Saturday, December 27, 2008

Merry Belated Christmas

I'm sorry I haven't posted and sorry I haven't sent blog Christmas wishes to all my friends.

I'm in Virginia where it has been crazy cold, but nice. I was looking forward to a little snow, but I got a little frost and that's good enough for me. Mashallah, everything has been good so far. I'm going to try to extend the visit a little because truthfully - I don't want to leave.

I hope you all had a very merry Christmas and I hope that we ALL have a much better 2009.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Yet another reason why I love Kuwait

Isn't contrast great? Traditional vs. modern...

These undergarment shops are all over Kuwait - you just have to go to most of the basement stores(known as "souq shaabi"). (I don't really want to refer to them as "lingerie" shops as the word itself implies more elegance than these garments deserve.) We fondly refer to these shops as "the dirty underwear stores". You will find yer fancy party/dancin' clothes, feathers, fur, shiny stuff - whatever your heart desires. It's all right here. In fact, earlier this year I even found a rinestone-studded leather riding crop. Imagine that. Giddy up little pony, we on our way to the rodeo!

This one is in Salmiya right under the Kwik Copy store in Jawhara Center off Salem Al-Mubarak Street. They have an entire Chrismas collection. There are also a few good ones right below the Gulf Royale restaurant in Salmiya.

Looking to get your girl that special gift? Because nothing is more special than the gift of giving....

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I love the Royale Hayat Hospital!

I’m in love with the Royale Hayat Hospital. People have been telling me for several years now that I should go there and check them out. I just did and I’ve never had a more pleasant experience at the gynecologist – ever. (Some of you perves might take that the wrong way, but it is completely innocent – PURGY!). First and foremost, the RH is managed by Banyan Tree Resorts, so it is just like a high quality hotel. You drive up, and there is valet parking; you walk in and there is a “reception” desk. The lobby is dimly lit and tranquil – as are the exam rooms (no screaming brats either). The nurses are professional - unlike some who just stand there and stare at you. The bathrooms even have aromatherapy going on (mint!). It even has a spa and its goooooooooorgeous (everything has been brought in from Thailand)!

Ok prices: They are a little higher than what you would pay elsewhere. The initial visit is 22 KD and then after that, visits are 10 KD (which is below the market for International Clinic and Mowasat).. I would pay (and did pay) more just for the service. In both Mowasat and International Clinic, I feel like I’m going to a stock yard rather than a patient care facility. My RH experience was quiet and tranquil and I felt completely relaxed. The last thing you want to be when you go to the GYN is uptight. RH has designed the reception desks to allow for complete confidentiality (unlike International Clinic where the receptionists don’t have a problem shouting “PAP smear!” at the top of their lungs. If you have ever been to IC you will know that their reception desks at any floor resemble the deli counter at the grocery store.). The RH spa offerings are priced slightly higher, but dayam – looking at the quality of the treatment rooms (and what else is offered around Kuwait), I would say that is worth it also.

They don’t take Gulf Insurance – which is what I have, but they will let you do reimbursement if you bring them a GIC form. My doctor at RH, Dr. Ghazawwi (who used to be at Mowasat but moved and now looks so much calmer and more relaxed) assured me that he would only write “gynecological visit” on the form for confidentiality because he immediately knew about the problem.

Oh, and get this – they have a GIFT SHOP in the spa! A gift shop! I can shop when I go to the Southern Region doctor! Wooooo hoooooo!

Seriously, I wanted to check in. It was THAT cool.

I usually go to Mowasat, but if I ever go there again, I wish someone would smack me hard across the face. What sparked my retreat to Royale Hayat was the fact that I made a 6:00 appointment with a doctor at Mowasat, and sat in the waiting room until 7:30 waiting to get in. What Mowasat does is to make appointments for a set time, but give numbers. I was #4 at 6:00. There were something like 13 others behind me. Is that fair? I should send them MY invoice for the time they kept me waiting. I called RH from the waiting room and made an appointment. Mowasat sucks.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Smelly Cat Update

Slaperella told me to use chili powder on my welcome mat. While looking for the chili powder (my housekeeper's "organizational" skills are freakish), and several refreshing drinks, found some wasabi powder, so I made a noxious blend. The Slaps Theory is that when Le Chat squats to lay one of those enormous poops on my welcoming mat, it will burn its furry little ass. (Whaaaaaaa? It's not torture! My other alternative was trapping it and trying to convince PAWS that it was a nice kitty and should be given a loving home.)

This was before I heard about the orange peels and/or citrus sprays (thank you to those of you who commented. It is now stored in my trivial stuff database where I'm sure I'll be able to save it for later).

