Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Recruiters in Kuwait STILL SUCK

I have my resume all over Kuwait. If you're in HR - you've seen it by now. I have been here longtime and I've dealt with loooooots of headhunters. Used to be that Kuwait had only 2 of them; one was the guy at ProLinks; who, in my humble opinion, leaves a whole lot to be desired. None of the recruiters is very good at follow-up – on any level of the organizations. If you are a recruiter – you are making money off ME; you should be responsive.

Ok, so one guy recently contacted me for a job providing Westerner support. I thought I would be great at that –since I basically do that anyways. My salary was within their range and all was good. I sent RecruiterDude bullet points on my capabilities and offered to do a Powerpoint presentation if they needed more.

No response for a week. Typically – the employer will contact the recruiter (or vice versa) immediately with feedback.

I follow-up with RecruiterDude. He response that the client is looking for a male. Oh reeeeeeeeeeally… that’s interesting. In my experience, if you want to hire someone to assist Westerners, a friendly female Western face is usually the optimum solution. It is a no-brainer easy sale. What RecruiterDude shoulda said was that they found someone else to fill the position; have decided not to hire right now, whatever. I sent him back a note with FREE consulting advice to pass along to his client. How frickin’ archaic!

If the company I worked for now would just pay me, maybe I could collect all the shit in my apartment and just get on United 981 out of here. I am so sick of all the combined BULLSHIT at the moment that I wouldn’t even look back.

Friends – where are they?
Job – it sucks. Potential jobs – what potential?
Love life – what the F is that? I can’t remember.

All I ever do anymore is work, eat and sleep. I'm just a Beltway bandit relocate.

I could be sitting around the table right now with my sister and my mother laughing my ass off in Virginia while here, I rarely crack a smile anymore.

Calgon – take me away. I don’t know how much more I can deal with.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Taking a Break

I usually write about male relationshit issues, but I’m having a best girlfriend problem and it is so much worse. With a guy, you always have that skepticism that marks a friendship: is dude just spending time with me to get in my pants, really? What does dude want? I do it. I’m sure the rest of you ladies do it; even if the guy is your saintly best friend – the Little Voice of Wisdom is always around somewhere. With a female friend, I am much more likely to open up and just accept friendship and all that goes with it; trust. Therefore, I am much more selective about my female friends. I am much more careful about who I “let in” because I know that instinctively, I will probably have my guard down.

Ok, having said all that philosophical bullshit – I’m having a problem with my best friend (who isn’t my mom or my sister) of 11 years. A week ago, she just stopped talking to me and blamed it on my “tone of voice”. I snapped at her; I admit it. I was tired after 2 days of no sleep and Desert Dawg puking blood (and subsequent trips to vets in Shuwaikh and Ahmadi and back again for x-rays and blood tests, etc). I was worried because the same day, my beloved American Express had sent a notification that my card was being cancelled – due to no fault of my own (payments are always on time) – but due to the financial crisis. That alone was enough to make me cry. I was worried about the fact that the company I work for hadn’t paid salaries and were a full month late; I haven’t been paid since November because I took vacation pay early. So, I snapped at the person who is closest to me here. All of that is probably no excuse; I apologized profusely. I tried to call. She said, via SMS, that it wasn’t a problem; that she just “needs her space.” Oh no she di’int! That’s a guy thing!

The Desert Girl Philosophy on “Taking a Break” in Relationships is this: If your relationship needs to “take a break”, there is no going back. I don’t take breaks, because that means – to me – that the relationship isn’t strong enough to endure; to communicate; to work it out. It means just what it says; a break, a tear. It is broken. The minute that Ross and Rachel did it – it spelled disaster for how many seasons of their relationship?

First and foremost, if you have known ANYONE and spent almost every day seeing them or talking to them, you should be able to tell them how you feel – or something is basically wrong with the relationship to begin with. Who just dumps their friends? What kind of a person does that - especially when they obviously have several hard issues going on? Would someone who really cares about me ever do that? Does that mean that she was never a real friend? I think I have a right to be angry. Alas, anger is unhealthy. It starts phuckin with your chakras and then your wiring gets all messed up. I mustn’t do this!

Those who love me, I love.

I guess with all the other hooey I have going on, this was the worst. I’m blogging about it because I’m not going to talk about it. I don’t want to be one of those whiney people who runs around dwelling on a negative subject. But hey – I can blog and people can choose to read or not. Take a break. Ha ha.

