Sunday, December 16, 2007

Parents are Coming!



Hello all,

I am just putting out an open call for advice as to where to take my parents around Kuwait when they come on Dec. 28th. We have been thinking of taking a quick trip to Jordan to see Petra and other sites for a few days, but would like to get some ideas from any of yall who have favorite restaurants or sites around KW. My parents are not into malls or shopping, unless it is of traditional middle-eastern flair. Both of them are into art, literature, music, etc.
Any help is appreciated!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Sign of the Times

I have thought it all to often, as I am sure countless other parents and 'grown-ups' have: children are not having a real childhood anymore. Granted, anyone could argue that childhood experiences will adapt to the times and change accordingly, but what has happened to kids today is more than that. The New York Times had an article that discusses the problem.
I have to admit that I am guilty of buying my son electronic devices that keep him away from really experiencing the world around him, but now I am stuck in a quandary: how do you connect with the natural world in a place like Kuwait? Oh, I know there is the sea, beach, and the desert, but it is not exactly accessible to me right now, given that I am not driving here yet, and I cannot walk to any of those places. Do I just wait for summer respite? And again, I am back to the same question...why doesn't Kuwait invest in ANYTHING other than MALLS????? Can't we offer anything to our children other than just growing up to be consumers or citizens of another country?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Door

A door holds the promise of so much, and while it may seem cemented shut at times, often a determined pull will dislodge it from its resting state. I feel, so many times, that the door of my life it just waiting, waiting to be opened. What lies beyond? Perhaps we don't open the door because we feel the futility of it all: we know what lies on the other side; we have explored its possibilities; we are tired of its mundanity; we cannot muster the strength to budge it. Regardless of the reason for the apathy or lethargy, a closed door truly holds more potential than it appears. How many times have I walked away from an opportunity that could have been if I had only tried? What sights have I missed out on?
One can only lament lost chances,
and regret is the real bummer.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Life Without R's

I have been putting off getting my Macbook fixed until we could get DSL, since I have the only connection through Zain, but now I am going to have to soon. My kids used my compute and have uined the lette R. Ganted it can still be pessed, but with much effot; theefoe, it will most often not show up in my posts, until I find a competent place to get it fixed.
Anyone know of a good place that woks on Macs hee in Kuwait? It's still unde waantee, but fom the US. It fequently feezes too, and when I squeeze it o pess the battey doo, it sometimes unfeezes. I think thee might be some electical poblem, but shot of it telling me itself, I may neve know.
On the positive side, we have had the wokmen come out to install the phone! They said thei pat was done and now we just have to wait fo thei manage to come tomoow, but that was a week ago. I think the manage is Kuwaiti and it could take a bit longe!
Oh, well at least it is a stat!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

I'm trying real hard to be positive...

....but it's hard! Not only have we had major issue with appliances bought here, but also we still haven't gotten our shipment from the US. It's been in the port here since Aug., but due to a corrupt company in the US, we have been unable to get it! I hope all of our things are not ruined.
In addition to that, yesterday, I found out that somehow someone has intercepted my card info and has been on a buying spree in Florida. Great. The thing I cannot understand is how they do it? If they somehow got my info from online, how are they buying stuff in a gas station or CVS?
I don't know how some people can sleep at night!
Trying real hard to keep my chin up...

Friday, November 16, 2007

Mulla Nasrudin


When the sultan was visiting Nasrudin‘s town, he decided to put on a show for the locals for their entertainment and to foster his popularity. During the great festivities, the Sultan summoned his best swordsmen before the crowd.

The first approached the stage with a tiny little box, out of which a bee flew out, then, with a single blow of his sword, the bee was sliced in two. The crowd cheered in amazement! The second now walked onto the stage, with another small box, out of which a wasp flew out, then, with two swift blows of his sword, the wasp was chopped into three pieces. The crowd cheered in awe. The third swordsman, eager to meet the challenge, now pranced onto the stage, carrying a small little box out of which he let out a fly, then with three determined blows, he sliced the fly into four pieces. The crowd was going wild.

Not to be outdone, Nasrudin immediately rose to the occasion, he shuffled onto the stage amid the cheers of the crowd, with a makeshift little box in one hand and his sword in the other. As he opened his little box, a tiny mosquito flew out, then, with a flash, Nasrudin delivered a determined blow, but the mosquito continued to fly about, obviously still alive.

„A very ambitious attempt indeed Nasrudin,“ said the Sultan in a magnanimous, yet clearly disappointed tone, „but I see the mosquito is still alive!“

"When properly performed, circumcision is not supposed to kill, your Majesty!“ replied Nasrudin

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Ok, I May be Getting Hokey, but...


Dolphins save surfer from becoming shark’s bait

A pod of bottlenose dolphins helped protect the severely injured boarder

NBC News video
Dolphins help shark attack victim
Nov. 8: Todd Endris was surfing when he was bitten by a 12- to 15-foot shark, but thanks to a couple of Flippers and a friend he survived. TODAY anchor Meredith Vieira reports.

Today show

By Mike Celizic
TODAYShow.com contributor
updated 9:57 a.m. ET Nov. 8, 2007

Surfer Todd Endris needed a miracle. The shark — a monster great white that came out of nowhere — had hit him three times, peeling the skin off his back and mauling his right leg to the bone.

That’s when a pod of bottlenose dolphins intervened, forming a protective ring around Endris, allowing him to get to shore, where quick first aid provided by a friend saved his life.

“Truly a miracle,” Endris told TODAY’s Natalie Morales on Thursday.

The attack occurred on Tuesday, Aug. 28, just before 11 a.m. at Marina State Park off Monterey, Calif., where the 24-year-old owner of Monterey Aquarium Services had gone with friends for a day of the sport they love. Nearly four months later, Endris, who is still undergoing physical therapy to repair muscle damage suffered during the attack, is back in the water and on his board in the same spot where he almost lost his life.

“[It] came out of nowhere. There’s no warning at all.

TODAY
Todd Endris

Maybe I saw him a quarter second before it hit me. But no warning. It was just a giant shark,” Endris said. “It just shows you what a perfect predator they really are.”

