Sunday, November 28, 2010

Ya Gotta Love Kuwait!

We are constantly amused/bemused/frustrated/challenged by the rules and laws of living in Kuwait. Fortunately, we are still LAUGHING and enjoying ourselves. From today's edition of the Kuwait Times, we got our Laugh of the Day.

Published date: November 20, 2010
UPDATE: November 27, 2010
On Saturday November 20, 2010 the Kuwait Times published an article titled "Multi Ministry Camera Ban Frustrates Artists" in which incorrect information was provided. The newspaper regregs failing to verify the information. The article wrongly stated that a ban on DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras was implemented by the Ministries of Information, Social Affairs and Finance. This information is false. In a follow up investigation, it was proved that no such ban has been issued. We regret this error and deeply apologize for any inconvenience it caused.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Happy Shoppers

Reflections of good friends enjoying the day shopping. I did manage to purchase one thing --a tasteful pillow case. However, I got a FAH-BULOUS shopping bag along with the purchase. Consummerism is ALIVE AND WELL in the Middle East!

All I Want for Christmas 2010

Today friend KMc and I went out shopping at a couple of Antique stores. We were really window shopping because the places we went to were truly OVER THE TOP for furniture and designs. You would be impressed/shocked/amazed/amused at the type of things one can purchase for a home here in Q8. For example, the chandelobra pictured below. What kind of home would someone have to have to fit this lovely (?!) piece into the decor? (see photo on previous blog for a hint!) There are incredible wooden doors all throughout Kuwait. Most are imported from India. As I understand it, these come off of old Indian homes and are just sold. Truly if I could figure out a way to ship it, I would bring one of these home with me.
The workman ship on these ornate beauties is a sight to behold.

Still Snappin'

These are the famous (well at least to us) Watertowers of Kuwait. I think they make quite a statement, at least visually. Today while driving around on my Black Friday continuation tour (more below), I took this photo from the cab...Don't tell the Ministry that I've got my camera out in public (for those who don't know what I'm talking about, read post below)
Just a shot of another big Kuwaiti home. I have no idea what furniture I would put in this house even if I owned it! (Ah Grasshopper, if you had enough money to buy the house, you wouldn't have to worry about furniture!)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Kuwaiti Version of Black Friday

While my loved ones were out braving the Targets of the USA yesterday during "Black Friday" (couldn't they have come up with a better name?) I was venturing in Kuwait contributing to the economy in my own way. Although this picture was taken in Qatar last year when we were visiting the Fabulous Ms Becca, you can see just how the opportunities to shop abound in this part of the world! This is my New RUG that I purchased yesterday from my one-eyed, 82 year old Jordian boyfriend at the Friday Market. Although it's the "THING TO DO", I had told myself that I wasn't going to purchase a rug here because a) we had rugs from David's parents and b) I couldn't see spending money for things that are meant to be walked on. However when I saw this rug, as my friend SH said, "Nadine when the rug speaks to you, it's your duty to buy it". We only paid 100 KD (about $350). I LOVE this carpet. I also know that I got a good deal because my "boyfriend" wouldn't cheat me. Although I met his son yesterday who said to me "Now I see why my father doesn't bring any profit home because he sells things to you so cheap". Hhmm....
This is the corner of our living room. I have started a collection of "Dellahs", which are the pointey spouted coffee pots that are used here. David has informed me that "we have enough stuff on the walls" so I'll have to move my collection elsewhere. I don't think the cat would mind sharing his litter box area with my treasures do you?!

Say it Ain't So!!!

I love taking pictures in Kuwait. Not only to keep a permanent record of what our life is like here but, of course to share with YOU!
This is a picture taken in an old style Kuwaiti restaurant. On the left is an OUD, a lute/guitar like instrument that is very prominent in Arab music. To the left is a tabl or drum. I just finished teaching a unit on Arabic music in my Intro to Fine Arts class. I don't know about the students, but I LEARNED ALOT!
Foreground is our newest AIS teacher's apartment building. In the background is the World's Tallest Concrete Building in construction--meaning that it's entirely made of cement blocks, no steel rebar anywhere! Disregard the red and whtie thing, it's just another antenna so we can all be spied on (joke...joke...sorry)

These are the ovens where they make the yummy flat bread. The bread is actually thrown onto the walls of the oven. There is an open flame on the bottom. Still reminds me of the witch's oven in Hansel and Gretel. Recently I read in the Kuwait Times that there is a ban on digital cameras and therefore taking pictures in public. My WHOLE LIFE STYLE in Kuwait will be changed because, as YOU know, I live through my camera. And the hundreds (okay dozens) of you reading this blog DEPEND on me to live life vicariously for you right? I am hoping that this is another one of those laws that has been EXPRESSED but not necessarily FOLLOWED UP ON. (Yes that does happen here like the smokign in public ban and the no public display of affection ban, etc). SO if you never see any more pictures again, then you'll know they got me AND my camera.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Eid Mubarek

This is the neighborhood mosque right across the sandlot from our apartment. This morning several hundred people were gathered outside to celebrate the beginning of Eid Al Adha. Only minutes before I took this photo, it was filled with people. According the Muslim practice, the women worshipped behind the fenced off area.

