Wednesday, November 26, 2014
A lot has changed in Kuwait since 2004. A lot has changed to me personally since 2004. I can't believe it has been an entire decade! Where does the time go?
It seems like just yesterday I started the blog as a way to vent my frustration.... wait a minute.... I'm still doing it...
As of today, I have accumulated 1,466,316 page views and have written (or plagiarized from the media and commented on) 1,573 posts. I'm not much into stats, but that seems pretty cool.
For a decade, I have not accepted paid advertising nor taken any money for posting material. I still try to keep it all real. When other bloggers have moved on, tired of the novelty, stopped blogging, or just sold out to Tha Man for cash; I'm still here, giving my honest perspective on life as I see it in Kuwait.
I hope I have helped you all in some small way. I hope I have promoted Kuwait in an honest and practical manner.
So to all of you who have hung around with me (or have moved on to other steps on your journey in other corners of the world and are just visiting through the internet), I would like to sincerely thank you for your kindness, your support, and your friendship. I never thought The DG blog would take on the life it has, or that I would make so many friends or learn so much from other people's insights to the same picture. I'm truly blessed because of you all.
I have a lot of friends who host their own Thanksgiving dinners/lunches (and thank you all for the ZERO invitations I received this year, by the way - you KNOW who you are). Most people somehow wrangle a big turkey from the PX at Arifjan (because for the past 3-4 years, most grocery stores haven't stocked the big ones. If you know of anyplace that has them now, please send me a message (firstname.lastname@example.org) or comment, so I can post info here. I never thought I would be a conspiracy person (and would scoff at my dad, God rest his soul) but I have conspiracy theories on just about everything these days, including why there are not big turkeys in Kuwait.
I'm off track again. Damn energy drinks!
So anyhoo, I went to the US Embassy for the American Business Council's annual Thanksgiving event.
I will first talk about our very humble and down-to-Earth new Ambassador and his wife (Ambassador Douglas Silliman and his wife, Catherine). I heard one speech several weeks ago given by Ambassador Silliman and he didn't sound stuffy or like he was reading off a card. He made good eye contact with people and ad-libbed with humor. I liked him. (I also liked the new staff who all seem to be equally humble and approachable and are no longer the same crowd of entitled 12-year-olds as in previous postings.) While I was at the T-day event at the Embassy, he and Mrs. Silliman walked in. Since they are somewhat new to people in the community (arrived in August), a lot of people don't know who they are. Mrs. Silliman walked alone through the crowd. She introduced herself, "Hi... I'm Catherine." I overheard people asking her, "Do you work at the embassy?" She just responded with, "I live here...."
I love approachable people. It makes life so much easier. Especially when they are representing my country in Kuwait. What a great first impression I got! I talked briefly about dogs with Catherine (she too has an aging dog) and vet services in Kuwait. She had also lived in Rhode Island (how many of us can there be?!) ... before she had to move on to the next guest. Lovely woman and I hope to have the opportunity to talk more to her in the future.
This just gives me something else to be thankful for this Thanksgiving week! Thank you for gracing us.
Ok so I'm writing about Thanksgiving, right? The T-day event at the Embassy was catered by the Hilton. Prior to this holiday, it was catered by The Crowne Plaza. I have also had Thanksgiving meals either catered by or directly served at other hotels. Unfortunately, it is all the same, sad story and I'm here to tell you why. These kitchens NEED AMERICAN CHEF CONSULTANTS during this holiday. You can not have a French (or French-style) chef preparing an American T-day meal. Why? Because AMERICANS DO NOT LIKE STUFFING LOG (which just looks something obscene), or cranberry SOUP (not sauce, nothing gelled - but sauce like you would pour over ice cream). No no no. There are also no noodles involved in T-day. Or Asian salad.
I've been in Kuwait for 18 years. I can count on 3 fingers how many providers of Thanksgiving meals actually get it right. I know, I should just be thankful and stop complaining, right? If I didn't complain, where would my blog be, I axe you?
Hilton had canapes of what they called apple, pecan and pumpkin pie. Squash and honey (which they labeled "sweet potatoes and honey"). The log. The sauce. Sigh.... They did, however, do a good job on the turkey. The gravy - not so much.
