Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A FLAT TIRE!!!! Oh wait I mean 3 FLAT tires!

So the kid is in school and signed up for tennis lessons, the hubby is settled at work, now it's time for me!  I decide to take my tired body to a spa for a little pampering.  Hubby gets home from work and I'm off to the Corinche beach club and spa.  I am driving the rental car down Gulf blvd. not really sure how far down the club is, its dark and unusually foggy.  I hit something in the road.  I think it was metal.  A friend calls I ask her for directions, land marks, etc. Got it! Im turning in to the parking lot it is pitch black, I run over one of the many speed bumps in this country, I joke and say I am running over a spike strip.  "Dang it" wrong parking lot.....I turn around and head back onto Gulf blvd. I had missed it by like 15 feet and turned too early.  I then turn into the correct parking lot when I feel like its hard to turn the wheel of the car.  I think "crap" Ive got a flat tire. UGGGG!  I get out of the car and there it is a flat tire!  Well, I am here at the spa, it seems dreadful to let the appointment go to waste..... so I keep it and off to the spa I go.  The flat tire will be there when I'm done:) Right? I know how to change a tire.  Quick call to the hubby and I head in.

Meanwhile the hubby decides to come change the tire while I am having my pedicure.  So Sweet! He is a keeper!  He has a taxi drop him off at the car.  Low and behold there it is the flat tire and 2 more where that came from.  Yeap! 3 flat tires!  All while I'm being pampered at the spa :0

He sends someone in to let me know he is there and then he calls the rental car company for the 24 hour road side service.  The guy who answered speaks very broken English but says " 3 flat tires you fault you pay"  hubby ask for help finding someone to fix the tires he says "you are on our own."  So,  I call him back and ask  again about the 24 hour road side service in our contract I am told "TOO busy with other customers!"  Really  I ask?  Hubby text Ranni the all around man to know at his company so he will know whats going on and maybe he can help tomorrow.

We call a Taxi to take us all home. Then again call the same taxi to drive the baby girl and I to her school the next morning.  Finally I call the rental car company back again.  Hoping to speak to someone in English.   I hear OH MAM WE HAVE BEEN TRYING TO CALL YOU ALL DAY!  It is 8 am how long could you have been looking for me?  We agree that we will meet at the car so I can hand off the key.  They have decided after a wasta call from the hubbys company who happens to own the rental car company that is would be wise to help me with this tire thing,

Guy shows up looks at the tires shakes his head and puts his hands on his hips.  You call the police?  He ask. Uh no not for a flat tire I say.  He says then that" tire be fixed in 10 minutes" thats a Kuwait 10 minutes this can mean any where from 20 minutes to 24 hours.  Good thing my friend Michelle, the one giving me the directions to the corniche the night be for is there with me and willing to wait around till we figure this out.

1 hour later the tow truck arrives.  They load up the car and we follow them.  Funny. 45 minutes later we arrive at the shop at the company my hubby works for.  Odd I think but OoooKaaay.  We wait again.  It is figured out they are putting on the new tires and they guy says I have to pay 100% because I did not call the police.  WHAT EVER!  I just want this over with.  My hubby comes over to see it all and we decide to go to lunch while it is being taken care of.

We get back from lunch the car is ready.  I want to see the tires and see why they all went flat.  Oops that must not have been a speed bump.  I really did run over a spike strip in a dark parking lot. :/  Very James bond I think.  I even went to the spa and kept my cool.  Just call me Bond, Jennifer Bond.  O.k. so back down to reality James never had to pay for all those cars he destroyed.  I on the other hand must pay.  I go to the clerk.  He says I need a slip from the guy in the shop.  We go and he gives us a slip to get out of the parking lot.  What, who do we pay?  It's done he says.  ???? What? who what where?  sigh... lets get outa here :)  Now I may have a huge bill when I turn this car in or I may be off the hook who knows.  If so who payed?  One thing is for sure I will not be turning into any more dark parking lots.  This is Kuwait! That is for sure!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Souks and shopping

This weekend I wanted to really see this country we have chosen to make our home.  I wanted to see the real culture of the people who are here....not just the Kuwaitis.  So  Friday (which is our Sat) we went to the Friday market and Lu Lu's.

