucky headline). Kuwait City, Oct. 4: "Several cases of public fistfights, through which some youth sustained injuries, reportedly occurred at various public parks during the Eid Al-Fitr festivities. A security source reported that four of those cases were recorded in Jahra on the first day of Eid. The fights erupted based on the fact that some youths accused other parties for purportedly harassing their sisters and then they resolved to protect their siblings (OMG, AT! Pay someone more than 250/mo to edit your articles for proper English!). The situation in Farwaniya region was much tensed (OMG again!) whereby 15 cases were recorded for similar reasons. Some of the incidents took place at the 'Avenues' shopping mall and about seven people suffered injuries. The case was reported at the nearby police station. The situation was not different in Ahmadi and Capital governorates where a series of public brawls occurred among youth for similar reasons. Security personnel rushed to the scene and arrested some of the trouble-makers..... "

Wild wild West. It's da wild wild West....

I heard through the grapevine that the Avenues brawl started when a dude started sexually harassing (gzzzzing) a young lady and she hit him with her handbag. Rather than taking the rejection (which he was setting himself up for by approaching a strange woman) and moving on, he took it as an affront to his "manhood"(or lack thereof) and punched her in the face. [Likesay, I heard this through the grapevine and knowing Kuwaiti sources, it may have been embellished a leeeettle (or a lot), so maybe someone else has heard another version.] It then turned into a gangfight of the 2 sides.

Now, if any kind of dance clubs/parties were allowed in Kuwait, these guys could shake their stress out (so to speak - tee hee) with women who are (willingly) there to party too. (Puhleeeeze don't write to me in a discussion of the religious ramifications for not allowing the exercise of free-thinking as it applies to entertainment in Kuwait. Je ne impressed pas.)

At least cases were filed and the victims were also Kuwaiti and not worried about repercussions from wastah. Not like us chickens. Bak bak bagaaaaak!

I shop at the malls here. It is rare that you ever see a policeman. God love them - the security guards are usually bidun and unable to actually intervene in the case of fights. WHY, pray tell, aren't there police satellite offices at malls in Kuwait? Ok, brawls are one thing, but God forbid something on a massive scale (like a bomb, etc.) should happen. Then what? Let me see - traffic is normally backed up to the entrances to the mall; travel time from a police station; etc. etc. Planning!!!!

Sing it, Big Willy!!!! "It's da wild wild West...." "break out before you get bumrushed, at the The Wild Wild West"

Friday, October 03, 2008

EYEraq the Vote

So, I watched the vice presidential debate (4 am Kuwait time)...

Here is what I am absolutely sick of – American politicians who can’t pronounce Middle Eastern names. Sarah Palin totally F-ed up the pronunciation of EYEraq and EYEran. Another peeve I have is when people mis-pronounce Ahmed – as in her screw up of Ahmadinejad: AKHmadinejad. There is no one named AKHmad. It is AHmad. Why the hell can’t these people – who are supposed to be educated and in this case, a potential leader of our country – correctly pronounce names? I hate that. It makes Americans en masse look like idiots. LEARN how to properly pronounce what you are talking about. Please don’t tell me that since September 11th, the US Government doesn’t at least have a few Middle Eastern advisors who might be able to point this out. Palin has been to Kuwait – did everyone else on her visit pronounce Iraq as EYEraq? If she can’t even properly pronounce the names of the country, what does she know about foreign policy with them? I want to hear her pronounce Qatar: will it be “Gutter”? That’s jacked too!

Oh, is it obvious yet who I’m voting for? I have to remain a closet Democrat at work, however, for several reasons – partially because of the nature of my business and partially because I will never hear the end of it from my neighboring colleague who is a staunch republican.

Isn’t Palin cute? (Gag!!!!) Too cutesy for words. Women aren’t Lego blocks. You can’t just pop one out and pop another one in. She was coached well for the debate, but "God love her" someone forgot to tell her how to sound intelligent about the Middle East.

More DG Comments:

Biden was factual delivering statistics and plans. Palin was rhetorical and folksy.

Palin needs to learn the term "achilles heel".

Palin stated "dangerous nations" and "people who hate us, don't believe in our way of life..." That is just the same old republical stance on "the rest of the world". Why should any nation conform to an American belief system? Palin is already drawing the same old lines between "them" and "us". It isn't that way. The world is diverse - LEARN about it.

CHECK OUT the Saturday Night Live spoof on the VP debate in full version. It is frickin hilarious!