Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The, "Desert Girl can't focus"/Random Post, Post

This is going to be a random post because I am The Ritalin Child today and I can't focus on any one thing.

First, I've felt that today was Thursday and that just sucks. 

They are putting a City Center in right down the street from where I work.  This concerns me because 1)  I will want to walk there to get ice cream every day - adding to the increase in my "secretary's spread"; b)  It will be too hot to walk down the street to get the ice cream; 3) It's Dhajeej (aka "Disease") and you can't walk down the street here without 4.2 million creepy, cigarette-smoking, dirty-pants-wearing men staring unapologetically at your ass; and d) having a City Center at the end of the street will certainly add to the horrific traffic in Dhajeej.  By the by, I find it ironic that the corners right around the Farwaniya Traffic Department either have no stop signs or signage of any kind - especially the type that points to the fact that the street is ONE WAY (yes, this means you, a-hole!); or that on the one corner where there IS indeed a stop sign (right AT the traffic department), people run through it all day long.  Driving in Disease is just one step up in my book than driving Combat Mission Shuwaikh Industrial Area.  We're talking Hummer H1 version combat driving; WITH the optional front-loaded cowbar (those cows walk SLOOOOOwly across the streets upinhere).

The Queen has a bad-ass hat.  If I were a little old lady (and yes, I am heading in that direction), I would wear a bad-ass hat just like hers - with the matching blue suit. My sister and I have always said that when we are old we would buy matching baby blue suits and hats and live together in a house with a porch and sit out front in matching rocking chairs, side-by-side, watching the sun go down.  So, when I get that old, I want this bad-ass hat.  Look how elegant she is!

Man terms I've learned lately (which, in all honesty, I meant to have no relevance to the Queen story above):  Murse = man purse.  Male people - if you carry an over-the-body  murse, at least have the dignity to wear it behind your back.  Not to the side, not in the front (thank you for pointing out this fashion tip, Butterfly). And unless you have that grunge look going on, I'm sorry, but it just doesn't work. This does not apply to trendy gay men.  Trendy gay men wear the murse with dignity and they are open about it.    Like carrying a "mutch" (a man-clutch).  Unless it is an iPad, you are a trendy gay man. Bags that appear to be briefcases I have no problem with; they just look businessy.  And then there's the moobs.  That's right; man boobs.  Saw a guy the other day sporting knockers that were bigger than mine. Thankfully, he was carrying neither a murse nor a mutch because that would have been OTT.

And on the subject of boobs: OMG!!! What IS it about this country that you can't find a decent bra??  Horrible.  I usually shop at Debenham's and it is hit or miss.  This time, I just bought 5 and decided that by  the law of averages, at least one of them should fit right after washing a few times.  Yeah yeah, I know what you are thinking, girls and I did the Oprah thing of getting a proper fitting (I just chose not to believe what the fitter lady had to say).  Sorry, no flat-chested Asian lady is going to tell me that my girls are that size.  Not happenin.  Maybe when I get back to the States. But anyhoo, bra sizes here are NOT what they are in the States.

Hey - You can tell when it is getting to be Ramadan time when you go to furniture stores and there is a line to get in, people push you out of the way, and all of a sudden, the stock is all new.  I've been shopping at different home furnishing stores for a secret project I have going on and OMG!  I couldn't have picked a worse time of the year.  Incase you don't know it A) it is the end of the month and people just received their salaries, so they're out 2) School is out so the kids are being dragged along, and oh C) Did I mention that in this part of the world, it is traditional to host people in your home during the whole month of Ramadan, so in doing so, you go out and either refresh your decor or do a whole new furniture change.  Yep.  That's the way homey plays it.  It took me an hour to find a parking place to get into Ikea the other day after work (DURING the week!) and last night, I went to Banta and had to circle the block 4 times to find a space (sorry Audi dude, but there was no way I was going to let you reverse down the street to get to a parking space that I clearly owned). 

I looked over and saw the Arab Times on my desk.... There is a small article stating a statistic today.  I have never heard any official estimate published - anywhere - in my 15+ years in Kuwait of AIDS statistics in Kuwait.  LOYAC was educating their students about the dangers of AIDS (because probably no one else was) and had a figure of around 1,600 cases (5+ years ago).  Today, the Arab Times quoted a source as saying there were 212 cases.  Seriously?  that few?  In a country where safe sex is a myth?  Highly unlikely. But hey - if you deny or deflect, there is no problem, is there?  Nope.  It just goes away.  Sure does.  The US is proof of that.  For many years, AIDS was not a disease that heterosexuals caught and it would not spread.  Stooopid.   Here's what I want to know:  The article stated a "youth" so he/she has to have parents or a guardian, right?  Who the hell would allow their "youth" to go to Thailand without at least discussing the dangers. Deny, deflect.  They're going there for the culture and history. And futher, unfortunately, although you can't always believe what you read on the social networking sites, the same can be said for what you read in the newspapers or offically posted accounts.

