Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Another Tragic Accident in Kuwait

This Kuwaiti "fashionista" (I hate that term!) social media person ran a red light in her boyfriend's Bentley while under the influence (supposedly 4 boxes of Lyrica and alcohol were found in the vehicle) and killed 3 young Kuwaitis.

It is now the talk of the Arabian Gulf because there are so many lethal accidents in Kuwait committed by people under the influence - and very little is being done about it. I was in a bad accident years ago in Kuwait; hit by a young Kuwaiti making an illegal U-turn while on drugs and T-boning my sports car. I get the outrage. I never got reparations; he went to jail for the drugs, not for causing me injuries.

 Anyhoo, this story is in Arabic (Al Arabiya network - Saudi Arabia), but what it basically says is just what I said - she was going 140 km (roughly 87 mph) in what looks like a residential area. The dark grey car is the one she hit.


It probably wouldn't even have made the news if the people she killed were foreigners in Kuwait.


My personal opinion is that Kuwait should name an shame criminals.  Put their full family name and photo in the media. The argument against this is, "Kuwait is small and there are only so many families and everyone knows each other and it would be a big shame." To which I say, GREAT!  Do it.  Dubai does and Dubai is a smaller country than Kuwait and with the same type of social dilema to publishing names.  However, not much else seems to work in Kuwait besides the shame game.  Maybe their family members would have more luck teaching criminal offenders good behavior?  Fines and jail time don't seem to work.  Maybe having your grandpa call you aside and tell you that you're no longer allowed to visit the family during Ramadan or Eid or even Friday lunches will do it.  Machboos is a strong influencer.

Thursday, March 09, 2023

Ku-Waiting for News and Voice of Kuwait - Occupation Time (1990-91) Newsletters from the US

When I moved to Kuwait in October of 1996, to start the “real adventures”, I stored most of my remaining belongings in my sister's basement.  She has just done a Spring cleaning and asked me to go over and see if I wanted anything that was still there.  I found a box of books and documents from the Gulf War (you know - the first one - in 1990 and 91).

I'm so happy to have found these newsletters!  It was a very sad time, but as I re-read these, my faith in humanity is reaffirmed once again.  When disaster strikes, people help each other. 

Some were compiled by American wives of Kuwaitis (Ku-Waiting for News) and the Kuwaiti Student's Union (Voice of Kuwait).


Back then (90/91), we didn't have e-mail or the internet (shocking, right?) so all these newsletters were hard-copied and mailed to people on their mailing lists; and copies of copies were made and distributed. As you can see in the photos, it looks like the newsletters were hand-typed. Microsoft Word wasn't even around then and most people couldn't afford a computer.)


Once received, most of us would make copies and distribute to anyone we thought might be able to help liberate Kuwait (like Congress or the Senate, etc.). I find them super interesting because they gave first-hand accounts/perspectives of what was happening at that time; full of all the raw emotion that everyone was feeling.


You may recognize some of the names. I never met most of these people in person, but we kept in communication often to keep the news flowing (I love you all and God bless you for everything you did and the endless support you provided!).


I ran a not-for-profit called, Kuwait Link, at that time to connect people and resources and disseminate information.  I had a 214/7 “help line” (a phone next to my bed!).  I connected TV and newspaper news outlets to Kuwaitis for stories; like Um Salah who watched in February, 1991, as her sons, Jamal and Salah met on the street in Kuwait.   (I met Um Salah Dashti, mother of former MP and friend, Rula Dashti, while they were in DC during the Occupation.) Anyways, one son studied in the US at the time and joined the US military to liberate Kuwait; and the other son was in Kuwait through the entire occupation and worked with The Resistance.  (I can’t remember which son was where.  It’s been a long time.)  Anyways, Um Salah watched on live television as the sons reunited, hugging each other in the street; one not knowing if the other was even still alive. Often, I would receive calls late at night (after the Kuwait Embassy in DC was closed) from people ask for help to find their friends inside Kuwait.  I would sometimes refer them to a nameless expat man who had a HAM radio (amateur radio) that operated secretly inside Kuwait and he would try to find Kuwaitis and get messages and information to them.  He literally risked his life to help people.  Had the Iraqis caught him, he would likely have been taken to Iraq and then, God knows what would have happened to him.  Or the time after the liberation when I received an onslaught of calls from concerned people asking if they could help the starving animals in the Kuwait Zoo. 


