From Kuwait

Urban Kuwait

Some of the less glittery part… I’ve noticed the utter difference among certain housing areas, especially closer to the centre of Kuwait City, which is filled by flat units, there’s a huge contrast in between newly built housing and old, usually unmaintained buildings which at best look as rubble and abandoned, but actually accommodate poorer families.
Be it that the actual owner of the building doesn’t have the money to maintain them, or lets them decay on purpose, hoping for the families living there to finally give up and move out, so he can sell the rubble as land for much more money (one-time boost, though) than it would yield being a tenant building in the long run – these patches of land are mostly gathered, or if big enough, cleaned and on the place are build a new, shiny shops.

housing
Or, perhaps, a new, bigger, better and more expensive skyscraper filled by flats from the bottom to the top, but no more in the financial range of these poor families, which are time to time forcefully pushed out.
Most of the actual Kuwaitis seem to live in suburban areas in houses, villas, sometimes the houses accommodate very few flat units, depending on the size and number of floors. Our flat is, for example, in a house of three stories, taking the whole floor, all the 270m square. Nothing unusual in Kuwait; people in here really love to have it big. The flats closer to the city centre or in it are usually occupied by working foreigners, at least as I’ve been told. Foreigners can’t legally own any land in Kuwait (or houses, in other words).
Actual Kuwaiti gets either government housing, patch of a land to build on with a small government donation for the building process, or a flat in these suburban areas; if he asks for it. The process of getting this big boost in life takes several years though, and it’s not instant at all.
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Your Children are Waiting for You

We’ve been on a check with Dori’s ear, it’s been only a week we’ve got out of the hospital, it feels much longer to me, though. She’s, alhamdulilah, healthy again and fine, we just gotta keep an eye on the ear for the next year and look out for any signs of reoccurring infection.

Abu
Sabah Al Salim

One of the main problems and causes of death in Kuwait are reckless and stupidly behaving drivers on the roads; very common is that most of the drivers don’t seem to know how to drive a manual-gear car, as 90% of cars in Kuwait are on automatic shifting, and a lot of drivers just passed through the driving school without actually taking much from it. A widely spread custom is not to use any blinkers on the road and zigzag among the other cars (because you can’t just wait or drive by the speed limit, which on the speedway is at maximum of 120 km/h), so most of the people – except the driver himself or herself – don’t really know what’s coming next.
roadsignThat’s one of the reasons I take as a no-no for me driving in here. I don’t suppose myself as a perfect driver and I believe that I’m under the average of averages, but giving the light in a turn, letting the other cars zip properly, and simply having that common folk sense around other drivers is something I was hoping to meet in any other person behind a wheel, but perfectly lack in most of the driving peeps in here. And it really doesn’t seem to be related to the nationality. Kuwaiti, Indian, Pakistani, American, men and women, all are in the habit of being rude and idiotic towards any other traffic on the road, be it behind, in front of or next to them. I don’t even mention niqabi women whose niqab is pulled so up and tight that they have to tilt their heads backwards to even see the road in front of them, and I really can’t imagine what else they can (not) see.
Hence it is not uncommon to meet many, many warning messages on the highways and ring motorways, I was even making fun of seeing so many of them – that I will start collecting their messages.
Unfortunately for me I’m not usually quick enough with the camera, and today I managed to snap only two.
So for now… Your family is waiting. Your children are waiting for you. Don’t drive fast, death is faster. Speed leads to death. Punishment for speeding is prison or death.
I wish the drivers would actually take them seriously. (So I could drive too, without any fear of being squashed by a Jeep trying to turn right next to me in an one-lane road. Without a blinker.).
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All the Glitter (Under the Bisht)

We’ve been, me and my husband, invited to a dinner at one of the many relatives of his. Oblivious to the Kuwaiti tradition of making a walking canvas of myself just to silently compete with other women otherwise they’ll think I’m ugly (or poor), I’d put on my black abaya and scarf with small decoration on the sleeves and scarf, no make-up (which is my tradition), and no camel-hump (I don’t have enough hair to do it even if I wanted to, European genes are talking).
When I came, I was already partially overwhelmed by the glitter in the guest living room, all decorated in heavy baroque-like look, just in violet and silver, with very heavy, sturdy furniture.
I though didn’t, in all my innocence, expect what was coming (and that wasn’t even remotely close to a wedding party). Many women came into the room cloaked in black overhead abayas and bishts, but when the door closed (the men were gathering on a different floor of the house, and as I found out later, it was only about six or seven men, while downstairs I was being examined as a newcomer by nearly twenty piercing pairs of eyes), and their abayas got folded next to them… my eyes started to hurt from all the glitter and sparkles.