So alas, I really am heartbroken. She is my best friend. Why would she do this? Of the small group of friends who I have discussed it with (4, to be exact), their advice is to “let it go”. I think my mother’s advice is the best: “I have found through my experience that people will never behave the way you expect them to. You can’t make them do the right thing.” True dat, Mommy. You can’t expect them to be kind or to talk about what is bothering them. You can’t expect them to be the kind of friend that you hope you are. It is still really really shitty when they disappoint you, though.

I haven’t even made it through a full month of 2009, and so far… well, lets turn that frown upside down and say that I really hope that 2009 will be a great year and that things will turn around.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A First Step

Ok, so take a look at these two photos. Can you see the difference? These photos ran 2 consecutive days (January 25th and 26th in the Arab Times).

(I think that's my Absolute, by the way.)

The first step towards solving a problem is acknowledging that there IS a problem. At least local folks who break the law even make it into the newspaper. If more did (like they do in Dubai where full photos with facial features - and full family names), then perhaps it would be a deterrent to others who either are committing crimes - or are considering it. As an example, in Dubai if young men chase women down the street (the way they do all the time in Kuwait, causing lots of accidents), their photos and full family names are published in local papers. It is a big disgrace to their families.

Kuwaiti friends: what are your feelings on this? Do you think that photos of Kuwaiti nationals with their names should be put in the papers if those people commit crimes - or should they not?

My personal Desert Girl oppinion: If you do the crime, you gotta do the time (or face humiliation). Why should humiliation be limited to any nationality? Hell, I say humiliate them all!

February 9, 2009

The picture below appeared in the Arab Times. I guess
I spoke too soon. I applaud the Government of Kuwait:
They stand behind their statement of "Equal justice for all."
I'm impressed.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

New Jack City: Mahboula

Hey – have you guys heard this because it is news to me: I was talkin’ to an ‘merican friend who says that his friends call Mahboula “New Jack City”. He says that all the Western contractor furnished high rises are full of drugs, prostitution, and alcohol.

I don’t have any reason to go to Mahboula – no friends there and there aren’t a lot of restaurants I want to frequent – so this is the first I’ve heard of it. Is it that common?

I’ve been witness to prostitution and alcohol in Kuwait, but I didn’t know about drugs. Well, I have heard there are problems (like in any country – anywhere in the world, unfortunately), but I didn’t think that Westerners would risk so much. I have never done drugs and never intend to, so I wouldn’t know. Honest. I’m way too much of a control freak to give up my powers to substances.

The subject came up because I heard a story recently about a contractor who was popped for drugs and could have faced the death penalty for trafficking. He was released from the central prison after six weeks. Turns out that he was riding in a car and the driver had drugs on him.

For those of you who aren’t aware of this – if someone has drugs in their possession, it doesn’t matter who is around them – the police arrest everyone. They will keep the peripheral people and interrogate them to determine if they are really innocent and/or to try to glean information that may lead to further arrests. For example, you may not know that dude hosting a party has drugs, but if you go and the police go to arrest dude, you go to jail. That’s why it is VERY important in Kuwait (and anywhere else really) to know the people you are with.

Even if I'm riding to work with someone, I take my own car.

Someone I know years ago (like around 1999) used to go to parties at the chalet of someone well known in Kuwait. He used to invite literally hundreds of people – lots of Westerners and people from embassies, etc. The girl stayed with him after others had left and he took out a briefcase containing a gun, bullets, money, and illegal substances. Had the police raided the place, each and every one of those people could have faced drug charges. She told me and I told other people so we were all sure never ever to go there.

Nothing to be toyed with here. It is baaaaaad news. Why would anyone want to jeopardize so much?

Like the guy this week who was arrested in a "prostitution den". Dude was on his way back home and had received his final pay when he was busted. He lost all his money and went home broke because the authorities labeled it dirty money. Now dude - aren't their pro's back home? Is it just less expensive here? Why ya gotta go to a "den" anyways? Think with the big head!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Inauguration and Obama's speech - Wow!

Wow! Did you see all those people on the National Mall. It reminded me of a scene from "Evita". I loved Steven Spielberg's quote, "I couldn't afford a cast like this" (or something like that). I liked how the crowd was so mixed: people of all ages, colors, religions. I WISH I had been there.

