Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Funnies from classifieds - March 31

Al-Hadaf classified paper

Envoys and Petey and Infertility: Oh My

I’m lovin the weather. Gotta tell you – I wish I was anywhere but stuck inside my office with smelly subcontractors running back and forth trying to get paid for their work (as IF). I want to play outside.

I got into it again with a certain person last week. Bless his heart (the Texas way). There are some people that no matter how hard you try – you just aren’t ever going to see eye-to-eye with them. I try, but we are like oil and water. I try not to shoot daggers out my eyes or wish evil things, but alas…. Notsomuch.

I’m making friends with one of the neighborhood cats, Petey. Petey is jet black (all good witches should have one) and his sisters, Paint and Petunia are both multi-colored. (Don’t ask me why I decided to name them all with a “P” – I have no clue. Petey’s name just took on a life of its own.) Petey is my favorite. The 3 P’s are teenaged cats – born after I moved into my place, so they have always grown up with Desert Dawg around. Petey seems to be DD’s guardian: he sits at the top of the stairs, quietly gazing down at her. Desert Dawg seems to have the same admiration – she sits and stares at him too. Neither seem to want to break the distance; they’re just happy sitting there and looking at each other. I wonder what they’re thinking. Petey has started sleeping between the cushions of my outdoor furniture. I bring him meat and milk, but he still hisses at me every time I get close. He’s not as tolerant of me as he is of Desert Dawg. The 3 Ps don’t shit on my doorstep (or oddly, anywhere around my terrace). They all seem to be very well-mannered cats – and I don’t even like cats really.

I went to look at cars last night at KFH. OMG. I can’t believe car prices are still so high. WTF. They are dropping all over the world… but here. I know that Kuwait is 30 years behind the rest of the world, but they should know that there is a global economic crisis going on and that at the moment, car manufacturers everywhere have a surplus. Even the lease prices are still high (299 kd non-refundable down on an Envoy and 185/mo on a 1 year lease, 175 on a 2 yr). Get real. Well, banks in Kuwait are still giving credit, and people in Kuwait will never skimp on cars, so I guess that’s why things are still high. It just sucks. I know what you are thinking – I am going to look at new ones: KD4500 for an 09 Envoy. WTF over. I’m thinking for that – I could sell it to one of my friends when/if I leave. You know – that’s really stupid. Every single year, I think that same thought – which keeps me from being non-committal on a car purchase that might save me money.

Let me just say that I am still really enjoying the service I receive at Kuwait Finance House. I had some dealings with the ladies section at Khaldiya and they are very nice there also. Overall, I like KFH these days. Several of my friends have had real problems at NBK lately and I haven’t had any at all with KFH.

While I was at KFH, I saw one of my mutawaa friends (it could happen – shut up!) that I worked with years ago. He’s a serious religious guy, but where I used to work, there were religious people who epitomized what Islam should be all about: Kindness, tolerance, understanding, and a friendly attitude towards everyone – not just people of their own faith. I went to his brother’s wedding and got to know the family. We worked for a subsidiary of Kuwait Finance House and I had to wear hejab at work. Dead sexy….its a long story. Anyhoo, I knew that this guy has been married for years (like over 10) and something was wrong and he and his wife couldn’t have children. He is the nicest guy and I’ve been wishing good things on him, so when I saw him there and he said his wife just had a baby boy, I was so so so so so happy to the point I was almost tearful. So, I called his brother a little while later to say, “mabrook” and that’s when he told me that mutawaa friend had taken a 2nd wife and she had the baby – not wife #1. Wife #1 was very upset by this, so she asked for a divorce – and the family was actually upset with her for breaking up their little family. Ummmm…. Otay…. I am happy for mutawaa dude, but I would have been so much happier if I hadn’t heard the whole story or if he and #1 were having the baby.

Bunny’s friend and his wife had a similar story. They spent some astronomical amount of money on infertility treatments in Kuwait before finally going to the UK and producing a child. I wonder what the stats are for failed infertility treatment here in Kuwait.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Operatin Hope Mother's Day Gala

15th annual
Mother's Day Gala

(For ladies and daughters)
Al Hashemi ll - SAS

Saturday, May 9, 2009
Doors open @ 8:30 am
Event begins at 9:00 am

KD 12 per guest

Limited tickets available starting April 1st
We're even going to auction one exciting "surprise" package!

Sorry – no reservations or refunds
Proceeds from this event go to Operation Hope

"Al-Kout Festival"(Old Kuwait Festival) Announcement

March 31 and April 1, 11am -7pm.
American University of Kuwait
Salmiya Campus

The Arabian Heritage Project is proud to present "Al-Kout Festival"(Old Kuwait Festival) an event being held to celebrate the grand opening of theArabian Heritage Project, a research, archival, and outreach center dedicated topromoting and fostering the heritage of the Peninsula and related cultures.Two days of celebration from 11 am till 7 pm at the American University OfKuwait campus in Salmiya. The event will include National Museum Exhibits, liveperformances by Kuwaiti traditional bands (Bin Hussein and Mayouf), Sawtmusicians, Bedouin poetry, Kuwaiti History Game Show, distinguished liveCraftsmen, a Bazaar, old Kuwaiti cars, refreshments; basically a chance toexperience authentic Kuwaiti Tradition and Culture at its best.The Festival opens at 11am, performances (Kuwaiti Sawt musicians, poetry,Kuwaiti music piano recital, etc.) begin at noon. Sea bands begin at 5pm eachday.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

DG Academy for Arabic

I received an e-mail from a lady who is moving to Kuwait soon and she would like to learn Arabic. There are several places that you can do this and I think it is great to learn.