Um Salah volunteered with me and a group of Kuwaiti women who trained at the Red Cross and with the US Marines at Quantico.  Her shells hit my head on the firing line as we shot our M-16’s at the targets.  25 Kuwaiti women joined the US forces with the honorary rank of Sargant to volunteer as translators in the liberation of Kuwait.  There is NOTHING in the history books about them and probably never will be.  They rode with seasoned soldiers and slept in mud.  The often had to beg their parents to go, but they did and I’ve never met a better group of determined women in my life.  Some of whom you would never in a million years guess wore combat boots!  Mothers and grandmothers in diamonds and couture.  Women of pure determination and strength.


And I want to say something about the amount of online hatred I’ve come across from mostly young people who say things like, “Go back to your country.” Or “America only helped liberate Kuwait for oil and money.”  The expat people (from the US and the other 35 nations that formed the Allied Coalition Forces) I personally knew during that time SACRIFICED for Kuwait.  Americans VOLUNTEERED to go to fight for Kuwait.  People risked their lives.  So, I take it personally when people say these things. And if you are here to do that – please just go away.  God watches us all and you may find yourself in need of human compassion someday.


The newsletters copy is a large file in .pdf (about 9MB and 106 pages long), but if you would like me to email it to you, drop me a DM with your email address and I'll get it to you.

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Kuwait Local Tours - Fly World


Failaka 2022

This is a post that was on Facebook about Farah Yusuf Khan’s experience recently at Facebook.  It is such a good account that I thought I would pass it along, as many people are looking for things to do and Failaka is always a popular option.

This is a post that was on Facebook about Farah Yusuf Khan’s experience recently at Failaka. It is such a good first-hand account that I thought I would pass it along; as man people are looking for things to do and Failaka is always a great option.

Since I inquired last time about Failaka Island and found that there isn't much info about it available on fb. I decided to make a small guide for you all to refer before visiting.

We visited last Friday and booked our tickets 3 days in advance and better to book it even earlier. It all depends on the availability. It was 30 kd per person above 2 years of age with buffet and 25 kd without buffet. We went by Ikarus marine. We boarded from Marina mall. They are quite punctual so be there at least half hr prior given time.

It takes 30 to 40 mins to reach the island. They drop u off at the heritage village and to your right is Wanasa Beach and to your left is the tour of the Iraqi tanks and other places. At the heritage village u will find the mini supermarket from where u can buy stuff, as the restaurant at heritage village will open only at 2 pm for buffet and then close after that's done. I would suggest u carry some rolls or sandwiches right under your clothes in your bag pack as everyone gets to carry a bag pack and no one checks your baggage (they say no drinks and food). The buffet was amazing so better to book your seats with lunch buffet.

In the heritage village u have the museum, the reception, beautiful site of room areas and pathways to see. The industrial lake, the mini zoo. You can take a map from the reception to help you navigate. Also your baggage can be kept behind the reception with safety unless you don't have any valuables in it. We carried extra winter jackets and shawls as the temperature there is way colder than Kuwait city.

