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)

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Solar eclipse through an X-ray

I went to Marina Mall to take pictures of the solar eclipse this afternoon. I must have not paid attention in astronomy class, because I was under the impression that I would be able to see the eclipse, and the world would go dark and there’d be an end-of-world feeling. This didn’t happen at all.
Anyway, I was fumbling with my camera getting bored and hot in the sun in Starbucks, when this American guy from the next table said he’ll charge me if I take a picture of them. So I said I’m just waiting for the solar eclipse. They didn’t even know about it and were all surprised. Anyway, one guy from the group said we could see it if we looked through an X-ray. So he went to his car and brought an X-ray of his leg, and sure enough the eclipse became visible.
Here’s the shots I took. The first two pictures are without the X-ray.




The poor guy has my fingerprints all over his leg X-ray now though :o)

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

AAAAAGGGGHHH!!!

My mom flew home tonight, so we took her to the airport. Since her flight is at 2:30am, we left for the airport at midnight. Since it was late, I was thinking I won’t run into anyone at this late hour at the airport out of all places, so I just wore a T-shirt and jeans, flip-flops, zero makeup, didn’t even do anything to my hair, no jewelry, glasses…looked like a bum.

And of course I did run into someone. Someone I haven't seen in years, who has nothing to do with Kuwait and the chances of him (yes, a HIM - to make things worse) being in Kuwait were negligible.

While he doesn’t matter, I would have preferred to not have looked like a bum when running into him. Or when running into anyone I know, for that matter...

And worst of all, he was with a friend and was like “I hardly recognized you. You look…different.”

I’m traumatized...

Monday, March 27, 2006

Nice cloud :o)

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Elections 2006

The municipality elections are taking place in Kuwait right now. If I am not mistaken, this is the first election women can run and vote for, so it's definitely a first. The huge posters springing up on the side of the roads, and blocking views in U-turns, however, are regular at election times.
They also seem to have tents put up for the candidates to give campaign speaches in. I'm trying to persuade friends to go hang out and "mingle" in one of them, but everyone I know is very passive politically and doesn't care.
I have seen signs with women's names, but so far no portraits of them smiling at drivers :o) Are women candidates even allowed to put their pictures on posters?
I've also been told that women will vote the same as their husbands/fathers/brothers/male relatives. I'm guessing that was an exaggerated generalization, but is it possible that at least some women will be stopped from voting (by family members) or influenced by them in who to vote for?

Spring flowers :o)

Tonight we went to some family friends' house for dinner, and it's a Hungarian custom to take flowers for the woman of the house. I loved the tulips we got. They were so beautiful and colorful and spring-y.
I need to get more flowers cause I really love them.


Saturday, March 25, 2006

More gaudy sunset shots :o)

One of my favorite things in Kuwait are the sunsets. So here's sunset number bezillion :o)
(Taken at Marina Mall)


If you recognise this car to be yours, call this number:
1-800-IWANTTOGIVEMYCARTOQ8SULTANA

Only in Kuwait... :o)

Imagine a really nice residential area, with brand new houses costing God knows how much all around...and a goat/sheep/whatever tied to a lamp-post :o)

What is this place?

Could anyone tell me what this place is?
It's in Bayan, deserted, and surrounded by a big wall.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Re: Flying Bulls

Mark posted about the Flying Bulls Air show that will be taking place at Marina Crescent from 4pm tomorrow (Friday). I'd like to grab this opportunity to be patriotic, and just mention here as a side note that one of the pilots is from Hungary. Here's a little about him from the Flying Bulls website :o)
Peter Besenyei
The solo pilot and three-time world champion from Hungary is a member of the Flying Bulls Aerobatics Team. His creation of the Red Bull Air Race has made him famous the world over. His solo displays are legendary, and his absolute cold-bloodedness and precision have been enthusing hundreds of thousands of spectators at the great international airshows for many years now.
Peter Besenyei from Hungary is one of the very best: ten-time Hungarian Aerobatics Champion, European Champion, three-time World Champion and FAI Grand Prix winner are just a few of the credits he has to his name.
Peter Besenyei doesn´t just fly breathtaking figures—he also develops them. One of his greatest successes is the Inverted Flat Spin. In this maneuver, the airplane revolves around an imaginary point, nose-first and—of course—upside-down. When he presented this maneuver for the very first time, even some of his stunt-pilot colleagues were speechless. And these are folks who have seen their share of amazing moves.
In 2003, Besenyei created the Red Bull Air Race. In doing so, he lent aerobatics a whole new dimension: six-to-eight aerobatics pilots fly full-speed through a sort of slalom course, one after the other. The fastest one wins. The Red Bull Air Race is pretty much the most exciting thing that aerobatics currently has to offer.
The Hungarian made his first flight at the age of 15 in a sailplane. He quickly got infected with the aerobatics bug, however, and his second-ever competition already saw him take second place. Today, his tool of choice is the blindingly fast Extra 330.
Even if you’ve seen him do it a hundred times: an ambitious aerial display by Peter will never fail to leave you at a loss for words.