Just keep in mind that Kuwait's dialect is WAAAY different than what you will learn in school. "How are you?" in local dialect, par example, translates in English to "What's your color?" (mood). Anywhere else in the Arab world people would 1) immediately recognize you as having lived in Kuwait and B) Look at you and say, "WTF?"

Because she is nice and I consider her a new friend, I sent her the Desert Girl Listing of Common Terms and Insults.

I have had an internal debate raging since then - should I publish it on my blog in all its glory (vulgarity - some quite extreme that might shock younger readers and might get me in trouble); or should I just offer it to anyone who asks?

I think I must do the latter.

So, if anyone would like my personal favs, please send me an e-mail with "DG Academy for Arabic" in the subject line and I promise to shock and awe you. Plus, if there are any phrases that I have left out, please feel free to ask. Bunny helped me and I think he did a fantastic job; however, he is going to wait to go to the diwaniya and ask for their assistance later which may bring in better results.

The FREE DG listing includes a section for "Practical", "Romantic Shit" and "Insulting/Vulgar" [for example, "Fart" and "Fart (silent killer)" are explained] - plus as a bonus, you receive a variety of cleaver ways to say, "FU".

No postage or tuition fees apply! Write NOW to receive your free copy!
The characters represented here are not Kuwaiti. They are from the UAE hit show, "Freej"; however, they provided the look of shock I was going for.

I’m addicted to plants

I feel the need to post now that one of my readers claims he is straying.... So people, try to keep up.

I’m not good at plants. I kill them. I try so hard not to, but it must be my high electromagnetic field or something – their little leaves fall off and they wither away. I’m sowwwwwwwy.

Now that I have a terrace outside, I’ve been buying plants like an addiction. I never realized how much I have missed trees and green and foliage until I got a few plants on my terrace. These days, you can find me just staring at them on the terrace and listening to the birds (and brats nextdoor).

I’m becoming that weird old lady next door that all the kids were afraid to approach, but that everyone had a different story about. Perhapsee I should float some of my own exotic rumors. I like the one I invented years ago (to keep the biddies from asking me, “Wheeee! Haram! Why aren’t you married?”) about my husband the fighter pilot who was killed in the war defending Kuwait. Every now and then, I also float one about my husband, the business man with shady connections: It is said that he has is involved with the mafia and that I can’t live anywhere near him - even in the same country. It is just too dangerous. And then there’s the one that I killed my husband and I’m on the lamb from the long arm of the law. I’m known to fits of aggression, so that one actually makes the most sense to people. Why did I kill him? Well, it could have been any little thing; PMS for example.

Anyhoo, Back to my story…

My plant addiction has also turned into an outdoor-wall-art addiction, a planters-in-the-shapes-of-animals addiction, and an outdoor furnishings addiction. This having a terrace thing has opened up an entire new world for me – outside.

I love rhododendrons. DC is full of them in the Spring and I have been buying a lot of them lately.

Ok, this whole plant addiction will last about 4 more days before it becomes holyshitthat’s hot.

Failaka ("Failacha") Island

Incase you didn't know, there are 9 islands surrounding Kuwait and Failaka is probably the best-known. Kuwaitis used to go there every weekend and it was full of life. I'm hoping that whatever plans the Government has for it - they don't screw it up. It is beautiful without too much development, I think.

The illustration below is one of the proposed plans. They are thinking of carving the island up and making lagoons, etc. Go there before they start!

The other islands in Kuwait are soooooo worth a trip. My favorites are Qaroh (where there is a reef around the island and turtles nest every year), Um Al-Moradem (where there is phosflorescent algae that looks like fairy lights in the moonlight), and Kubbar (partyland on the weekends in the summer).

This is an article I wrote for a local magazine in 2004 that I thought I would share since I went there at about the same time that year. I need to get back there soon...


Fourteen years have passed since the pink and red flowering rhododendron bushes have been watered and tended to on Failaka Island, and yet they bloom every year, as if waiting for their caretakers to return. The flowering plants seem symbolic of an island expectant of renewal.

Driving through Failaka with a real Failachawi (former resident born on the island), Abdulwahab Al-Taher, it wasn’t hard to see his longing for a former way of life. He spoke of growing up on the island, of going to school, spending time with his friends and fishing. He showed us the land that his family still owns and the land that they sold when they relocated to mainland Kuwait. His speech was paused by times when he had a far-away look in his eye; as if he was looking into his own past to remember what was there on a particular spot in the past.

Abdulwahab’s older brother, Bu Nasser, is Sherif (Mayor) of Failaka and spends most weekends there with a small troop of older men, reminiscing and playing cards. The small house they occupy is a collection of furniture, pieced together to provide basic comforts. A generator whirred in the background, providing electricity. Their house wasn’t difficult to spot, as it was one of the few houses on the island with functioning vehicles parked in front.

Failaka is a contemporary ghost town. The houses, streets, and lamp posts stand as they did years ago when 5,000 people inhabited the island, then left suddenly when the Iraqi invaders took over. Rusting cars (mostly 80’s models) sit abandoned in front of houses with no windows. Street lamps line the streets, still intact with their light bulbs and glass coverings missing. The 472 cabana resort is empty; doors banging in the wind make the only sound. The resort’s enormous pool is empty except for the brackish water accumulated at the deep end; its metal fixtures stripped off and several pieces thrown into the water. The school and the mosques are all empty. Uncut grass sways in the wind. Playgrounds stand silent. Stretches of long sandy beaches are empty. The ferry has gone for the day and there are very few people on the streets and no women or children anywhere. There is an eerie silence that hangs over the island as if you have just walked onto a movie set where the actors have finished for the day and gone home. Or perhaps it could be the scene from an apocalyptic movie; it is the aftermath and all the humans are long gone.