When you enter the heritage village you can book your bus trip to the Iraqi tank and other places which is like a 45 mins to and hr trip by bus and they show you places around costing 3 kd per person. We had taken that trip too and liked it. The last bus goes at 3 pm. They also have mini cars for 20 kd an hr and other cars for 30 kd an hr without guides. Later on we left for Wanasa Beach which is a 2 mins walk from the heritage village and u have like a little dance show or other shows in the evening. There is a restaurant which serves from morning till night, Baskin Robbins, other small items like corn, spiral potatoes, baked potatoes, popcorn all available at the beach. They accept KNET only throughout ur trip but do keep a little cash as some places ask you incase they are unable to deduct thru KNET. Also there are many power sockets at all the places in the reception so u can carry your charging cables, electric kettles with tea bags and stuff like that. Our trip was from 10 am to 10 pm as we had a Kuwaiti band performing but generally the trip is from 9 am to 8 pm. 

Monday, November 14, 2022



I watched all 30 episodes of the Kuwaiti drama series, Juman (2019), on Netflix with (not always so accurate) English subtitles.  I’ll tell you my impressions, but I would like to know what other people who saw it think about it.  It was disturbing in many ways but also touched upon some forward-thinking points.

 I found myself somewhat depressed watching the series through so many episodes and it had a lot to do with the solemn music score throughout - as much as the subject matter.

The plot of Juman revolves around an extended Kuwaiti family and their marriages and relationships. It also underscores the social problems affecting Kuwaitis (which can also be felt by expats married to Kuwaitis, although that point is not brought up in the series). 
The main message of the series is the importance of keeping families together, regardless of what problems a couple may face. Marital problems in “Juman” included a lot of domestic abuse/violence and adultery (committed by husbands in the series). (On a positive note, the directors never showed the actual violent acts against the women, which is a plus.)  Husbands that took zero ownership or accountability for their actions while their wives were told by an older generation of women and parents  that of course it isn’t right, but to go home and make it work; that a good wife should appease her husband and calm him. That is her job.
It was a disturbing message to give to young generations of strong, smart, educated Kuwaiti women. A message that they should give up their careers and/or educations to be stay home wives and mothers for men who flauntingly married second wives, or who forced their wives to cover - not out of religion, but out of jealousy (which supposedly means love in this series). And to return to husbands that were “sorry” after beating them; of course, to return and accept for the sake of the family.

I kept watching to see how they would wrap things up. You may have guessed it - happily ever after with family units intact and lots of babies; and wives who were content to stay at home and do what their husbands told them to do.
I wonder if the series will have the same affect as “Bye Bye London" (1982).  “Bye Bye London” was designed to show that London had vices and Kuwaitis were better off not to go there for vacations (as so many Kuwaitis do – for decades).  The series actually had the opposite affect and made people want to travel to London (team vice!).  Maybe “Juman” will make women consider what they (not anyone else) really want to do with their lives.  Dunno.
Ok, a few progressive messages I caught:  there was a brief discussion about Kuwaitis marrying foreigners and how their marriages have just as much of a chance of working out. The same was said about age difference in marriages and arranged vs love marriages.  It’s a matter of luck.  There was also an episode with a message about domestic workers and how they should be treated kindly.  
And something that I should mention is the quality of acting: Really good acting all around. Although I didn’t agree with or like the plot, it evoked strong emotions and made me think. And as an afterthought- the series had some of the most beautiful and obviously talented female actresses imaginable.  Hopefully, women who are living their best lives without any of the issues in the series.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022


Carol was one of the poorest students in a rich Southern university; getting a scholarship at the age of 17.  Her mother, my grandmother, Anne, was a sibling to 9 who had immigrated from Finland.  They had very little.  Grammy pushed mom to get an education.  Even when Grammy passed away, mom spoke to her spirit every morning in gratitude and love (which is what I do daily with my mom, holding the folds of her robe or touching the last birthday card I have from her hanging on my wall). 

