Thursday, September 30, 2010


This post is for KD and XC--my two favorite architects! I think of you every time I see construction, which is often in this country. The Crane is the national "Bird". xoxo

I am always amazed at construction in this country. First of all, there are no OSHA standards for dress, safety harnesses, hard hats, etc (unless one counts a scarf as a safety hat). Secondly, they build these wooden platforms (secured with rope) and that's what they stand on! Thirdly, they mix cement in small wheelbarrows and then that gets moved up to the specific floor by a crane. Occassionally they will have a cement mixer with a large hose deliver it up to a really large building. There is a law that new buildings have to be at least 8 stories tall. It's amazing process to watch these buildings slowly being built. But again, that's probably how they built the pyramids and they're still standing, right?

Workers in Kuwait

These are the owners of the nearby corner grocery store (called Bakala). They see me coming, they smile and say "Paper, Water" because I always get the Arab Times and a bottle of water after my walk. I hold out my hand with coins and they take what they need. They say "teacher" and I smile and say yes. Then I greet them farewell and they smile. Sometimes they give me a greeting which when translated means "God go with you in your travels". I like that.

The workers in the yellow jumpsuits have the worst jobs--cleaning up the garbage, moving items, sweeping up the streets. I think they get the equivalent of $210 per month. They live in what we would consider unacceptable conditions with several men in an apartment which probably isn't airconditioned. Yet this IS a better life than where they are originally from. Definately makes one humble.

These are the owners of the Iranian Bread store, which is a favorite of the AIS teachers. It's located near the school, and if you arrive early in the day and wait in line (Ladies on one side, Men on the other) and hold out your newspaper (which is how they are packaged), you will get the BEST homemade flat bread for the amazing price of about 80 cents. (that's FOUR pieces for 80 cents). Their ovens remind me of the Witches in Hanzel and Gretel, and they work in incredible heat. (non airconditioned of course).

I don't say much about the workers in Kuwait. These are people who live here, but are not from Kuwait. Most service/labor workers are not 99.99 percent. They are people who have come from Bangeldesh, India, Iran, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Eqypt to make a better life for themselves. Like many of the immigrants to Pelican Rapids they send most of their dollars home. These people work very hard, in incredible temperatures. My hat goes off to them. I have daily conversations with several of them although their English is limited and certainly my Farsi, Indian, Arabic is tragically limited. These people make my life easier. I am thankful for them.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

And The Award Goes To....

We had Awards Day on Monday. Anna was honored for being on the Principal's List (highest honor roll) and given the Subject Awards for Math AND Spanish. David and I were involved in the production of the event so were on hand to "insert ourselves" into the award shot. Pictured below is the Happy Family including our favorite Canadian principal, BL.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

More from Oman

I had to bargain really hard to get this pillowcase for only $7.00. They told me it was worth much more but then I told them that I had just purchased a smiliar one for less money at the other shop and that I could easily return and buy it. Howard taught me well! These birds had a fun call. We don't have many birds in Kuwait (nor green grass) so it was a welcome site.
Downtown Old Muscat, Oman. This looks like a site out of a travel diary (wait I guess this IS a travel diary!)

The World of DQ

Some of you may remember that I used to work for International Dairy Queen. My desk was right by the International Division and I used to help them with their paperwork for their stores in the Middle East (ask me sometime exactly what that means!) I was thrilled on Saturday when I came back through Bahrain and saw a DQ store. The soft serve was fantastic, the chicken salad delicious and the service splendid! Just like home!

Oh-Man, Oman

Recently I got to go to Oman, a nearby country. It's a beautiful country, similar to Kuwait but a little bit greener and a little less Westernized. Here's a couple pictures of what I saw. It was a good trip. The view from the lobby of the wonderful Shangri-La hotel. Tough work if you can get it!
The local coffee merchant in the Old Market. He walked and talked like Yoda, what a hoot!

Again, the beautiful Shangri La Resort.

