Thursday, April 29, 2010

Are you Serious?

Every country has different beliefs and it's something we have to deal with as expats. Since coming to Kuwait I have heard some things that make me shake my head and ask "Are you serious?" I'm sure we all have our own experiences, I will share some of mine and please let me know your experiences.

I've always heard that you shouldn't put ice in your drinks or you will end up sick, that's why they are always asking if you want ice when you get something to drink. I really hate it when I get a warm soda. Yuck!

We have a swimming pool at our school and one of the female staff members told the assistant principal it wasn't a good idea to let the girls swim after the boys have used the pool because they may end up pregnant. Uh? Are you serious?

My sister was told by her ex-in-laws that if a woman sleeps without underwear she will get air in her stomach and have pains. Are you serious?

Any time I end up sick I'm constantly being told to drink lemon or honey as they are supposed to have some type of healing affect of something.

Who eats ketchup with pizza? Who eats pizza with a knife and fork?

Those are just a few off the top of my head, please let me know what you've heard as we can all use a laugh.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Crazy Dust Storm

I'm sure everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing when the crazy dust storm rolled through Kuwait a couple weeks ago. I was sleeping and when I finally got up I was like... um where's the sun? I had to go check the clock to make sure I didn't wake up at 4 a.m. or something but it was around 8 a.m. I opened up the window and couldn't believe the dust and clouds and trash flying through the air.

I was hoping it would start thundering and lightning and then just rain so hard it would clean my car. No such luck, only the typical result, dirty car and garbage everywhere. I think it was the worst dust storm I've seen since I came to Kuwait. Of course by the afternoon the sky was clear leaving no trace of what had happened earlier. It sucked for those caught outside in it. Suddenly the sky is black and the dust leaves no vision. You just hope no one rear ends you. I hope everyone came out safe during that time.

You never know what to expect in Kuwait.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

360 Mall

I've had e-mails asking about Kuwait. There are people coming from the States for the first time and some of their family members think Kuwait is a desert with people on camels. Yah right! There are so many places to shop you would think shopping would go out of style. There are so many restaurants it's ridiculous. One of the newest malls to pop up is the 360 Mall.

I like it better than Avenues because there aren't too many people at 360. I like shopping at Geant it's an all-in-one grocery store. The 360 Mall is also a little closer too. There are still some spaces with no stores but after a while I'm sure it will be a happening place. There's a Toys R Us located near Geant, but it's freakin' expensive. I'd rather go to Centerpoint or order it online from Wal-Mart. Upstairs there's a movie theater and restaurants like Friday's, Ruby Tuesday and fast food as well.

The third floor has a small entertainment place. It's OK, not much to brag about. The only thing to be cautious of is the parking. Get in and get out early because if you get caught up in the mad rush to get out there is only one exit with two guys taking your tickets. We had to wait about 30 minutes to get out. I prefer to park outside Geant, there's no charge to park in that area but it's a little walk to the door. Don't worry if you get groceries there's always the guys there willing to push your cart to your car.

Outside view with the lights on.

I think it's supposed to be some environmental thingy.

For those outside of Kuwait, yes we have Dunkin Donuts and much more!

Toys R Us!

Burberry high end items.

Cartier shop as well.

I call this "Medusa".

Cool shooting water display.

This is the latest shopping edition but I'm sure this won't be the last!!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Random Thought

When opening up a bag of sandwich bread or toast as they call it here do you take the first piece or dig down in the middle and get those pieces?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Mirror House

This is a house belonging to Khalifa and Lidia Al-Qattan. It's now considered a museum as the wife of the infamous Kuwaiti artist has turned their house into a work of art using broken pieces of glass to decorate the outside and inside of the house. It's located in Qadsiya and is still a private house so appointments have to be made for weekday visits. I haven't been there yet but it's on my to-do list in Kuwait. I'm trying to visit every touristic location available in Kuwait.