In sharp contrast to mainland Kuwait, Failaka still shows many signs of the 1990/91 Iraqi occupation. Houses and buildings are pock-marked by bullets or chunks of buildings have been ripped off by mortar rounds. The damage is indiscernible – either from Iraqi occupiers or from American and Kuwaiti military forces who have used the island over the years for urban warfare maneuvers. Barbed wire lies collectively on beaches and here and there throughout the town. Although it is said that the land has been cleared of mines, it remains dubious.

Also in contrast to mainland Kuwait, Failaka still bears witness to Kuwait’s architectural past. Hundred-year-old mud brick houses are abundant. Several appear to be cared for or in the process of renovation. Several Kuwaiti families still spend the weekend on Failaka – some in their former homes. As a former Failaka resident remarked, “They just can’t leave their memories behind.” A motel is being built close to the seaside incorporating many of the homes into a renovated complex bringing history to life. Many of the houses on Failaka have small windows or face away from the seaside; seemingly strange to a Western foreigner visiting an island with breathtaking sea views, yet a reminder of extreme temperatures during summer months.

Newer homes – either recently-finished in the late ‘80’s or which were still under construction at the time – tower over the lower, older homes. These newer homes look as if they could be situated in any mainland neighborhood of Kuwait, yet they are lonely places without any human warmth.

Prior to the Iraqi occupation, inhabitants of Failaka lived on the island or visited there for weekend day trips. Before 1990, Failaka was an easy 1 KD ferry ride away; “Business was good as the ferry made 1 million KD per year from frequent trips,” Abdulwahab told us. He spent over twenty years running the ferry and two years running the rental chalets at the Touristic Enterprises Company resort. “The chalets used to be full to capacity every weekend. People came in different groups and gathered and played music in the evenings.” Many mainland families built weekend chalets on Failaka, where the beaches are clean and dolphin pods make summertime migrations following zubeidi (pomfret) up the Arabian Gulf from India. Visitors and resident families could have had a pleasant buffet dinner or lunch at two large restaurants; either at the port or at the chalet resort. Failaka was a convenient change of environment during hot summer months and a wonderful spot for fishing in the cooler months.

Failaka of the ancient past: Greek soldiers arrived on Failaka in the 4th Century, BC, sent by Alexander the Great. Failaka town was then known as the city of Ikaros. The Greeks lived on Failaka for two centuries and the island remained a maritime trade route. The remains of a Greek temple can be found there today. Many artifacts have been found over the years – many put into a museum on the island which was looted by the Iraqi soldiers during the occupation. The Greek ruins, which were once a major tourist attraction, have been walled and closed to the public, as there are no longer guardsmen to watch over their contents.

Today, the ferry still makes trips to Failaka at times determined by high tides. The ferry port has been left as it was since the occupation; heavily damaged. The inlet has not been dredged, so ferry schedules must be made when the water is highest (schedules can be obtained by visiting the ferry port at Ras Salmiya). Private boats are tied to the island dock and passengers must make their way from the boat up a rusting metal ladder to the top of the dock. Cars can be brought over by the ferry and there is an operational KNPC gas station on the island.

Amazingly, there is a taxi stand right at the port to greet the few guests to the island – mostly Westerners – visiting for a few hours during the day on the weekends. Perhaps the taxi stand it is a hopeful indication of things to come – economic growth returning to the island.

Fourteen years have passed since the families moved away and yet almost nothing has been done to develop or renovate the island. News agencies periodically post articles that proposals have been received from companies and that teams are preparing to do something, leaving residents of Kuwait to wonder when the construction will actually start. As you move throughout the houses and streets in Failaka, you can’t help but think, ‘what a terrible waste.'


I took a Brit friend and his wife to Failaka once and they thought it was a huge waste of time: "What a dump!" I couldn't understand that perspective because I thought the island was fascinating, but hey - to each his own.

There are a lot of cool photos on the web on Failaka. Like here. And here. And here. And here.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Dealing with cancer

Several of my friends have been diagnosed with cancer lately. Ladies - you haven't had one recently: Go get a mamogram!

The excerpt below is from my sister to my friend, CT, who I have known since I was 9. We used to be inseperable, but I guess several oceans, marriages, kids, careers, life has managed to keep us apart. I miss her a lot and she is one of those people that REALLY knows me. CT is going through treatment for breast cancer. My sister went into remission from Hodgkins Lymphoma in 1995. I think it is advise anyone who has a friend or relative with cancer should pass along:

  • Synthetic wigs are better than the real thing, but they still suck.
  • Get a catheter for chemo if you don’t have one already, your kids will think you are a BORG but WTF
  • If someone tries to stick you more than twice tell them to find another phlebotomist.
  • Stay away from the rotisserie chicken part of the grocery store after chemo
  • Why-why why does everyone ask how will you handle losing your hair, ITS NOT ABOUT MY HAIR!
  • One word ATIVAN. Loved it to sleep
  • Your mother may drive you more crazy than she already does.
  • People always know the WRONG thing to say
  • Medical personnel are tired and often angry, but make them know you. They need to know you. Show them pictures of your kids. Your life is in their hands.
  • Sometimes the person gawking at your wig in the grocery store, wore one once.
  • You meet some really really great people on this journey.
  • Listen to yourself, you will hear things, and be closer to what is important than ever before.
  • Meditation/healing CDs are helpful and sometimes hokey
  • Have a cancer film festival with girlfriends and wine. (Desert Girl) and I went for Beaches and Brians Song, you get the picture!
  • Fake boobs are so much easier to deal with, no underwires, no inserts for push up, when your 80 they will be 35. The benefits go on and on.
  • You should like your doctor and his/her staff you will be with them for a long time to come, it helps to be comfortable.