Mom became an award-winning journalist and was the only person I know who could make you smell something just by her vivid descriptions; weather it be food on the table at a restaurant review or the spray of the ocean on her cheek standing on a beach or breakwater.  She wrote for the Providence Journal in Rhode Island for almost 40 years and various magazines and newspapers as a travel writer.  Before that, she had a pretty fabulous journalism career where she worked in Washington DC, and interviewed Presidents, politicians and Hollywood stars (and was herself often likened to the beautiful actress,  Kim Novak).   I’m secretly thankful that mom never learned to drive because I got to travel with her as her driver to many of the world’s most romantic places (like Australia and Ireland and Tahiti and beautiful small islands, Isles de la Madeline in Canada where she loved the sunlight on the cliffs).  Beautiful, strange and amazing romantic places -  with my MOTHER.   It has been a blessing.

Mom was one of those unique people who could make a friend wherever she went; frequently embarrassing her daughters as teenagers as she would always compliment or have a nice word to say -often to the people who appeared to need it the most.  (“Mom!  Why do you have to talk to everybody?!”)   She taught us to look around the room and tip the busboys in restaurants as they were the lowest paid.  She sent money to people she met along her travel writing journeys who she thought needed help.  Like on the Navajo reservations and in the South on her “Hunger in America” series.   She was always kind that way. 

Because of mom, Cait and I both have “ears like dogs.”  As part of mom’s restaurant reviews, she listened to (ok, eves dropped) other patron’s conversations about the food.  She would shush us and turn an ear to listen.  Cait and I can now hear a conversation across a crowded room while never letting you know that you don’t have our full attention.

Mom always taught us to be independent – sometimes/mostly fiercely independent.  She never relied on any man and she instilled the same in Cait and I.  I remember once receiving an expensive gift from a male friend as a teenager.  She was very upset because she said, “I don’t have much money right now and we have to go buy him a gift of equal value.  You should never owe anyone anything.”  I loved that silk dress!   But I’ve never owed anyone anything.  And neither has my sister.

To those she left behind:  Mom was super proud of her businesswoman daughter, Cait, and loved to hear Cait talk about her work adventures (often humorously).  She was proud of me and my adventurous spirit leading me to work in the Middle East.  She was equally proud of her grandson, Alex, who has inherited the writing gene in the family (whether he chooses to use it or not, she knew that he has it because of several eloquent stories and letters he has written) and of the man and father he has become.  She was happy to have known her great-granddaughter, Avery who brought her so much joy in the later part of her life; and admired Kelsey for being such a wonderful mother to Avery.  She loved the fortitude and support of Cait’s husband, Wayne, and his calming presence in all of our lives.  Mom loved the bond that cousin, Margaret, had with her and our Finish side of the family; a reminder of who she was and where her side of the family was from.

And she loved the friendship and support of her neighbors, Liz, Trish, Gary, and Amy who orchestrated the little things that meant so much to her daily life;  like visits,  baked goods deliveries, taking out the trash for her and making sure her newspaper was delivered close to her door.  Little things that make a big difference to an elderly person who was once so much more independent.

Mom often said that even though your body is aging, you are still the same person inside.  People who knew her knew that – she had a sharp sense of humor and fascinating perspective of life right to the end. 


Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Mom - The Departure

One of the major reasons I moved back to the US from Kuwait was to help take care of my mother in her elder years.  I had 4 great years with her.  She might not think they were so great, as she was declining in health and couldn't get around, but I still had time with her and I'm so grateful I was able to be there with her.  She has been my best friend for as long as I can remember.

I haven't been able to write about her death in November.  It is too fresh and I get too sad.  Still having sobbing fits every night.  It feels like it was yesterday; it feels like it was 10 years ago.  I'm waiting for signs.  I've had a few; my sister has had a lot more.

I talked her her 5 times a day.  She lived only 15 minutes from me, but we were always in touch.  The most difficult thing about my days is the drive to work when I would always call her and hear her perkly little voice in the morning - telling me how great a day I was about to have, and asking where on the road I was.  "Where are you now?"  I heard her on my drive the other day, and I responded, "No, where are YOU now?" and we both had an imaginary giggle.  I play her voicemails sometimes on my way to work now just to hear her voice and pretend that she's still here.