A company I know just changed their logo and it looks like a Rainbow Smurf had diarrhea.  I can't ellaborate.  But it does.

My post titled, "Kuwait Sex" has had 1,000 views.  So many pervs.  So much free time.

I don't know why I want Asian food all of a sudden.  I could go for some Thai for sure.

Ritalin, anyone?








Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Home Steak, Seafood, and Desert Delivery in Kuwait

I just saw an ad for these guys in Bazaar Magazine (heeeeeeeeeey, Ahmed!).  Looks yummy.  Will anyone be my guinea pig and check them out/let me know how they are?  If they are the Omaha Steaks(TM) of the Kuwait world, then I'm going to be in fer sure.  I'm just wondering if they come in the same nice OS cooler.

Most of the products seem to be uncooked like Omaha Steaks.



Saturday, June 23, 2012

Kuwait Times Reports on Prostitution


Interesting findings by Kuwait Times reporters. Link and article below

Holding a shopping bag, an umbrella and a mobile phone, Jayanti (who claimed to be from North India) could be mistaken as a working class lady who was just coming out of a shopping mall. But after a chat with a Kuwait Times reporter who posed as an undercover ‘customer’, Jayanti revealed her true identity – a sex worker. “How much will you pay me,” she asked with a smile. After negotiating, she agreed to take KD 15 for two hours. When asked why she was carrying a shopping bag filled with food items, she said “if you walk alone on the street empty handed, the cops (police) will suspect you, but if you carry a shopping bag, they will think you went shopping.”

A few minutes later, Kuwait Times spotted another woman in her mid-thirties roaming around near Apollo Hospital in Salmiya, who turned out to be a prostitute too. “Why are you following me,” she queried at first. After a while, she entered one of the baqalas in the area – pretending to be buying some things, but when she noticed that we were not cops after our interactions with her, she started bargaining on the price. “How long do you want it and how much will you give?” she asked. At the end, we agreed to meet the following day for KD 20.

HOME DELIVERY, PROSTITUTION ZONE

Prostitutes and pimps in Kuwait are getting smarter and adopting new strategies to avoid detection, as authorities clamp down on their illegal activities. From Ahmadi to Farwaniya governorate, the sex business seems to be flourishing with the stakeholders devising different ways to navigate through their underground sex trade routes. Recently, police in Hawally arrested two men accused of running a prostitution service and using cafes to lure their customers. The suspects, an Arab man and an Indian, admitted during investigations that they helped set up customers with Asian prostitutes for KD 10 a night. Also in Farwaniya, police raided 10 vice dens and arrested 16 suspects and 45 young pleasure seekers, according to another report.

In Hasawi, a Kuwait Times reporter who acted as an undercover customer was led to a brothel by a pimp who offered to set him up with a prostitute for KD 5, but eventually settled for KD 3 (per round). It seems Kuwait governorates have been divided into prostitution zones. Whereas Ahmadi governorate is controlled mostly by Filipinos, Hawally governorate is dominated by Ethiopians while the Farwaniya governorate and part of Salmiya are controlled by South Asians (Indians, Sri Lankans and Bangladeshis). “We control this area. We don’t have Ethiopians here. If you want Ethiopians, go to Hawally,” one Bangladeshi pimp boasted when a Kuwait Times reporter (undercover) sought an Ethiopian prostitute. “I can connect you to the Arabs including Kuwaitis who are into this business but you have to pay me KD 8 to get their contacts. They collect big money and you have to be very careful while dealing with them,” the Hasawi pimp advised. He gave the contact of another pimp (known as Big Mama) in charge of Salmiya area, and introduced us to her.
When contacted, Big Mama asked us what age limit we want and how much we were willing to pay. “I have between 25-30 and 30-36 year-old ladies,” she said. “If you want, I can bring them to your house. You don’t need to come and pick my girls, I will tell my special taxi to bring them to you,” she added. After first, she wanted to make sure we were neither Arabs nor South Asians. When asked why she doesn’t deal with Arabs and South Asians, she said “they don’t like to pay and if you demand your money, they will threaten to call the police. Also, some of them are working for the police. Police pay them to catch us (prostitutes),” she added as she narrated their ordeals and ugly encounters with bad clients, police and the health hazards in the prostitution business. Even against all odds, money is still changing hands. Most of our sources requested anonymity for reasons of safety and protection.