Wow! What a speech! It addressed all the points. I didn't even think he was reading of a teleprompter, but he was. The speech was co-written by Obama's 27-year-old speech writer, Jon Favreau, who wrote the first draft in Starbucks. They say that Favreau, "Favs", carries Obama's autobiography, Dreams From My Father, wherever he goes. The guy sounds like an interesting and creative old soul. Yet another example of how anyone can do anything if they put their mind to it. Kudos to Obama for putting his faith into someone young, but obviously outstanding.

My favorite parts of the speech:

" has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things - some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom."

"...Now there are some who question the scale of our ambitions - who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage."

"...Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security eminates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint."

"... For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth.... that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itsself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace."

"... To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist."

"...For as much as a government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours."

I look forward to exciting times to come!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


I wish I was on the National Mall with everybody else in the DC area, freezin' my ass off (or a substantial part of it), waiting for Obama to give his speech.

There's no place like home.
There's no place like home.
There's no place like home.

(Crap. It didn't work. DAMN MY RUBY SLIPPERS!)


Ok, I’m not going to peeve all over work again in this post. That would just be a no-brainer and an easy target. I’m peeving on other things that have irked me of late:

Drama Queens: I think I might have possibly eluded to my distaste of drama queens in previous posts, but just to restate the fact: Why the drama? I have one friend in particular who is always at the summit of all things drama-related. She has an amazing white heart, but she just gets on my nerves sometimes and I have to bite my tongue to keep from hurting her feelings. (Obviously, I’m not biting my fingers by typing this post.) She can turn a sentence into a saga. And she is so opinionated that you can’t get a word in edgewise. I believe she has a medical degree, a pharmacology degree, a PhD in relationship counseling (although hers always seems to be in disarray), and perhaps some form of certification in holistic remedies. She binge drinks herself into brief hospital stays (where she calls her male friends for sympathy) and blames the “mysterious ailments” – not on her alcohol consumption/party-girl lifestyle – but on the “magic” that her husband’s Iraqi first wife is supposedly putting on her. I’m pretty sure she has a Customer Loyalty Card at the Hadi Clinic where she is earning enough points for a round-trip ticket to Tahiti, or perhaps a 2-door Peugeot. Don’t get me wrong – I love her and she is one of my dearest friends (who will never see this because she doesn’t read English, thank God). Why the drama?

People who misunderstand brief moments of kindness with an ever-lasting relationship: Par example: Our finance manager has been having a really hard time lately over work-related issues. Combine that with the fact that he has family members who have both been injured and are in harm’s way in Gaza, and it is a recipe for clinical depression. So, I sent out a cheerful e-mail asking people to be extra kind to him. Now he thinks I want to marry him (as a 2nd wife) and that I should be inviting him to my home (at night) for “coffee.” OMG. He mentioned the procedure for obtaining a green card….

Which brings me to my next peeve….

Green Card Hunters: “How do I get a visa to the States….;” which is only an interlude to what they’re really after – the Elusive Green Card – the only thing better than the American Express Titanium (formerly “Centurion” or “black”/African American) Card. My stock answer has become, “You need to determine which trades the US is lacking staff in, and study that trade.” My main referral is nursing. There is a world-wide nursing shortage; and the US is no different. One of the recent recipients of Desert Girls Words of Wisdom on Green Card Philosophy stated, “You are just like my mother…” (Oh no, he di’in’t!)

Which brings me to my next peeve….

If you DO want a green card, perhaps you better study up on what is appropriate to the culture – like NOT making any reference pertaining to a woman’s age. Don’t FRICKIN call me “ma’am”. As an example of what IS appropriate: I was in a shop recently where a young-looking military-type guy said, “Excuse me, miss…” Oh yeah, THAT is more like it. When did it become ok for people to start calling me “Ma’am”? I’m not old!!! I’m only 29. I don’t care what Miss Manners says – I’m a “miss” to you, mister, and I am definitely not your mother!

Which brings me to my next peeve….