Mom had lived in a beautiful condo next to a lake for the past twenty-something years.  She spent her days looking out at the water and the people on or near the water.  The geese, the foxes, little boats.  My sister and I moved her into assisted living after some bad falls.  She really missed the lake and was sad because she was no longer mobile and had to be helped to do most things.

So, I'm going to write about her transition and departure and then backtrack a little when I can push myself to write more.  I have a terrible memory and blogging helps me keep the details in mind.

Mom had had several falls at her condo and mom agreed that it was time to move into assisted living.  Mom moved close by to my sister and me in June.   The home looked like the Ritz Carlton and I think mom was reluctantly happy there.  Mom had lost a lot of mobility during 2020/Covid when she basically stayed at home much of the time and wasn’t walking (which she loved).  Mom was no longer able to get up the stairs (2 inside the condo and 10 to get up to street level).  At the AL home, she was helped 24/7 by some very loving caregivers (most attended her funeral).  She had a walker and had started using a wheelchair to get around.  My sister got her the Cadillac of all motorized wheelchairs and although mom never learned/wanted to drive (and had to learn the basics of “driving” her chair), she got around pretty well.  All of the other residents were envious.  

Mom was taken to the ER several times for unstable blood pressure.  She had a very bad geriatrician/GP (in my opinion) who didn’t’ listen to her symptoms (swollen ankles, loss of voice, difficulty breathing, BP spikes and lows).  We found her another GP and about 10 days before her final admission to the hospital.  The new GP had ordered oxygen and the appropriate tests (blood/echo).  It was, at that point, too late.  I’m not a doctor, but I feel very bad/guilty that I didn’t understand her symptoms better and that they were classic of congestive heart disease.  Had we known, we may have had more time with her.  However, mom was 89 and by her own accounts, ready to let go.

She was admitted to the hospital on November 14, and it wasn’t looking good. Mom was in/out of consciousness and coherency (kept telling me to take care of the sandwich mom had left on the table and to get her blue sweater from the cleaners) and her color was bad.  She spoke to the nurses and told them what a wonderful life she had lived (I think she knew it was bad). 

The next day, her best friends and us/immediate family gathered around her.  Mom regained consciousness for about 45 minutes (“rally”) and made us all laugh, thanked us for loving her, and told us mom loved all of us.  Some of her last words were, “This is weird.  I’ve never done anything like this before.  Have you?  You’re all here!  I guess it is true what they say that you are surrounded by ‘your friends and family.’  Are these going to be my famous last words?”  She also advised her grandson, my nephew, to trim his beard.  Mom asked if we could sneak in a bottle of her favorite wine (Meursault) the next day; we were planning it.   She then went to sleep again. 

We admitted her into hospice that afternoon, and at 4am the next morning, mom passed away.  True to form – with humor, grace and dignity.

It was the best transition any of us could have hoped for.  She didn’t want to have a prolonged death or be in hospice for any long amount of time (I believe that less than 12 hours was sufficient for her!)  Her best friend, Liz, suggested that we play Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” at her funeral. 

Mom left VERY specific instructions on what mom wanted at her funeral and we followed them pretty precisely.  (She left a file folder for everything.)  She was cremated and has a beautiful blue hand-blown glass urn (which is in my living room); eventually I will make the trip to the UK to her favorite islands (Channel Islands) to scatter her ashes  (“on a beach, somewhere sunny”).   We were asked NOT to have “one of those online obituary things” but these days, it is the best way to get the information out there, so it is out there.