I know that America is a melting pot of different cultures, traditions, religions, and foods brought from all corners of the world. But... there are kind of standards (staples if you will):
- Stuffing (also known as "dressing". loose, not in a roll. Usually cooked inside the turkey. I like corn bread stuffing.) (Sample recipe HERE)
- Gravy (made with drippings from the turkey and NO food coloring) (Sample recipe HERE)
- Corn bread (Sample recipe HERE)
- Green beans
- Cranberry sauce (many die-hard fans will only eat canned. I like loose berries) (Sample recipe HERE)
- Brussel Sprouts
- Sweet potatoes (a lot of people like little marshmallows on top) (Sample recipe HERE)
- Mashed potatoes
- Macaroni and cheese
- Pies: Pumpkin, Pecan, Apple. NOT cut into 2" squares.
The Sultan Center usually offers a take-away dinner that includes many of the above. The Radisson Hotel also just sent me a flier that appears to be acceptable.
I'm going to the Association of the US Army event this week and I hope that there will be some of my favorites above. I just don't understand why these chefs can't look up recipes on the internet instead of trying to create their own renditions. I've tried to make their lives easier (above).
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
I'm thankful that you read my blog/following my drama. I'm thankful to be blessed with a wonderful family and friends who are kind, compassionate, and supportive. I'm thankful for my health and for affordable medical care. I'm thankful for my job and everything that it has allowed me to do (I'm thankful that our business owner finds joy in watching crazy people.) I'm thankful for my pets who I couldn't live without and who have eased any minor discomforts I've had. I'm thankful for the beautiful desert and sea in Kuwait and for allowing me to be here under the sun. I'm thankful to be able to attend these events, make new friends and say hello to old ones.
Sunday, November 23, 2014
This has been a long time in the making and a huge accomplishment for all involved. I can't even tell you how many animals I've rescued and taken to K'S PATH. They are my go-to emergency source for strays and abused animals and have never turned down a call for help - at all hours of the day and night. This has included John rushing out to dart and rescue feral puppies living in an on-ramp of a busy highway, and advice from Ayesha on how my friend may be able to re-home (you can't actually) an aggressive baboon (don't buy wild animals!).
Way-back-when, when K'S PATH was a fledgling organization under the name of "Animal Friends", I met Ayesha and her husband, John.In those early days, I went to Ayesha's home to drop off a stray kitten. I was welcomed by approximately 5 very friendly and well-fed dogs (and that was only in their front hall!) At one point, they even fostered a baby hyena in their home. No creature was left behind.
It was actually hard for me to recognize any of the people in this photo because I have never seen any of them in formal attire; they are usually working with animals; or making a brief appearance before going out to work with animals; or going home to take care of animals. They have all been on call 24/7 regardless of their personal sacrifice (and quite frankly, I don't believe any of them has ever seen it as a "sacrifice").
Unfortunately, something as seemingly-simple as opening a business in Kuwait can take years. Trying to open a legally-licensed animal shelter is a long, frustrating and tedious undertaking. Unless you own land and are backed by people of influence who can orchestrate actual change in the country, there is little chance that you will ever be able to obtain legal status. K'S PATH has been blessed by the generosity of others - in terms of dedication, generosity of spirit, land and material items, hard work and outright fortitude of character of all those involved.
Monday, November 17, 2014
Before and after crystal meth
Some people in Kuwait believe"Shabu" (in local dialect or crystal meth as we know it in the US) is being brought from outside Kuwait. It is not. The ingredients for making it are already here in Kuwait. It is cooked. It is cheap. If you smell some weird chemical smell, it may be your neighbors in their own meth lab. It is a HORRIBLE mind-altering drug that does awful things to your body. Educate your kids. It's not a joke.
Sunday, November 16, 2014
I met 2 friends during the summer (2 men who have known each other for a long time). We all have German Shepherds. We all became friends, but it was apparent that I liked one of them (I'll call him Coast Guard because that's his job) more than the other one (I'm going to call him 650). CG wasn't sending me any signals. I asked 650 about him numerous times (which I'm sure he passed along). I sent CG messages through Instagram. No responses except once when he sent me a message, "I miss you." I was about to give up.
But then, 650 invited me to go visit them - and I did with The Romanian (that's right - we've been friends again for a while). CG was there and he acted interested in me. He acted happy to see me. But he never gave me his number or anything (650 did). CG was cold to say the least, but I got a few little smoke signals, so I thought there might be a chance. (I'm generally clueless these days so who knows - I may be missing things.)
Then I thought maybe he was married. Or has a girlfriend. Or married and has a girlfriend. Dunno. I didn't know 650 well enough to ask him either.
650 liked my friend and he was direct about it. She has a boyfriend, so it was off.