Your mother doesn’t live here. If someone invites themselves to your home, I don’t think it is appropriate for them to start making continual requests (when you don’t have servants). The scenario: I sit down once the girls arrive. I ask them what they would like to drink. I stand up and go get it. I sit down. One of them inevitably waits 4 minutes, looks around the room, and asks, “Where is the phone charger?” (Yes, you know these have to be Kuwaiti female guests because they’ve been talking so much on their mobile that it actually is at the beeping point before it shuts down.) My stand on these types of visitors is that if you KNOW you are going to talk that much on your phone; if you KNOW it is your lifestyle; then keep a phone charger in your handbag. I stand up and go get the charger. I sit down. 4 minutes later, someone is thirsty again. I stand up and go get it. I sit down. 4 minutes later, someone else is thirsty again. I stand up and go get it. I sit down. (Are you starting to see the pattern here?) They should at least feign an attempt at getting something themselves (glass in hand, “Do you mind if I get…”) Do I not look like I have just worked for 10 hours? At this point, I start shouting for my “maid” (the lovely and quite invisible, Amina). ‘Where IS she?! I simply don’t know where that woman goes!’ Personally, I like the well-known American form of hospitality: “Yo! There is the refrigerator. Help yourselves.” Most of my closer friends know and understand this.

Which brings me to my next peeve….

If you are going to drink all my booze, either bring food or replace it. My home is not a charitable foundation for wine-o’s (although one would think that perhaps it is). I mean, they could bring a bag of chips, or a chocolate bar, or maybe some machboos lamb from home – I don’t care. It is the thought that counts. Whatever happened to customs and traditions of visiting other people’s homes? I bring stuff. I do – or at least I return the favor instead of mooching. I even send flowers. Don’t get me wrong, I love having visitors, but there is a proper way, right? I’m not a guy, after all: You can’t just expect to mooch off me and get away with it!

There is really no segue for this, but it is a current-events peeve…

People who forward me e-mails about Gaza. Oh…. My….. God. As if my daily life isn’t deplorable enough, but then “friends” send me forwards of pictures of dead babies and atrocities that are occurring in Gaza. I’m NOT the person to send these to: Send them to US Congress members (do a Google search!). Send them to Joe The Plumber in the mid-West who isn’t already educated on what is happening to Jamal The Plumber in Gaza. Send them to US newspapers. Not me. I am already fired up enough; I know what is happening there. Further, if you are going to send this kind of stuff and make a difference by trying to publicize events/educating people – send it in a language that people outside of the Middle East can actually read: Arabic isn’t going to be of any use to me, Joe/Jo Ann The Plumber or Joe the Congressman/woman. Don’t get me wrong – I’m totally with the Palestinians, but I’m not the right person to be bombarding with these e-mails; especially by people who don’t remember me the rest of the time. Apparently, I am only a recipient of crisis e-mails. Again – not the girl.

Well folks, I’m on page 3 of my list of peeves today – and it is only the beginning. I should probably think about doing some work now.

There goes the neighborhood

They are getting ready to start tearing down the old Souq Salmiya area - and surrounding buildings. The Al-Salam complex is deserted and the windows have been removed. I don't know if I like all this change. It saddens me.

The building complex where I used to live is still occupied by a few people refusing to leave, but they'll start removing fixtures soon. If you live in Ewan or the Al-Hamed complexes, you are about to get a rude awakening - literally - by teams of construction crews working late into the nights; demolishing and re-building.

On another note, I love this! Some artist wrote this on the Al-Salam complex's car park and it is visible from the intersection of Salem Al-Mubarak and Hamad Al-Mubarak Streets. You go, Freak!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Full moon on my way to work

This morning at 6:30 am on my way to work, the full moon was still up and it was just gorgeous. Yes, sadly, I get to work in the dark and equally as sadly, I return in the dark. My life is lived through the Mushroom Management Methodology: Always in the dark and covered in shit. And yes, sadly, people do drive more like maniacs during a full moon in Kuwait. You can always tell - even on a dark, cloudy night; the hywanat are on the road.

Anyhoo, I was in an exceptionally good mood this morning and I don’t know why. Unfortunately, this usually means that the Universe is planning to phuck with me again and the rest of the day will go poorly, but … happy thoughts, Desert Girl. Why must I always be a bitter woman?

I have the “Bitter Woman” series coasters on my desk at work; slogans like “Pain was too good for him,” “She would get even,” “Then she realized: they were all alike!” “It was a shame about him…really….” And my personal favorite, “…and then I ripped his lungs out.” People at work already think I’m a nut job. I just consistently prove their point. At least they are fearful of me so I don’t have to put up with a whole lot of crap. I mean – just because they are paying my salary isn’t an invitation to be given more work, right? (Well, that’s not ‘zactly true because they haven’t paid salaries for December to most of our employees yet. Very scary stuff. I think everyone here should be on strike, but that’s just me – call me a “bitter woman” or perhaps an “angry white woman”. I could be either or both.)