Up climbing in the rocks, just like when I lived on the farm.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Around the Neighborhood

It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

This morning I DID IT!! I got my butt out of bed and took a walk around the neighborhood taking photos. This may not sound like much to you, dear reader, but this has been something I've been wanted to do since we moved here. It's fairly easy to lay in my great big bed, (so large that I can sleep north/south and east/west without touching David). But the longer I lounge in bed, the less I get to see of the best part of Kuwait...mornings.
I love mornings in Kuwait. It's quiet, it's not too hot, and the humblest of workers are beginning their day without cars speeding by honking their horns because they are in such a hurry. For a country that functions on "Fate" (the belief that their lives are already scripted), most people seem to want to determine their "Fate" Quickly.
I took a walk around a half mile radius to our apartment. Well, actually I don't really know if it's a half mile or not. I'm still the stupid American who can't figure out kilometers, celcius when speaking about distance or temperature.
Here is what I saw. Thanks for sharing your Saturday morning with me.
Cheers from the desert.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Way Too Sexy for Seventeen

Like Momma, Like Daughter
Anna shows off her new haircut. Mother grimaces realizing the daughter ain't no lil girl anymore...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Ready for Round Three

Photo taken on the Deck of Lake Lida cabin, summer 2010.

We started school today at AIS. For Anna it was the first day of the last year of school. I didn't cry, I didn't even sniffle. In fact when I wished her a Happy First Day, she "tsked" me (Arabic slang). But it was a good day.
David is still happily teaching his 10th-12th graders all about Theater. He enjoys concentrating on "just" Theatre here, knowing that back in the states, he would more than likely have a job that includes English and Theater (which means grading lots and lots of English papers).
I am happy teaching my Fine Arts Appreciation classes, and will probably be happy teaching 7 and 8th grade drama (a new assignment) in addition to being the Activities Director for the Arts here.
The Administration trusts me (I know, someone should tell them right?!) and they let me be in charge of things, if I want to. Recently our principal said, "Nadine I never know what's going to come out of your mouth when you have a microphone in your hand but I'm okay with that". I guess that's about as good as it gets.
When we started this adventure back in 2008, I NEVER thought we'd be here for three years. Who knows how much Fun can be had in the Desert?!

Thinking of you all back in North America starting school last week and wishing we were there enjoying the fall with you. For now, we'll kick up a bunch of sand in your honor!
Cheers and Love
Da Browns

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Comments from the other side

Here is an item interest taken from Friday's Arab Times newspaper.

by Mansour Al-Ansari, Al-Dar Daily

"Nine years have passed for the atrocious terrorist attack of September 11. Nine years have passed and the details of the terrorist operation are still rooted in the minds of Americans and the world. Nine years have passed and still the West looks with suspicion and distrust at all that is connected with Islam as a religion and it's followers. Perhaps (as a Muslim) I find this gives them an excuse to do so.
The West still remembers the Allah Akbar (God is Greatest) of the mercenaries of al-Qaeda while flying the hijacked planes carrying innocent passengers to strike the twin towers of the World Trade Center which was filled with thousands of innocent people as well.
How can the West trust us as Muslims while they see individuals (Shame on Them) belong to the religion of Mohammad-peace be upon him-who was teaching tolerance and mercy to the world because those individuals were behind terrorist attacks in other places which claimed the lives of thousands of innocent people.
Those foolish acts committed by irresponsible ignorant fanatic people has undoubtedly harmed the Muslims and the image of Islam as a religion of tolerance and have made the Islamic world go back to the era of ignorance and backwardness. These acts have preoccupied the governments to fight extremism instead of thinking about progress and prosperity of their people.
Nine years after the "massacre of September", which shook the world, and after the word "terrorism" became synonymous with Islam and a disgrace which came to haunt every Muslim in the world, I wonder what we the Muslims, have offered to defend ourselves and correct the tarnished image of our religion.
What is the benefit of dozens of institutions and hundreds of mosques in the US so long as most of them have until this day failed to portray the real and original image of Islam?
I think the insistence to build a mosque in Manhattan is a wrong and irrational devision and will harm the Muslims than do good to increase the hatred and status of isolation felt by Muslims in the US.
They are in dire need of mergence in their communities and focus on media discourse and highlight the values and principles of true Islam which calls for respect for human rights and dialogue and co-existence with the other".