I also had gates put in. Desert Dawg will have to stay inside (as slaps says, "Your new home is as big as a park.") during the day while I'm not home (I ordered a "doggy box" for discreet indoor use). While I am home, I have a total of 3 new gates (locking one at the top of the stairs, another at the bottom of the stairs, and a 2M high one with locks at the back of the terrace that wraps around the house). I've already ordered motion-detectors from the US (I haven't seen them here - does anyone know if they exist in Kuwait?). All for the protection of my dog.

Go ahead funny people - laugh. I love my dog.

When I was 13, I got a pony for my birthday (no, I wasn't really a spoiled little girl - the pony in case was 30 years old and had a whooping cough and was barely alive and I had to rescue it). Cost of the pony: $100. So, my stepfather built a barn and levelled land for a coral (in February. In Rhode Island). Total cost: $25,000.

Desert Dawg's fences are a drop in the bucket.

Anyhoo, long-story-short, between my security obsession and the chili powder, I think the phucking cat/leopard/cow-patty-producer has moved on.

I'm sure my neighbors are laughing their asses off. "Stupid Amreekia!" I used to laugh at people like me too - until I became one. (Ok, I'm still laughing. Most often at myself. Ergo the blog.) Peace of mind is sometimes hard earned. Peace of MY mind is no easy matter!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

VIVA la competition!!!!

Arab Times today.


Why should they "control competition in the market"? Finally, a company comes along that offers service to their customers that the other mobile companies are not providing - and they call a meeting to discuss how to control it - "a way out"? What - are they like the lines of same business-type shops (shoes for example) that put stores right next to each other (as in Samiya for example) and then all of a sudden the prices are all fixed/similar?

Sure VIVA is using aggressive marketing ploys! Good for them! Isn't that what the SHOULD be doing? Isn't that good business? What, did someone have say - a CREATIVE ORIGINAL IDEA - and it pissed off the old boys? God forbid someone in Kuwait should step outside of the box! It might be the collapse of civilization! Let's call our friends together for a meeting. This is awful! We didn't plan for this to happen.

Ever heard of "strategy"?

If the other telecomms companies - Zain and Wataniya - want to keep up, they should adjust. Change or stagnate. Stagnate and die.

How about this:
  • Peak and low calling periods with advertised rates!
  • Commonly called groups ("friends & family") at a discount (I think this is one of Viva's new ploys).
  • On-line statements with billing details and stats.
  • and my personal favorite - the ability to "own" your number/take it with you if you decide to switch to another provider (Viva - here I come....)
Why shouldn't telecomms companies be competitive? Oh... oh.... you mean that Zain and Wataniya might loose market share??? What are they - the chosen ones? Ma Bell?

I tell you what "strangulation" is: my 200 kd/month Zain bill with no itemization of call charges.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I am the excrement expert

This post is all about poop.

I wish I could post about what is happening at my job, but one never knows who is reading this stuff I write and I don’t want to put my living in jeopardy. Let’s just use the word “Enron” and you can figure it out. They literally locked the employees in one day last week. Is that even legal? I thought the term for forcibly detaining someone is “kidnapping”. I am traumatized. Heavy sigh.

One funny little diddy I can write about is an incident that happened this religious holiday weekend. We ate sushi at the Crowne Plaza (as usual) and were waiting for the car at the valet. Hoover-Moustache-Dude (you know - really skinny, but sporting an enormous moustache, so he looks like if you flip him wrong-side-up you can vacuum your floor with him) comes running out of the lobby, mumbling his phone number. I moved away. He gets closer and starts mumbling some mo'; literally, it was inaudible. It was like a whisper. I’m like, “Whaaaaaaaaa? I can’t hear you. Do you want something?” in English (angry white woman style). Followed by giggles from La Romanian and I. He moves in closer and (this is some shit), says, “Either one of you. I’ll give you 100 KD.” Oooooooooooooh – no he di-int! There, in front of a crowd of onlookers and valet parkers in the front of the hotel, I shout out, “Yala ya wasakh!” (Doesn’t literally translate to “get out of here you pig” but justabout. Direct translation is “Go you dirty person”.) Dude musta been high. He ran (sissy boy); everybody started laughing. Several of the valet parking dudes were doubled-over laughing. What kind of parents do these people have? Are all women – or maybe just all foreign women – assumed to be prostitutes? Again, I don’t dress flashy; I wore a black sweatshirt and jeans; ditto my Romanian pal. What up with the caveman mentality? Yeah buddy, Eid mubarak to you too!