CHINESE STYLE

In one of the shopping malls in Salmiya, three Chinese ladies were sighted giving out their numbers to selected lucky guys. “How are you! Good man! Call me ok,” one of the ladies said as she clandestinely handed a piece of paper to the undercover reporter. “They always come here in the evening to look for jobs and customers. They come in groups,” one of the shop attendants told Kuwait Times. When asked what kind of job, he said “prostitution of course”. We eventually made the call to bargain. But when asked why they are selective, the Chinese prostitute echoed the same reason given by Big Mama. “Although they (Arabs) are our main customers, they can put you in trouble. They normally don’t like to pay,” she said.

RISKS AND DEADLY BUSINESS

According to most of the prostitutes Kuwait Times interviewed, prostitutes make above KD 160 as monthly income. The risks involved in this illicit business include violence, arrest, slavery, jail term, deportation and infections among others. In Hasawi, we (the Kuwait Times undercover reporter and a Bangladeshi pimp working for us) were attacked while covering this story by some pimps who accused us of being police agents. Our guide told us that the owner of the brothel in the area is enslaving girls and will do anything to protect his business.

“These prostitutes don’t have resident visas and do not undergo medical tests. This could be very dangerous when they are infected with any sexually transmitted diseases. They will just pass it to their clients who will then pass it over to their wives and kids as the chain reaction continues. Also, the prostitutes can as well be infected by their customers,” Dr Andrew O, a pediatrician at Sabah Hospital warned.

-         - - End - - -

(The past paragraph:  Really?  No shit?...)

I think it is great that they are starting to discuss these problems openly in the media.   I would like to know when they are going to start openly discussing Arab prostitutes.  You know – the kind who don’t get out of their expensive car  at parties for less than 50KD and who you can get “extra” from for 100KD plus per night.  Why just discuss imports? 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

DCAA: How to submit a complaint

As follow up to my previous post, if you know of contract irregularities, you may
Submit a Fraud, Waste or Abuse Complaint (linked) on the Defense Contract Audit Agency Website (http://www.dcaa.mil/); however, you should read the instructions first and/or contact the local DoD Inspector General on Arifjan (for Kuwait).



Great advice in the Arab Times "Legal Clinic" today, thanks to a reader who brought it to my attention:

US-based Company Violating Labour rights
Currently I’m working for a US-based company at Arifjan in Kuwait under the sponsorship of a local firm.
Recently, for several days, the company sent us back home because of sandstorms and the management told us that we will not be getting pay for these days. We all signed the contract on a monthly salary. We are working 6 days a week 10 hours per day. Is it allowed to deduct our pay if it is not possible to work due to climatic conditions. Do we have a right to claim pay for those days?

Name withheld
Answer: You may be working for a US-based company but you are under the sponsorship of a local firm. Morever, you are working on Kuwait soil, under the Kuwait Labour Law. This company, regardless of the fact it is a US-based firm and working on a US base, has to follow the Kuwait Law. It can give you more rights than mentioned in the laws not less. Secondly as you are working on a monthly contract, the company has to pay you for the lost days due to no fault of yours. It also can’t make you work 10 hours a day, six days a week. You are only allowed to work on a maximum of 48 hours, spread over a maximum of 6 days regardless of what is written in your contract, unless they are paying you for the extra two hours.

Foreign firms do not enjoy an ‘immunity’ as far as Kuwaiti laws are concerned. The best thing would be to file two complaints — one against the US firm with the base commander and secondly with the Labour Dept of your area

"Base commander" would be the DoD Inspector General

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The US & Human Trafficking: If you live in a glass house, don’t throw stones.

The US makes such a big deal of human trafficking, but from what I see, not so much as it applies to them.

I’ve been in contracting in Kuwait for a while now.  I’ve participated on large bids and I’ve seen the companies I’ve worked for lose contracts based on price rather than technical capability. 

The big question is:  how can some companies undercut others with such huge differences in price?  How do you win contracts if you bid ethically?  Seems like you are destined to fail.

So… a company wins a contract.  They recruit a bunch of people to fill slots; some from third countries, but many from the US.  Many Americans coming to Kuwait don’t understand local employment law and are taken advantage of. "I knew I would have to work long hours.  I knew I was going to be paid well, so I expected it."  Wokey dokey, well what about your RIGHTS as a worker? What about the TCN guy working next to you?  If you were in the US, would you put up with it - or would you be calling the DOL hotline?