You know how they say, “Be careful what you wish for?” Well, I’ve been bitchin for months about how hot it always is in my office (and no.. it is NOT menopause dumbasses - 'specially since I'm 29) and today, I am freezing my butt off. OMG – I can see my own breath. Of course now, I can’t say anything to complain about how cold it is, now can I? We have a kabab restaurant downstairs and when we first moved into this building, I would go home every day smelling like a meat stick (oooooh nooooo – don’t even go THERE). (It must be the coffee – or the moon – or the freezing climate.) My hair used to have the bkhoor of kababiness. Yuck. My dog used to chase me around the apartment. ‘I do NOT have treats!’

I haven’t seen Bunny at all and I miss him. He got pissed off at his landlady and found another apartment. Why has he always got to be copying what I do? He KNOWS that I need him to drill stuff in MY apartment… and yet he selfishly thinks of only himself and gets a whole new apartment with stuff of his own to drill. What WAS he thinkin? Well, I am in possession of our shared Black & Decker power drill. I’m not giving it back until all my shelves are up. Bunny, if you are reading this – heed my warning. He could always go and get his own drill, but I know he won’t: He knows that I Fear The Drill and will always do it for me - even if he has better stuff to do.

I just found out that other Americans live in the villa where I live (its 4 floors). She’s from South Carolina and has 2 beautiful little girls. One of them said proudly, "I'm from the United States of America!" It was so cute. (She's 4. She'll learn later that once you say that roundabouthere, someone will always start bitchin about the war in Iraq or take it as a form of come-on. Maybe not by the time she grows up, or maybe not even by the time she's 5 - let's hope so.) It is so quiet where I live that I never see my neighbors anyways. I’m scared to death of doing something wrong because the landlady lives right upstairs from me (although I am starting to grow out of that feeling). I just don’t like to bother people (where I live. Outside is ok. “Don’t poop in your own back yard” and all that.)

Why must I always be vulgar?

Desert Girl is my alter-ego just like Slim Shady to Eminem or Sasha to Beyonce. It's ok to be baaaad if you have an alter-ego, right? Perhaps I have it the other way around: Maybe it is like Clark Kent and Superman! No?

Attention Wataniya Airways Employees

UPDATE - I started a Wataniya Airways page on Facebook. I'm pretty sure you guys are better at flying planes than geeking (not that I'm great at it). If anyone out there from Wataniya wants to take over as administrator - be my guest. Write to me at and I will give you the password.

Hey - for all of you who have recently joined Wataniya Airways - or who are about to and moving to Kuwait...

I have received a lot of requests from Wataniya new-to-Kuwait friends seeking advice on finding apartments to general questions about living here. I have made some very nice new friends (obviously the WA recruiters are doing an outstanding job!) and I am happy to help everybody who asks.

I think you guys should start your own group/site on Facebook: you would all be in a better position to help each other (and your families back home and moving here/transitioning) with a networking tool like Facebook. I started one for the company I work for and it has been a huge success.

I mention Wataniya specifically because I have never had so many employees from one company ask me the same questions at the same time. Some of you guys are even staying in the same hotel in Salmiya together and you might not even know each other (maybe you do - I dunno).

Okay, now that I have said that - since y'all work for Wataniya: would you PLEASE get me a job there? I'm happy to send you my resume.

Best wishes to all of you who are just joining and moving to Kuwait. I hope that you will have a happy and prosperous career!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Tequila Fairy

I had a visit with my old, dear friend, Mr. Jose Cuervo, while visiting a muckity-muck friend and I turned into a happy-go-lucky tequila fairy. F the Red Bull - tequila shots give you wings! (Picture the photo - only with a guy in a dishtasha turning into a hot guy....) It was all fun and good until I got a horrible case of the hiccups and couldn't fall asleep for 2 hours. I HATE hiccups. Did you know that Tameer complex charges 3KD for underground parking? That fascinates me. I could never find parking out there. It used to be a major pain to park my Stealth on the sidewalk. Anyhoo, I saw some fishermen friends who I haven't seen in a really really long time and I missed them. I brought The Romanian and Sheikha Minor and it was a nice evening. Dudes usually only see me on the boat - sans makeup and sportin a t-shirt with my hair up. They always look at me like I'm a totally different person when they see me on land! Yeah - no duuuuh - I'm a girl!