Some views of the house:

For more information visit their website (it's a little old so I hope it's still an option to visit)

Response from Arab Times

After bringing this issue to the attention of the Manager Maqsood Khalil, he assured me he would look into the situation and educate the editor. He offered me his apology, which I will accept as I don't have time these days to go there personally. Again to those who obviously thought I overreacted I think it's only fair I should be credited for my piece and that's why I made a big deal about it. I'm sure the editor will read it and hopefully next time show courtesy by asking my permission first.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Arab Times stole my Posting!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I love to inform people about things that are going on in Kuwait and write about my experiences. But when someone steals my work and credits themselves with my work it really pisses me off. My mom called me today asking me I had seen the Thursday edition of Arab Times. She informed me that in the section called "Overheard in the Souk" they had copied and pasted my article about my trip to the zoo. I couldn't believe it.
I immediately went to my mom's house to get the paper. There in print to my disbelief was my freaking article I wrote. OMG! I can't believe the audacity of that person who printed my article. If they are reading they better issue me a written apology in the news paper or there will be hell to pay! I will be calling and more importantly visiting Arab Times soon to make a major issue and I will inform the owner and management of plagiarism within their company.
First of all most of the employees of Arab Times don't use American text. All of their reporting is in a British manner, such as when a car turns turtle so if the person reading my stolen article will know immediately that this is not the same text as most of the paper. If they need a reporter or want to hire me then ask but DON'T EVER COPY MY WORK AND THINK YOU WILL GET AWAY WITH IT! This issue has just begun and I'm prepared to make a BIG BIG deal of it.
The person decided to change some wording and edit out some paragraphs but it's still my work and for the person who stole my posting it's called plagiarism and you should hope you still have a job once I get done with you!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Actual Zoo Animals

I want to post pictures of the actual zoo animals we went to see. This time they seem a little bit more healthier and some of the animals that were in bad shape the last time I visited are no longer there. Maybe they died. Who knows? I would like to see them given water on hot days at least. They actually have a wide range of animals, from iguanas to camels. I did see some displays that were donated by businesses so some people actually care.

The pony and her baby.

The crazy male bird who was chasing the female all over the cage.

I love the peacocks.

Mr. Elephant looking for something to eat.

The monkeys that were being fed candy.

I wish we could raise awareness for these animals.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Kuwait Zoo need I say More?

Ahhh yes finally a trip to the zoo. My mom decided we should take the kids to the zoo. The perfect opportunity to grab my camera and take some pictures to show the mentality of people who visit the zoo in this country. Normally people can't get close to the animals and there are people who work there taking care of the animals, majority of whom have university degrees in various fields dedicated to taking care of zoo animals. There are veterinarians who take care of the medical needs and check up on the welfare of the animals.

Welcome to Kuwait Zoo. There are security guards but they don't do anything because they are afraid they will get slapped by some of the visitors. So they just watch as kids go into the animal displays and feed the animals chips and bread. The first time I visited the zoo I saw 2 boys in the desert tortoise display and they were standing on the turtle. My kids were in shock and disbelief. There were soda cans and people feeding the animals leaves off the toxic bushes.

I bought peanuts for the kids to feed to the elephants. When we got to the elephants there were people standing in the corner handing food to the elephant and he would take it in his trunk. I went over to give it some peanuts and in front of me were an Egyptian man and his kids trying to feed the elephant chocolate candy. I kind of yelled at him not to feed it chocolate and my husband told him in Arabic. I came up to the elephant and gave him some peanuts which was kind of gross.

I walked off and came back to the elephants and watched people throw bread and chips and leaves off the toxic bush. There was an Indian lady handing it bread. I sort of grabbed her hand and told her they don't eat bread just as her husband told me it's OK. I asked him when was the last time he saw an elephant making a sandwich in the jungle? He continued to babble on and on. I had to walk off before I knocked someone out.

The animals had no water and it was hot that day. Who takes care of them? Does anyone really care? They feed monkeys candy and chips, do they really think they should eat that? There is no one to educate the people, they are left running wild through the park. The hippo swims in some nasty green water and the tigers walk in circles like they are delirious. There are signs posted about not feeding the animals but no one follows any rules.

