Posts Tagged With: souk

Ma’a Salama Habibti! Kuwait ‘Till We Meet Again.

Our apartment is empty. I don’t mean, “it’s really clean” empty. I mean, “the movers came today and there is literally nothing inside our apartment except a suitcase” empty. Our exodus from Kuwait is officially underway.

I am sitting on a bare mattress, sipping water out of a plastic cup, waiting for Sean to come home from school so we can go out for dinner. We fly back to Chicago tomorrow night, so this is our last leisurely evening in Kuwait.

The last exams were a week or so ago, and we’ve had this week for professional development and closing up our classrooms and apartments. Sean and I have used this week to make sure we accomplish a few things:

1. Leave our classrooms nice and pretty for the new staff members replacing us.
2. Ship 2 cubic meters of our life away in boxes… Which will meet us in Cambodia, inshallah.
3. Eat as much hummus and felafel as we can stomach.
4. Have as many board game nights as our friends can tolerate.
5. Say our “See you laters” to the lovely people we’ve worked with in Kuwait.
6. Get new pages in our passports.
7. Close our bank accounts.
8. Sell all the IKEA furniture we’ve acquired over the past two years.
9. Stare starry-eyed at pictures of Southeast Asia on Google.
10. Bug Sean to get a dog when we arrive in Cambodia. (Wait, that’s only on my to-do list…)
11. Visit the Old Souk one last time to sample dates, savor baklava, and smoke shisha.
12. Appreciate the Middle East for all that makes it the Middle East.

We’ve done pretty well the past week, aside from the raging desire to get home to see our families. We’ve had a lot of fun, and I’ve managed to take lots of pictures. This will be the last blog I write from our home in Medan Hawally, Kuwait. I hope you enjoy.

IMG_6032
The school has an annual farewell dinner for all the staff to get together one last time. It is really formal and incredibly delicious. This year it was held at the new Jumeirah Messila Beach Hotel.

IMG_6034
Did you know I had such fine looking friends? I will miss Abby and Sharon so much. Abby (on the left) will be returning to Kuwait next year, but Sharon (on the right) is moving to Mozambique! We are definitely planning on visiting her in the near future…

IMG_6035
Kyle and Sean are quite the refined gentlemen.

IMG_6042
After the dinner Abby, Eric and I couldn’t resist exploring the hotel. It only opened a few weeks prior, and we heard it was lavishly decorated. The elevators sure were… opulent… in a Willy Wonka kind of way.

IMG_6043
Going up…

IMG_6044
This was the strangest room we found. It was set up like a diwaniya, the men’s social room in Kuwaiti culture, but it looked like a giant fish tank. I half expected it to flood with water while we were walking through it!

IMG_6047
This was the women’s bathroom sign at the hotel. You’d never see this back in the States. Don’t you love the mystique?

IMG_6048
On another note, I snapped this photo while driving through downtown Kuwait City. It was a gorgeously sunny day and made the whole scene seem like we were somewhere else. Recently it’s been really dusty here in Kuwait, and when I say dusty I mean that the dust is so prevalent in the air that it actually grits your teeth!

IMG_6059
I have no shame. Abby and I ate Ethiopian again this week. I even got some injera to take home. I have a problem.

IMG_6065
For the first time in Kuwait, we ordered Ethiopian coffee. It was a staple whenever we ate out in Ethiopia, but we’d never ordered it at the restaurant. It is tradition to burn frankincense when coffee is served, which makes the whole ordeal incredibly cozy and relaxing. We sat there over an hour sipping coffee and playing cards.

IMG_6067
Another thing on my bucket list was to make it down to Fahaheel one more time. (Yes, say it out loud. You know you want to. And it really is just as awkward to say out loud as you are imagining right now.) On a particularly dusty day we boarded the bus and made the thirty-minute bus ride down to the other big city in Kuwait. Notice the face mask on the man boarding the bus… It was that dusty!

IMG_6072
Sharon and Abby being troopers on the bus.

IMG_6074
The restaurant we had lunch in had a killer view over the Gulf. The windows were disgustingly dirty, but I snapped the bird’s eye view pictures anyways.

IMG_6075
That’s Al Kout mall on the right, the main mall in Fahaheel.

IMG_6076
Now, I didn’t have rose-colored glasses on because it was my last weekend in Kuwait, but this serusly was the BEST Indian food I have ever had. In my life. Ever. What you are looking at is a “thali”, or Indian lunch platter. I am addicted to them, every where I go. However, most thalis only have six items or so, and normally are a thicker curry, a vegetable, a thinner soup, a sweet item, and some chutney. Always rice and bread. This thali was the “Friday Special” and was only $7.00. I had died and gone to heaven. Not to mention it was a vegetarian restaurant, so I could chow down without having to worry about any mystery meat…

IMG_6079
We made a few shopping stops, and while Abby was in the checkout line at Centerpoint, Sharon and I browsed their fashion catalogue. Who knew chastity belts were now the latest fashion trend?