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Points to Ponder

A Market in Doha selling prayer rugs, diwaniya cushions and other seating options. During the season of Ramadan, much visiting is done with family. I don't have any of these but intend to purchase a couple before I depart. If you're from PR and you want to visit this place, Becca P can take you right there.
The list below came from my colleague and friend TC in our Art Department. This is about where my head is right now. We're getting ready for the new school year, and as teachers know, it's a zoo. Plus, I'm covering for our Head of Department (HOD) while he and his wife are celebrating the birth of their first child back in the USA. I never want to be a HOD after this...way too much paperwork.
All is well with the Browns. We are set to celebrate the Eid Al Fitr (end of Ramadan) tomorrow...we think. Some special person in Saudi Arabia gets to look at the moon tonight and decide if it's in the right place, or something like that (not making this up, it's completely true)

So, to my friends in North America and beyond, Ramadan Kareem

Love, N

Things That Haunt Me (A shortened list)
Why do we put our two cents in but it's only a penny for your thoughts? What happens to that other penny?

Why does a pizza that's round come in a square box?

What disease did "Cured" ham actually have?

Why is Bra singular but Panties plural?

And my favorite...

The statistics on Insanity say that one out of four people suffer from some form of Mental Illness..if you look to three of your friends and they're alright...then it's YOU!!


There's a whole list, if you're interested, send me an email

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Go with the Flow

Sometimes here in the desert, things don't work 100%. Most times we just roll with it, because there's nothing that one can do about it (Except get frustrated).
So I'm just letting you know that it seems we can't receive emails from outside the country, at least at our school website.
I'm used to it....yesterday I received a christmas card that was mailed from PR before Christmas 2009.
Just think...three years ago, this would have bothered me !


Friday, September 3, 2010

Where is the World is the Charles Brown Family?

This summer I spent some time organizing the photos left by my mother in law. She did us all a great favor by writing on the back of each one indicating the date and who was in the photo. I have started doing that myself because it sure is helpful when you play the "who is this relative" game.
The Browns also have hundreds of slides from fabulous shots around the world. Some of them are recognizable by the Brown Boys, others are not. But I love having them as a memory for David and also Ben and Anna. I think this one was taken in Puerto Rico probably around 1965.Unfortunately Big Charlie doesn't remember where this was. It's still a great shot.
Maybe this was taken in Turkey around 1969.

This is the Taj Mahal in India. Charlie and Maxine chaperoned a group of students on a trip in 1969.

More of our Vacation (you needed to see more right?!)

Sunflowers are sort of the national symbol of Holland and Germany (right Marion?!) I love seeing them everywhere. This is taken from the FIVE STAR HOTEL we stayed at in Aachen (re: Marion's house!)
The Dutch certainly don't spare the vowels!

This fishing boat was just coming into the harbor as we were leaving the town. Wonderful.

The first thing you may notice in this picture is the Cathedral in the background. This is in Cologne (Koln for the Germans). I thought it was the Cologne Catherdral, but ATD, who has superior German knowledge over me, gently told me that it wasn't. Anyway....We were lucky enough to tour THE KOLN CATHERDRAL on our first trip to Germany in 2005. As you look in the foreground you see a fence with lots and lots of locks on it. David told me that the tradition is to go to this fence with a loved one and "lock" your love together forever and throw away the key. AAWWWWW...I like it.

Reality Check 101

Ah Lake Lida, how well you served me this summer.
August 20, 2010 Posing by the WLP (world's largest pelican) sure can make me feel at home
The family that we leave behind while in the desert...sniff sniff

Okay so I have SAID that it was time to leave MN and return to Kuwait to "get back to work". Okay I also said that it was time for the fun to end and return to what is now our normal life. Okay I even said that there were some things that I missed in the desert. But I kinda lied.

It's been two full weeks since I've been gone and I miss people/things already from the Land of 10,000 things on a stick (a nod to the MN State Fair, which I also miss right now).
Our life here in Q8 is full and complete with friends, fulfilling work and a sense of family with the three of us. heart will always be in MN. I will not lie. I'm just thankful that we have fulfilling work and people here that make it somewhat normal for us during Late august-Mid june when we will be in the desert.
So, if you're in North America and reading this (or Germany or Ireland), know that I do miss seeing you and being with you. And that the time will go short.
And now the call to prayer has gone off telling me that it's okay to eat, drink, and do other I will to occupy my mind.Cheers
PS But seriously don't worry about me, I've been through this before (and I probably will go through it again. It's part of the process. Just have a beer for me and I'll feel better ;-). Besides David is doing a really good job of taking care of me...right honey?!