    Okay that’s all I can think of off the top! It is a lifelong trip you are taking. It sure seems like you are already as good a person as you could be, but you will be better for this. Anyhow, I hope I don’t sound too sappy. This is just a subject I have some personal experience on, although I fully understand that everyone’s experience is their own.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Steppin out with soldiers

I had a lovely evening last night at the Movenpick, Bidaa. I was there for work-related purposes and I was running late to meet a friend, so I asked him to meet me there for dinner. We sat outside; he had sheesha, I had the buffet which was delicious as always. They do a nice job there. The weather was perfect and we were enjoying some quiet conversation.... until....

Hailag-ness arrived at the table right next to us. First, there was no reason for them to sit smack-dab next to us; they could have chosen a table further away. Two middle-aged women and two younger women arrived and started cackling like a bunch of witches. It would have been bearable had it been positive cackling, but these ones were talking loudly and rudely about everyone - including US! The two older ones turned right around and stared at me and said something about Kuwaiti men with foreign women. I gave them my best, "I'm about to slap you" look. Then, one of them picks up the phone and starts shouting at someone (who I can only guess is her maid), "Ya hamara. Enti ghabiya?" over and over again. It was embarrassing. Bitch, take some Prozac and get happy because quite obviously, you are NEVER gonna get laid.

Why are people stupid?

Other than that, it was a lovely evening.

I've been so busy lately that I haven't had too much time to post.

I went to the AUSA banquet. OMG - I had a great time and met so many truly kind, decent people - including the brigadier general who was sitting right next to me. He is one of the top commanders at Arifjan and couldn't be a nicer person. He actually hugged me when we were leaving.

I think that the military in Kuwait is becoming kinder and gentler. I've noticed that lately. There seems to be a new breed of soldier in town. They no longer just stare from across the room, but come over and ask questions and get to know people. I can't tell you what a difference that makes to me personally being in the line of business I'm in. We want to get to know them and learn about their lives too. If they don't talk - we can't know. What is wrong with seeing soldiers for the people they are and not just for the uniform? The US government has been spouting bullshit for years about "winning hearts and minds" and they did very little even to show that - from my personal experience - to other Americans. SMILE - it doesn't hurt.

Anyways, I fell in love (like family) with several of the very high ranking military officers and they were genuine, kind, and sincerely cared about the troops in their command. They talked openly about problems on the bases and what they were doing to solve them.

I had never been to an event at Arayya before; although I have been invited to many. There were approximatley 700 people there and every table had a candelabra with white and green flowers. The food was phenomenal and the venue was gorgeous. Everybody was in a good mood. Next time I get invited to something there, I'm definately going.

I took home one of the center pieces from our table. My land-lady has had problems with the water in the villa and has been running up and down the stairs trying to get it fixed for days. It was mother's day, so I brought it to her. She doesn't seem like a very gracious person; I don't understand why people don't express gratitude. There is a lot of power in being grateful to others.

I don't like formal parties very much. I'm not at ease anywhere that I can't wear jeans (although you probably wouldn't know that if you knew me). I get nervous in big crowds. I'm not a competitive kinda girl and all that fancy stuff just spells one-upmanship from my perspective.

I used to own a lot of formal gowns; now I own one. It is bright red silk with spagetti straps and it is quite low in the front. I wear it to every Kuwaiti wedding I get invited to. Why? Because I'm usually the only blonde invited and often one of the few who doesn't wear hejab. So, when the groom's party comes in, there I sit - a blonde in a red dress - in the middle of a sea of black abayas. Bada BING. Forget all that fancy dancin for the perspective mother-in-laws; not one of those men doesn't turn his head to look in my direction! Marketing, baybeee. "Who was that blonde in the red dress?" Oh, that was DESERT GIRL. Do I worry about people seeing me over and over again in the same dress? Hell no. That's called "branding".

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I am the balls expert

Get your mind out of the gutter, pervs! Read on…

First, let me start by saying a big THANK YOU to the people who sent e-mails asking if I was okay because I hadn't posted for a while. I had a very busy week-ish and next week it will be that way too. Thanks for thinking of me and asking about me. That is very kind.

Ok, now about the balls....

I knew that Desert Dawg would eventually be noticed by the neighborhood kids. I was hoping that it would be later rather than sooner. I had a few months before the little urchins made it around to my yard. I knew they had discovered her when the little human-child “how how-ing” began from around the wall.

The next thing I knew, the daily game of “kick-the-ball-against-the-parking-area-wall” turned into a repeated ritual of “the ball comes over the wall and the kids follow to get it back”. It isn’t like the ball just landed in my yard once… or twice… or three times; it was repeated as they tried to climb over the locked fences to see and potentially have the chance to maybe even play with Desert Dawg.

Dawg is so friendly that she welcomes most people. She has a real problem with small children (bad experience as one tried to grab her around the neck), but kids from 7 and up seem to be okay with her. So she usually wags her tail and is generally happy towards most people. The ones she doesn’t like, I stay FAR away from because her instinct is good. For that reason, if I date someone, they must pass the Desert Dawg Dating Test. If she doesn’t like dude, chances are I won’t either.

Anyhoo… that’s for another post…

I’m not worried about Desert Dawg biting anyone. She’s so small that her hardest bite feels like a rubber band being snapped on your hand. I know because she has tried it with me twice in her 10 year old life; she doesn’t break skin. What I am worried about is HER safety. I don’t want some little kid to leave the gate open or hurt her in anyway – unintentionally or perhaps not. There would be a lot of dead little kids on my block at that point and I don’t want to go to jail (my priorities would not be the harm of children should they hurt DD, as you can see).