Kuwait has a 48 hour work week.  If an employee is in Kuwait, holding an Article 18 visa; that employee is governed by the Kuwait Labor Law.  No if’s and’s or but’s about it. (The law also does NOT differentiate between labor and management; "exempt" or "non-exempt" which are US-based terms and non-existent in Kuwait; all are entitled to the same rights.)  It has been a “gray area” because no one really knows or understands the SOFA agreement Kuwait has with the US Military.  Since it is secret – it can be twisted to appear as if working with the US military in Kuwait, on USG contracts can be “exceptions” to the law.  However, per Kuwait law, all Article 18 visa holders are entitled to the stipulations in the Kuwait Labor Law.  Want proof?  Challenge it through Kuwait’s court system.  And win. Precedent cases:  There are several cases on the internet where former American employees have successfully sued US companies working in Kuwait - and won.  [There is no tort law in the Kuwait legal system.  You will only be given payment for what you rightfully should have been given (in this case, back overtime).  You will not be able to claim damages.]

Bit o' Advice:  Maintain accurate time keeping.  Record your actual hours worked (by law on a USG contract you MUST but employers illegally may tell you differently).  Keep timesheets.  Keep company memos and pay policies regarding overtime.  Build your case.

So let’s go back to how companies are winning contracts with low prices.  They are bidding with no overtime.  They INTEND to make their employees work overtime (anything over 48 hours per week is OT).  They probably have their employees sign time cards with the maximum allowable hours.  (And many of us in Kuwait have seen this.)   How can you work a 14 hour day, 6 days a week (maximum amount of OT in a year ceilings at 180 hours BTW and some companies exceed that) and receive no overtime?  By law, you shouldn't;  But according to some employers here in Kuwait, suuuuuure you can.  You just don’t pay the overtime.  They force their employees to sign a paper stating that they aren’t obligated to receive overtime:  the “exception” I mentioned earlier.

WRONG. WRONG. WRONG.  (And not just unethical, but illegal.)

Is it because the employer's don't know any better?  Emmmm..... no.  They have lawyers.  They get it.

This all falls under a little term the US came up with called, "Human Trafficking".  It pertains to work without compensation.

So if  X company ethically prices their manpower according to a 48 hour work week WITH overtime, and Y company unethically prices their manpower without; who is going to win the bid?  That's right kids, THE LOWEST BIDDER.

Why, pray tell, don’t US contracting officers take this into consideration?  They should.  Maybe because the contracting officers at Rock Island 1) change periodically, so there is never a history of shared knowledge, or 2) just don’t understand local labor laws or perhaps even 3) the “exception” fib is being told to the contracting officers as well.

There is an employment law in the US which is commensurate to Kuwait’s Labor Law.  It is called the US Service Contract Act of 1965 (FAR 22.1001). 

My personal opinion/advice to an ethical company would be to address the elephant in the room immediately in the proposal:  Discuss human trafficking and fair wages/benefits.  Do a comparison matrix of the US Service Contract Act of 1965 and the Kuwait Labor Law.  Attach the Kuwait Labor Law to your proposal.  Detail how your pricing reflects the ethical benefits and wages to be paid to your staff members – by LAW.  Unless more ETHICAL contractors educate those awarding the contracts (and lawmakers/politicians), the cycle is going to continue.


Contracting officers:  practice what you preach.  All these rhetorical conferences I attend (yawn) listening to discussions about ethics in USG contracting.... puh-leeeeeze.  Where is the enforcement?  Where are the audits?  Is it all taken at face value?

Employees who should be getting OT but are not:  DO something about it.  It is your right. Get a Kuwaiti lawyer, file a case and a power of attorney, and when you are ready to leave – hand it over to them to get your compensation.  A group of wronged employees can’t do much in Kuwait, but if the company they are working for is a US company and working on a USG contract; get back to the States and file a class action suit.  (All those tuff looking contractors running around and they're not going to stand up for their own rights?  Nancy boys!)

For more on this subject, see my previous post on the FAR and OT at:  http://desertgirlkuwait.blogspot.com/2011/11/little-diddy-on-far-and-kuwait-labor.html

How to deal with the exceptionally rude United Airlines counter staff in Washington DC

I love United.  I’m a frequent flyer with them and love their daily flights to DC.  I’ve never had a problem with any of the United or NAS ground staff in Kuwait.  In fact, they go out of their way to be kind, to smile, to say a few kind words.  However, returning to Kuwait through Washington is another story.

It is a well-known fact that United’s counter staff at IAD is just rude.  My family has had problems; people we know have had problems; passengers waiting near me have had problems.   No one – from any class of travel nor station in life is immune.   Pay $10,000 for your ticket or pay $400;  it doesn’t matter.  The rudeness is unavoidable.  You can’t get around it – regardless of if you go to the airport and show up as the first customer with no one else around; or if you are passenger number 372 in the line of people, carts, and screaming children.

