Posts Tagged With: Al Seef

A Mini-Post On Kuwait

Greetings from the balmy temperatures of Kuwait! As it is March here, we’ve had a steady increase in temperatures. January was frigid with temperatures dropping into the high 40’s. February was a bit nicer, with temps getting into the 50-60’s in the afternoons. Now, as March begins, it’s getting WARM during the day, reaching into the mid 70’s! I have to admit, my concept of “cold” is severely skewed; what we’ve become used to here is much different than the below zero temperatures of Wisconsin. I have grown accustomed to wearing long sleeves and pants when temperatures are in the 60’s and 70’s, whereas in Wisconsin people would happily wear a sundress or shorts and a t-shirt. Now I just need to spend two years in Antarctica and see how I acclimatize to those temperatures!

Today’s post is considered a “mini-post” as it consists of snapshots from a few weekends here in Kuwait. All of the pictures will be from different days in January. Each picture is a mini-story, in a way. I hope you enjoy them : )

The last time we traveled was to Bangkok for the job fair, and the next time will be for spring break in April. Therefore, we’ve got a lovely few months to explore and document our last semester in Kuwait. It’s all gone by so fast! We’ve only got three months left. (All of March, all of April, and all of May. We leave on June 9.)

It is my goal to share as much of Kuwait as I can with you given the time that I have. Let’s get started!

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My girlfriend Abby and I took a trip to the Friday Market to look for a gift. (Remember: The Friday Market is an open-air flea market, a series of independently-run shops selling everything from generators to shoes to perfume.)

She fell in love with the framed pictures in this guy’s shop, and I fell in love with all the colors! The picture reminds me of Alice in the rabbit hole.

I always want to buy a framing of Arabic script, but know that they are religious phrases, which would make me feel strange to display in my house. I wish I could have someone walking around with me to translate all of the art so I could pick one where I liked the message!

 

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A few of my friends and I visited the AWARE Center one weekend for a traditional Kuwaiti foods night. AWARE stands for “Advocates for Arab-Western Relations” and they do an amazing job of making people feel welcome in Kuwait. I have been to a few of their events before; they host everything from dinner socials to trips to the Grand Mosque. Everyone who works there is incredibly passionate about welcome newcomers to Kuwait and debunking their myths and questions. It’s a great time!

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A sample plate from the AWARE dinner. The small plate on the left is a breakfast dish consisting of rose-water flavored noodles and scrambled egg. The woman who served it said that it is made for newlyweds to eat in the mornings after their wedding. It was really tasty and sweet, I definitely would eat it for breakfast!

On the larger plate I couldn’t eat many of the dishes as they had lamb, beef, or chicken in them, so this photo is a picture of my friend’s plate. The only thing I had from the dinner that is pictured on this plate is the “saj” wrap, which is a sandwich eaten throughout the Arab world, and the rice at the top of the photo. Everywhere you go in Kuwait you can get “saj”; it’s a delicious thin, eggy flatbread rolled up with all sorts of fillings and then toasted on a giant hot stone. In my saj sandwiches I get olives, tomatoes, cheese, and zaatar (an oregano seasoning mixture popular in the Arab world). Yum yum!

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Another weekend we went with some friends of ours to an open mic night in Kuwait. That’s right! We actually found out about a place that had open mic! It was a blast. It was in a fancy shisha bar—of which these lights were hung on the ceiling. The open mic was a great time; there were poets, spoken word artists, guitarists, singers, you name it. There were a lot of Lebanese people, Phillipino, even a girl who flew up from Saudi to present her poetry! She was so amazing, Abby asked her for her website. Here it is if you’re interested in reading progressive female poetry by a young Saudi Arabian woman:  http://7alaabdullah.com/

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Shisha and fancy bottled water at open mic night. The glowing carafes were just torturing me; begging to chill a nice white wine instead of a bottle of water… Oh well. What they didn’t have in terms of beverages they sure made up for in atmosphere!

 

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I think even if Sean COULD order a beer he would still get a milkshake. Actually, I don’t “think”, I know. It’s happened many times. That man’s got the biggest sweet tooth I’ve ever met. (Aside from my sister, of course.) Gotta love him : )

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Abby and I at open mic night!

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Okay, another ‘mini story’. This apartment building is near my house, and I always walk past their “Thug Lite Life” graffiti and wonder, why does this exist? What crazy kids live here, living a “thug lite life”? I had to take a picture of it.

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There’s nothing spectacular about this place, only that it’s another example of how life is different here than in America. This is a “stationary store”, which is where you go to buy your school supplies, gift wrapping materials, even watercolor and crayon sets. I just find it interesting that everything is compartmentalized; you seldom go to a “buy everything in one place” store. You end up getting your things from separate sellers in your neighborhood.

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Can you spot the sneaky spy? I love snapping photos of cats in peculiar places in Kuwait. There’s certainly no shortage of them!

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I have lots of friends asking me how to use the bus in Kuwait, so I took this picture as an example for them. You find a bus stop, which looks like this. Then you check the numbers on the sign—this bus stop services route 66 and route 999. Then you get out your 250 fills and wait.