Eid Al-Adha and the sacrificing of sheep: I’m sorry, but I will never ever get my head around the need to kill sheep/lambs during the holiday. I know it is meat and all that, but personally, I would never feel the need to have a fresh-killed anything. I go to the store. In my new neighborhood, I took Desert Dawg out for a walk around the block (I need to do that until my terrace is fenced and I can build an appropriate doggie-doo box). Anyhoo, we walked and I heard a strange noise that turned out to be a little lamb – the same size as Desert Dawg – all alone in a pen, crying like crazy for its mommy. Ok, many people see that and think “food group”, but not me. My immediate instinct is to hop the fence and rescue bambi-lambi and take off…. But to where? If I rescue it, it will go to a farm, right? Where they will turn around and sell it for someone else to eat. There is no salvation for sheep here. The only thing I can think of is, “Don’t worry little lamb. It will be over soon.” And then I look at Desert Dawg and think that I better had get the Hell out of there before someone thinks she is a sheep too.

More animal stories: I HATE cats. They are evil. Ok, not all of them, but I don’t like cats. I particularly HATE whatever frick-in evil neighborhood cat who must have detected Desert Dawg’s presence and decided to “mark” the territory… by continually shitting on my “Welcome” mat. I mean – WTF! The first day, I went outside in my slippers and SPLAT! It doesn’t even look like normal cat doo-doo. Maybe panther or tiger poop. What has it been eating?? (BTW – The Man calls me the “shit expert” because I can usually tell what kind of an animal it came from. I call that “common sense”, but all of a sudden I’m an expert on excrement. At least I have a specialty, right? Maybe I should put it on my resume – it is already quite obscure, so why not?) Obviously, I can no longer have a “Welcome” mat outside my apartment. That kind of shit is just soooooooo not welcome. “Welcome to the neighborhood. I made this for you….” Anyways, I’m paying very nice Metal Works Dude to come put up fences around my yard. (That’s “fences” not “feces”.) If a bird shits on you, it is supposed to be good luck, right? What about cats? I get an apartment with a huge terrace, but I can’t let my dog out until I get it properly gated (someone might think she’s a lamb). This place is costing me a shitload (ha ha) of money. Oh, I think I still have a bottle of No-Go (actual brand name). Maybe it will work for cats? Je ne sais pas. I will keep you informed.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

REAL Christmas Trees in Kuwait

Incase anyone is interested in buying either a Norway Spruce (Picea Abies - top photo) or Norman Blue Spruce (Picea Pungen - bottom photo) tree, they will be arriving at Janayen Nursery on Sunday, December 7th. Trees are coming in air frieght from Holland and are available in 1.5 to 3 meter selections. I don't have pricing information yet.

The difference: Norway Spruce doesn't last as long as the Blue Spruce (needles fall faster). The Blue Spruce also has a silvery tone to the needles). Personally, I prefer the scent of the Blue Spruce.

Janayen is located on 4th Ring Road in front of the Friday Market in Shuwaikh - along the row of nurseries. Their phone number is 2472-2074 or you can reach the Showroom Manager, Mr. Mohammed Al-Zean at mobile 9952-0231.

This is an unpaid public service announcement by Desert Girl.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Patient “Confidentiality” in Kuwait: When your personal aint so personal

I am covered under a private insurance policy through my company (as many of you probably are).

The one that we use is (a very large and well known private insurance company in Kuwait that begins with a G and ends with an F). This insurance company's SOP is: They submit claim statements with deductibles to be paid by employees to the employer WITH full details of your ailment. In other words – NO patient confidentiality. In other other words – if you have anything going on (or even if you don't because you still have to pay a deductable most of the time), your business has just become everybody else’s. For example, who knows now that a certain person has erectile dysfunction? Lots of folks at the insurance company, at the insurance broker company, and at the employees company. Hell – dude sitting next to you might know your bid-ness. The freakin coffee boy might know what's happenin' down South (or any other region)!

How do I know this? Because my personal has been distributed all over my office and then some. I went in for a normal, regular, run-of-the-mill gyno visit and WABANG! All of a sudden, Ahmed in Accounting has a pretty clear picture of what is going on with my V. So does Ali in HR. So does…. Nice lady in HR said that most people don’t know English well enough to understand. I’m like, ‘I’m pretty sure any man anywhere knows what a V is – in any language.’ (And just so ya know - everything is perfectly ok with my V, but I still don't want my name next to the V word in print in my office.)

Do YOU want your wife’s or your sister’s or daughters or even yo momma’s V details broadcast all over Kuwait? Je thinks not. Flana Al-Flana would "Wheeeeeeeeee!" herself to death!

Mine is not an isolated case. I found out intimate details about our chairman by mistake (they sent me his form). I’ve heard talk about people in our office with all kinds of wacky/icky/intimate medical conditions. And mens, Viagra is not covered under insurance - and just incase you were thinking of going to get some and have your special night comped to your company; think again (yes, some genius tried that).

In a country where private matters are usually kept in deep dark closets; all of a sudden private aint so private. The US is supposedly an “open” country, but if someone was to divulge confidential information in a similar manner, we could sue in a heartbeat. I’m checking into what legal recourse I have here. However, the last thing I really want is to have my name stated in court - again with the V word - in front of lots of icky spectators. Wheeeeeeeeeeee!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Holy Crap! I can’t believe I own that much junk

I have been moving for days. Mesotired.