Resturant Review: Shatea Al-Watyia

Even though I’ve been in Kuwait for ages, I’ve never been to a Kuwaiti restaurant. Until tonight that is.We went to the restaurant called Shatea Al-Watyia, behind the Church in Kuwait city.




Well, even though it seemed a lot of effort was put into decorating the restaurant and collecting as many old Kuwaiti (or just simply old) memorabilia as possible, the service and especially the food still needs a lot of improvement.
First of all the napkins on the tables had stains on them and were not ironed, which gave a somewhat untidy impression. Then the drinks arrived 15 minutes after the appetizers. The food portions were way too large, and even the men in our group couldn’t finish them, which is a waste. Also, I understand that Kuwaiti cuisine is mainly chicken, lamb (which was repeatedly spelled lamp in the menu), and sea food, mixed with rice, but they could have added a few Indian or Lebanese dishes just to increase the assortment.

And we all wished they had a camel dish. I’ve never eaten camel meat, and there doesn’t seem to be a restaurant that has it.

I wrote a long list of suggestions to the owner of the restaurant who happened to show up, I hope he’ll read it.

There’s no tourism industry here as such, but there’s a lot of expats coming and going all the time, yet no one is making money off of them. Throw in some Kuwaiti music (maybe even a band of guys dancing with swords?), a few more dishes, a few more waiters wearing “traditional” Kuwaiti clothes, maybe a girl doing henna tattoos (I saw that in Dubai) and do some marketing, and this restaurant could be filled with tourists and expats who live in or visit Kuwait. It was a Thursday night, and there were just a few random people besides our group. And there aren’t even that many other Kuwaiti restaurants, so there’s no real competition!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

WIZR – Kuwait’s greatest driver


UPDATE: I have created a separate blog dedicated to Keith Wells, and WIZR. You can find it here:

http://wizr.blogspot.com/

Is there anyone out there who has read the WIZR books (pictured above) by Keith Wells? They are a collection of incredibly funny short stories, complete with hilarious cartoons, about life in Kuwait. The books were written in the early 80’s, yet most of what is written still holds true and makes one roll on the floor with laughter.
I scanned in a chapter, “The Devil’s party,” that is general enough to make anyone laugh, yet has some Kuwaiti references. If you have a few minutes, click on the images to enlarge the pages and read the story.




We got these copies from that Airport about 10 years ago, but sometimes a few dusty copies surface in the Kuwait Bookshop in Al-Muthana.
Apparently the first Wizr book was published in 1978, and it’s green. If anyone could tell me where I can get a copy from I would really appreciate that. The white one is “The Second Wizr Book” and the red one is “The Last Wizr Book” (yes, green, white and red, like the Kuwaiti flag. So there might also be a black one ?)
Also, does anyone know who this Keith Wells guy is? There’s no information about him in the books at all. The books were printed here in Kuwait at Dar Al Seyassah.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

The modern bedouin

The Bedouin used to roam the deserts, always on the move, not having one place to call home, herding their livestock and looking for greener pastures.

I can identify with that. I roam the globe like a Bedouin, except instead of herding camels and sheep across deserts, I herd suitcases and bags of various shapes and sizes across coach terminals and train stations, subways and airports, always looking for ‘greener pastures,’ always going home.

I’m setting out across half the world again tomorrow. My bus leaves at 5am. I’m meeting a friend for brunch around 10:30 in London. I’ll be making my way towards Luton around 1, and my flight home takes off after 3. By the time I catch a cab and get through the Saturday night traffic in Budapest and get home, it’ll be close to 9pm.

Then on Monday I start over. I’ll be making my way back to the airport around 8am. I’ll have a good 6 hour layover in Istambul. I have books, two seasons of Friends and my camera to keep me entertained. I’ll be expected to scramble out of Kuwaiti customs in the wee hours of Tuesday.