The shark, estimated at 12 to 15 feet long, hit him first as Endris was sitting on his surfboard, but couldn’t get its monster jaws around both surfer and surfboard. “The second time, he came down and clamped on my torso — sandwiched my board and my torso in his mouth,” Endris said.

That attack shredded his back, literally peeling the skin back, he said, “like a banana peel.” But because Endris’ stomach was pressed to the surfboard, his intestines and internal organs were protected.

The third time, the shark tried to swallow Endris’ right leg, and he said that was actually a good thing, because the shark’s grip anchored him while he kicked the beast in the head and snout with his left leg until it let go.

The dolphins, which had been cavorting in the surf all along, showed up then. They circled him, keeping the shark at bay, and enabled Endris to get back on his board and catch a wave to the shore.

Our finned friends
No one knows why dolphins protect humans, but stories of the marine mammals rescuing humans go back to ancient Greece, according to the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society.

A year ago in New Zealand, the group reports, four lifeguards were saved from sharks in the same way Endris was — by dolphins forming a protective ring.

Though horribly wounded, Endris said he didn’t think he was going to die. “Actually, it never crossed my mind,” he told Morales.

It did, though, cross the minds of others on the beach, including some lifeguards who told his friend, Brian Simpson, that Endris wasn’t going to make it.

Simpson is an X-ray technician in a hospital trauma center, and he’d seen badly injured people before. He had seen Endris coming in and knew he was hurt.

“I was expecting him to have leg injuries,” he told Morales. “It was a lot worse than I was expecting.”

Blood was pumping out of the leg, which had been bitten to the bone, and Endris, who lost half his blood, was ashen white. To stop the blood loss, Simpson used his surf leash as a tourniquet, which probably saved his life.

“Thanks to this guy,” Endris said, referring to Simpson, who sat next to him in the TODAY studio, “once I got to the beach, he was calming me down and keeping me from losing more blood by telling me to slow my breathing and really just be calm. They wouldn’t let me look at my wounds at all, which really helped.

A medivac helicopter took him to a hospital, where a surgeon had to first figure out what went where before putting him back together.

“It was like putting together a jigsaw puzzle,” Endris said.

Six weeks later, he was well enough to go surfing again, and the place he went was back to Marina State Park. It wasn’t easy to go back in the water.

“You really have to face your fears,” he told Morales. “I’m a surfer at heart, and that’s not something I can give up real easily. It was hard. But it was something you have to do.”

The shark went on its way, protected inside the waters of the park, which is a marine wildlife refuge. Endris wouldn’t want it any other way.

“I wouldn’t want to go after the shark anyway,” he said. “We’re in his realm, not the other way around.”

International Shark Attack Research Foundation: Learn more about the organization and their work to prevent shark attacks by visiting this site.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Good News?


Ok, this could be considered good news:

"...the Ministry will cancel the licenses of expatriates holding Article 24 visas if they are involved in a tragic accident in a year while expatriates who will commit traffic violations leading to fatal accidents twice within the specified period will be deported as per the recommendations of the Legal Affairs Department at the Ministry."

if it weren't for that one painfully obvious and burning question...
where will they send the Kuwaitis who commit such offenses?

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Looking for some Good News

There seems to be a proliferation of bad news: health care, education issues, political situation, environmental problems, etc. So rather than just reiterate all of that doom and gloom and back my behind up into a box and wait for the end of the world, I am going to look for some good news. Ok, Pollyannaism is not my usual flair, but if I don't start to look for the bright side, I fear for my sanity! Granted, there is so much to be thankful for: health, family, home, food, and on and on, but every time I look around me and at the news, it seems so grim.
And I grow weary of looking at the same old fellas on the cover of the newspaper sitting in their grandiose chairs, drinking tea, while trying to pat themselves on the back for the quagmire that this country finds itself in!!!!...ahhh, I digress.
So, starting today, I will seek out good news. I will ask people and read between the lines.
Hey, and if anyone finds some before me, could ja pass it on?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

What it Takes

It is night-
a welcome respite from frenetic, harried day-
although what constructs this agitation is unclear, its end is gratifying.
If I squint my hearing,
I can almost imagine the lull of the air-conditioner
to be a warm autumn rainfall,
hushing the ever-present thoughts that goad me on:
something is not quite right.
Still, and stillness is not easily obtained,
the night affords the luxury of solitude-
A deserved hiatus,
a whisper like cocoon that envelopes not only body but also mind,
and finally puts to rest the
noise of nocuous playing.
Something is not quite right...
be still,
be yielding,
bend twig,
bend.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Surfing in Strange Turf

It has been a long time since I last wrote. One might think that due to a frenzy of activity; if one did, then one would be wrong, however. Eid has come and gone...Eid Mubarak one and all, and a relative calm has fallen over the house. Need I stress the 'relative' part? I have spent many a night trying to herd my children to bed- chasing them from this room and that cousin-essentially prying fingers away from each other- to coax them to sleep, at a 'way past bedtime' time, in preparation for a day much more structured than home life.
Alas, we are still at the in-laws, and as such, we are party to the comings and goings of every person who deems it time to come and pay respects to the elders. It is not a bad thing, but it is nearly impossible to construct a routine for children here.
I did witness an usual thing the other night while riding down the highway...as I was looking around, something not quite right caught my eye. Something was moving on top of the car next to us! And as we exited and slowed to a stop for the light, I saw an extremely bewildered looking kitten atop the adjacent car. Poor creature, looked as if he was taking part in some new extreme animal sport: kitty car surfing, but I knew this was not in case. Thankfully my husband was able to coax the driver into pulling over and the the grateful cat escaped unharmed.
Although, as we drove off, I couldn't stop worrying about whether he would be forever fretfully scanning the crowds for familiar faces...