The sign at the entrance.

The people eating, having a pic-nic and littering.

The do not feed the animals sign.

The lovely kids inside the pen with the goats.

Bambi enjoying popcorn.

I never knew animals ate gummy bears.

The main reason behind educating people and teaching them what's right and wrong.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Children are the Future

Yesterday at the school we had the ambulance and paramedics come and give a presentation to the children. It turned out good but I just have some concerns about things in Kuwait. As a foreigner looking at Kuwait I don't see any solidarity amongst themselves. There is a huge separation between the Bedoo and Haather Kuwaitis. Are the children victims of their circumstances? Do they have control of their futures?

It seems that children follow in their father's footsteps. If the father is military they will most likely become part of the military, same goes for police officers. The lucky ones who come from families who have gone to college will likely attend college. All of these questions came when the paramedics arrived. I was expecting Kuwaiti paramedics to explain to the kids their role. An Egyptian and Philipino guy arrived. Not to say that they aren't any good but the kids would never see themselves wanting to become a paramedic if they don't see other Kuwaitis doing the same.

I have thought about introducing Career week to encourage kids to become anything they want to be. They have to feel good and be better than their parents but it starts at home as well as in school. Parents should encourage kids to go to school and on to college. Considering Kuwait provides the kids with college assistance they should all be encouraged to go. If they finish high school or not they can still get a job because of their nationality so they feel they have no reason to even go to school.

I worked in a Kuwaiti company and there was Kuwaiti girl who didn't even finish grade school. She worked as an assistant but she could barely read and write and sat all day putting on make-up and talking on the phone. Boys know they can always go into the military or work as a police officer if they finish high school so why bother going to college? The kids who go to government school are hardly given a chance to succeed in life. Why doesn't the Ministry focus on education? Why not make high school graduation mandatory in order to find a job and if kids have a problem and drop out give them the chance to go back and finish their diploma even if they are older.

In the states we have a diploma and a G.E.D. A diploma is received when graduating from high school and a G.E.D (General Education Diploma) is given when they finish outside of high school. Some people go back in their 20's or older and receive a G.E.D. which means education is always there no matter what age you are.

I guess I've never thought about these issues until I started working at a school. The kids are Kuwaiti except 2 of them and when I look at their faces I see so much potential. It is so hard to recruit decent teachers now that the Ministry has become so freakin' strict. A few years ago American teachers could teach with their certificates or high school diploma. Today we can only hire expat teachers with a degree in English. Do they not realize in America teachers have a degree in education not English. A degree in English is geared toward writing and literature not teaching. We speak English already so we focus on education certificates.

The children are the ones who suffer. In order to fill the gap we resort to hiring non Western teachers and then we receive complaints from parents saying we don't have enough Americans. The only teachers the kids seem to respect are Western teachers. Teachers of Arab nationality are not taken seriously and it's a shame. I have to constantly go to the classes and make sure they are not killing each other, it's a tiring job but I know I can make a difference in their lives even if it's only for a few months a year. I really wish education in this country was a priority and not a place to go for a few hours a day.

In government schools hire Westerners for English. Invest in the future of the country. Bring in firefighters, paramedics, doctors, lawyers and career oriented people to show children they too can achieve their goals if they put their minds to it. Change the image of Kuwaitis. I think it's sad companies are forced to hire Kuwaitis instead of hiring them because they qualify. Think of all the jobs out their for Kuwaiti people if they were all educated. Kuwait wouldn't have to rely on third country nationals to run the country.

I went to Oman a few years ago. I entered the hotel and I saw Omani guys taking my reservation. I was so surprised. During the day there were Omani women at the reservation desk. When it was time for me to leave the guy who took my bags down was Omani. I was really impressed. I already knew about Omaninisation in which the citizens ran their country instead of foreigners. In Bahrain they do all kinds of jobs in order to give their citizens money. In America my first job as a teenager was at Burger King. I worked in the malls and Little Caesars it's not a shame to work in those types of places. It's unfortunate that people here believe they are too good for certain types of jobs. Everyone wants a Ministry job so they can leave at 12. Notice the time changes at the banks. No more split shifts. Hmmm I wonder why?