InshAllah has to be added to all this.

I go into survival mode when I travel. Traveling, especially alone with way too much luggage, is so frustrating and there’s so many chances for things to go wrong, that the only way I can handle it is if I prepare for the worst. Then, usually, in retrospect things don’t look that bad.

So, next blog entry will be from my good old green room in Jabriyah.

InshAllah.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Almost a million Kuwaitis...

I get a lot of questions about how many people live in Kuwait, and it always causes surprise when I say that Kuwaitis are a minority in Kuwait. Anyway, here's the latest figures. ..

Population figures of Kuwait at the end of 2005 according to the Public Authority for Civil Information (PACI):

Total population: 2.992 million
Kuwaitis: 992,200 (33%)
Females: 506,100
Males: 486,100
Non-Kuwaitis: 1.999 million (67%)

Labor force: 1.816 million
Kuwaitis: 319,616 (18%)
Females: 76,707

Kuwaitis
Government Employed: 86%
Private Sector: 5,497 <---can that be accurate? That's like hardly any people. I knew the number was low, but THIS low? {link}

Friday, March 10, 2006

Mabrook! :o)


In August 2004 a good friend of mine from Hungary visited me in Kuwait (yes, I lure unsuspecting people to the 50+ degrees because I’m evil).

Anyway, a few days before leaving for Kuwait, she started dating a guy. Of course going on an almost 3 week vacation at the beginning of a relationship is not an easy thing to do.

Nevertheless, she proved heroic, and did the whole Tareq Museum-boat trip-Kuwait towers-Marina Mall-The Palms-Souq Sharq-camel farm-desert trip-Shisha-Suq Mubarakiyya-Friday Market-shopping-sunbathing-Red Fort-Liberation Museum-Salmiya-Kuwait City-Arab Fund-Messilah Beach-coffe drinking at Starbucks-Jahra-Hindi Movie-Gulf Road Cruising frenzy, with only occasional occurrences of me having to drag her away from the computer while sending e-mail number n+1 to her “sweetheart.”

It has been one of those relationships where people have been asking “So when are you getting married?” jokingly and seriously since the very beginning, because it was so obvious that they will.

It is hard to imagine two people better suited for each other, even for someone as skeptical about relationships as I am. And it is rare to see a relationship so harmonious and happy.

Well, yesterday he proposed to her, and she said yes :o)

Congratulations, and I wish you a life filled with happiness and blessings together!!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Re: Stinni and the "Taj Mahal House"

Stinni asked about this house on her blog:

(Picture taken by Psycho Milt)

I visited this house about a year ago. AWARE organized the visit there with the owner. These are some of my pictures I took inside the house:


I just want to say, that although I no longer remember the name of the owner, he was extremely kind to open up his private home and entertain a group of "tourists" (I'm not sure if I still qualify as a tourist but anyway), and answer never ending questions and let us take pictures and roam around his house for hours.

I was especially thrilled to see the inside because we drove by this house while it was first being built every day with my mom on my way to school, and we always wondered what it must be like.

And I think it's awesome that the owner was not afraid to build his dream house. Cause it really is a house out of a dream :o)

Monday, March 06, 2006

Where in the world have you been?


I saw this map on Ananyah's blog, and it's something I wanted to do for ages. (Except with a real map and colorful pins stuck in the countries I have visited :o)
Although compared to Ananyah I hardly left home :o)

So, the countries I have been to:

Canada
USA
Austria
Germany
Hungary
Italy
Netherlands
Slovenia
Vatican City
Croatia
France
Czech Republic
Poland
Slovakia
UK
Iraq
Kuwait
Cyprus
Palestine/Israel
UAE

You can get your own map here.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Thought these lyrics were kinda nice

As the years go by
-song by Mashmakhan

A child asks his mother do you love me
And it really means will you protect me
His mother answers him I love you
And it really means you've been a good boy

And as the years go by

True love will never die

At seventeen his girl says do you love me
And it really means will you respect me
The teenage boy answers I love you
And it really means can I make love to you

And as the years go by

True love will never die

I-I-I will love you forever
I-I-I will love you forever

At 65 his wife says do you love me
And it means I'd like to hear it again
Her husband says to her I love you
But it really means I love you till the end

And as the years go by

True love will never die

Now you're asking me if I love you
And it really means will I marry you
And I answer yes I love you
But it really means that I won't be untrue

And as the years go by

True love will never die

I-I-I will love you forever
I-I-I will love you forever