Friday afternoon, we drove down to the desert close to Bnaider for more shinannigans. At the junction where 30 and 40 meet, there was a fleet of traffic cops waiting for anyone to drive upwards of 120. One guy right next to me got nabbed. The only reason I didn't was because I had slowed from something like 160 because there was an obviously-drunk driver following us and I slowed waaaaaay down to let him pass. He was driving a 9 year old Yukon with 3 DVD players - all on. I just find that ridiculous. Who NEEDS all that crap? Anyways, I was mentally wishing that the cops would get him, but they didn't. Why is it that they never get the bad guys in reality?

We had a good time in the desert until Sheikha Minor started with the drama. Whyyyyy the draaaaaaaaaama? We're all having a good time and BAM... the frickin movie begins. I'm so not into the "I'm a princess" girlie dramas. So, the Romanian and I shot outa there and went to McDonalds to get our drive-home Quarter Pounders.

The desert has been jammin this year - quite literally. Parties don't start until at least 12 am and last until sometimes 9 am. That is so people can avoid police checkpoints; also - most of the families don't sleep in the desert so the party noise can start after families are gone. As one of my Kuwaiti/American friends says, "The most important piece of apparel you can have in your Kuwaiti party wardrobe is a good pair of sunglasses for the drive home". So true. We went to 2 different camps. The second had an elaborate iron gate and nice marble floors in the bathroom. Je suis impressed.

iPhone in the US

I'm not a real big fan of i-anything (I know - like, shocking, right?), but The Romanian asked me to pick up an iPhone 3G for her son while I was in the States as she had heard they were selling for around $300. I first checked out the Apple store online and they wanted me to input my credit card information prior to seeing the prices and T&C's, so I dissed that and went to Best Buy when I got to Virginia.

Here is the scoop: you buy the phone, but you must sign up with AT&T's plan for 2 years. The cheapest monthly rate is $69.99. So, the phone costs $300, but then WABANG - you are hit with the responsibility of the contract (terms and conditions - which are quite extensive - are below). Prior to having the "priviledge" of being allowed to buy the phone, they run a credit check on you first.

I told The Romanian to go someplace local to pay the 250KD to get one. Seems like it is just a big pain in the butt in the States.

Shots from Best Buy's Mobile Buyer's Guide, January 2009, valid 12/28/09 - 1/24/09 (above and below).

Terms Applicable to AT&T Nation and Family Talk Plans:
Credit approval required. Subscriber must live and ahave a mailing address within AT&T's owned newtork coverage area. An early termination fee of $175 applies if service is terminated before the end of the contract term.... (it goes on and on - if you are interested, I will send you the full details).

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Inauguration and other DC related stuff

Obama is everywhere in DC and I loved to see it! I took this picture in a Borders bookstore - right at the main entrance. I wish I was going to be there for the inauguration, but with 4 million people (projection has been lowered I believe) supposedly showing up, I don't think I could stand the crowds. There is supposed to be something like 10,000 busses and they don't even know where they are going to put them.

I was on the Mall for the first free concert by the Beach Boys on July 4th in 1980 and there were 500,000 people there. The police couldn't contain the crowds - there were a lot of crimes including rapes and muggings. My purse got stolen. I saw naked people just walking around. It took me hours to get home on the Metro, but damn was it a memorable experience!

I went to the Clinton inauguration at the Lincoln Memorial. It was HolyShitThat'sCold outside, but I stayed to watch him play the saxaphone with some wonderful entertainers.

I love DC during these times. I hope they have good TV coverage of the inauguration here in Kuwait.

Here are a few random photos from DC and Virginia.

The first one is the intersection of M Street and Wisconsin Avenue in Georgetown, DC. The second is the view at sunset from my mother's patio. The third is our house in Virginia. The last is the Christmas tree at Reston Towne Center.

By the way - WTF is UP with blogger formatting when you add pictures? Is it possible for them to like make it easier????

Kuwait's Space Mountain

Does anyone know what they are building behind the International Vet Hospital (IVH) in Ahmadi? It looks like the mountain from "Close Encounters". I asked the IVH staff what they were doing out there and they said that Kuwait is trying to increase tourism. I guess they are planning for skiing (?) Perhaps a "scenic" overlook? This thing has gone up in 3 months time. Whatup?
Further, whatup with the kennels being destroyed at IVH? I was one of those people who gave charitably way-back-when when the prospective kennel annex was to be used for a rescue center. Instead, it was used as a profit center to board police dogs and falcons. Was there legal action involved that had it taken down? Inquiring minds want to know.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

New Years Eve in Kuwait

My girlfriends headed South to the chalet/camp areas for New Years Eve. They said that the desert was bumper-to-bumper with cars - most likely because no one had anywhere else to celebrate. They also said that there were a lot of checkpoints and some had busses where they assumed the police were going to round up both drunks and - as Sheikha Minor said, "Kuwaiti girls". Men out to have a good time don't have a problem, but women sure do. The police won't target men leaving a party, but they will arrest women: Land O' The Double Standard.