There could be reasons behind the rudeness.  Perhaps they are recruited for their thick-skin; similar to prison guards.  Perhaps they have had to deal with passengers for years and years and have grown tired of it (like postal workers?).  Maybe they dislike the United/Continental merge.  Who knows – and who cares?  Wouldn’t  it just be as easy to be NICE to people?

Okay, so here is my list of ways to get through it; methodically uncovered through years of travelling through United at IAD:


1.        Do not ask questions.   Ever.   It isn’t the ground staff’s job to answer.
2.       At the check-in counter:  Use the passport scanner and kiosk – without being told to first - or risk being shouted at.  If you don’t know how to use the scanner, refer to #1 above.  Ask friendly looking fellow travelers.
3.       Once you have scanned your passport and are waiting to have your bags checked, just stand there.  Refer to #1.   Just wait.  Trying to make eye contact won’t help.  They don’t look directly at passengers (travelers have cooties).
4.       Maintain a poker face.  If they see any signs of weakness, they’ll humiliate you in front of other passengers.
5.       Try not to look or sound too foreign.  They see it as an opportunity to pounce.
6.       Wear neutral toned, plain clothes.  Do not risk bringing attention to yourself. 
7.       Do NOT try to be overly kind.  They see it as a sign of weakness.  They prey on the weak.
8.       If you’re elderly, bring a young person with you for protection.

And God forbid you should have to ask a United representative a question at the gate!  They have you cornered.  (What are you gonna do; leave?)  Game on.  It is okay to shout at passengers, to humiliate them, to traumatize at will.

Refer to #1 above.

Now, once you’re on the plane, it is a totally new experience.  The flight attendants are kind.  They smile.  They make small talk.  They are human.  It is as if you have passed a test.  If you can make it past the United gate keepers, you’re in.

72 Hours in Virginia

Thursday morning, I was on my way to Arifjail when I decided to return a call to a friend.  We were both supposed to be going to a party the next day, so I asked if I would see him there.  He said he wouldn't be able to make it because he was going to go to Washington, DC for the 3-day weekend.  I told him how jealous I was - that my nephews graduation was the next day and I had been depressed about not being able to go (but that I didn't want to shell out 500+KD on a ticket).  Dude said that he could get me a great deal and would I like to go.  Damn right I would like to go... so I did!

I only told my sister that I was going.  She was under strict orders not to tell anyone else (and thank God, I was going to arrive less than 24 hours later because there is no way my sister can hold a secret longer than that.)

Got on the plane that night.  Got to DC/Virginia at 6:30 am.  I had reserved a rental shitbox (because my nephew and his friends were going to the beach and my ride was going to be driven down there by boyz).  Got to the rental counter and saw a purty little Mustang convertible, so I inquired.  Rental dude gave it to me for only $7 a day more than shitbox.  Done.

Drove to my sister's and woke up my nephew.  He hugged me for a looooong time and said that he thought that he was dreaming.  Then, we both went over to surprise my mother.  We were a little afraid that she was going to have a heart attack, so nephew went in first and sat her down.

It was all so much fun.

The graduation was in the afternoon at a hubungous school gym.  There must have been several thousand people there in 3 sections of bleechers.  Nephew has a "V" last name so we had to sit through a few hundred in alphabetical order before him.

video



I am tired and jetlaggy and confused about what bed I am waking up in... but hey - it was SO worth it.  I'm so glad I went.  My nephew was really happy.  And I ended up packing more into a 72 hour timeframe than I ever thought possible.

I still can't believe that the little, pudgy loaf of bread that I knew has turned into such a man.  I'm so proud of him.

He got a scholarship to play football for a university in New Jersey.  I can't wait to see what's next in his future.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

PAWS needs help

Socializing in Kuwait on a short visit

I had a question from a  European man who wrote to tell me that he comes here on short business visits and doesn't have time to meet anyone, but he would like to get into the social life in Kuwait. 

Ya gotta do yer homework before you come here.

First, if  you want to find out what social activities are going on at the time of your visits, you should contact groups like the American Business Council, British Business Forum, and check out the blogs and Kuwait forums. 

If you want to make friends (and don't have the time while you are here), get onto either the online dating/friendship sites (http://www.pof.com/, http://www.friendfinder.com/, http://www.badoo.com/) or any of the social media sites like Facebook or WhatsApp. Remember the days of pen pals?  Well, start making some of them in the age of technology so that you can meet up once you get here.