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Image courtesy: Unknown source from Google.com


Arab women, Khaleeji particularly, love to blink. Small glitters, big glitters, silver and gold, diamonds and Swarowski crystals, and sixties inspired designs on clothes worn at home or under abayas decorated by, once again, something shiny, and a lot of accessories, rings, bracelets, heavy earrings and other unthinkable decorations; that’s all it takes to be happy among other women and to feel intimidating enough towards each other. To that, of course, is not-much-less-glittery and fancy make-up, sometimes literally re-painting the whole God’s creation, sometimes less and sometimes more, but surely often enough on a big part of population – even early in the morning. Occasions such as dinners, parties and weddings serve as an amplifier to all the regular glittering and make it all one big shine-factory.
Needless to say, that in all my natural modesty and shyness, I still felt a little bit too much as a grey mouse in there – but honestly, the imagination of making my face look like that scared me much more, really. It still hangs above me as the sword of Damocles anyway, as my wedding party still didn’t happen (unlike the marriage on paper).
I’ve got along the sixties fashion ’cause I am a bit on the hippie side, as my dear husband says, and I like to wear such dresses and shirts (without the blinkies, though); but I assume it will take some time to get used to all the sparkling of many Kuwaiti women, my sisters-in-law included.
If nothing, people will assume I’m a really religious person, rather than poor. And that’s good, right?
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Randomly Barking

We’re back from Al-Sabah hospital for few days already, Dori’ve finished taking her oral antibiotics and alhamdulilah the infection seems to have faded away finally. On Tuesday we’re ordered for a check back at the hospital but inshallah she’ll be as healthy as a child of her age can be.
Abu took us on some minor fashion shopping while actually cruising Kuwait for a good furniture for the flat; Dori chose few dresses “as a princess”, as she says, me some non-abaya clothes in a rather hippie fashion – maybe I am the hippie my husband claims me to be.

Dori

We had a very weird moment on Friday when a small shadow appeared behind our door, which we first thought as of a cat; but after the curiosity won over us and we opened the door to check on the suspicious shadow, we saw a scared, hungry, thirsty and overheated puppy at our feet, desperately looking for any kind of shadow or cool place in the desert heat outside. And nobody even remotely looking for her. The weird part is that our door is inside of a yard behind beautifully crafted gates which are always closed, and that there are bigger doors leading to the main house together with a big shadow-throwing roof over the corridor. But, take it as you wish, maybe it was a small trial of tolerance and patience waiting for us at the glass entrance.

July
July

We took her inside and cooled her down, gave her a bit of drink and hurried towards International Veterinary Hospital so they could check for any maltreatment which could’ve happen to her before she rested at our doorstep. The check went fine and she seems to be all right except some scares of common things and being a little bit on the hungry side, and she’s at the time being staying with us, till we can find her a new, better adoptive family.
Not that we didn’t think of keeping her, but first of all we – me and DH – are both awesome lamas when it comes to dogs, second, our tomcats are inshallah about to be on the way and that would be a small zoo at home already, really. And third, she’s a puppy, under 4 months of age, untrained, and Siberian Husky. Potty training, basic orders training, and commonly having a dog (not matter the Husky’s need to run and move a lot) in Kuwait aren’t really easy tasks, and completely impossible for two laics, indeed.
So while I keep on running around the small flat in latex glove on one hand and with detergent in the other, cleaning puddles and poops after July every ten minutes (or Juliette, as we named her for now) and trying to get her understand that when we call her by name she should come and not just … plainly ignore; my husband is looking for an adoptive “parent” for the Lost&Found. Our not-so-close relative looks promising at this point, he’s a dog loving person and used to train them, so inshallah he will take her instead of his planned German Shepherd and make us all happy, including her.
And when she’s safely at her new home, we can finally stop showering so frantically before any prayer is due, and let our fingers unwrinkle for once.