At market I was looking for a place to connect with the culture and what I found was a huge amount of junk imported from china being sold by Indians  ( the India ones not the American ones) Lots of furniture, bedding and cheap synthetic rugs. I did find at market a lot of Ginnie lamps and some fishing gear..... every one needs that :) Right?

Lu Lu's was a good find,  its their version of a Walmart. I was able to purchase a pair of sunglasses finally and my girl got cotton candy as big as she is tall.  We were both happy.

After that we went down into Kuwait city.  I have never seen so many people in one place. (not even in New York City) oh and personal space is not observed here. eeek!

A friend who is from the Phillipines came with us and took us to a great restaurant where we ate Phillipino food. It was sooo good!  Thanks Ann I'm up for that again soon.

Next we all went down to the Souks.  This is where they sell in an open market all that local stuff I was looking for at the Friday Market.  Perfume oils, traditional clothing, prayer beads, fabric, all kinds of things really.  But boy were we "connected with the culture" I never did see another white or even american person.  None the less, I liked it.  It was dirty and sort of 3rd world ish but in a city with high rises kinda way.  I should add that there are still a few buildings that need to be torn down. They are left over from the war and still bear the signs of un friendly fire.  These are mixed in with brand new western style high rises.  It is unusual to say the least.   At one point my baby girl broke into tears and said she wanted to move back to America,  I guess the earthyness of it all was too much. I think it may be to much for a lot of people. My girl recovered as soon as we found some toys. The Souks were packed and things were selling.  I came home with a few perfume oils but thats all for this trip.  I am thinking that next time I will spare my kid and go during school hours:)

Today we went to a part of town known for bootleg stuff like hand bags, movies, electronics and watches.  I would like to tell you if we purchased any thing or not but If I did I would have to kill you:)  It was a hot and brief trip but now I know where the goods are!

We finished the day with our new friends at a Lebanese restaurant (my fave kind of food)  We sat and ate for like 3 or 4 hours. We talked and they smoked that pipe thing with fruit flavored tobacco.  They even got my hubby to try it.  I took pics to show his mama so she can get on to him for me:)   Any way it was a beautiful end to a great weekend.

Now I'm ready for some upscale shopping and a spa!

 Jennifer in Kuwait

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Things that make ya say hmmm?

The strange and odd things around here

The driving! It's insane and and quite exciting "This will be a whole other post with video"

The women driving in a burka.   You KNOW they can not see, but that's back to the whole other post on driving

The tenderly way men. teen age boys and young boys will hold hands with each other and kiss each other on the cheek (straight men!)  I have superb gaydar! They are not gay!   They do this walking down the street, in the mall, at the market.... 

Homosexuality is Illegal here.

It is Illegal for and unmarried man and woman to live together.

It is Illegal for an unmarried man and woman to embrace in public

Many Kuwaiti men and women socialize separately.  Seriously same house same party but NOT in the same room.

Its is Rude and offensive to ask a Kuwaiti man about his wife and or kids. 

If a Kuwaiti man ask you to partake in refreshments in his home you must not refuse. If you do refuse?  Again this is considered most rude and offensive.  He may not invite you again to his home.

The wasta system.  This is a favor system kinda like a checking account and once someone does something for you they can call the favor back at any time or place and you have to repay with whatever favor they ask.  If you do not return it at that exact time..... it is seriously social suicide!  

Social status here is every thing! The more favors you do for people the more collateral you have over them. If you don't know someone who knows some one you can forget getting even the smallest things done in this country...... this is how the wastas get started. 

If someone does a wasta for you and they will. You can not instantly repay him for it you must wait for him to let you know when and what he wants in return.  Having said that, bribes are considered a standard way to get things done.  If you want an appointment bring chocolates to the one making them etc....

I figure the wasta thing is like any other checking account you want to stay in the black.  