Sunday, September 30, 2007

The "N" word and non-Americans

Here is the thing: I am a southerner-meaning, I was born and bread in the deep south of the US. The 'N' word surely was coined in the south by slave owners/bigots/racists. It is a word that is far more offensive than any cuss word, and in my circle of people in the US, it is never uttered. So, it is strange to hear it tossed into the banter of everyday discourse.
The other night while sitting with family, I was surprised when a cousin, who is a doctor educated in the UK, say, "Well when X is ready to get married, he prefers n-----s"! Oh, my gosh! I almost spit my tea out all over her designer clothing!
As it happens, I began to ask other non-Americans in and around the family, and they also have used that word to simply mean a person of African origin. Shocking! How terrible what the US truly exports to the world! I am assuming that it comes simply from people listening to rap music and just mimicking that. But honestly, I fear for any person to travel to the US and use that word and not get the crap beat out of him or her.
Let me add one caveat: There are still people who still use that word casually in their circle of friends, but they are probably wearing white sheets over their heads and burning crosses in the evenings too.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy


So, well, I am working on being positive and seeing that half-full cup right now. No, I will not look at the litter in my yard, (not put there by me) and I will not read the newspaper, and I will not listen to negative thoughts or words, and I will not critique Kuwaiti drivers, and I will not correct teachers' English, and I will not compare internet service providers with the US, and I will not lament the lack of vegetarian fare, and I will not poo-poo lamb brain stew?!!, and I will not curse at the poor traffic engineering, and I will not look sideways at the dust and wonder about its contents...this is Ramadan. I am trying; I am trying; oh please, I am trying.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Styrofoam


I can understand how some people give up: take drugs, abandon society, commit suicide, drink to excess, whatever. It is the mundanity of life that engulfs one's being and threatens to never loosen its grip. Television, shopping malls, keeping up with the Joneses, can lull a person into such a somnambulant state, that before you know it, you are 30, 40, 50 and what have you to show of your life: a house with a huge mortgage, a couple of leased cars, credit card debt, a plethora of plastic objects, too many unwanted clothes, an estranged family, a failed marriage, entitled children, and a part in a society that increasingly just doesn't get it.
We have all forgotten what we were striving for. What was the point again? Oh yeah, to "be happy"- the elusive goal that most think is just one major purchase away- one more self-indulgence and then I will be satiated-and yet, at the end of that cocktail party or check-out line- the feeling is hollow, cold, empty-a styrofoam cup in the parking lot after the fair has left town. And so all that had glittered has been boiled down to its essence- and it ain't pretty-in fact it is so useless and cheap that it skitters over puddles of filth and breaks apart with the slightest of pressure-littering the corners of life with fragments of itself so ubiquitous that soon its presence is acceptable, indeed the norm. And that is what we have become- an empty fairground parking lot- the threshold to a place that promises titillation, excitement, but delivers saturated fat instead.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Too Much to Add Right Now


I have so much to say now, that I don't think I will be able to post it in one time. Also, my addled brain doesn't support so many thoughts being dealt with at one time.
Suffice it to say, the "nonstop" flight over to Kuwait took almost three days! We were so exhausted by the time we got here, it took almost a month to recover! We have taken root in my in-laws' house and seem to be tarrying here for awhile, suspiciously during Ramadan. (I think my husband thinks there will be no food if we move now) Also, we have no phone number...there is a box, but no line connected to it? huh? I don't know, but we are waiting for some wasta to get us up and running so that we can get satellite and then internet.
And so I think, gosh, that is crazy, you have to have connections to get a phone number??!!
And then I remember my telling the kids,
'Don't compare Kuwait to the US'
Ok, ok, we will wait...
The house in Mangaf is looking pretty good. Although the area looks a bit like someone decided to make a neighborhood in a junkyard, I am so hoping when construction abates, the trash tumbleweeds will magically disappear.
The kids' schooling issue remains just that. My daughter maintains that the girls are not friendly and that she will never have friends there. While my son is aghast that his teacher cussed at the class on the second day of school. AHhhhh... yes, I am planning on being a thorn in the principal's side this year!
The weather has been as expected. Sunny and hot. sunny and humid, sunny and dusty, hot and hotter, scorching and dry, take your pick. :)
I don't know why my posts are not showing up on the front page, so if you have made it here, let me know...
I'll write more as my brain becomes more lucid, insha'Allah. :)

Monday, September 17, 2007

I am finally here and connected!!

Well, it has only taken us two months to get an internet connection, but we are finally connected! (this statement would have totally different connotations in Boston, those of u in the know know:) Anyway, I'll just revel in the glory of this accomplishment tonight and post tomorrow, insha'Allah. I just wanted to let anyone out there who might be wondering know that I am back!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

I'm Off!

Well, the day has finally dawned. I am off for KW. I won't be blogging for a bit, I suppose, so I will look forward to reading and writing from my new domain as soon as possible. Tah-tah for now, insha'Allah.:)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

No Expat Administrators?


Ok, what the hay? International School Review is now recommending that teachers not return to Kuwait and those there consider leaving. It seems that the American teacher who finally got out, is now banned from going to any GCC country. To top it all off, now it appears that no expats will be allowed to hold administrative positions in schools in KW!!!! What does that mean for international schools?
Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against Kuwaitis holding whatever position that they, or any other person, are qualified to hold, but since when does nationality qualify as credentials? And how are 'international schools' going to remain international, if they are, in essence, Kuwaiti? Ahhh...someone shine a light on this for me, please!??