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Hospitalized

That is how we spend our days in Kuwait right now. The first week was a calm breeze, the second is like a rocky storm. We encountered several problems in our plans such as unwilling officers, unneeded circumstances and such, some got solved, some yet to be.
One of our least expected complications occurred when we took Dori to a doctor to check out her continuous ear problems, stretching three weeks back to Britain, as mentioned few posts earlier.
First doc, recommended by my mother-in-law (a nurse), just looked at it and referred us to Al-Sabah Hospital in Shuwaikh area with acute mastoiditis. There we got checked once again, and to our surprise there was no do-it-and-leave treatment, we were immediately hospitalized on the ORL ward, not even a chance to pick up pyjamas back at home.
Dori got her first infusion in the life and my heart still shatters into hundreds of pieces remembering how full of real pain was her cry. Up to today we are on her fourth infusion spot and several allergy tests and blood taking from her instep and a toe. The poor baby is full of needle holes, and we are still to stay here several days, so we will complete the whole week – Sunday we came, Sunday we’ll leave – inshallah.

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Dori

On the same day Dori got hospitalized she was ordered to the X-Rays of her ear bones and nearly at the midnight to a CAT scan – that’s how urgent her case was according to the doctors in Kuwait. (Good morning, Newcastle?)
Monday noon she was in the surgical theatre getting an inner ear surgery to clean up the infection, and after an hour and a half back in the room with us, eventually in a new room; the first night we spent in the general women’s ward, which was empty on Sunday, but started to fill with other patients on Monday, and Abdullah didn’t like that and got us transferred to a private room on a different ward. That first night I got no sleep whatsoever, Dori was crying out of her sleep every few minutes, and honestly sleeping on a chair is a little bit spine-breaking anyway. Not mentioning that there were nurses and doctors checking on Dodo every moment, once for the drip, once to prepare her for a general anaesthetics for the CT scan, than for a second sleep for the surgery. That day she had been fasting – except a small cup of water and three biscuits – for nearly 22 hours, more than many of the first-Ramadan-fasting reverts and Muslims.
Since then, alhamdulilah, her ear is getting better and the threat of a second, bigger and bone-opening surgery is fading away every day. We have to stay here in the hospital room for few more days, till Sunday. Dori will remain on the dripping funnel with Penicilin and antibiotics and doctors will keep an eye on her ear, making sure the infection is gone before we are let to go home again. To the “sand castle”, as Dori says. To the “stinky”, as she calls the incredible heat outside. And to the “king”, as she refers to all the men in the traditional Gulf clothing here, beginning with her grandfather.
I’m trying to make her daddy more of a “royal” too, but unsuccessfully so far. Maybe later, perhaps?

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Settling In

Alhamdulilah we found a flat – rather quickly, so that worry is off; now just to re-paint the walls as some rooms are shaded in really hideous colours (like … lime…? … purge…? … green…?) and furnish it – pain for Abu’s wallet mainly. This will take some time so we are still residing in one bedroom with bathroom detached from the main house of the family, and probably will reside for about a month or two more. I might get crazy from the (optically) confined place, but I have to say that hubby is trying hard to make my time good and not boring.
Today we went to check out the oh-so-known Kuwaiti water towers, one of the most remarkable landmarks of this small desert country. It’s like a Big Ben of Kuwait, if we may.

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The blue-tiled towers are much bigger than it occurred to me from Googling pictures at the time being in Britain, and certainly still popular among natives as well as foreigners. We didn’t go to the restaurant inside, and enjoyed our view over the Gulf and the City itself. In the night, it’s all glittery and the skyscrapers really seem to scrape the sky, at least with the security lights intended for air planes and helicopters. Obviously some new towers were build in the town as even Abu was wondering about few of them – three years out of the country and it changed its shape more than he’d expected.
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We spend many mornings in the pool room now, where’s my poor husband trying to knock some billiard moves into me, so far more unsuccessfully rather than successfully. It’s fun though, so why not; as far as I don’t rip the table cloth with my cue, I’m on the safe side. Right?
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