Q8Sultana's Blog...

Generally I can be found roaming somewhere in the world. I'm originally from Hungary, I grew up in Kuwait, I did my BA in the States, my MA in the UK, and now work in Hungary, but still return to Kuwait regularly :o)

Saturday, July 30, 2005

My favorite…office building in Kuwait

The Arab Organizations Headquarters building is located in Shuwaikh near MTC, and from the outside doesn’t look anything special. It’s pretty much a big concrete cube, with little windows.

Inside, however, one comes across all sorts of treasures. It is an architectural masterpiece, one of its kind in the world probably.

It houses four major organizations: the Arab Fund for Social and Economic Development, OAPEC (Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries), the Inter-Arab Investment Guarantee Corporation and the Arab Maritime Petroleum Transport Company.

The Arab Fund’s website has lots of details and pictures. One can arrange for a live tour by calling 4844500, extension 2011. It is definitely worth a visit, and until one sees it he won’t understand what the big deal is. It is advisable to wear comfortable shoes, as the tour last 3+ hours. It is possible to arrange for a tour on a Thursday.

This time I only posted some of my pictures of tiles and geometric designs from inside the building.

Day 23

Today as we were merging onto road 40 from Sabah Al Salem, my boyfriend hit a kitty cat.

It just jumped onto the road out of nowhere and there was no way of stopping.

We could hear its bones crack under the car.

It was horrible.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Day 22

Hmm, I’ve been here for three weeks already and it feels like I just arrived yesterday. I guess time flies when you’re having fun.
Somehow I always have fun here. I’m always on the go. I drove over 2000 kilometers in three weeks. Where to? I don’t know.
Well, unfortunately I’m past the half time mark of my holiday, I’m leaving in less than three weeks. Until then, however, I have a dissertation to finish. It’s about the GCC, focusing on its relations with the EU. I’m going to try to finish it up in one week, so I’ll still have time to lazy around after that.
Today we spent KD 30 in Sultan Center. Prices have so gone up here. We only bought food that might not even last the whole week. Of course things like V8 and Gatorade are sneakily overpriced. What I don’t get is with temperatures close to 50, and people sweating like horses, why is there only one flavor of Gatorade on the shelves of Sultan Center? And it’s purple. I had a very hard time convincing my dad about the advantages of Gatorade, he doesn’t like foods and drinks in weird colors. It doesn’t get weirder than purple.

I left my camera at home these past few days, but here’s the picture Edjamacated Guy “requested.” :o) Unfortunately the sunrise cannot be seen from my roof. But the sunset can be, so here’s a shot of that I took last year.
Also, a picture of some mesbahs. I liked how colorful they were. Can someone please write down what they are used for?
Until yesterday I thought they go through the 33 beads 3 times and say the 99 adjectives for God, but then I was told no, they say Allahu Akbar 33 times, Hamdulillah 33 times and SubhanAllah 33 times.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

My dad

I used to think that the most difficult part of being a Muslim must be to get up for fajr prayer before sunrise.
Since the Kuwaiti government has the new law banning outside work between 12 and 4, my dad has to be at work at 5am, and thus he leaves a little after 4. So, since I’m here, I’ve been getting up around 3:30ish in the morning, to make him breakfast and pack his lunch, sometimes cooking it in the morning. We usually end up having a nice chit-chat over breakfast.
So now I hear the morning call for prayer every day, except Fridays.
It’s not so bad at all. Of course I get to go back to sleep after he leaves, and I definitely don’t have trouble falling asleep again. I can fall asleep pretty much anytime anywhere in general...

PS: I was thinking it would be nice to go out and take sunrise pictures one morning on the beach or something. Anyone know any good spots?

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

My favorite…food in Kuwait

The favorites section is back.
I love Irani bread, especially with labneh. I like the one with sesame seeds. Sim-sim.
They always make fun of me because I usually only buy one piece. They always say “Bess wahed? Lesh? Ishtery 5!”

Day 19

Today all Al-Shaya stores went on sale. Since I’m here I’ve hardly even been to any shops. Actually ever since I don’t fit into UK size 12, I avoid buying anything. It’s been like this for two years now, I must have saved quite a lot of money this way. I hate size 14 though.