A couple of negative odd things

Children and some adults do not stand in line and take turns....they will jump in front of who ever when ever they want.  This can be at the grocery it can be at an amusement park the bath room where ever.....This does not work for me (another post) I am known to show how that is done and stand up to any of them who cross me that way.  " I have seen some of them even encourage their children to do this"

They have a Class system with Kuwaiti's at the top.  Westerners next and then it just goes down from there.  Some do not treat other nationality's with the same respect as other Kuwaiti's.  "look for an additional blog on this"

Alcohol is Illegal in the whole country.  "not a big deal for me but for some its crazy"

There is much more so this post will be continued........

*This is my point of view as of today.  Please remember I have been here for less than a month.  If my point of view changes I will post it.

Monday, September 20, 2010

What not to wear?

With in the first few minutes of being in Kuwait I noticed the way they dress.

It's traditional and the men wear full length, long-sleeved "robe" that has a collar and buttons in front.  The head dress is either a white square of fabric folded diagonally then held on by a black twisted cord or a red and white checked one. Oh and a pair of Aviator Rayban sunglasses and a cell phone.

The traditional Kuwaiti women wear a black long sleeved, floor length robe over their clothes its called an abaya. All the traditional women wear the Islamic headscarf to cover their hair and neck this is true for even those who do not wear the robe.  Some women also wear the burka, a short veil that covers the entire face except for the eyes. Oh, and a designer bag like Channel or Chloe or Hermes.  I have never seen so many $$$$ hand bags.

Western women do not have to dress this way at all.  They are encouraged as a matter of respect to cover up knees, breast and shoulders when in public places.

My uniform in the states is a pair of tight jeans and a black tank top.  Believe you me, I will not be sporting that around here.  Can you imagine how excited these men get to see a shoulder when they don't even get to see a knee.  Let's just say I am not willing to be stared at like that. EWWWW!

Private clubs are not under this guide line and every one western wears normal skin showing clothes and swimsuits.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


It has taken a week to adjust to the time difference. Jet Lag! I finally know what it truly means and its not just being tired.  I was disoriented and out of sorts, dizzy and sleepy.  I had a hard time even holding a conversation. Its 8 or 9 hours ahead here (no daylight savings time)

What helped
Getting in the sun. Thank goodness for our new friends (John and Sinead O'Reilly) with a membership to the Corniche beach club.

Ambian it took three doses 3 nights in a row but it did the trick.

We landed

We are here!  Its Midnight in Kuwait and I have not slept for 28 hours. I am so jet lagged I can't see straight.  The first thing I thought when I stepped off the plane is "What have I done" and "shit! Where is my hand bag?"  Yes. I left it on the plane with my pass ports and $2000 in cash.  I told Paul and ran back to the gate.  Got there only to find I can not re enter the plane.  A man at the gate went back for me and 10 minutes later came back with the bag.  Thank God!  Every thing was there.

We are met by two girls who take us to security and then to show our paper work for the 2 dogs we have with us.  A 5 lb Chihuahua named Mini and a 3 lb one named Chloe. This is the occasion we worked for 2 weeks getting all the right shots and documents lined up so we can bring 8 lbs of dog to Kuwait.  I have all the right paperwork and the guy in charge asked me "are they alive?" I say yes but I'm thinking "No dummy' I just brought 2 dead dogs on a 20 something hour flight!" then he just waves me through.  Really? Thats it!  All that prep and shots and vet visits and all he wants to know is if they are alive.

Next we head to the line to get our visas.  This takes about 30 minutes. As we are sitting there I'm looking around at all the other people entering Kuwait and I wish I had my "Please be my friend" cards then I realize I have no Kuwait phone number to give them any way.  Now its off to pick up our luggage 6 bags 50lbs each and 1 gate checked bag.  We find them all except the gate checked one so it's off to another line where we wait to fill out a missing luggage request.  30 minutes later we are finally done.

So we are in Kuwait! Visas in hand!  Rannie a Algahnim employee meets us at the airport and drives us to the temp company provided apartment.  We are so gross from traveling I put Ava my 7 year old in the tub and hop in the shower with Paul.  It's a much smaller shower than we are use to and he is not a small guy.  As we are trading places so I can rinse off I slip and fall right out of the shower onto the floor.....Welcome to Kuwait!