Friday, July 13, 2007

People

I recently read a post by Harmonie that touched a nerve with me. It is one of the most despicable aspects of any society but perhaps just more pronounced and blatant in the middle east.
I remember when I first came to Kuwait. After somewhat settling in and getting to know my new in-laws better, I found myself curiously watching the 'hired help'. Now don't get me wrong, because my husband's family treats their maids well, but I was fascinated by them. How did they get here? What were their lives back home like? How could they leave their children behind?, etc.
Many are the times that I would go out and sit with the maids, after they had served and cleared away dinner. At first, they looked at me as a crazy American, but I think they came to tolerate and then maybe even like me.
The first occasion that I had the misfortune to witness mistreatment was when I was waiting in the car outside of the grocery store. I was people-watching and spied what appeared to be a mother, her overgrown baby girl, around 14, and their maid. While the mother and daughter rapidly churned toward the store, they intermittently spun around in turn to spur the maid along. I can only guess that she was still not progressing as they wished because then one of them, I think the daughter, swung and hit the maid repeatedly in the head with her purse. Now, I am not pretending to have never witnessed any wrongdoings, but this was shocking to me. Why? Was it that the violence was so unwarranted?; was it that the maid was so unflinchingly accustomed to it?; or was it that the balance of power was just so exceedingly unfair? I think it was all of it.
But what ensued was perhaps equally if not more troubling. I felt so terribly complicit. Granted I was in a foreign country, but I felt the injustice of what had transpired was far greater due to my inability to say or do something. I later told my husband that in the future, I was going to be like Buford Pusser and carry a big stick in the car with me.
Many years and distance separate me now from that day, but the memory is still fresh. I have often recalled it and played over in my mind my culpability. But what intrigues me about the larger issue is what I have been able to extrapolate from it.
The question is, for any society: what enables a person/people to accept the mistreatment of others? When does a person learn the devaluation of the other? It must be a long, convoluted, and complex amalgam of variables brought to bear. But, it would be naive to dismiss the effect that desensitization has on a people.
Once, when I was out of the room, my son was watching a movie where there was some killing in it, and I came in and said, "Turn that off; that is terrible." My son replied, "It's ok, Mommy, you get used to it." Well, we had a little conversation, believe you me, and I told him that that was the point: I didn't want him to get used to it, because that would be indicative of the death of his heart.
In the States, people, often the ones who stand to lose money, will object to anyone drawing a correlation between watching violence on T.V. and violent behavior. That is just insane though, and I think the excuse is blown out of the water by a little thing called advertising. If the television didn't have influential power, then why would billions be spent on producing seductive advertisements?
I know I am being simplistic here, but I feel more than certain that one of the ingredients in viewing some people as dispensable, is viewing them as objects, merely shells that don't/can't feel. How else could anyone justify treating another human in a way that she would not treat a loved one? And just to go a little religious on you: it says in Islam that a person will not be judged as much by how she treats her peers, but how she treats those over whom she has some power.....(steps down from her soapbox, exits stage right).

Monday, July 09, 2007

Proof Enough


One of the perks of working for the airlines was the opportunity to watch the receptions and departures of a myriad folks. There was always so much emotion involved, and at times it was hard to remain detached when I saw people crying over their departing loved ones, for I myself, was away from my family at the time.
Not knowing the stories behind the watched, I would spin their lives into existence in my own mind; I was never at a loss for subject matter.
It was during this time that I was introduced to the religion of Islam. I had never known anything about it. I grew up in a southern Episcopalian cocoon, but to me one of the evidentiary elements of Islam was its understanding of traveling.
I was amazed after enduring the angst from my own travels and being party to viewing countless others suffer similarly, that Islam understood the pain of traveling and even accounted for it. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said that the prayers that a traveler made for someone else would be answered; he also spoke about how to treat travelers when they came to you. Islam understood that traveling was a hardship in more than one way and made dispensation for that.
It would be one of the many amazing qualities that I had yet to discover about this religion.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Warning: Shallow, Girlie Post!

I have been seeing these shoes on The Today Show and elsewhere in the US lately. They are called FitFlops, are from the UK and are supposed to exercise your leg muscles and burn more calories while you just casually walk around. They are supposed to be extremely comfortable, but they are sold out everywhere! I finally found a pair my size on ebay and ordered them. I hope they will get here before our flight to KW next week! I will keep you posted if I suddenly become very buff due to these shoes. :)

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

4th


For most of my years growing up in the US, the 4th of July has been about family, summer fun, and eating. I come from an atypical southern family; my parents have always been very progressive/liberal/open-minded in terms of education, politics, and religion. So, when it comes to the 4th, we were never bedecked in red, white, and blue finery. We didn't have gatherings regaling our attendants with patriotic lore.
What we did do was to enjoy a semi-mandated time of being together. When prior engagements and obligations fell away to allow for the luxury of simple pleasures: corn on the cob, beach, barbeque, bon fires, cole slaw, sparklers, baked beans, and fireworks.
I suppose all celebrations take on their own flavor and individual style, and when in the future, I find myself separated from country and family, I hope I will find a way to create family celebrations that are as evocative and nostalgic for my children.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Jesus was a Capricorn

"Jesus was a Capricorn, he ate organic foods.
He believed in love and peace and never wore no shoes.
Long hair, beard and sandals and a funky bunch of friends.
Reckon they'd just nail him up if He come down again.

'Cos everybody's got to have somebody to look down on.
Who they can feel better than at anytime they please.
Someone doin' somethin' dirty, decent folks can frown on.
If you can't find nobody else, then help yourself to me.

Egg Head's cousin Red Neck's cussin' hippies for their hair.
Others laugh at straights who laugh at freaks who laugh at squares.
Some folks hate the whites who hate the blacks who hate the clan.
Most of us hate anything that we don't understand.

'Cos everybody's got to have somebody to look down on.
Who they can feel better than at anytime they please.
Someone doin' somethin' dirty, decent folks can frown on.
If you can't find nobody else, then help yourself to me.

Help yourself, brother.
Help yourself, Gentlemen.
Help yourself Reverend."

I Love Kris Kristofferson, although I know he doesn't have the most beautiful voice, his songs have always been so evocative to me. Actually, this song was written by John Prine, another fav of mine.
Anyway, what inspired me to write about ol' Kris? Well, it was watching Hardball with Chris Matthews last night. He had Ann Coulter on, and she was unpardonably obnoxious and repulsive! I don't understand what is happening to the world/US when people such as her are held up as pundits and knowledgeable. She has made fun of John Edwards' son's death, called Arabs 'ragheads' and called Edwards a 'faggot'. She has said that the US should invade the middle east, kill the leaders, and convert everyone to Christianity.
She is supposedly an educated person, which makes her hate-mongering that much more pernicious, and she has a huge, supportive audience.
What I can't understand is why do people feel placated by hate? Is it necessary to hate the 'other' in order to be content?
I guess some people can only view themselves worthy juxtaposed to the 'enemy'. And who is the enemy du jour? Right now, it seems to be the Muslims, oh wait, not all of us, just the 'fascist Islamist'. Although, in my life, I have seen it be African Americans, 'hippies' (or liberals), Jews, etc.
People are choking with hate and looking for a place to release it. 'Radical Muslims' are the group that it is ok to hate now. Of course, in the US, most people are not knowledgeable enough about Islam to be able to differentiate between Muslims, and think that the Muslims who drink alcohol and act like 'regular Americans' are the only kind of Muslims who are ok.
The sad thing is that there is a void. On the one hand, there is the lack of media coverage of American Muslims speaking out about what Islam really is, and on the other, there is the continuous coverage of the vociferous, hate-filled speech of other Muslims lashing out at who they deem 'the enemy'.
Nothing is as clearcut as it seems. People who hate, hate from a simplistic, ill-informed opinion of the unknown other. It is easier than searching out, learning for oneself. What does the Qur'an say? (paraphrasing here...) "Had I wanted to, I would have created you all the same, but I created you with differences, so that you might come to know each other."