I sent CG a message and told him I missed him. I got nothing back. I called him once and he answered and said he was busy and would call me back, but never did. I was pretty sure I should give up and move on.
This weekend, I called 650 and he invited me to go see him. I had my dog with me and I was only planning to stop by for a little while. I didn't call CG because 1) I was perturbed about the paragraph above and B) It was the weekend and CG and 650 are usually together. I assumed he would be there. He wasn't.
Yeah ... uh oh.
We sat and talked and 650 said that he called CG, but CG didn't answer. (Hmmm... hinky....) About an hour later, CG called and 650 asked him to come over. CG was supposed to come, but then 650 told him I was there and he said he changed his mind and was going home.
650 asked me how I felt about CG and I told him that I really hadn't stopped thinking about the guy: I liked him a lot, but I thought he was married (650: No, never been married) or had a girlfriend (650: No) or didn't like me (650: He really likes you, but he's kind of shy and has never talked to a foreign woman before... He went on to say a LOT of nice things about his friend...)
This all sounds so high school, doesn't it? Like someone should be passing notes back and forth, right? No, my friends, welcome to Kuwait....
So, I sent CG a bunch of text messages. I professed my "like" for him. I told him that I couldn't stop thinking about him and hoped that he felt the same way. His response: "Don't call me again."
CG (46 years old) was upset that I was with 650. And I guess he had the right to be upset because 650 was putting the moves on me (lit some candles and put on Mariah Carey... ick). And maybe CG knows his friend.... (I hate these games and it seems like guys here play it against each other to see who can "get" the girl.)
Ok, bygones. Nobody is "getting" me. I'm staying away from Bad-News-650. If he would do that to his friend, he's no friend to anyone.
I hate having people be hurt or upset because of me. I sent GC a little gift with a note. That's all I can do. If we are meant to be friends (or more), I'll find out down the road. I'm just really sorry that I hurt his feelings.
Well, Rashed gave me my 2nd goat, Nina (formerly "Nacho" but it just didn't suit her). Nina was meant to be a companion/"wife" to Paco, my first goat. I believe that Nina is too young to have kids. Rashed told me she isn't and should have conceived by now.
So, he said he was going to "replace" Nina with another female goat. Uh uh! I don't "replace" pets. Besides, Paco is totally smitten with Nina. They "hug" each other (he puts his neck over her neck) and they cuddle. They're so cute together and it has taken months of his efforts to get her to love him. She can't be "replaced".
I told Rashed in no uncertain terms!
So, he insisted on bringing me another female goat; but then thought harder and came up with the idea that perhaps it isn't Nina's fault that she hasn't become pregnant yet, but Paco's. Oh noooo you di'in't! My Paco is all man! Rashed then insisted that he bring me 2 more goats; instead of one female goat, he would bring me a male and a female.
Nina is jealous! Meak-meager little slight of a goat; she keeps head-butting the female away from Paco. And the little male goat just quivers in the corner. They are both really young. Paco seems happy, however. I'm glad about that. They'll all get used to each other in time and learn to be a goat family, I'm sure. God help me if no one gets pregnant, however. I'm pretty sure that Rashed will come to the rescue with more goats.
So, I'm officially a goat farmer now. When/if anyone does have babies, please write to me if you would like a pet goat. They're super-cute and very smart.
Ok, so back to Rashed. He's one of my "brother", Hmood's, good friends. I've seen Rashed many times over the years. He's a nice guy, but most of the time, I don't pay attention and miss signals (aka "clueless"). Perhaps goat-gifting should have been a big clue. I dunno... some girls get diamonds. Some girls get trips or cars or even candle-lit dinners. I am unique (you know it by now, don't ya?) I get goats.
Hmood finally told me. I was like, 'Oh my God! All he had to do was to buy me a hamburger from McDonald's!' (Not goat meat...) So this weekend, Rashed finally invited me to lunch and it was lovely. He continued to sit a respectable 4' away from me (that will probably last another year or so... sigh). We went to have lunch with his friends who have apparently heard all about me (where was I?!) Nice people. Nice lunch. Good start.
Of note is that this article is full of spelling and punctuation mistakes. Spell check, dudes. Whutup?
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
|Photo: Times Kuwait|
This is the new 500-bed domestic worker shelter. (Diggin' the architecture and the use of windows and light... I feel comfortable and safe just looking at it....emmmm..... Just the kind of place I would want to run to in the middle of the night if someone was beating the crap out of me. And easy to find with signage in my native language...)