IMG_6082
Sharon used to visit Fahaheel a lot, so she knew where to find the cool antique stores. This guy had the best souvenirs I’d ever found in Kuwait! (If you haven’t determined by now, Kuwait isn’t a country known for souvenirs… Or much of a tourism industry…)

IMG_6084
Sharon and Abby picking out some hidden gems.

IMG_6088
We then visited some of Sharon’s favorite vendors, the “Bling Bling Brothers”. Seriously. They gave me a key chain that said, “The Bling Bling Brothers, Faroz and Hatim” with their cell phone numbers at the bottom. Needless to say, they were great salesmen!

IMG_6089
Sharon needed to do some work with her apartment, so we stopped by the hardware store on our way home. Not your typical Home Depot…

IMG_6091
Just as we were leaving the city, we saw a father with the most adorable sons we’d seen. He happily let me take their picture, while the boys posed like the true warriors they totally thought they were. Their dad said they were dressed up for a wedding. Beautiful, huh?

IMG_6093
Abby’s cat, Asha.

IMG_6095

Well, we finished our weekend with a heated game of Trivial Pursuit. (Boys against girls. Always.)

I’ve never been good at good byes, so I won’t torture myself – or you – in trying to write one for my blog. Just know that alohakuwait is far from over! Alohakuwait will continue to bring you the most fabulous photos and stories from around the world, just like always. I wrestled with changing the name from alohakuwait, but it is so perfect I couldn’t bring myself to recreate my blog. I kind of like having the history of where we’ve lived follow us as we continue to blog around the world. And besides, “aloha” is fitting no matter where you go. : ) Hopefully I learn more Khmer in Cambodia than I did Arabic in Kuwait…

This summer I will blog about the 101 things to do in Kenosha, the best microbrews of the Midwest, and the gnarliest hikes in the Beartooth Mountains. Kuwait doesn’t get to have all the fun, you know.

It’s been real. Stay tuned to alohakuwait. I’ll see you soon.

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

Kuwaitaminute! The Best Of The Country In One Week.

Happy April! I can barely believe we have only 8 weeks left here in Kuwait.

From a teacher’s perspective, spring break is over, and we only have a few more lessons to plan, papers to grade, and, sadly, smiling faces to greet. Why is teaching so fantastic, you ask? Because every year is a living organism. Unique in its own way, inevitably different from the last. There is a birth, growth, and renewal every nine months unlike any other profession.

From an expat’s perspective, there’s a lot I need to cram in before saying “Masalama” to this country for the last time. Luckily, my mother came to visit in March, and I had to chance to highlight the best of Kuwait over the course of one week. Together we ate at my favorite restaurants, saw my favorite sights, and laughed at my favorite enigmas. Please enjoy the photo journey as I give you, “The Best of Kuwait in One Week”.

IMG_4785My lovely mother in front of the Kuwait Towers. We unfortunately couldn’t go into the towers themselves because they were under construction (for how long? who knows…) so we relaxed outside for a while, taking in the distinct smell of Kuwait ocean air. We snapped a few photos and then walked to one of my favorite shisha/smoothie cafes on the Gulf, Fresh Mango.

IMG_4777

Another highlight of our trip was the new addition at The Avenues. They’ve added an entire “Souk” section that I had never seen before. We spent hours wandering the passageways, peering into “traditional” shops. In the above photo my mother is trying Arabic coffee for the first time. If I recall, she said she preferred American.

IMG_4773 IMG_4770

The impressive new addition at The Avenues.

IMG_4769

It’s not a trip to Kuwait without visiting the Friday Market. My mom was a bit overwhelmed with the crowds and the size of it all, but we had fun looking at the strange knick-knacks.

IMG_4768

I couldn’t believe they were selling Sea Monkeys at the Friday Market! I haven’t seen these since I was a kid. I had to restrain myself from pulling out my wallet and buying one (or three).

IMG_4766

My mom pointed this out, otherwise I would have walked right by. We also had this when I was a kid; it’s a triops. We actually had this same kit, and “grew” the same triops. To be honest, it’s a bit disgusting in hindsight. If you currently live in Kuwait, these would make a great gift for the scientist in your family!

IMG_4765

As always, we had to stop and stare at the shiny things : )

IMG_4762

This is my favorite restaurant in Kuwait, Banana Leaf. I have blogged about it before, but here is a photo of my all-time favorite dish, the thali. It’s a traditional Indian lunch platter, with the most delicious assortment of vegetarian curries, sauces, and sautes. I can never get enough! (And it’s all for 1 KD!)

IMG_4754

Sean and my mother at the Old Souk (Souk Mubarikiya) in Kuwait City. We were just about to load up on some baklava.