Monday, June 25, 2007

Some Signs of the End of Times

Of course no one knows when the Last Day will be, but there is an abundance of thought-provoking information in the Qur'an and hadith. Even if you don't believe, it is interesting:


In the End Times of the community of the faithful, people, those who adorn the mosques but leave their own hearts in ruins, who fail to look after their religion as much as they do their clothes, who forsake their religious obligations for the sake of their activities in this world, will increase in number. (Agreed upon)


The Last Hour will not be established until there will remain those people who will neither be aware of the virtures and never prevent the vices. (Ahmad)

The Hour will come when voices are raised in the mosques. (Tirmidhi)

The Hour will come when leaders are oppressors. (Al-Haythami, Kitab al-Fitan)

When the Qur'an is read as if singing a song, and when a person is esteemed for reading in that way, even though he is not knowledged …(Al-Tabarani, Al-Kabir)

'The Hour will come, when people believe in the stars and reject al-Qadar (the Divine Decree of destiny) (Al-Haythami, Kitab al-Fitan)

Undoubtedly, a period will come upon people wherein not a single person will be saved from indulging in interest. If anyone avoids direct indulgence in interest, yet he will not escape from the smoke (effects) thereof.. Its effects will somehow reach him. (Narrated by Abu Hurairah)

The day of Judgment will not come until the very lowest people are the happiest.
(Tirmidhi)

Only people one knows will be greeted with the salaam... (Ahmad Diya'al-Din al-Kamushkhanawi, Ramuz al-Ahadith)

When the old have no compassion for the young, when the young show no respect to the old … when children grow angry … Judgment is at hand. (Reported by Omar (r.a.))

In the Last Days, there will be such people, who, when they meet, curse and abuse each other instead of greeting (with salaam). (Allama Jalaluddin Suyuti, Durre-Mansoor)

Bribes will be called gifts, and will be considered lawful. (Amal al-Din al-Qazwini, Mufid al-'ulum wa-mubid al-humum)

The Last Day will not be established until …time will pass quickly. (Bukhari)

Great distances will be traversed in short spans of time. (Ahmad, Musnad)

The Last Hour will not come before time contracts, a year being like a month, a month like a week, a week like a day, a day like an hour, and an hour like the kindling of a fire. (Tirmidhi)

My community will find such well-being at that time that the like will never have been seen before. (Ibn Majah)

My community, both the good and the bad, will be blessed with blessings they have never seen before (Al-Muttaqi al-Hindi, Al-Burhan fi Alamat al-Mahdi Akhir al-Zaman)

Another hadith describes the richness of this period:

During the period, the earth will throw out its treasure…(Ibn Hajar Haythami, Al Qawl al-Mukhtasar fi 'alamat al-Mahdi al-Muntazar)

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Blessed Teeth


I'm trying to get everything wrapped up before we move to Kuwait in a couple of weeks, and so I go to the dentist to get a cleaning....ends up, I'm getting another root canal! This will be my fourth. Can I chalk that up to my British heritage (sorry yall :P)? Anyway, each time before I have this done, I ask them, "Can't we just pull the tooth?" And I guess it's a good thing they say no because I would be looking a bit snaggle-toothed by now, but this is getting ridiculous.
Anyway, if it has to happen in KW too, does anyone know of a good endodontist and dentist there? I have always heard the best trained dentists and doctors work in the public sector, but I am not crazy about going and sitting and waiting and then being booted out before they are finished. Has anyone had a root canal and crown in KW?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Time is Drawing Near


I got our tix for KW the other day...time is drawing near. I guess we will be arriving just in time for the electricity outages and blistering heat (and I don't even like hot weather!).
We decided to take the non-stop to KW. I don't know which is worse, but I do hate getting off the plane in Heathrow just to sit and wait in the lounge with all of the other dilapidated looking folks, and with children too.
There is something very leveling about travel, especially by plane. People are all equally at the mercy of greater forces; (meaning air traffic control, pilots, etc.) I know we are always under the control of a greater force, but international travel just brings it down full force! It is definitely a test of patience.
I must ashamedly admit that last time I flew Kuwait Air, I got so mad at the flight attendants, I think I thoroughly embarrassed my husband. But, I had had enough of their unequal treatment of folks, and when I saw one of them being rude to a child from a southeastern Asian country, I just lost it!
Alas, my rantings did nothing but purge my anger, and no one else seemed to give a crap about it.
I think I get a little crazed too, being cooped up all that time. And I try to not think about the fact that we are flying over the ocean. (For a crazy period in my life, before I got my Master's, I was a flight attendant for Delta, and so I remember practicing for ditchings, a.k.a. crashing in the water!)
Yes, there is nothing like flying to make you fully appreciate the fact that, at least for the interim, you have absolutely no control over your life.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Yuck!

I was watching the new season of Top Chef and some of them had to cook this, Geoduck, pronounced 'gooeyduck'. It is a saltwater clam found on the Pacific coast of the US and Canada. They are dug up here and shipped to China, where they eat them. I must say, this is one of the most repulsive looking 'clams' I've ever seen! Glad to be a vegetarian...

Sunday, June 17, 2007

I Love Nasruddin/Joha Tales


Once Nasruddin bought some meat and asked his wife to prepare kababs.
But his wife felt tempted and ate it all herself.
When asked, she blamed the house cat.
The amount of meat being one kilogram,
it was hard for Nasruddin to believe that a cat could eat so much.
So he weighed the cat on a balance. It weighed exactly one kilogram.
Nasruddin exclaimed: ''If this is the same cat, then where is the meat?
Or, if this is the meat, then where has the cat gone?''