Meanwhile, in another corner of Kuwait....

Slapperella had a 9:00 pm reservation at Totally Fish at Marina Crescent. When she arrived, they were turned away at the door by the host (who apparently was quite rude). She said she spoke to the manager who was incredibly nice (sent her home with an enormous amount of carry-out fish and deserts), but who told her that the authorities were closing the entire Crescent area so that people couldn't celebrate New Years.

Pardonez moi, but I don't believe that alcohol is served in Kuwait. Is it? Why should they shut down businesses? It isn't as if at any given time there aren't thousands of young people around Marina Crescent just milling around anyways (with nothing better to do). Why punish people who are patronizing local businesses?

People - what was your new years eve experience in Kuwait like?

Personally, I think Kuwait is becoming scarily conservative of late. I would be willing to bet that "authorities" will try to shut down the Valentine's Day activities as well, so those of you feeling romantic should probably get to it on the 13th rather than 14th.

When did Saudi Arabia annex Kuwait? When Iraq did it - at least it was blatant, not a slow escallation.

Kempinski Julaia'a No More: Sea Shell SUCKS

The Kempinski resort in southern Kuwait, Julaia'a is now the "Sea Shell Resort formerly the Kempinski".

I don't know what made the Kempinski chain pull out of the property, but I can guess that yet again another international hotel chain was not satisfied with the quality of the management. This has happened numerous times here: Hyatt Regency, Marriott (years ago), and others decided that the quality of services offered at their hotels were not up to their international standards.

Isn't that typical? Invest in a business, bring in top level staff to manage it; have that staff train lower paid people; fire the top level management; keep the lower paid people with the assumption that they will be able to maintain the level of service. This is the local business model.

Anyhow, I had the displeasure of one of the worst customer-service-related calls EVER with the duty manager at the Sea Shell, a socially-stunted individual named Waheed. Obviously, the resort is only a shell (if you will) of the Kempinski's former glory.

The property has always had a policy that if you are not a registered guest, you must park your car outside the main gate and walk up their hill - regardless of the weather - to get into the hotel. They don't offer any shuttle service. Why would a hotel choose to put their guests in an uncomfortable situation? Perhaps someone doesn't want to invest the money in the screening equipment that say the SAS or the Hilton has so that cars can go through. In our case, it was really cold outside, there were zero incoming/outgoing cars (no business) and we wanted to get a price sheet without having to park too far away. okey dokey, so it is their policy, but come on.

I called and asked for the duty manager to tell him why we were there and he had no intention of listening. Sometimes you can give an individual one singular task and there is no fluctuation or reasoning; he/she is a robot and must perform that one singular task. You can ask questions, you can try reason - it won't work. Why? Because those with lower intelligence don't question or rationalize.

Case in point: Waheed shouted over top of anything I had to say. Obviously, he doesn't care what position someone might be in to be able to give them business (and on what level). He didn't listen to a single thing I said: He was intent on one singular function; making me park the car, get out and walk to their office. My argument was that they should cater to their customers. It if was a matter of security, the guard could take my ID (especially since there was NO other customer within miles). He didn't listen to what I had to say - only shouted that I was wrong and "wasn't obeying their rules". I explained to him that it is a stupid procedure - especially since many of us give them repeated business and the security guards immediately treat customers as if they are criminals. He ranted. He shouted. And then (get this!), he threatened to call my embassy and tell them that I wasn't obeying rules. What tha fuuuuuuuuuuuu???? I offered to give him the number if he didn't have it. Go ahead - call the US embassy. I suggested that perhaps he should make it into an international incident and have his embassy (Egypt) contact my embassy and tell them that I "wasn't obeying rules". Yeh! Were laws broken??? Did I crash the gate with my car? Further, at the point when I called him to complain about the way I was treated at the gate, I was already miles away down the road going to check out another resort property. Waheed never apologized for the way we were treated. In fact, the only time this "manager" came up for air and let me say what I had to say was when I told him that I was recording our conversation to send to the hotel owner.