It's not a shame to work hard and provide for your family no matter what kind of job it is.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Summer is here Already

I can't believe Summer is already here! What happened to Winter? 2 weeks of Winter just wasn't enough. Most outdoor activities have to wait until it gets cooler or put off until the evening. Summertime is for those who enjoy the beach and sunshine. Most people go jet skiing or take a boat out and scuba dive. For those who are interested in jet skis you can usually rent them at places located on the beaches throughout Kuwait.

I'm not quite sure how much the rental fees are though, so if anyone knows leave a comment or e-mail me and I will post it so everyone will know before renting one and that goes for scuba diving I've never done it so I don't have much information about it. I personally stay indoors where it's nice and cool. I went jet skiing a couple times but it was really bad for my hair and I burn easily. :)

Rentals close to Green Island.

The first time I've seen a person doing this.

Crazy riders by Marina Crescent beach.

Beach view at Marina Crescent.

Rentals close to Johnny Carino's.

Thank goodness for a/c.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Adventures as a Teacher

I started working in a Bilingual school recently (only because I can't find a contracting job) and let me say it has been quite an experience. These kids are (thinking of a nice word) a handful. They act as if they have never been disciplined in their life. I saw a cute little boy and then he smiled and WOW! he had a mouthful of rotten teeth. How sad. I can only ask myself why his parents would let that happen especially when they have free dental.

That is until I see what they bring for lunch, I'm surprised they have any teeth at all. Sugary drinks and chocolate candy. Nothing healthy at all. They buy two or three ice creams on certain days and when tempted with healthy sandwiches from La Baguette they won't take a second glance. There is such a big problem with diabetes and obesity here. Prevention should start with the kids.

In the states we are provided hot breakfast and lunches for free or a small charge. If children are given a healthy breakfast they can focus more at school. These kids are so hyped up on sugar they try to kill each other on the playground. No concentration, they just want to bounce off the walls. Schools should promote healthy eating and good hygiene routines. The Ministry should get involved at an early stage to try to avoid these health problems. I feel so bad when I see girls and boys with a mouthful of black and silver teeth, it has to affect their self-esteem too.

The kids have no respect for the teachers unless they look Western and even then they don't care. One boy slapped one of our male American teachers and knocked his glasses off. How does a school control children who aren't show discipline at home? When the parents are notified they become irate and act the same as their kids. Take away the kid's recess, they don't care or taking away privileges doesn't work either. What is a teacher to do?

I hope I can go back to contracting, it's way easier than teaching! Bravo to all the teachers in Kuwait you deserve a lot of credit for the work you do.

Friday, April 2, 2010

TGIF- Fried Green Beans

Has everyone tried the fried green beans at TGIF? They are so freakin' good if your lucky enough to get some. Has anyone had problems trying to order these? I've already wrote about one incident I had trying to order them but it seems the staff at TGIF are picking and choosing who they serve them to. Is it really a dish that's so popular they continuously run out of it?

A new TGIF opened in Abu Halaifa about a week ago and my mom went there specifically to order the fried green beans. One manager said they didn't receive a shipment while another manager said they ran out even though they opened the day before. My mom kept insisting they had them but the denied having them at all. After a management huddle one of them came and offered my mom free dessert. My sister went to the same place and tried to order them with no luck. Could it really be possible they are picking and choosing who they serve it to?

I guess it's my turn to go there and try to order some. Last time I spotted some American guys eating them, that was the only way I got some. Every time my family goes to TGIF they look around hoping to spot someone eating them. I think it's really pathetic that TGIF doesn't order enough of it to go around. This has been a problem for a long time, I would think they would stock up on them in order to please their customers. I just want to know if anyone else has had this kind of experience so I'm taking a toll to see how many people have ordered them and received them compared to those who have ordered them and been told there aren't any available.

If I don't get any I think I will hold a protest in front of the restaurant!!