There are a few Facebook groups that might be able to help:

All the new comers Expats who recently moved to kuwait and looking to make friends of both genders.. come join us here and start preparing to say Goodbye to old boring days :)
The Grapevine Kuwait

Have nothing to do? Want to socialize with others? The Grapevine is a site where you can find social groups, events and activities happening around Kuwait. Have an event, activity, or social group you'd like to share? Feel free to send it over.
Yahoo has a directory of groups in Kuwait at dir.groups.yahoo.com/dir/Regional/Countries/Kuwait.
And in answer to your question - there are LOTS of parties in Kuwait.  However, you will never know about them unless you make friends.  You can find EVERYTHING and MORE in Kuwait, but it is all done under the radar.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Kuwait Sex



The post title was merely a test to see how far my stats would go up.

Are you guilty of checking it out? ;)




September 2012:  Over 3,000 hits and counting!  Pervs!

Getting Blood Work Done in Kuwait

The last time I had blood work done, it cost me approximately 100KD for a full work up at International Clinic.  My health insurance didn't cover it and the company I worked for eventually took it out of my pay. 

The Romanian gets her blood checked regularly, and pays a few KD for it at the government clinic.  So, I decided to do that this time when my doctor told me I should get it checked.

Since I live in Rumaithiya, I went there (in the evening when I thought there would be less of a wait). 

If you want to go to any government clinic (which also includes a dentist), you must go to the area that corresponds to the address on your civil ID.  Dental work and just about everything else is REALLY cheap, although you might be put off by the amount of running around you have to do.

First, it is really hard for a non-Arabic-reader to navigate to government offices because everything is in Arabic and not English.  I called Stealth to ask him for directions and found it.

The place overall is typical of any Kuwait government health care facility.  Same ugly decor.  Same ugly tiles.  Same bars on the windows.  Rumaithiya clinic was very clean and I noticed that they have surveillance cameras and an employee fingerprint machine.  Fasssssscinating.

I first went to the receptionist and made a lame attempt in Arabic to ask Very Nice Lady for help.  She walked me around.  She was the only one in that place I liked.  She smiled and was really cute - with a different color nail polish on every finger; she's got charisma.  Like it.

You first have to go to see a doctor.  In this case, since I was going to have a hormone work-up done also, I had to first see a gynecologyst. Very Nice Lady walked me down there.  Dr. Unfriendly just gave me a paper.  Didn't say a word to me except to tell me to come back in the morning to the lab.  I'm glad that I knew from prior experience that I should fast (no food after midnight) before going.

I stopped on the way out at the reception desk and 2 men were in there.  One of them shouts, "Good mooooorning (7pm), and asks me if I'm a teacher.  WTF?!  He ends his futile attempt at a come-one when women wearing abayas walk up and the seemingly-ubiquitous mask of unfriendly/rudeness returns.

The moring was a little busier, but not much. I went to the receptionist (no English) to figure out where I had to go.  3 inquiries of nurses (who actually speak more English than receptionists and many of the doctors) later, I found the room where I had to pay.  Girlfriend barely glanced up from the newspaper she was reading.  There was some complication because the doctor hadn't written that I needed a full work up.  Payment Lady sent me back to the OB/GYN department.

There is a room divider in front of the door of the department.  There is a large sign that clearly says, "No men permitted."  That didn't seem to deter the 10+ men I saw walk in and out of there. I can only say this:  I will NEVER go there to get my hoohoo checked with all those nasty men walking around.  Uh uh. Not this girl.   Oh plus - get this - some of the icky men  were spraying pesticides for bugs right in the room where I was.  OB/GYN usually equals PREGNANT PEOPLE.  Duuuh.  WTF WTF WTF

So, back to a rather large doctor woman who did speak English, but without smile or any kind of facial expression.  (Seriously, does it HURT when you smile?  Really?).  I asked her for another paper.  She called a nurse. Why?  Not because the paper had to be written in English; but because big girl was too lazy to actually  write the note!  Her only duty apparently was to stamp and sign.  Fine.  She did all that. 

Back to Payment Lady(still reading her paper).  She shouts for the Indian guy (apparently a runner). She took my paper from the OB/GYN lady, my 12 KD payment (hormone work costs more and takes 10 days to return) and told me to go sit outside (because no runner shows up).

30 minutes later, a runner is sent out to "collect" me.  I go in and there is another lady who sends me to "the lab" and points at her office door.  Gee, thanks. 

I walk towards the lab.  Ask another nurse.  Wait in the lab with no one making eye contact with me except for one cute, young Kuwaiti doctor who actually WINKED at me....  Then someone asks if I have a number.  I don't see a number machine.  No, because I have to go out to the Lab Reception and get a number.  I wait in line while an old woman pushes in front of me (I let her go.  She was old.  What are ya gonna do - knock her down?  It just looks bad.)  So Lab Receptionist Lady makes no eye contact, writes some stuff and takes a number from the machine.  This is all while old, white-haired-beared-dude stares at my ass.  Gave that a little jiggle just as a gift.