So, if you want to be treated badly, go to the Sea Shell Resort (formerly the Kempinski). If you have the scoop on why Kempinski no longer manages the hotel, feel free to dish it here. If anyone has the contact information for the owners of the Sea Shell, pass it along to me. I'm sure they are losing business on a daily (if not hourly) basis.

They just lost 2 customers today. I will NEVER go there again.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Me back

I just can’t face going back to work at the moment and facing truly mean people who revel in the unhappiness of others. I haven’t felt this way about a job since I worked for PWsleaze years ago and knew that it was time to make a conscious moral decision NOT to work for a company that didn’t understand the nature of the word “integrity”. Funny that corporate "conscience" doesn’t extend past the corporate PR/BS strategy (to look good/win contracts) to translate into decency towards a company’s employees. (yada yada) All this means that I have just extended my vacation by a few days to readjust myself before going back to work.

So now I have insomnia. I tried to eat some Dancing Deer brownies (made near Boston yet available at TSC), but that just upset my stomach. I’m also on Phucking Cat Watch – as the cat has taken the opportunity to dump on my welcome mat – and several other places – while Desert Dawg and I were not on duty. My terrace is covered with chili powder and orange slices. Bastard cat from hell!

I arrived a few days ago on the kick-ass United flight from Virginia. A semi-inebriated (and quite large) firefighter (ergo the “firefighter” t-shirt) sat next to me and immediately asked me digging questions about my marital and financial status. Best to keep to firefighting, dude. “I don’t see a wedding ring… Oh, you’re not married? Can I borrow some money? Seriously can I? ….. At the risk of not sounding too bold – want some of my nuggets?” WHO brings chicken nuggets on a plane?! Ok 10 year olds perhaps. The smell just isn’t plane-worthy. Yuck. Maybe I understood it wrong and it was a double entendre for the other nuggets. I don’t know. Luckily, his tummy full of (beer?) and nuggets, he drifted off to sleep for the next 10 hours. I can usually sleep on the plane, but this trip had me missing my family so much that I found myself waking up on and off.

It was a great trip. It was one of those trips that felt like I was there for a month (in a good way) and that in actuality – didn’t last very long. It was just wonderful. I spent time with my sister and my mother and my nephew. I still haven’t gotten my brother in law to say “I love you” yet when I do, but I am working on it. I have a feeling that he is from a family that doesn’t let it out that easily; similar to my 86 year old aunt. I say it all the time because I think you should let people know when they are dear to you.

I saw “Marley and Me” twice while I was there – and bawled my eyes out (right along with everyone else in the audience) both times. My nephew sobbed. I loved that movie. If you can get ahold of a bootlegged copy in Kuwait, I highly recommend it. The only people in the audience who weren’t crying was an Indian family who didn’t get the whole dog thing; which made me wonder how it would go over with a Kuwaiti audience. It is a very American thing to have a dog at some point in your life – and to love it like a family member. Even cat lovers have dogs at some point. It is part of growing up. It definitely taught me discipline and respect for living things. My step father dragged me out of elementary school one time to go home and give my dog (a black lab) water because I had forgotten. I never forgot again with any animal (or my nephew while I was on watch). {Just a disclaimer here: Please don’t write to me to discuss the religious ramifications of dogs in this part of the world. Heard it before, thanks. Personally, I think a lot of dogs are cleaner and kinder than a whole lot of people and a lot can be learned from them. As for angels not visiting your home - well, everyone is entitled to their beliefs and I have mine too.}

The weather was gorgeous in Virginia. I saw a snow shower – nothing that stuck to the ground. My sister, husband, and my nephew all went to Vail to go skiing. I didn’t want to go because it would be too much travel to pack into a short vacation. They said it was beautiful and they have never seen so much snow before. They did get snowed in at Denver airport and ended up taking a hummer stretch limo to Vail. They had vodka and carry out from Taco Bell so it wasn’t such a terrible trip.

It was a very nice Christmas. I think the one gift that was the best was a star machine that I bought over the internet (cool site called Perpetual Kid - for my nephew. It is amazing and I wish I had one here. Maybe I’ll buy one. So cool. It is a laser light show, but of stars and clouds in random, moving effects. It looked like the heavens. Totally cool. I never know what to get people who have everything so I try to find different stuff.

So now I am back in my new apartment and feeling completely lonely. I miss the crowded house a lot – just having people around. I think I’m getting too old for this living alone stuff – although I do like my space.