So, I started to get upset with the urchins who were mackin’ on my quiet time (5 to 7) with balls coming over the fence constantly. Balls, balls, balls. By chance, one of the times the ball “fell” into my yard, the landlady’s brother was walking by and told the kids that if it came over one more time, I would keep it and not give it back (his idea). He made me promise to keep it saying that the kids were giving them a problem in the rest of the building with other tenants as well.

Ok, so… you know what happened… the ball came over the wall the next day and I kept it inside my apartment. The cute one, Yousef, has this sweet, innocent little boy voice, and started pleading from the other side of the wall, “Excuse me. Excuse me. I’m sooooorrrryyyyy. I want my ball.” Just the kind of psychological terrorism that they KNOW they can whack a single 29-something-ish woman with. Luckily, The Romanian was there and told them to go get their father and we would give it back to him. They said he was on vacation (a likely story).

Anyways, I kept the ball in my apartment and went out with The Romanian to go do something. By the time I got home, it was dark and the urchins were already asleep in their urchin-beds. I felt bad the entire time I was out about that damned ball. I knew what was going to happen. I would be branded as that mean American lady who stole the ball from the kids. The whole neighborhood would know soon enough and I would be shunned. People would give me dirty looks. They would throw things.

So… with shunning on my mind, I walked over and carefully placed their ball on their doorstep and left – being able to get a good night’s sleep without worry of being treated like Quasimodo.

The next evening, I didn’t hear the ball. When I finally did hear something, it was the little ‘un with the pathetic voice asking for his ball. Oh snap! Someone musta stolen it.

It started my Quest for the Perfect Ball. I can’t even tell you how many stores I went to. I went to cheap stores and expensive stores. I felt balls from plastic to some kind of synthetic that felt like silk. I’ve seen white ones and blue ones and yellow ones…. I didn’t know, for example, that balls (soccer, that is) come in different sizes. Were you aware, mithilin, that futsal balls feature low bounce and are the best for indoor use? Huh. Innnnnnnnnteresting.

So, this is how I became the Balls Expert.

I couldn’t decide what ball to get them. I opted for a mid-range blue and white ball with a cool design (yeah, that's tech-speak). Bu Yousef came home from his trip and walked over and said with a smile, “My son said you wanted to talk to me.” Very nice guy. I explained and said that I bought them a new ball and I don’t think I have to worry about being Ms. Quasimodo in the neighborhood. The neighbors seem to like me more now for some reason and people are actually talking to me. Go figure.

So…. I bought them their mid-range blue ball… and then I discovered Go Sports’ balls…. They have the BEST BALLS in Kuwait! I found my favorite and all I wanted to do was to play with it. I couldn’t stop myself. The Romanian finally had to pull me away. It was a Manchester United red, shiny ball. I don’t even play ball, but my God – I sure wanted to play with THAT ball.

It is no longer about the children. Gimme the red shiny ball!!!! Look at it! Who wouldn't want to touch it???? It's a DEAD SEXY BALL BAYBEEEEE!

Note: I know that lots of men in Kuwait are balls experts so please feel free to comment. You know you want to....

Monday, March 09, 2009

When you get real sick of helping people

So, I have been trying - as you know - to get a job for a while now.

There was one that I really was hoping for. I talked to a friend who said he might be able to help; that I would be ideal for the job and he was going to try to get me in. I am very grateful to him just for considering me.

Just following this, a friend-of-a-friend who has been hitting on me for quite a while found himself in a desperate situation. He took out a loan a while back, had to leave Kuwait, came back and took a job and contacted the bank to make payments. Because he was late, they put a travel ban on him. He lost his job. He called me (we usually only SMS) urgently for help. I felt really bad for him and I knew it was an emergency, so I immediately started forwarding his resume.

That was several weeks ago. I didn't hear a thing back from him - although I sent him several e-mails. I figure some people are just rude, so no bother. That is, bien sur, until I found out that he had taken the job I wanted.

I'm going through serious shit at work. (A runner in the middle of the night back to Virginia wouldn't even be out of the question.) When you need an extra pat on the back.... and just when you would like people to be nice in return- ESPECIALLY after you have done something to help them, they reveal how flawed the human character can be. (Yeah yeah yeah "Do something good and throw it in the ocean" and all that bullshit. Ok. Just let me vent.)

So, I send dude a very politically correct and kind "congratulations on your new job - oh, and by the way, I was the one who helped you get there. Oh, and by the way, I was really looking forward to working there... and best of luck and wish you all the best. Yada yada. Basically, a FU, but in a nicely-wrapped package. (Did I mention that this was AFTER the sobbing bout that left me in the fetal position on my sofa and my dog running for "under-the-bed?").

Dude had the balls to send me an SMS back saying, "Yeah, I heard that your name was up for this job. Can I take you to dinner to make it up to you?" Oh PHUCK NO. He did not just insult me AND hit on me in the same SMS! I deleted his number.

The "friend" who told me about it seemed worried; not about ME, but about the fact that I would "put him in it" because he blabbed and told me (Me me me.....Its all about meeeeee). He was actually getting an agressive tone about it.

Well, you know what - everything does happen for a reason. As Bunny immediately said, something better is meant to be. I did my part in helping the ingrate. It was the right thing to do. Dudes chose to be the way they are - and I have nothing to do with that. I just don't know if I will be so quick to help the next time I'm asked. And that's sad.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

US Embassy Warden Notice

.... International Women's Day.....

I get warden notices from the US Embassy all the time (as you do when you - as an American or with an American child who is registered at the embassy will). I consider many of them "alarmist" and I feel that they tend to scare the newcomers to Kuwait or people considering a move here.