I have been living alone (with Desert Dawg) in a small 2 bedroom apartment for the past 11 years. Just us. Nobody else’s junk – just ours. It never occurred to me how much stuff I have – and how very little I care about most of it. I think if I ever leave Kuwait, I'm not even going to bother trying to sell it - I'm just going to have people come in and scavange.

By the by, my shoes only took 2 large boxes. I consider that a major accomplishment. Desert Dawg’s toys took up only one medium-sized Prada duffle bag. Funny that - I kept a close watch on her bag and I can't find any of my own things. I don't want her to be traumatized without her toys.

I chose Global Freight Systems to move my stuff. They gave me a flat rate and a time estimate. I didn’t know all the details. Like, fer example how the timeframe might stretch just a little (like almost an extra entire day); or that they actually unpack and put the stuff together again. WAY COOL. Men with power tools!!!! They brought their own tools and ladders and everything – and they’re really fast. They sent a SWAT team of like 10 Indian and Egyptian guys – all of them in clean uniforms, shaven, not smoking and not smelly. In fact, several dudes wore really nice cologne. Go figure (is this Kuwait???). I am totally impressed. They have been so kind and friendly and courteous. They’ve been joking with me and seem to be having a good time. They must be well paid. I want to keep them. I have been buying them pizza to make them want to come back. Come baaaaack oompa loompa men!

The first night of the move, I stayed in the Holiday Inn in Salmiya. I didn’t know that they had expanded the hotel and it is now quite large. The room was really nice and they actually had a PILLOW MENU!!!. OMG! It was on an executive floor and there were noisy children (mini-executives?). I wouldn’t stay there again – I could hear every passing car on the Gulf Road and the door to the room was paper thin, so that you could hear anyone passing in the hall (and I’m purty sure they could hear my snoring too – not that I giveashit). Anyways, nice bath, comfortable bed, room service – must haves for moving night. I was out like a light at 7:30 pm (I do TOO have a life, but I was exhausted!).

I helped the movers. I did. I had a lot of stuff to do. My goal for this move was not to break a finger nail, but unfortunately, I’m not one of those sit-on-your-ass girlie girls who doesn’t help. I have 2 nails left. Poop. God only knows where my box of vitamins is. Folic acid and gelatine pills always help.

I NEVER wear flat shoes. Ok, sometimes when I am walking Desert Dawg, but mostly never. So, I couldn’t find my shoe boxes since I packed them on the 28th and I had to wear the same athletic shoes. I finally found my shoe box last night after a very long search and a whole lot of curse words. Today, my calves (is that right? It looks wrong.) are hurting like a sonofabitch. I’m walking funny and people in my office probably assume that I was having a FUN long weekend. Not so. I haven’t even been able to think about that kind of fun since I started my search months and months ago. No wonder I’m so evil.

Speaking of evil: I decided to give the man downstairs a bunch of cast-off stuff that I didn’t want; including my Whirlpool washer/dryer. Why? Because I love his kids. He’s a piece of doo-doo, but his kids have been so nice and so sweet. Plus, I see their poor maid out there all the time hanging clothes on a line (yes, formerly upscale building). I told him he could take a small table on the balcony after my other stuff was moved. The next day, he comes up to me and said, “You took your table. You said I could have it.” I’m like, “Dude, not the DINING ROOM table.” WTF. Give ‘em an inch…


I love our hariss, Khalid. Great guy. But, his brother is there now that the building is being demo’ed and Khalid is taking a vacation. So, I have only known bro-dude for all of 2 weeks and he gets all up in my face, “Why did you give HIM your washer/dryer?? I’m the HARISS!” What UP with people? He didn’t even take the trash out for the past month. Hariss my arse.

So the mover dudes are supposed to set up my stuff in the new place and my housekeeper is supposed to be helping them today (NO ONE is allowed to touch my underwear). I don’t know how that’s going to work. I can't take any more time off work. I might come home and things are in weird places. No problem. I can deal. I had my first shower at newplace this morning and it has kickass water pressure (unlike the trickle I had in the old place), and the AC rocks. I’m kindof unsettled by the fact that the villa owner wants to keep a key “to check on the apartment while you’re away”. Uh – is that legal? I’m (Bunny is) changing the locks. I am a very private person (at home in my real life – not on the blog).

Bunny is helping me with a lot of things. I bequeathed him my power drill years ago (as if I was ever going to use it – yeh!) so I keep asking him to come back and “help” me. More like, ‘Ok, you go over there and fix it and I’ll put my hands over my ears to block out the noise.’ Bunny understands. He knows the drill (ha ha – play on words – get it?)

Housewarming gifts anyone? (giggle)