Great.  Who do you give the number too.  I go back and Dr. Winky is there and smiles at me.  Progress.  At least I can flirt and something might get done. I show him my number.  He has a patient, but I went next.  He didn't make eye contact. (And WHY do you need a number when no one takes it/looks at it/cares???).  He is very gentle.  I want to crack jokes because I'm nervous, but think better of if.

3 vials and I'm done.  Woo hoo.

So, I have to go back tomorrow morning to Ms. Grumpy Pants in OB/GYN for the results of the full blood work and then back to Dr. I-Don't-Speak for the hormone stuff in 10 days.

Was it worth it?  Yes.  I would recommend bringing someone who doesn't look Western and speaks Arabic to help.  (I asked my so-called "friends" and they wouldn't go with me.  Fine.  I get  it.  Life is full of milestones and those quiet moments when a friend might need your help. Step up or step off.) I would rather NOT pay 100KD and I'm glad I went because it is an experience and you can learn or see things even through a bad experience.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Barbecue!

I had some of  the BEST barbecue the other day at the US Embassy.  The event was catered by Sweet Mama Rose Catering (sweetmamarose@gmail.com).  They don't have a restaurant; only do catering.  Oh.My.God!!!  Yummmm.

They had barbecued ribs, chicken, fried chicken, fried fish, hot wings, mac & cheese, broccoli cheese & rice, baked beans, corn on the cob, green beans, hot dogs, hamburgers, buffalo wings, fries, key lime pie, and lemon and red velvet cake.

I went back for seconds.  Seriously. They served HUGE portions of food for very little money (I don't know if that was just a deal for the embassy event or not, but seriously;  I got 2 meats, 2 sides, 1 veg and desert for 3KD.  What UUUP!

And they couldn't be nicer people. 

If you need a caterer - or if  you just need some good barbecue and it is too damn hot to grill it yourself - call these folks.  I highly recommend them.

Shout out to Sweet Mama Rose!  Thank you for a wonderful meal and great hospitality.

Bargain Basements in Kuwait

It takes a long time for a lot of newbies to discover that there are bargain basements in Kuwait and you don't need to be shelling out the big bucks on items like tableware, serving dishes, glasses and other items you might need for your kitchen.  Sometimes, people never find out about these places at all - just because they don't venture out into malls that don't house brand-name stores.  Sometimes "local" translates to "scary" to some; just because they don't know what's in there and new is often intimidating.

Fear not, foreigners! 

My favorite bargain basement, or "souq shaabi", is in Hawalli between Tunis and Beirut Streets.  The easiest way to get there is by taking 4th Ring Road into Hawalli.  It is down about 2 blocks on the left.  You pass Al Bahar Center. Do not EVER go during the week between 12 and 2.  Hawalli is a driving nightmare (plus, the older/local malls in Kuwait are usually split-shift like this one and is usually open in the mornings and then from around 4:30 to maybe 10ish).  If you go right at 4-3:30, you'll be fine and find a parking space easily.

Similar to some of the co-ops, you can find packs of 6 glasses for around a dinar and a half.  At this mall, you can find a really large selection of serving dishes, tableware, flatware, and some small appliances.  They have the best prices on chaffing dishes that I've seen anywhere in Kuwait.  (Yes, I entertain a lot so I have all this stuff.)  I hosted a business breakfast at my house once and needed 20 (nice quality white china) plates and coffee cups on plates and this souq saved me bigtime.

I'm always guilty of not taking photos.  (I will try to go back and take some pictures later from the inside.)  This is the photo from the outside.  I don't read Arabic, so I can't tell you what the sign says, but if you're like me, a photo will help you recognize where you should be.


Another great place to go is City Stars underneath Lulu Hypermarket on 4th Ring Road.  I don't think there is anything at that place that you can't find - and find a use for.  I love that store, but the parking lot is a biotch (which is why I would rather drive 20 minutes and go to the Lulu off of 208 instead).

There are also bargain basements in lots of the small local malls - like Munira Center in Salmiya for example.  If you have favorites, write to me or comment and let me know. I love a good shopping adventure.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

HH Amir rejects death for blasphemy

I applaud HH sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah for his stand against the death penalty for blasphemy. 

The Teleban is trying to turn Kuwait into a backwards little town with no growth, no power, and a place ruled by fear.  I am glad to see that HH has taken a step against this foreign propaganda.

Jamal Shehab, the Minister of Awqaf, resigned .  I know Jamal.  The Jamal I knew is a liberal.  I am wondering who his backers are.  (I take that back - I know very well who they are...)  Seriously, Jamal?  Et tu?  (Sigh.) 

----

And on a completely different, yet "Teleban" subject....