This one just pissed me off, so I thought I would share/vent.

March 5, 2009
To: All American Wardens
From: Consular Section
Subject: Warden Notice 2009 – 3

Please circulate the following message without additions or omissions immediately to all American citizens within your area of responsibility.

Begin Text.

While the general security condition in Kuwait remains unchanged a recent assault on an American is a good reminder of the need for security awareness.Earlier this week a western woman shopping at the Sultan Center in Salmiya was a victim of an attempted sexual assault at that location. After finishing her shopping, the woman placed her purchases in the car and went into a store. While there, she went to the bathroom. As she opened her stall door to exit, a man was standing there. He pushed her back into the stall and groped her. The woman fought her way past him and reported the incident to security. The man unfortunately got away. The woman believes the same individual may have been following her while she shopped earlier in Sultan Center.

Americans are reminded, as in the past, that it is very important to keep an eye on who may be observing your activities while shopping or conducting normal activities in Kuwait. Surveillance is not something that is just done by terrorists – almost every criminal who commits a crime conducts some sort of surveillance on their target either seconds, minutes, or hours before trying to commit a crime or assault a person.

Western women in Kuwait should be particularly vigilant because their dress and freedom of movement can attract attention, in part because many local women are dressed much differently. Especially when shopping or going to other public places in Kuwait, or anywhere in the world, keep the following in mind:

(it continues)

Ok first and foremost ladies... Don't get all crazy when a man starts following you. That's cultural here. You have to know the signals. Don't speak to or smile at strange men. It can be construed as a come-on. (If you want to meet a strange man - on the other hand - smile and chat and make direct eye contact.)

Most of us shop at the Sultan Center. A lot of men "troll" The Sultan Center because they know they are going to meet Western women. They might strike up a conversation like, "Are you a teacher?" TSC actually doesn't allow single men entrance on the weekend nights because it becomes feeding frenzy for desperados.

[Sidenote: There used to be one bold guy who periodically drove under the "Tikka" restaurant nextdoor to TSC in Salmiya with his pants off. Anyone sitting in the restaurant above had a clear view - as well as near passers-by on the street. I don't think anyone caught him either, but it was quite entertaining (if you happened to have a microscope). Dude was infamous.]

When a man gropes you - that's criminal in most places in the world. TSC security guards aren't going to help you; most don't have a good comprehension of English and don't feel empowered to assist even if they did. TSC security guards are NOT Kuwaiti; if you see one in national dress (qutara/aghal), he is most likely Bedoun (without nationality), so won't feel like he can help. The police will take forever to arrive (if at all).

Oh - and by the way, TSC has cameras all over their stores (as many shops in Kuwait do). I'm pretty sure she could have identified him that way IF TSC and/or the police were cooperative.

Your best bet (and what the warden notice did not state) is to scream. These guys are cowards and will most likely run. You can also scream for help in English, "Somebody help me!" and often times real men will come to your aid (and then give you their phone number). The other thing you can do is take your mobile phone out and start snapping his picture (to scare him and to show the police if you want to go there). I take out my camera and snap photos when the creatures play silly games in their cars. It gets rid of them quick.

Now, here is the part that pissed me off about the Warden's Notice. I believe it must have been written by a man, and I don't think it was appropriate to state in an official embassy notification:

"Western women in Kuwait should be particularly vigilant because their dress and freedom of movement can attract attention, in part because many local women are dressed much differently. " This implies that Western (in this case American) women dress inappropriately for the country and that we attract attention. It also implies that "local women" do not have freedom of movement. It further states that local women dress differently than Western (in this case American) women.

How do you feel about that statement? I don't think that non-hejab-wearing women dress much differently than Western women (and for many women who wear hejab, the only difference is often the scarf). I think for the most part that most Western women try to dress appropriately for Kuwait - and again for the most part - conservatively by Western standards. I dress like my Kuwaiti girlfriends (who don't wear hejab) and vice versa. I have Moslem American friends who wear hejab and some who wear abaya and niqab. And "freedom of movement"? Yeh! Where in Kuwait and at what time don't Kuwaiti women go? They're free to move. I don't get it. This just pissed me off.

Happy International Women's Day.

15 March

Last night on 5th Ring Road, 2 WOMEN tried to push past my car (and others) making lanes in between lanes, swerving in and out - playing monkey games on the road. I took out my mobile phone and started recording and low and behold - they exited quietly. It is amazing what the fear of YouTube does to people!

Business and Religion

Almost all of the offices where I have worked in Kuwait have had prayer rooms. Several of them have been political: you pray on the floor with the management, you get promoted faster, the guy who is leading the prayer shouts to appear overly devout/zealous when upper management is present.

[On the flip side, if the office doesn’t have a prayer room and the mosque isn’t too far away (which, it usually isn’t because they are all over Kuwait), I’ve seen employees take up to 45 minutes to “pray”. Um hmmmmm.]

So there isn’t really a division of business and religion. Religion is present and makes itself known through broadcast prayer calls at intervals during the day. This is life in an Islamic country. I think perhaps many people of any religion should stop during the day to pray. I’m sure that others in my office do – silently bowing their heads to pray at their desks.

My question is this: if one prays, shouldn’t one be righteous? In other words, if you are going to pray, shouldn’t you act on your religion and be compassionate to those you work with (or who work for you)? This is my new argument at work (because very little of what I say actually gets through and I thought that I might be able to incorporate basic concepts of belief): If there is no division between our business (supposedly ethics) and religion, then why not incorporate it into our management practices? That means doing the right thing. If not, hey – we could probably make 2 or 3 more offices out of the prayer room for operations – or even to rent it out to another company to make extra profit.