Her celebration of life was the best funeral that I’ve ever been to (and better than any wedding I’ve attended).  We laughed, we cried, we had great food and music surrounded by loving, interesting people.  Mom would have loved it.   We expected maybe 65 people and over 140 showed up; many who had just known her briefly or who mom had touched lives with like check out clerks at the grocery store, people who she had met on the trail with their dogs, handymen, her hair stylist (MY hair stylist), contractors, etc. She had a posse of close friends who mom had found late in life and they were all there for her.   The service was held here in Virginia at a venue on a lake with vaulted ceilings.  Mom had asked for a song to be played (“Ascent of the Lark” by Vaughn Williams) which is usually played by a violinist or cellist, so we had a string quartet that played and it was amazing.  A few of the guests said that they saw a heron take flight from the lake right after the song; befitting.  We had asked for yellow roses and peonies and the woman who coordinated the celebration did a stellar job of finding them – in bloom – in the winter.  Everything was beautiful and perfect and happy and sad.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Getting Old Just Sucks for Everybody Involved

 My mom (89) moved into assisted living (by her choice) a few months ago. It has been really hard.   After a few bad falls at her condo, she needed 24/7 care to help her get around.  Staying home for almost a year during COVID had a negative affect on her mobility.  She used to be able to walk several miles around the lake where she lived.  It was hard for her to get to the kitchen alone.  She hated moving out of the beautiful condo with a direct view to the lake where she would sit and watch the beautiful sunsets and changing of seasons.   

I was the one who orchestrated (with her help) giving things away and storing others; effectively dismantling her life for the move. She was a beauty queen in her 20s and 30s and later a decorated journalist that traveled the world (often taking me with her). Newspaper and magazine articles, photos, and a lifetime of memories locked in things she loved or had loved had to be sent to different corners. I was thankful that we were able to sift through it all together:  If I had had to separate the pieces of her life after she had passed, I would be inconsolable and most likely, just put everything into a storage unit until I could deal with it,  potentially years later.  

It has been hard watching my mom’s health decline - and sometimes, when she gets tired, her memory.  I find myself getting really angry and frustrated when I'm around her and I have had to stop and question why am I doing that? What the Hell is wrong with me that I would get angry at my mother - a helpless little old lady?! But I have figured it out: she has been my best friend all of my adult life and I am angry that my energetic, vibrant, active, social buddy has gone somewhere. It is completely stupid and awful, but now that I know why I do what I do and have discussed it with her.  The irony of it is that she said she has always understood why I feel the way I do - and she has just been patient with ME.

You just don't know all that happens - or how you will react - when your parents get old. I NEVER let her want for anything. I am there for her 24/7 and she knows it. I bring her flowers every week. I stock her refrigerator and make sure she has enough Ensure and snacks.  My sister visits often and got her an electric wheelchair so she can get around the building freely.  Mom has almost mastered it (which was difficult because she never has had the coordination enough to drive a car).  Her friends visit her weekly and even though she has a hard time talking, they call her often. Mom is also cared for by some incredibly kind and loving care givers where she lives. They make her coffee in the morning and help her get into bed at night (and everything with a push of a button in-between).  Some of them call her, “grandmother” and tell her that they love her.   

Mom’s brother, my Uncle Doc (also in his 80’s) drove with my cousin to Virginia from their home in Florida just to see her for a day on her birthday.  He is in similar shape, although his memory is failing fast.   I’m glad that they got to see each other.  They both worry about each other constantly.  Uncle Doc asked me if she is “terminal.”  I answered that we are all terminal in old age. 

You always think that you have more time.  You think that the dinners out and shopping and going for drives to the mountains will continue.  But then, just like that, they’re not able to do it anymore. 

Thursday, April 01, 2021

Promoting local artist in Kuwait

 Someone asked me recently about where to get a painting of Kuwait by a local artist (not necessarily a Kuwaiti artist).  Well, here ya go....

Touch of Hope Kuwait Animal Shelter Needs Your Help!