The 66, if you pick it up opposite Shaab park, will take you to Marina Mall and the International Clinic, both in Salmiya. There’s lots to do along this route, just get off whenever you see a place you’d like to check out. Route 999, if you board it across from Shaab park, will take you through Salmiya as well, but on a different road. You could take it all the way to the Science Center if you want, but I normally use it for Al Seef hospital.

If you get on the bus on the other side of the street, the side closer to the McDonald’s and Shaab park, the 66 will actually take you to the Friday Market! The 999 will take you to the Old Souk in Kuwait City.

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Sometimes these signs aren’t labeled with the routes, but you can always check to see if you’re confused!

There you have it; a few mini-stories about life in Kuwait. I’ve got lots more adventures to share with you before we board another plane for spring break, so stay tuned for more Kuwait secrets!

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Categories: Kuwait | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Open Wide, October! Otherwise Known As, The Month of Food Photography.

I find it hard to believe an entire month has gone by since my last post. Literally. So much has happened over the past four weeks that I don’t even know where to begin. I think that’s why I refuse to blog in any other organizational format than chronological. That way I don’t leave anything out!

It’s November 11th here in Kuwait, and I write to you from the comfortable cushions of my couch on a school day that was not-to-be. That’s right, we got a surprise day off! We were supposed to have school today—I woke up at 6 as usual, made coffee, packed our lunches, and was about to step out the door when I received a text saying, “In honor of the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Kuwait constitution, school has been canceled.”  We knew of the event, of course, there were fireworks, parades, and festivals, but that was yesterday, over the weekend. I guess they just wanted to extend the festivities another day. Thus, today is the final day of a three-day weekend, then we teach three days, and then we have another three-day weekend. Next weekend is three days because of Islamic New Year. (We are off on another adventure next weekend, too. I can’t WAIT to share that one with you!)  It seems we have more days off than we teach over these two weeks… but hey, when we work, we work hard!

So, today, I spent the larger part of my morning in the Al Seef hospital. I have a swollen wrist that’s been giving me grief for around two years, and have never gotten it looked at. I think it’s from all those years of waitressing; the lifting heavy trays for hours at a time from ages 16-22 probably damaged the muscles. Either way, it was my first time to Al Seef, and it is a BEAUTIFUL hospital.  (Click here for Google Images.) The nicest I think I’ve seen. I was seen right away, received an x-ray, an ultrasound (on my wrist, guys, don’t panic), and made an appointment for an MRI tomorrow. What did it cost me? Only a few hours of my time. We are so well taken care of here at our school I can’t even begin to tell you how lucky we feel. I think my wrist will be fine, the doctors said it’s intramuscular stuff, but they’re not quite sure.  As long as I can flip a sauté pan, write on a chalkboard, pitch a tent, and give my husband a haircut, I’m not too worried about it : )

When I found I was able to move the appointment to this morning (after I found out we had the day off), I decided I would try to bike from our apartments to Al Seef. When I head out early in the morning (or before 5pm really), the traffic tends to be fine. And wow, I was right! It was an absolutely beautiful bike ride—I got to race down empty roads, let the sun warm my face, crank up the tunes on my iPod, round corners with grace, and coast to the hospital parking lot with fifteen minutes to spare. I spent the extra time walking along the coast admiring the blooming violets and rolling waves. It’s days like this where I am reminded to appreciate the little things here in Kuwait! I mean really, looking at the screenshot below, Kuwait can be the adventurous bikers’ dream, what with all the coastline to cruise!

All right, onto the pictures.

I grew mildly embarrassed when I looked over the photos for today’s blog. As I said earlier, I do everything chronological order. It helps me frame the topics for each blog post as well as keep me organized. Well, the twenty or so photos that were in the queue ended up being all pictures of… you guessed it… food. (Minus one or two of friends.) I need to make a resolution right now that I will take more photos of places, people, and things, and less of food. I mean, a majority of my audience DOES live in Wisconsin, so I assume the food pictures are all right with you guys ; )

To begin, it was our good friend Andrew’s birthday earlier in the month. We threw him a good old-fashioned birthday party, complete with cake, candles, and smiles. I baked him a cake, made him a homemade coconut frosting. (One of my girlfriends here has gotten me completely addicted to coconut oil. Ask me about it sometime!)

There were balloons, libations, and lots of people who like to have a good time. It was really special.

Speaking of special, this is our friend Shannon from Wisconsin! She accepted a position this year teaching at another school here in Kuwait. We couldn’t believe it when she told us she was coming to work here—it’s been a blast hanging out with her! She says she likes it so far, but one of my favorite lines I heard her say was, “I am learning to appreciate the simple things in life…” When the struggles of international living get you down, just turn to Shannon, the eternal optimist! : )

Remember how I said this was all about food? We were invited to a Canadian Thanksgiving a few weeks ago, and it was a real treat. Our friends Dave and Lacie hosted us. We brought lemon squares and others brought the Thanksgiving traditionals: stuffing, cranberries, mashed potatoes, candied yams, you name it. Dave even rigged up his flatscreen to a looping Youtube video of a crackling fireplace!