I recently told a senior-level manager that I believed what he was doing was going against his religion. The look on his face made me think I was about to get an ear-twisting, but he said, "You know, I went home last night and something bad happened to me with my family and I immediately thought that it might have had something to do with what I am doing at work." I told him that if he had actually had a conscious thought about it, then perhaps it was a message and had been for a reason.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Kuwait: Cost of life vs. cost of bolts

In Kuwait, it is more about “how much is a pole worth”? The next time you see a lamp post in Kuwait, ask yourself which one is more valuable – the cost of a loved one’s life or the cost of the pole?

Tragically, Kuwait does NOT use break-away poles. Traffic-related fatalities (like the ones in these photos - bottom photo re-printed from today's Arab Times) are increasing as more speeders literally wrap themselves around poles that do not break off. Even in pole vs SUV, the pole wins.

I have been trying to sell someone this idea – someone with contacts in the Ministry of Public Works for example, or whoever else might get the idea across to the Government. It should be an easy sell, right? There are companies that are actively seeking agents. For example, Transpo Industries is seeking world-wide agents. If some guy sells the Government the idea that red and white stickers on the back of commercial vehicles is a great safety idea - then why can't the same guys sell them this idea?
Break away poles are designed to be pushed away by the vehicle upon impact – leaving the pole intact – and hopefully the vehicle. It is much much safer than wrapping a vehicle around a stationary pole.

Kuwait could do a test installation on the Gulf Road and then implement them nationally.
Go ahead - use my BD idea to make money. I would love to see them implemented all over the country and if someone can make a buck in the process - who cares as long as lives are saved?

How to amuse yourself during a dust storm: our media

Expatriate ‘lost’ at sea as rescuers abandon search in high waves
Arab Times, Local, Sunday March 1, 2009

Al-Shuaiba firefighters acting on information from the Operations Room at the Ministry of Interior undertook a fruitless exercise in bid to rescue an expatriate who was stranded on a leaking boat in the sea. Sources said the fireman gave up the long fruitless search after one of their colleagues fainted due to severe wind and high waves. He was rushed to Adan hospital for medical attention. Meanwhile, the expatriate’s whereabouts remain unknown while his cell phone also remains shut, sources noted.

* * *

DG Commentary:

Ok, that is just messed up.

Firefighter dude faints; which in itself should probably not be printed in the paper, but if it is, then at least print her name, so I know. Aren’t firemen supposed to be tuff? I know for sure that marine firefighters train, and train, and re-train (supposedly in all kinds of weather including high wind/seas). I don’t think they should be perceived as sissies, Nancy boys, or wimps. That would be wrong. And dude was rushed to the hospital? After fainting? Yeh!

What about expatriate dude on the leaky boat? It sounds like the Keystone Cops.

“…the expatriate’s whereabouts remain unknown while his cell phone remains shut…” Yeah, no duuuh – dude is fish food because they left him out there to die for a fainting episode.

I’m guessing he was like an Egyptian or Indian or non-Western expatriate, right?

* * *
Enuchs Caught
(Same date, source)

Police have arrested two Kuwaiti transvestites. They were caught shoplifting at the Adaliya Cooperative Society, reports Al-Anba daily. According to a CCTV camera installed by the coop caught the suspects red-handed.

The coop administration then called the police before the suspects escaped and confiscated from them the stolen goods including a makeup set.

* * *

DG Commentary:

Let's round up the eunuchs!!!! Maybe we could have a eunuch rodeo!

How did they know they were Eunuchs? Wikipedia definition of Eunuch. Did the reporter follow up? How did he discover that they were castrated? Transvestites are cross-dressing drag queens. Inquiring minds want to know.

I thought that a social committee had been formed by concerned citizens to rehabilitate all the transvestite eunuch gays in Kuwait. That didn't happen? No electric shock therapy or anti-gay pills? What up now with transvestite enuch shoplifters? Sounds like a theme for some politically-correct advertising campaign.

National Day/Liberation Day Holidays 2009

Two Stabbed in Foam War
Arab Times, Local, Monday March 2, 2009

Police have arrested six youths for stabbing two unidentified teenagers with daggers on the Arabian Gulf Street, reports Al-Rai daily.

Acting on information police and paramedics rushed (DG: they are always “rushing”, aren’t they? Don’t they have another word?) to the area and rushed (DG: and AGAIN) the two youths to a hospital.

According to security sources both sides were involved in a fight when one party objected to the spraying of foam.

The daily quoting security sources said the youths tried to escape after the incident, but they were chased and arrested on Sixth Ring Motorway.

* * *

DG Commentary:

This is why I don’t go out on the Gulf Road on National and Liberation days anymore. Not because I worry about being stabbed as much as I am worried about getting PISSED OFF because someone has just sprayed me with foam and wanting to KILL them. Yes yes - I OBJECT to foam. When I see the cheerful little demonic faces lining the streets with their little hands holding cans of foam (and 40 or 50 or so cans at their feet just waiting for the Bengalis to take them away the next morning after they haven’t been paid in 6 months), I just want to put my arm out the window (if it were possible from the driver’s seat) and do a drive-by collective SMACK. Smack, smack, smack, smack, smack, smack, smack, smack, smack… all the way down the street. Ok, that is really mean. I admit it. All those little kids having a great time ... I'm just not into it. Let them have fun. Let them celebrate.

(This is a photo of the Ministry of Information. It looks like a mirror/disco ball. It changes colors and it sparkles.)