 Please SHARE this everywhere:

Touch of Hope is an animal shelter in Kuwait. (Instagram @ touch_of_hope_q8) run completely off donations and volunteers. People think, "Why help Kuwait? It is a rich country. They should take care of their own animals." Well, ZERO money is allocated to the welfare of animals in Kuwait by their government and pets are often dumped, neglected, and abused (I'm not going to be graphic, but it is BAD and it happens often). ToH works with Wings of Love Kuwait (a Baltimore-based shelter) (Instagram @ wingsoflovekuwait) to bring pets to the US to rehome. (Both run off separate entity donations.)  Check out their accounts for photos and videos of their amazing work.

Touch of Hope Kuwait animal shelter is being evicted and is in urgent need of aid! They've found a new place to create a shelter, but it needs a LOT of work and Kuwait summer (think 120F!) is quickly approaching. Any help is greatly appreciated! $5/$10 - anything will help. 



A large number of rescued dogs, cats, and a horse have lost their home after an eviction notice was served at the farm in Kuwait that serves as their sanctuary.  Can you help these helpless souls?

An amazing woman named Marlene has dedicated her life to the injured, abused, and abandoned animals of Kuwait.  For years she and her elderly mother have been renting a rundown farm in the desert, just so she has room for her many rescued animals.  She works around the clock, in very challenging conditions, and receives no official funding or support.  Nevertheless, Marlene puts a positive spin on her life.  She calls her animal rescue effort Touch of Hope.  With love and tender care she rehabilitates her rescues and prepares them to be adopted into loving, permanent homes.

But tough times for Marlene and her mom just seem to always get tougher.  Due to budget cuts at her company, Marlene lost her job.  Her old car overheated and caught fire on a dusty desert road and was damaged beyond repair.  The pandemic has made things even more difficult.  Huge numbers of house pets are being dumped on the street, and with many new rescues, Marlene's pet food and vet bills have skyrocketed.  Despite all this, she never closes her eyes or her heart to an animal in need.  It has only been by borrowing money and with limited help through fundraising and donations from some local animal-lovers that Marlene manages to continue caring for the animals and giving them a touch of hope.

On August 6, 2020, Marlene received tragic news from her family in her native Lebanon.  Her home, located near the port of Beirut, was completely destroyed in the devastating explosions.

Just when it seemed things couldn't get worse, Marlene received a notice for IMMEDIATE EVICTION from her Kuwaiti landlord.  She frantically began searching for another farm.  Options are extremely limited and she was forced to rent a place that is badly in need of work.  At least $20,000 is needed in order to make it secure and habitable.

Please help.  ANY donation, no matter how small, will be greatly appreciated.  We can't let these animals down, they have already suffered enough!  TOGETHER we can make a difference and enable Touch of Hope to continue its vital mission.

Please share this campaign with all your contacts.  Thank you for caring and God bless you.

For more information please see: Instagram @touch_of_hope_q8

Monday, February 15, 2021

Yo, Expat! Are you staying or going?

Mark at 2:48AM blog has a very interesting post recently (https://248am.com/mark/personal/us-vs-them/).  He is thinking of leaving Kuwait.  I think many lifelong or long-term expats have either left by now or are battling with themselves on whether to stay or leave.  In Mark's case, he was born in Kuwait and his mother and father were in Kuwait long before that.  

His post inspired me to write this post.

It is a hard decision.  I think it is harder when you wallow in an uncomfortable situation; not feeling happy and somewhat apprehentious about what may happen when  you leave. Or where you will go.  Or what kind of a job you will find.  And you can't have the same things as you have had in Kuwait (like a maid or cheap healthcare and insurance).  And where you go:  paying taxes, paying for air for tires using a credit card at the gas station, vet bills in the thousands....etc, etc. (More of that for future posts.) 

Kind of like a bad romance.  You've been with that person for a very long time.  You know you should go (and your departure will be inevitable someday), but the constancy of it leaves you in limbo.  You are comfortable in your discontent somehow.  Kind of paralized in it all.

How many more expats are going through the same thing?  Is it just the pandemic that is making it so bad?  Or at least you tell yourself that.  But really - it was getting uncomfortable even before. The pandemic has just made it really hard with people losing jobs or having their salaries cut so it pushes the decision to stay or go to the forefront.   