After the worship service, two of the faithful remained to talk.

Eid Al Adha commemorates the sacrifice that Abraham was willing to make to God. We heard the Iman giving prayers and messages outside our building beginning at 530 am. This is nothing new as the first call to prayer is at 430 am. However, due to the occassion, this one was an hour long "sermon". I took the opportunity to grab my camera and stroll around the outside of the gathering. I got what I considered fantastic shots of the crowd. Then, inspired by my telephoto lens and the beautiful weather, I went up to the 8th floor of our apartment building for more stellar shots. It wasn't until the 50th shot that I realized that I didn't have a memory card in my camera. So, after running down 8 flights of stairs (okay, I ran down one and took the elevator to the other 7) and running back up (again one flight), I got a couple shots that you see here.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Dicotomy of Contrasts

This is a former home of an important Kuwaiti family. I think it was damaged by the Iraqi soldiers back in the 90s. I soooooooooo badly wanted to find a way in to snoop around but the tall fence with pictures of Old Kuwait was probably put there for people like me. An old mosque mineret in the foreground and the Grand Mosque mineret in the background.
A mosque that is several hundred years old exists alongside a tall modern skyscraper.

Kuwait is a land filled with contrasts. The old existing alongside the new, the rich along with the poor, the strict rules of a particular religion and the permissiveness of another culture's media. It's truly a fascinating place to live.

Vacation at Home

Friend MR, new bff from Q8 and David pose in the Diwanya (meeting place) room. The two guys on the wall are the current Crown Prince (left) and Amir.

These fine men were working at Kuwait History compound. It doesn't really open until 530 but these guys let us in because we were interested in seeing what was behind the doors. They gave us tea, let us take lots of pictures, gave us free stuff and warmly invited us to return. But only if I promised to publish their picture on my blog...Shakron for the fun day guys! This adorable waiter was our charming host at the restaurant where we were delightfully served. I am not giving out the name because I don't want all my Kuwait pals running to it and making it crowded for the next time I want to visit. The guys on the wall are the past Amirs.

We are enjoying an 11 day break for Eid Al Adha this week. Today we went out to see places we knew existed but had never had the time or opportunity to visit. We had a grand time checking out sites, leisurely walking through places, pretending we were on holiday in some unique Middle Eastern country.

Doors of Kuwait *This one's for you JC*

I am fascinated by the old wooden doors we often see in Q8. Today while siteseeing (part of our vacation at home series), we took time with friend MR to see some interesting, seldome visited placed. Yes it was prayer time. David and MR were the only ones allowed--I had to wait outside (you know, the whole female thing and all)
The flag is the original Kuwaiti flag. This restaurant had wonderful food, great service and a delightful Al Koot (old kuwait) atmosphere.

This door was in a former family compound of a very well known Kuwaiti family. I love that the door has a brass place with a house number on it.

Outside an original Kuwait family compound home. This place was the size of a medium size hotel. Unfortunately there was fire damage and the house was vacant. Oh, if these portals could talk!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Proud of our Vets

Thank you Ben, for spending your time in Iraq as a part of the ND Air Force national guard deployment.
Thanks also to our dear friend DocMike, his son Jason who have spent several tours on foreign soil.
And to my nephews 'Cottie and Nikker who have been many places in working with the NDARNG also.

We can't repay you for your time, but you certainly have our respect and love.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

EMAC Forensics (speech) Champs!

This is Anna's speech team. Or rather I should say, DAVID and Anna's speech team. Coach and daughter are pictured here with the whole group and their first place sweepstakes plaque! Anna and her partner took 3rd place in the comic duet category. A good time was had by all, but it's my 21st day of working in a row with tournaments on the past three weekends. Excuse me while I take a nap.........

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Halloween...AIS style

This was Anna's costume. Creapy huh? It's a mask she purchased in Venice two Christmas' ago. She put on the silent act while walking around school. It was fun to watch.

Believe it or not, Halloween is celebrated here at AIS. The elementary, middle school AND high school students love dressing up and acting the Trick or Treat part. This year, the teachers got in the act. Now, should you question the lack of style shown in the pictures below, you need to know that these teachers were "dressed up" by their high school students. There was a true sense of FUN in the air and it made learning fun that day. These are the winning teachers. Hats off to them for their HUGE sense of Style and Humor.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Prophetic Words

When we announced we were leaving for Kuwait back in the Spring of '08, one of my PRHS colleagues put this sign on my door. Imagine my surprise when I saw it posted in our AIS high school office the other day. It's a great life motto and it's a good feeling that it's followed me over the seas.


Anna played volleyball here at AIS for the past three years. When she began in 2009, she barely could hit the ball. This was unusual because she's fairly coordinated. Gradually she worked on her skills and while she was never the best player, her confidence grew. This year, she made the final cut for the EMAC travelling team. Unfortunately, they "travelled" all the way to AIS. The good news is that the team WON the championship. It was a grand event to be a part of!