Okey dokey - This is a step in the right direction. But I'm just wondering if a domestic worker (maid, driver, etc.) can just show up there 24/7 and ask for help - or if they have to (for example) wait until the morning, go to their embassy, wait for someone to help them and fill out a report, and then go. What do they have to do to get in?
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Monday, November 10, 2014
|Khalid ad Phoebe, Service Canine|
Photo: Hanilens Photography Studio
Who is making money off these deals?
So what are they going to do - round up the Bedoon, put them on trucks and force them to go to the NEW Comoro Islands embassy for processing?
I HATE this....
Kuwait Times, Govt to Offer Bedoons Comoros Citizenship - MP Slams Move, Says Lawmakers were Misled
Ok, but because I am "cheeky," I have started sending requests to my Bedoon friends to invite me to "their country" to do some fishing and relax next to the sea (that is, of course, if there is no coup attempt that week...)
|One of the Comoros Islands|
Sorry, but I can't imagine a bunch of Bedoon guys dropped off on a tropical island. That would be like "Dr. Samhan" in reverse. They would probably immediately open a sheesha cafe. And where would you buy banak? Eeek.
Sunday, November 09, 2014
See Kuwait through the eyes of Kuwaitis...
Thursday, November 06, 2014
|My tent, 2 years ago, Zoor Area|
Hate to say "I told you so" but I said it on my FB account - this is gonna git ugly.
The Municipality is taking away a Kuwaiti cultural activity that has gone on for generations and dates back to Bedouin tribes roaming the desert. The Municipality have made deposits so high that some families can't afford to pay. Other families are upset because the land size limits them only to the ability to set up camp for one or two families, so that extended families can't camp together (again, breaking a tradition).
People are mad. I'm one of them. Many of my friends (including my own group of seasonal camping buddies) have decided that it is all too much. We are sticking to the farm this year. I want to be in my tent!!! The Government has found yet another way to create more bureaucracy, paperwork, and tedium. 300KD for land rent, 50KD non-refundable deposit, permits and signage required, land limit of 1,000 meters, limitations on what types of bathrooms and plumbing you can set up. And, worst of all, some guy deciding where you can to camp. That translates to wastah and wealthy people being able to rent plots of land and then re-rent at higher prices.
|My Tent (background) last winter|
Seriously, are they TRYING to push people out of the country? Where else do you go? Are people supposed to just set up tents along the Gulf Road to enjoy the weather? This sucks. I think you'll notice a lot less camps this year. PATHETIC
THANK YOU, KUWAIT TIMES FOR FOLLOWING THIS STORY!!! And corruption? Oh gee, now there is a shocker....
Photo: Kuwait Times
Corruption Over Camping Spots at Kuwait Municipality (LINK)
Kuwait Times by Nawara Fattahova
6 November, 2014
UnSuperMom - You make a very valid point; and one that I was going to include in the post, but forgot to: Campgrounds. It makes sense for the ecology of the country and at the same time, the Government (and concessioners) can make money.
I have proposed this idea to friends in other countries in the Gulf; especially in Oman where seaside property is still very inexpensive (and, BTW, can be purchased by Bidoon people). With more people in the GCC buying campers (caravans), it is a good business for destination travellers (camp sites, for example, along a route to Oman; in Bahrain, Qatar, UAE) and families can take GCC vacations in their campers with the amenities of "home".
Creating a campsite is a good ROI: The main price is the land. You can rent out space to vendors (like movies, little shops, etc) and create electricity connections and waste dump areas. Charge by the night and space size.
The only problem with this (for me, in Kuwait) is that I like the open space. I don't want to be with other people. I want to be far away with only the sound of the wind and maybe a few passing camels. I don't like "urban-style" camping with buggies and noise and parties. I seek the peace, smell, solitude, and feel that you can only get, unique to Kuwait.
|This is ALL I want to see and hear|
Worse-come-to-worst this year, I'll take my tent, put it up somewhere remote, and remove after the weekend. Sad, but if it comes to that, a Desert Girl's gotta do what a Desert Girl's gotta do.
Wednesday, November 05, 2014
The story below ran in the Kuwait Times on October 15, 2014, and was followed up by a report (LINK HERE). If the Government continues to create generations of hopeless, desperate people, it will only negatively affect Government and society later. Why aren't they thinking??
Parents of 700 Bedoun kids Denied Education stage Sit-In
For a full listing of (2013) private school fees, see Crazy in Kuwait blog link HERE.