I found another pretty Shia mosque, this time in Sharq. It's called Masjed Al Shirazy. It's not as decorated as the one in Jabriya, but still, MashAllah it's nice. I don’t get why they only decorate the dome and the minaret and not the rest of the building also.
I like anything related to math, and I’ve always found these bushes shaped into geometric shapes cute along the Gulf Road.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Day 18

Today was foggy Kuwaiti style. Not actual fog, but so much humidity in the air that it looked like fog, the globes of the Kuwait Towers kind of just floating on top of it.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Day 17

Today was not a full moon, nevertheless the drivers around Kuwait were possessed. I got cut off, and almost pushed off the road a record number of times. But in general there was above average flashing, zig-zaging and traffic on the emergency lane.
Well, at least here I remember to be happy to be alive a lot more (pretty much every time I park the car at the end of the day). In other countries I usually take that as granted :)

Friday, July 22, 2005

Marina Mall and the purpose of life

Whenever I am in Marina Mall on a weekend, along with the rest of Kuwait, as I look at the rolling crowds, the question “What is the purpose of life?” always pops in my mind. Even I’m not sure what the two things have to do with each other.
Of course this question has no clearly defined answer, but one thing is for sure, loitering around Marina Mall is not.
I try to avoid malls here on the weekends, because I hate noisy, crowded places in general. In Marina Mall, in the center where they have that dome and waterfall and all the cafes, the murmur of hundreds of people somehow gets stuck and amplified, and it makes me totally nauseous.
Today it was already so crowded even at 6, that there was a long queue outside the parking lot entrance, and since we spotted a space on the sandy area next to the mall, we parked there. That’s where I took this pretty sunset over the overhead pass to the beach side of the mall, complete with palm trees and traffic :o)
We went to watch Madagascar with my dad. I LOVE the penguins.
Smile and wave…
Look cute and cuddly….

Day 16

Kuwait is a country of paradoxes. Even when people ask me about it at home, they either think everything is made of gold here, or that people still ride around on camels and live in tents.
We went to my favorite Indian restaurant for lunch today, Oriental in Kuwait city. Yumm.

As we were emerging from the underground parking lot next to Salhiya complex I noticed something interesting. If I looked right, there was the Marriott and Salhiya complex lined with shops like Louis Vuitton and Tiffany. On the left there’s what can be best described as a slum. I wonder where these people will live once the last of these buildings will be torn down. The two pictures below were taken from the same spot, one towards my left, the other towards my right. Of course from this angle all I could find was a Givenchy sign that implies the fancy shops of Salhiya complex.

These three pictures were also taken from almost the same spot. Although I did walk a few steps and changed directions, to get out from under the arcades.
Kuwait city has to be the most paradoxical place of all in Kuwait. As the pictures show, old and new, nice and ugly, shiny and dull, clean and dirty can be found coexisting a few meters from each other.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Day 12

I tried taking a picture of my glasses as they fog up when I go outside from an air conditioned place into the 99% humidity. I forgot that not only my glasses but also my camera’s lens will fog up, so the picture is double foggy :o)

I went to Sable to pick up some dessert, and took this picture of the sunset over Hawally, again with a foggy camera.
They are building what appears to be a shopping center in Jabriya. That will be great. During the school year on weekdays in the mornings and afternoons, Jabriya is inaccessible. Just block 12 alone has three schools right next to each other. There’s no way in or out. We pay a bunch of money for our apartment, and we can’t even get out of it, or get to it between 7 and 8 in the morning and 12:30 and 2:30 in the afternoon. Also, there’s two hospitals (Mubarak and Hadi) in Jabriya generating more traffic, and they are building a new maternity clinic. Then there's a mini restaurant street. So yeah, Jabriya really needs a shopping mall to add to the chaos.
Of course the traffic problem is widespread in Kuwait, and complete lack of city planning is just making things worse. Wallah, if I was settling here long term I would move to the edge of the desert, away from schools and malls and traffic jams.
The other thing I don’t understand is that people build these houses for hundreds of thousands of KDs, they are the size of a small palace, and they are all squished up close to each other, like there was not enough land or something. There’s like a meter between houses. You look out the window and see right into your neighbor’s house. (Well, theoretically you would if the curtains weren’t shut 24/7) And most houses don’t even have a garden, again as if there was a shortage of land. I think the best part about living in a house (as opposed to an apartment) would be to have a garden.
So, I think if I was living here permanently I would move to Wafra and live on a farm :o)