Friday, June 15, 2007

Family and Misunderstandings

Some of my family members came to visit and see the new baby the other day, and I was again confronted, and still surprised, by the ignorance (and I mean this in the true sense of the word, not being insulting) and bias that they, as well as soooooooooo many other Americans have in regards to Arabs/Muslims.
Their first concern was for my safety in living in Kuwait. I understand that, heck KW has some iffy neighbors, but when I tried to bring up the fact that we are not so secure and safe in the US, they were like, "Whaaaaaaaaaaat, what are you talking about?" (Ok, so I'll bite my tongue and move on...)
"Well what about women, then? Will you be able to drive? Will you have to wear a burqa?!" (Please, I know they did not just ask that! It's not like we haven't had this conversation over the past 14 years countless times, but I guess the more they show their spin on the news, the more I have to answer redundant questions).
"Well what about the kids and you if things go wrong...did you see (no, no, no, please don't say what I think you're going to say...) Not Without My Daughter?"(Damn!, and yes, I did)
And we are not talking about uninformed, uneducated people here. They both graduated from Ivy League schools!
I won't even go into the political discussions, cause they get me tooooo heated. Like how there was some sort of link between Saddam and Osama..."Well, don't you think Saddam was funding Osama?" (What the hay??!!!) Or "The Palestinians weren't even farming their land..." (Count to ten, twenty, thirty......ok, it's not working!!!!)
I love yall, I really do, but next time, let's just talk about the weather.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

To Be a Vegetarian

I have been a vegetarian since 1985, and I have come to rely on all of the wonderful meatless companies here in the US. But what will there be in KW? The last time I was there, about 6 years ago, there was nothing in the way of soy products and not much in the way of fast foods, except for Haloumy cheese. I know being a vegetarian is not popular in KW, but is anyone else out there in the same boat?

Oppression

So, Oprah is going to visit Israel and see the people she says are suffering the most from terrorism...It is a shame that the truly oppressed go almost unnoticed by the world.
It is hard to imagine the blessings that are taken for granted until you take a walk in the life of another less fortunate than yourself. For some perspective, I have included a link to this wonderful Power Point about the lives of Palestinian women. You will have to download it from the site, but it is worth it...take a look.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

I Have Absolutely Nothing to Say

Ever notice how those with nothing of substance to say are always the most vociferous? You know those loudmouths who yack on and on thinking that everyone within earshot should be enthralled by their erudition.
Or how about those people who talk about inane, superficial drivel? Have you ever been stuck at a party or gathering talking to someone who just went on: "Look at what X is wearing...can you believe that she did...and then they went to that new store and bought....he left her and told her that he never...."
The fact that a person really has nothing to say isn't often enough a deterrent for gibberish. It seems that people are somewhat unnerved by silence. It is too difficult to be in the presence of another and not make some kind of conversation, even if it is completely vapid inanity................

.................................kind of ironic ain't it?

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

What to Bring to Kuwait?

We just came back from my niece's high school graduation. I can't believe how quickly time has flown. It seems like it was just yesterday that I was graduating high school, in actuality it was MANY moons ago, and getting ready for college. Anyway...

As the time draws near, I am starting to panic about packing all of our things up and getting them to KW. Then I started thinking about what things I should really stock up on to bring there. I know some things are much cheaper or more accessible here. My husband always says sheets are better and cheaper here. Does anyone have any other 'must brings'?

I must add that I am simply dreading that flight with two children and a little baby! I always get so anxious: baby crying/people staring.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Most Censored




















At least KW is not in the top 10:
  1. North Korea
  2. Myanmar (Burma)
  3. Turkmenistan
  4. Equatorial Guinea
  1. Libya
  2. Eritrea
  3. Cuba
  1. Uzbekistan
  2. Syria
  3. Belarus
Seriously though, my daughter is wondering whether she can get any magazines in KW. We're not even talking about the lascivious Seventeen, but how about Girl's Life or the dreaded American Girl. What will be allowed; can you get subscriptions in KW at all, or will the moral police, for lack of a better term, take them away?

Is the censorship in KW getting more so or loosening up a bit?

Friday, May 25, 2007

Summertime....

...And the livin' is easy? Well, maybe it used to be, but is it anymore? Sure, we have help with the housework, and technology has made humongous leaps forward, but isn't life just much more complicated now in a way that will never allow for 'easy livin'?

How I long for those days whose hours stretched out before me languidly, allowing for the sinful indulgence in leisure. It seems like now, summer is just a tease. Once you are finished with all of the appointments and obligations you neglected during the school year, and you just start to settle into the schedule of the summer day, it is all cruelly yanked away by the realization of its impending end. And face it, once you know that there is only a week or two left, summer has suddenly lost its allure, as you begin the dreaded countdown of its remaining days.

Ok, I sound like a pessimist, I know. Maybe I am just a long lost relative of Thoreau; maybe I am a closet hippie, or maybe I am just like Ferdinand the bull who 'loved to just sit, and smell the flowers.'

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Room to breathe or Easy commute?

Ok, so now we have to choose, because we will have to rent a place until we can build our own house...insha'Allah, insha'Allah. So, do we rent a place that is closer in to the kids' school and hubby's work but is much smaller, or a larger place that is farther away?

I keep hearing all of the horror stories about driving there, and I am seriously thinking about looking for a tank to drive over there. ;) BUT, seeing as how the kids won't be playing outside that much, due to the charring factor, perhaps it would be wiser to go for more space.

Is there any hope for a subway?

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Is That All There Is, My Friend...?