To an extent, however, I feel that the celebration is no longer about National Day and Liberation Day. It is about letting off steam and having a go at someone else without any repercussion. No one remembers what they are celebrating anymore. Hell – don’t take my word for it – ask any kid on the holidays, “What are you celebrating?” “Who did you gain independence from and when?” “What does Liberation Day mean?” “Who liberated you and why?” not one of those kids will be able to answer you. KTV, RAI, ALWATAN TV: I challenge you on February 25/26 2010 - GO OUT AND ASK! Their parents might not even be able to answer you. WHY, pray tell? Because the Kuwaiti educational system does NOT teach kids their recent history and about what happened during 90/91. The kids are growing up believing that the US is bad because they invaded their Muslim brother’s to the North; and ok, granted – America did, but what about what we did for Kuwait? Who was it exactly that we liberated Kuwait FROM? Oh yeah, now I remember - it is the same country whose music has been blasting all over Kuwait since 2006, from parties to cars. That would be... IRAQ.

From 1990 until 2006 when Saddam was arrested, Kuwaitis did not play Iraqi music in a form of political protest. In 2006, Iraqi music exploded all over Kuwait and now you can't go anywhere without hearing it. I listen (don't play it myself) and always always remember. What I find ironic is that the same people who tortured and raped Kuwaitis are still free in Iraq. They're just walking around having lunch with their families, smokin sheesha with the guys. That hasn't changed. Was there an on/off switch to Kuwaiti people's morals in 2006? Saddam is one guy. What about the guy who raped your cousin in the police station near your house? What about that guy who shot your friend in front of his mother on the doorstep of their home? What about that guy who stole your car in 1990 and drove it back to Baghdad so his family could drive it - until today? What about the people who tortured my friends - burning their breasts with cigarettes trying to force a confession while their children were in the next room? What about those guys? What about the ones who took the POWs who who have only been found in small pieces? Do you think the POWs' mothers are listening to Iraqi music or are indifferent when Kuwait flies Iraqi flags whenever an Iraqi dignitary is in town?

Teach your children, Kuwait!

The Kuwaitis and Saudis and Americans and Brits and other allied forces that liberated Kuwait in 1991 have been forgotten. I had an American flag and a Kuwaiti flag on my car the last time I went on the Gulf Road several years ago during the holidays; and a 12 year old ran up, ripped off the American flag, and stomped on it. I wanted to SMACK his parents! I wanted to hit him so hard that his ancestors felt it.

Personally, these holidays have become just too violent for me: and I am taking about my own personal violent rage.

I celebrate National and Liberation Days in my own quiet ways. If you see a car around town with a Virginia license plate from 1990-91, in the window that reads, "I LOVE Q8" - you'll see how I celebrate. I REMEMBER and try to pass it on. Unfortunately, the brats in my neighborhood foamed the very source of my pride - foaming my car window while it was parked in my space at home.

Teach your children, Kuwait!

Hey - what if (it would never happen), the US had been invaded by Mexico (mithilin) and Kuwait and the Arab countries (it would never happen) came to our aid and 20 years later, American kids started disliking Kuwaitis and forgot that Kuwaitis had left their families, friends, jobs to go help (and that many had returned only in boxes)? What would that be like?

Would you leave your job, your wife, the comfort of your home and everything you know to go to another country to risk your life for other people? Would you? If you did, would you want those people to remember what your country had done?

... And I swear to God if I get mail from any morons saying, "It was for the oil", I will be all over that. My question to them is always - where the phuck were YOU? - or perhaps here, "How old are you?". Comments of such nature will be rejected. I can do that. This is a constitutional monarchy and I'm the queen of my blog. The people I knew, the soldiers I knew, didn't help for oil - they helped for humanity and their beliefs. There are many different layers to the same picture. I personally saw big-bad-Harley-driving good ole boys with tears in their eyes reaching down to talk to Kuwaiti kids about their daddies. My perspective is indeed biassed from my vantage point. My blog. My perspective. My bias.

But hey - it is all about perspectives, right. Again, don't just take it from me. People are starting to talk about the same/similar sentiments I have been saying over and over; and I hope that more people come forward with their own accounts. For example, in the words of someone who was there (Kuwaiti Amer Al-Hilal):

“The Kuwait Resistance did an exceptional job during the invasion and it breaks my heart that they haven't received the credit and acclaim that they really deserve. There is something seriously warped in this country when the people who really fought for it are neglected for others who have done much less. The Resistance were the unsung heroes of the Gulf War; warriors who sacrificed all for the sake of their country, not the shady politicians whose loyalty lie beyond our borders, the opportunist officials and tycoons who publicly broadcast their loyalty to Kuwait, but in reality did and do nothing, except further their own careers by lining up their own pockets by exploiting the needs of the reconstruction and beyond.

Today more than ever in Kuwait we must remember the invasion. We are now a country that does not even feature the invasion in our educational curriculum, a country that is beginning to forget the lessons of the invasion, a country that continues to meddle in exterior conflicts by wearing the mantle of 'arbitrator' and 'mediator' without taking care of its own, a country that is beginning to forget who its real friends are, neglecting the increasingly grave perils surrounding us, whether ideological or geopolitical. Now more than ever we must remember the invasion, the occupation and the betrayals (both internal and external) and focus on the true reconstruction of Kuwait, both in mind and in spirit, so that we don't fall prey to the calamitous ravages of 1991 again.”

Let me just add that MANY of the resistance fighters were Bidoon (without nationality); many soldiers that fought in the Kuwaiti military (and some that remain in the military) were also Bidoon. They not only have not received recognition, but still must fight for their rights to this day. Bidoons who were martyred during the occupation were not even recognized as Kuwaiti (although some steps are being taken - just not yet). Shame on this country!

Desert Girl Post on National/Liberation Holidays 2008

Desert Girl Post on National/Liberation Holidays 2007