Monday, July 18, 2005

Day 11

I ended up going to the beach, and ended up getting a sunburn. I was swimming around in the water for an hour, so only my shoulders got burned. It was great though, I love the sea, even though there’s like twenty-some sewage pipes in Kuwait that dump stuff straight into the water. At least that’s what I heard, and quiet frankly I wouldn’t be surprised. You can actually see something that looks like sewage flowing into the sea close to Fahaheel on the Google Satellite map.
So, as I wrote, yesterday I was down there, because I had to take some shirts to the laundry in Fintas (please don’t ask why we go to the laundry in Fintas when we live in Jabriya. There’s no sensible explanation). I was so distracted by all the construction and new buildings down there that I actually missed the Fintas coop at first, and was already past Fintas Towers when I figured I had to make a U-turn. For many years we lived in Mangaf, Abu-Halifa and Mahboula (yes, crazy woman), and I used to go to ESF. Everything changed SO much though.

Today I was roaming around Kuwait City, accompanying a friend on running errands, and noticed a cool mosaic on a building. I actually really like the buildings that were built in the 60s and 70s, they are so retro. Too bad they’ll be getting torn down eventually, and replaced by ugly skyscraper glass monsters.
It must have had been at least 90% humidity. Every time I got out of the air-conditioned car, my glasses got foggy.
A note to Mark: Someone suggested I buy a room humidifier as that might help my throat. (When it’s actually not humid outside) I checked at Al-Ghanim in Shuwaikh, and they had some starting from KD17.

Day 10

Today I’m tired and cranky so this won’t be long. I took some cool pictures of fish at Al-Kout Mall. It wasn’t clear why they were congregating in this shape. You can see my shadow too as I lean over the rail:

Today was extremely hot. My dad said that the thermometers at his work (in the desert) were over 50 today.
I finally saw Madagascar, I think it was hilarious. I was hysterical from laughter at times, almost falling out of my chair in Fanar. There were these birds lose in the mall by the way…(hehe, they were just decoration)
At dinner one of our plant trees started falling over, almost landing on the dinner table. We put a chair in front of it, until we figure out what to do.

I’m all worried cause the car was making some very weird noises as I was driving home. Tomorrow morning I’m supposed to be going to the beach, and picking people up too. I guess I will show it to my dad in the morning, and then cancel the whole beach thing if necessary. Typical…

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Day 9

Well, I slacked off for a couple of days, but hopefully that won’t happen again :o)
My first Kuwaiti weekend was ‘aight. I hung out with an old friend of mine, he kind of had a small gathering. We had a mini BBQ in the kitchen and watched Suspect Zero. It wasn’t a scary movie per se, but I definitely checked the backseat before driving off to see if anyone was hiding there to kidnap me.
Friday we went to the Crown Plaza for lunch at the sea-food restaurant. I don’t like sea food that much, so they sent over a waitress from the Steakhouse, and I could order steak. It was really yummy. That place looks like a fort now with those concrete walls blocking the entrance.

In the evening I tried to get into Sultan Center Salmiya, but for some unknown reasons there was no parking place at all at 10 pm. So I decided to drive over to Souq Shark. Even Gulf Road was totally crowded, and there were people picknicking on the beach everywhere. The weather was nice, the temperature “plummeted” to just 40 degrees by midnight.
Today I started the day at Sabah hospital, at the ENT casualty, in an attempt to finally find out why my throat has been aching for 6 months. The first doctor I went to back home wanted to take my tonsils out immediately. A second one suggested I take aspirin for 5 days. And this one gave me multivitamins. I’m beginning to lose my trust in doctors…
The hospital was a little bit annoying, as the people who sit behind windows and give out stamps and do the paperwork don’t speak English, and think that if they speak really loud and fast in Arabic with lots of hand motions, I will magically understand. The weird part however is that if I ask a nurse or even a tea-boy, they speak perfect English.
As I waited I was quite satisfied with myself for understanding the anti-smoking ad that was hung on the wall across from me (in Arabic – hence the big deal) saying smoking is the fast way to death. It’s nice to see that Kuwait finally has some sort of anti-smoking program.