...If that's all there is, then let's keep dancing...
With all of the money being thrown into mall-building in Kuwait, it makes me wonder about motive. I mean, I am not a paranoid person, but you know the ol' shell trick? The magician occupies the audiences attention while he switches the coin under the shell. I just wonder why do Kuwaitis need to occupy themselves by buying? I know we do it here in the States too, but there are many other diversions and pursuits too. And after all, doesn't consumerism leave people empty and ultimately depressed? Wouldn't money be better spent building better schools, libraries, parks, museums, auditoriums, etc.? And so, I wonder whom all of this benefits? To whom is it important that people are continuously engaged in a shopping frenzy? And why?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

New Planet


"WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An odd planet the size of Neptune, made mostly of hot, solid water, has been discovered orbiting a nearby star and offers evidence that other planets may be covered with oceans, European astronomers reported on Wednesday.

Called GJ 436b, the planet orbits quickly around a cool, red star some 30 light-years away, the team at the Geneva Observatory said.

'It's not a very welcoming planet,' Frederic Pont, an astronomer who helped make the discovery, said in a telephone interview. The planet is hot because it is near its star and under high pressure because of its mass...."

When I read stuff like this, I always imagine some creatures on a distant planet viewing images of the newly discovered planet Earth and wondering about its habitability...one could easily say that Earth 'is not a very welcoming planet' either, right now. Scratch that; it is the Earthlings that are not always so welcoming.

On a similar, yet totally different note: I am so encouraged to read that the Kuwait schools will be implementing a Japanese program that teaches environmental awareness! That is progress.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

I am a treehugger


Local flora
Originally uploaded by talbiya.
What in the world am I going to do in Kuwait? I truly love trees. There is something so soothing and relaxing about them. This tree is in Australia-hubby just came back from a business trip there and snapped this shot. I believe this is a Walking Tree.

Is there any way to 'green' one's space there (KW), or is it too water-wasteful? Also, has anyone out there ever tried to grow tomatoes in pots there? Jus' askin'

Thursday, May 10, 2007

What drives me crazy

I just got the dress code for the children's school next year in KW, and in it it said that "mid-riffs" must be covered. Ok, now this is a school where English is supposed to be the first language! What the heck is a 'mid-riff'? It must be the middle of your 'riff'? That is crazy. I know it is hard to catch all of your errors in writing, but a school should never send something out with errors in it. It is just wrong.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Far from the Home I Love


As I prepare to leave my home and family for Kuwait, I can't help but remember Fiddler on the Roof. I feel like that daughter, saying good-bye to her father. And I wonder: How can I say good-bye to my father? How can I watch him smiling on the outside, holding himself so bravely, being ever-supportive, never trying to hinder. I almost wish that my family had been ugly about me marrying a Kuwaiti man and moving overseas, but they never were anything but supportive. And so that leaves me here, walking, in a way, happily forward, but looking back, ever mindful of the undying love and support that allows me to.

"Far From The Home I Love
How can I hope to make you understand
Why I do what I do,
Why I must travel to a distant land,
Far from the home I love.
Once I was happily content to be
As I was, where I was,
Close to the people who are close to me,
Here in the home I love.
Who could see that a man could come
Who would change the shape of his dreams.
Helpless now I stand with him,
Watching older dreams grow dim.
Oh, what a melancholy choice this is,
Wanting home, wanting him,
Closing my heart to ev'ry hope but his,
Leaving the home I love,
There where my heart has settled long ago
I must go, I must go, I must go,
Who could imagine I'd be wand'ring so
Far from the home I love
Yet there with my love, I'm home."

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Books and Libraries?

So, I got to thinking... I am not a historian or anything, but I know that the greatest and oldest of libraries were in the Arab world, like the picture here of Nineveh, Iraq, or Alexandria, Egypt. And it got me to thinking about the whole bookstore issue and further to wondering about the issue of books, reading, knowledge, libraries, and initiative.
Which led me to wonder: How many libraries are there in Kuwait? I mean public, non-specific ones. And then I started thinking: How many publishing houses are there in Kuwait, or even neighboring countries? I mean really top quality publishing that produces beautiful books. And if, as I suspect is the case, there are not many libraries and publishers, then why the heck are the people not up-in-arms demanding them? I have read so many blogs about The Avenues Mall and how people are upset about not having enough new and different stores in it, but I have yet to see as much of an outcry for books.
And, if the problem is the religious factor, how can they justify that? The whole of the Qur'an is a call to humanity to seek knowledge, think, and read...how could much of the Arab world have moved away from its previous love of books?

Friday, May 04, 2007

Books or boobs?


Ok, for anyone out there who has wastah, or knows someone who does...here is the business to open in Kuwait. Please, please, please!!!

How can a country not have a bookstore?

How can an Islamic country not have a bookstore when the first thing was a command to read!

How can there be such an emphasis on the concern over sexuality, ( I understand this is against Islam-it is the disparity that drives me crazy) and no concern, what-so-ever over violence?? Look at the video games for sale and the movies they show on T.V. with no censorship!

Someone, anyone, in KW, please open a big ol' bookstore. I promise, I will keep your profits up!



Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Kuwait: Summer Destination?


Here we go again...I remember when I first went to Kuwait. It was a July many years ago, when our daughter was about 3 months old. Ahhh, I was so naive then. When we first got off of the plane and stepped onto the jetway I thought, "It is like an oven in here! I wonder why they keep the temperature so hot?" I was about to learn that that oven was not the jetway, rather Kuwait itself.
I have always loved the northeast US. Even though I am a born and raised southern girl, if I had my druthers, I'd live up north. That is where I met my husband and where we subsequently lived for many years, soaking up, what I consider, beautiful weather: falls where the air was light and crisp, giving me what my father says are 'quick eyes', he says people in the south are usually 'slow eyed' (you have to say that with his very southern drawl to truly appreciate it); winter with its snow that made it feel like the whole city was snuggled up under a blanket; spring that was bursting with blooms, colors, and light; summer that was tolerable - not too hot.
I have always abhorred hot weather. Now, is someone testing me? Cause, I found that I was always spending my summers in the middle of the south, oh, the humidity, or in Kuwait! Ok, I could handle the stints away from my preferred climate, but now, now, I am again living in the coastal south and getting ready to move to Kuwait - in the summer!
I remember one summer, in Kuwait, when I donned the abaya and went down by the sea to a place with rides for the children...It felt like someone was shooting hairdryers up my skirt, continuously. I nearly passed out.
I keep thinking - with all the money that Kuwait has, can't they find a way to fix the climate? Dubai has the indoor skiing; can't Kuwait get air-conditioned parks?