Here’s Dave, being the ultimate host. What a great time!

My girlfriend Abby and I are addicted to this Indian restaurant in Kuwait City. Like, so addicted we’ve gone two weeks in a row and ordered the exact same thing each time. However… now that I think about it, I don’t think the “ordering the same thing each time” means we’re addicted, I just think it means I have NO idea what else to order off this menu! I mean, really, what would you order? Also, in case you can’t remember the exchange rate, this place is ridiculously well-priced. 1 KD is about $3.50, so most meals here will run you around $2.50 – $3.00. It is so good, I am about to get off the couch and head over there right now.

We may order the same thing each time, but let me tell you, it’s worth it! The only way I learned how order this was when I saw an Indian couple eating it one of the first times I visited. I simply pointed and asked the name and our server said “thali”. I later learned that “thali” simply means an indian meal made up of a selection of dishes. This is a traditional “lunch platter”, I guess. So now, that’s all I order, until I remember to Google some of the menu items beforehand to learn what they are! I can tell you, though, in the above picture, that the three different kinds of bread, papad, poori, and chapathi, are delicious. All I have learned are the names of the bread. I do know one of the dishes on the platter is a dahl, which basically means a lentil dish. MMMMmmmmMMMM!

After Abby and I had our Indian thali feast, we walked around the Souq for a bit. I am still trying to figure out what this “modern coke” stuff is… I was too nervous to buy some…

I can’t believe I haven’t shared this place with you yet. It’s known as “the Egyptian bread place” by my coworkers, and I think the real name is something like “Prince of Princes”. They specialize in, well, everything you SHOULDN’T eat. I mean, really. You’ll see. It’s naughty.

In the photo above, a man is crafting the holy “Egyptian bread”.  I don’t know why it’s called this, because it’s the least bread-y thing you can imagine. Sure there’s a crust, but it’s more like a gooey, cheesy, flaky wrapped pizza. You’ll see…

Abby ordered a large “bread” or “pizza” to go, (it’s totally not a pizza, but I don’t even know how else to describe it), and I asked the man if I could snap some photos. What I love about the above picture is how it shows the use of natural, whole foods. It’s not a precut, freeze-dried, shipped-in-from-Roundy’s operation. These guys go to the store, buy the eggs, buy the olives, buy the cheese, cut it up, and put it together. That’s why I feel good about eating out a lot here—if you eat what the locals eat, most items have under ten ingredients in the entire dish, and they’re all natural foods! (But that doesn’t excuse the pound of cheese that’s in one of the Egpytian bread thingys…)

But, like I said, this place is naughty. While you wait for your “Egyptian bread”, you walk around salivating like an idiot. I mean, when would you ever order dessert this opulent?! When you’re Kuwaiti, that’s when : ) They know how to dine in style! Me, I just walk around thinking to myself, “Ooooh, pretty colors!”

This stuff is really, really good, but only in small amounts. Most of it is made up of sugar, honey, rosewater, and pistachios. You can only eat so much until you feel like a sugar-coated pistachio yourself. A lot of it falls under the “baklava” category, but they’ve got all sorts of sweets you can order by the kilo.

But this stuff, I have never understood. I wonder if it’s what they eat instead of prepackaged chips? To me, it tastes a bit like dog treats. Seriously.  Some of it smells like feet, too. But maybe I just order the wrong kind.

Anyways, back to our Egyptian-bread-pizza-man. Here he is, putting the toppings onto the crust. Look at how HUGE the crust becomes! And look at all those delicious toppings. Then, he folds the dough over the toppings, pops it in the oven on the right, and…..

You’ve got heaven in a box. Since this place is so close to the school, these things make frequent staff meeting snacks.

Speaking of food, the kitties in Kuwait have to eat, too! Here is our friendly neighbor, Bob, feeding the local kittens outside our apartment. He is so compassionate!

Lastly, Sean and I took an evening all to ourselves and went out for dinner. (I know that sounds like it’s not a big deal, but it actually is. Because we travel so much on the long weekends, we spend most of our time in Kuwait relaxing around our apartment and recuperating from work and traveling. It’s a rough life.) So, I have been dying to try this place that Sean and I went to. It’s called “Free Time”, and it is a restaurant and shisha bar. If you look, you can see that the tables and benches in the above picture are all on a rocker. You can sway back and forth like you are on a porch swing while you eat your food and smoke your shisha!

I also loved the “au naturale” look they were going for, with the greenery covering up the air ducts. Classy.

Since we already had an early dinner, we decided to splurge and share a banana split. Shisha, rocking chairs, and ice cream. Life is good.

And life only continues to get better! There is so much to do, see, ponder, explore, and share with others in this vast world that I am so thankful I get the opportunity to do it all and share it with you. I hope you enjoyed this food extravaganza, and, no, Sean has not gained 100 pounds from all of this indulgence. But the question is… have I?
Stay tuned for our last-minute trip to Oman where we camped in the mountains, swam in the sea, and hiked up canyons! Then, a blog post on how Kuwait broke a world record! All this coming up throughout November and December! Stay warm, wherever you are!

Categories: Kuwait | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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