IMG_4743

At the Old Souk, Sean tells a gripping narrative of Kuwaiti history.

IMG_4727

I finally found the Sri Lankan restaurant in Kuwait City! While I loved it, my mom was fanning flames out of her mouth. It’s right across from the McDonald’s/bus stop area. I can’t wait to go back!

IMG_4726_2

We also spent an afternoon at the Old Souk with some shisha and storytelling. This area is also a new addition to the Old Souk; I love the architecture.
IMG_4724

For the first time, I stumbled upon an actual garden within the Old Souk!

IMG_4710

Spending a relaxing afternoon at Souq Sharq.

IMG_4708

My mom would live very happily in the Middle East; she loves all things pickled and pureed!

IMG_4705

We had a great time gawking at the fish in the fish market. I never buy anything, and always wish I had the knowledge and gumption to do so…
IMG_4704

Business taking place at the Souq Sharq fish market.

IMG_4702

An evening stroll along the Gulf…

IMG_4697_2

Oh, my maritime husband…

IMG_4693

I liked this photo because it shows a nicely manicured street near the Parliament. Kuwait has its spots of beauty, you just have to hunt it down : )

IMG_4692

The Grand Mosque.

IMG_4691

One of my mom’s favorite restaurants was Zaatar W Zeit, at Marina Mall. She loves flatbread and spices!

IMG_4670Just another beautiful mosque in Salmiya.

There you have it, folks. Hopefully I have done Kuwait justice. I love this time of year, when the air is crisp and the sun is warm. We had a great time together, and I can’t wait to see my family back in Wisconsin in one 57 days…  not that I’m counting.

Categories: Kuwait | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Sean Does The Arab Taco

Well, here we are back in Kuwait, with nothing better to do than go out for dinner (and breakfast, and lunch), ride my bicycle, play cribbage, soak up the rays, and walk along the ocean contemplating our next chapter in life. (Don’t worry, what I mean by that is deciding our plans for summer vacation…)

We thought it was high time we shared with you the Arab taco.

ta·co/ˈtäkō/

Noun:
A Mexican dish consisting of a fried folded tortilla, filled with various mixtures, such as seasoned meat, beans, lettuce, and tomatoes.

 

The above definition asserts the notion that tacos are strictly Mexican in origin. To me, a taco is a bit like a vehicle. Everyone has their favorite mode of transportation, but how you choose to get there can make all the difference. Bicycles, SUVs,public transportation, rocket ship, mental journey, the possibilities are endless. To pull this nauseating metaphor to an end, I want to venture in saying that tacos do not have to fit into a specific genre. You can make a “taco” out of anything.

Intro the Arab taco.

Step 1: Go to your nearest souk. If you’re at all lost, look for alleyways filled with colorful fabric, skewered meat, and people calling you, “For you, special price!”. Sit down in an eating area—bonus points if you find a place with no menu.

Step 2: Order copious amounts of food on accident. (Try not to eat anything after 8am the morning of, if you can help it.) In your best “I know what I’m doing, I swear” accent, ask for the following:

– hummus (The soupy-looking dish on the left.)

– shish tawouk (The chicken in the center.)

– bread (Still haven’t figured out how to ask for this one. They bring it on the house anywhere you go.)

– salad (Again, on the house, the dish on the far right of the screen.)

– rumman khair o-salada (The pomegranate masterpiece to the right of the chicken.)

Step 3: The hummus. The Arabic version of guacamole. It’s everywhere. Made out of chickpeas, tahini (sesame seed oil), lemon juice, garlic, salt, and lots and LOTS of olive oil. I just may have more hummus coursing through my veins than I do blood cells. While you wait for the rest of your food to arrive, feel free to dip a few pieces of lettuce into your hummus. Or just eat it with your finger.

Step 4: The chicken. We always order only “one”, but end up with four skewers. Since I’m a vegetarian, the daunting task of demolishing all this chicken lies to my husband alone. He never fails to disappoint.

Step 5: My personal favorite. Pomegranate cucumber salad. Have you ever SEEN so much pomegranate? I am also fairly certain this dish costs around $2.00. There’s a reason why they stick spoons in it when they serve it to you…

Pomegranate is one of the most beautiful reasons to live in the Middle East. Did you know they symbolize fertility? They are in abundance everywhere you go. We are spoiled!

Step 6: Liberally slather your bread with hummus, and place some chicken in the center. Don’t worry about being cleanly about it—with bread this size, you just yank off a corner.

Step 7: Top the bread/chicken/hummus combo with the pomegranate salad and a bit of lettuce & lemon juice. Before you know it, you’re in heaven. Twenty minutes later, you’ve eaten your weight in bread, pomegranates, and hummus, and you’ve paid $12.00 for the two of you.

Now that’s a date night if I’ve ever seen one.



Categories: Kuwait | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.