Monday, April 30, 2007

Kuwaiti Sickness?

Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed how frequently people in Kuwait are coming down with illnesses? I have read about a half a dozen blogs where people are complaining about having the 'flu', which can literally mean any kind of bug or virus in Kuwait, evidently. But my husband, who lived relatively sick-free in the states, has been complaining about being sick on several occasions over the past few months, hmm... It makes me wonder what is going on over there? Could it be the environment? If anyone is out there, please give me your thoughts.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Grow Up

Even though people grow older on the outside, on the inside we often still feel the same. The sometimes painful eventuality that one day we look in the mirror and do not recognize ourselves is disconcerting to say the least. It kind of forces some people to grow up on the inside too. Maybe that partially explains the ever-upward movement of the age of adulthood in the US: we are looking younger through fitness and plastic surgery; therefore, we need not grow up yet. Where have all the adults gone? Where have all of the parents gone? "What me I am not a just a mother; I am my children's best friend!" What I know, after spending years in the education world, is that the kids don't want parents as best friends. They really do want someone to guide them. It's scary for them on their own. Plus, it looks really stupid for 40 something year olds to be wearing teen clothes, no matter how fit they are. Uck, I sound like a grown up. When did that happen?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Around the Bend


Sometimes I feel like so much of my life has been about waiting...Almost as if the real thing would be starting soon.
And it doesn't help that I have often escaped to a world that isn't real...You really have to look to find the way back.
So frequent are the times that I find myself wrapped in worry...I don't know what is around the next bend.
I have found that worry leads to waiting...And waiting leads to worry. And what we don't know is often better than what we do.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Hurting our Children

As I was visiting various blogs, I began to mull over what one young blogger flippantly wrote on a comment to me: "Do you ever think about hurting your kids?" Now, I am quite certain that this question was not meant to inspire deep thought, but it was the impetus for this post-an extrapolation from mundanity to broader implications.
The simple answer to that question is, yes, I do think about that. As a mother, I think about that all of the time. First, though, it is important to consider what constitutes hurt. So, if we are defining it, as I suppose was meant, on the most superficial level, as physical hurt, then I have to say that I don't think about that. However, if we take a more expansive view of the word hurt, then I would say that I contemplate 'hurting my kids' every day.
I think about their being hurt by who I allow them to hang out with. I think about their being hurt by what I allow them to watch on T.V. I think about their being hurt by what I allow them to listen to. I think about their being hurt by what they are being fed for nourishment, both physically and spiritually. I think about their being hurt by how I permit them to spend their time.
There are so many ways that a child can be 'hurt' by a parent, physically is the easiest to avoid and probably easiest from which to recover. But judging by what goes on in society today, there are not many people wondering about the indelible damage done to a child from all of the other potentially hurtful facets of life.
Being human is not solely about physical, tangible, sensory experiences of this world, if it were, the job of parent would be much more transparent, obvious. What bears down with such force on our minds and hearts as to influence our morals, desires, and courses of action in life, are the invisible scepters, the societal whisperings which hold sway over the pervasive
fears of a
mother.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Have you ever noticed....

Have you ever noticed:


How most of your friends end up living exactly where they were born and also fall into the same line of work as their parent(s)?

How the friends you had in high school who were the wildest and most uninhibited, end up being 'born again' or something to the same effect?

How you are afraid that some stranger might come and steal your valuables if you leave them unattended while you go for a walk on the beach, but then you ask the person who just happens to be parked next to you to watch them for you, even though; s/he is a complete stranger!?

How some people get their panties in a bunch over not eating organic this and that, and then go out and get obliterated at night?

How Oprah is all spiritual and ready to change the world one minute,
and the next she is gushing over John Travolta's gold bathroom fixtures?


People are strange...myself, of course, included.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

A Mother Can Think Only At Night

Here in the dark, with my 2 month old by my side, talking to angels in his sleep, I have a moment of clarity. Be it brief and ever-fleeting; it is a moment. If you are a mother, or anyone who is ADHD, ADD, bi-polar, etc., you can appreciate the deliciousness of a single moment of clarity.
The problem is that in one moment it is impossible to funnel down all of the disposed thoughts, feelings, and desires, into one crystallized page in my brain that I am able to take in and digest. And so, those thoughts, desires, and feelings are on pulverize in my brain blender until they become the lack-of-focus-smoothie that makes my children have to say, "Mommy, don't you remember...?", and, "Mommy, hurry up...!", and "Mommy, I need..."
Perhaps my artwork is the only way to represent the craziness that is me. It has definitely taken a turn towards distraction and sensory overload: colors, layers, rubbings, tearings, those things all represent me.
I don't even know if it is possible to have that serenity of old. I often have dreams of moving to the country to raise my children away from the whir of modernity, but I feel certain that something would find us and pull us back. After all, it is my dream, and children dream their own.
So maybe there is a way to slow down in this move to Kuwait. A chance to have help with the mundane. A chance to relish family. A chance to sleep in, or stay up without too much penalty. Or it could be that I am just trading in my American smoothie for a Kuwaiti fruit cocktail?

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Please forgive me

I am so sorry to all of you who have been kind enough to reply to my rambling posts. I am new to blogging and didn't realize there were comments for me to moderate. :(
Anyway, I took a hiatus as well because I had my baby! He is great, and my husband came over to the states for a month to be with us. THAT wouldn't happen with a job in the US! I am also planning my imminent move to Kuwait. It promises to be quite emotional.
My daughter is already making plans to return to the states for high school, and my son, well, he just wants to have friends to run around with.
We have applied to ASK and just have to have the children tested to get in. I hope that is not a problem though. It is kind of crazy; my children are going to go to a school I have yet to visit or see!
Another worry now...I have been following the bird flu scare, and so I am wondering...what the heck kind of timing is this move!!! Am I crazy to be packing up 3 children and moving to Kuwait when its neighbors are warring, pollution is skyrocketing, and the bird flu is spreading?
Ok, I know things are not that great in the US either, but then again, we can just escape our problems over here by the 'new fall line-up' or the latest technology or trends.