I hear that the Municipality is trying to eliminate sheesha smoking at all restaurants and cafes.  Well my dears, this is yet another Teleban tactic to eliminate any form of 1) small business or 2) entertainment in Kuwait.  Often for younger (especially male) entrepreneurs in the country, the establishment of sheesha cafes is the easiest form of business.  While I agree that I might not want to sit next to a sheesha smoker at a regular restaurant, there should be no law banning sheesha from places designated specifically for sheesha. (Sheesha cafes are popping up all over the US now and you know how hyper the US is against smoking in general.)

The municipality already has stopped restaurants from staying open past midnight.  Everybody just went to parties.  What's next:  underground sheesha parties?  Honestly, it is pathetic.

Is the Teleban going to try to get rid of sporting events next?  Or maybe cinema? 


Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Too small?


There is help!
Enlargement products available in Kuwait...
(As advertised in Alhadaf Plus)

Fasssssssssscinating.

Trying to be creative. It isn't working.

I've been trying to come up with a pithy post lately and nothing is coming to mind.  Yes yes, fer sure; things are still pissing me off and I can always rant, but that isn't so positive, now is it?  Like, for example, the ninja in the Camry (IT IS ALWAYS A CAMRY!) that tried (unsuccessfully) to run me off 6th Ring Road this morning on my way to work.  Or perhapsee like coming to work to find - yet again - that someone is parked in my assigned parking space.  Those things are always there.  Camry bitches will always be Camry bitches and until further notice, I will continue to block in dude in my space.  Mais, my friends, good pith is hard to find.

Yesterday evening, I ventured outside The Bubble to Aubergine for a wee business meeting.  Sometimes you don't get to know the people you work with until you are out in a social setting.  I really like these guys.  I've known them for years, but just in a business setting.  One of them is a musician in the band Bar None.  They play at the US Embassy every once in a while.  Check them out online HERE.  They're really good - I've heard them play before.  And they're available for hire if anyone has the need for a rock cover band.

Anyhoo, we had some laughs.  Aubergine is upstairs from Buffalo's Cafe in Salmiya.  It is a sheesha cafe and surprisingly - VERY nicely decorated.  There were a lot of women there - not the sleezy skin-tight-legging-wearing mamas with too much make up and shrill voices; but the decent kind that I would probably hang out with.  I don't mind sheesha smoke.  I like the smell.  I don't smoke, but I have friends who do.  If the weather is okay (no dust), I can even get away with being enveloped in the smoke for a while.  If you are a decent person and like sheesha and don't want to be surrounded by shrill tarts, I recommend Aubergine.

I had a good day yesterday.  Our company paid out bonusses and I had the honor of being amongst those on the receiving line.  Woo hoo.  Mashallah.  Oh, decisions, decisions... what to buy....  Anyhoo, I haven't had a bonus since 2006 and it felt really good. 

Kudos to my rockstar friend, Stella.  She advised that everyone in our division receive equal bonusses so that no one would be left out.  She even offered to forfeit her own.  I haven't ever had the honor of working for someone with so much integrity.  Words fail.

A former manager cooked the books to make it appear as if the company was doing well so that staff would receive bonusses (him at the forefront with a whopping bonus that was something like 1/4 of the total being distributed.  Yeah, integrity NOT.

I went to a baby shower this weekend.  I think I'm too old for them.  First, it was the worst dust storm in like 1000 years and I had been out at a BOD meeting in the morning, followed by shopping for baby gift at a store with no working air conditioning.  Even though my hair SHOULD have still looked good (because of the keratin treatment I had recently), it ended up sticking to my hair in a dusty/sweaty mess.  I didn't have time to shower.  I'm still feeling the bronchitis I had last week when I got back from DC/San Antonio and the  asthma kicked in big time.  I had a TravisD kicking around in the bottom of my purse, so I decided to pop it.  Big mistake.  I ended up falling asleep on Spanx's sofa surrounded by pretty little Stepford wives.  Oh, did I mention that I snore like a mofo?  Yeah, not pretty.

Spanx should open her own catering service.  She's amazing.  It was all so pretty and had I been coherent, I would have taken more photos of the food. 

I bought the mommy-to-be (who is tiny and does not look pregnant at all) a vibrating bouncy chair.  Those things are Godsends to mothers trying to take showers or put down the baby for like a nanosecond.  Did anyone see the episode of Sex and the City when Samantha is babysitting for Brady and he's fast asleep in his vibrating bouncy chair until the batteries die; and Samantha has to improvise?  Miranda was nonplussed, but hey - it worked.  Anyhoo - vibrating bouncy chairs rock.  If I could have one at work, I would.  I might not get a performance-based bonus, but it might even be worth it.

Is this pith or what?