Disclaimer:  Don't get me wrong.  I still love Kuwait (and God knows how much I miss the country and my friends and adopted Kuwaiti families)  but the country has changed a lot since I initially washed up on it's shores in 1993.  (I moved to Kuwait in 1996.)


I wrote a post about the reasons I would leave Kuwait - back in October of 2017.  I left Kuwait (physically) in December of 2017, to work remotely from the US with travel to the UAE and other places when requested.   I was back and forth between Kuwait and the US after that; and just before the pandemic hit hard in early 2020.  I am so grateful that I moved house out of Kuwait when I did.  Perfect timing.

Sidebar:  Seriously, how many of us can just work remotely just using e-mail?  I mean, if the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that working remotely works.  Case in point:  I was working on a contract recently and thought that the woman was in Kuwait (I was calling her Kuwait number).  We got to talking and she told me that she is actually in Georgia.  I said, "Girl!  Give me your number, I'm in Virginia!"  Another associate turned out to be working from London while I was calling him on a Kuwaiti number.  Another, two towns away from me in Virginia.


I went through the process of getting quotes from shipping companies for my household goods and car to actually doing it - shipping it all.  I had a whopping seven suitcases I would take back with me on the plane, plus the cat and the dog.  The logistics!!   I downsized a LOT.  I couldn't stand the thought of  selling my things to bargain-hangry buyers, so my process was, "Things I love to people I love."  My friends came over and post-it-noted their names on things they wanted.   The purge continued for 2 months - and I still ended up with a 40' container back to the US.   (I wish I had taken more of some things and I equally wish I had purged more of others.)  The ship takes 2 months to arrive with the container, so I brought lots of clothes in check-in luggage.

Only my really close friends knew that I was leaving "for good."  I had lunch with the man who basically brought me to Kuwait the first time in 1993.  He asked me why I was leaving and I told him that I was no longer comfortable living there.  I felt unwelcomed (in general - as an expat).  That I was feeling more doom and gloom than joy and contentment.  And.... I didn't like the expat-bashing trend; especially by members of parliament and government; those with a short memory of the events that transpired in 90/91.  The kind of people who forget their friends.  His response was, "Oh, but they don't mean Americans or Brits...."  I believe the word "expat" is all-encompassing of foreigners in Kuwait, so when a politician calls Expats, "bacteria," I take offense to it.

A million times over the years I was asked, "Are you planning to leave Kuwait someday?"  My response was, "Whenever I decide it is time to go."  

Time to go...

Time to be with my family.  Time to buy property that is in my name with a huge yard so that my dog has a real understanding of grass and playtime.  Time to pay into my eventual retirement. Time to breathe in clean air and be surrounded by trees and green and birds (and in my neighborhood - foxes and deer and skunks and bald eagles).  A different kind of natural beauty where people don't litter or pollute (at least where I live).  

A lot has happened since I've been away (even though I came back to Virginia every summer on annual leave).  My nephew has grown into a man with his own daughter, home and business.  My mom has aged and counts on me to help her.  Some of the friends that I had have died.  Others have just moved on with their lives; marriages, children, divorces.  Oh and the time that I spent on summer vacations from Kuwait that I always spent visiting my family has turned into reeeeally nice family travel vacations together.  

I'm going to write a separate post(s) about the transition and my reverse culture shock.  And of course, the things I miss in Kuwait.  It has been a journey.  How do I feel now, three years (I can't believe it!) later:  Content.  Grounded. Secure. 

Why am I posting this now?  Well, inspiration from Mark's post and it's follow-on comments by expats for one.  I have been in discussions with friends still in limbo in Kuwait wondering if they should leave.  I know many expats are weighing the decision, so maybe this will get them thinking.  Or maybe they'll get some comfort in knowing that they're not alone.  A little support perhaps.

Monday, February 08, 2021