After this, with my throat still aching, I went to roam around Souq Mubarakiya with a friend who is leaving for good and needed to do some last minute souvenir shopping. We bought niqabs and dishdashas (to be worn at fancy dress parties back home), and reached the sari-souq too late as they were closing already. I rarely go to Kuwait city, but I was pleasantly surprised. I was worried it will be too crowded, but it wasn’t bad at all.

One place I avoid though is the Sheraton roundabout. I got sucked into it a few times, and I always feared for my life.Finally, another picture of the wide range of fauna that can be found around our house. One has to be really careful walking around in the garden at night as it’s real easy to step on one of these little guys.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Day 6

People always complain that the mannequins in shop windows are unrealistically skinny, and that’s why all the clothes look good on them. Well, in Salmiya the shops in the arcades now have BUFF mannequins, at least for guys’ clothes. They are pretty funny.
For the past couple of days I’ve had a song stuck in my head, and it’s driving me nuts because since it’s in Spanish I don’t know the words so I keep humming it. It’s that new Shakira song where she sings with a guy. In a desperate effort, I started downloading it, which just makes my already slow connection even worse.
Fortunately they play it on 99.7 quite often so I usually get my daily fix :o)

My favorite…fort in Kuwait

Well, this one easy as there is only one fort, the one of very few historic sites in Kuwait. The Red Fort (Kasr Al-Ahmar) in located in Jahra, and was the site of an important battle in 1920 protecting Kuwait.
Jahra is not available on Google Maps, and as usual I don’t have the exact address, but people in Jahra are very friendly and can tell the way to the fort.The last time I was there was a year ago, and at that time they were just finishing up renovating the whole fort, apparently it will become a museum. The hares agreed to give us a private tour for KD 3. At the end of the tour he asked for KD 15, and turned out he meant KD 3 EACH, including the one year old toddler. So make sure he doesn’t rip you off too much.

Oh Lord would you buy me…a Ford Mustang!

Since I am a girl, naturally cars don’t interest me as much as let’s say yesterday's BHS 25% sale (yes, I’m stereotypifying women :o)
However, there’s one specific car that makes my heart beat faster. Ford Mustangs. Sigh. Today I was on the Gulf Road, and saw the 2005 model for the first time in real life, at a gas station. Mashallah, it was beautiful. Black. Of course my camera wasn’t with me, but since 5 minutes later I saw another one (red), I’m guessing there’s more out there.

I was seriously contemplating how to ask the owner if I could at least sit in it. I think he saw me looking and drooling.
I know, I know, Mustangs are geezy cars, but I can’t help it. Ebyyyyyyyy wahed.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

My favorite...museum in Kuwait

Unfortunately there aren’t that many museums in Kuwait. Although the museum-situation is far better than it was lets say 10 years ago. Since then the National Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, the Invasion Memorial Museum, the Qurain (not Yarmouk ;) Martyrs’ Museum, the Boom Museum at SAS, the Scientific Center, the Red Fort and Dickson House have all opened/reopened.
However, there has been one specific museum that has been around since the 80’s, and it’s the private collection of Mr. Tareq Rajab in Jabriya, called the Tareq Museum.
Even though I’ve been there countless times, I never fail to discover some new detail that I haven’t noticed before. The collection includes pots, clothes, weapons, musical instruments, jewelry, carpets etc from the Islamic world, and there’s a wonderful collection of Qurans.The museum is located in Jabriya, Block 12, Street 5. It’s open every day from 9am-12noon, and in the morning and from 4pm-7pm. On Fridays it’s only open in the morning. Entry is free.