Thursday, 26 December 2013

My Grown Up Christmas List

Merry Christmas, everyone! A late, albeit sincere wish. My hope is that everyone had a wonderful day surrounded by family and friends...Alcohol wouldn't hurt either-just sayin'.

With no real Christmas shopping to complete (yes, sad, but true), I helped my sister shop for the presents we gave our family in Canada. Unfortunately, I had little to do with the beautiful presents that were wrapped under the tree at the end of the day. Last year I was fortunate to have to work on Christmas day, so although I felt the day painfully, having to work distracted me. This year, the company I work for gave us the day off because there are so many western expats. A very generous, but horrible gift for someone like me who sat in Kuwait and felt mopey because I wasn't with my family in Canada. About 70% of my colleagues had left to travel, so the office was extremely quiet.

To be honest, there were only a few things on my Christmas list this year: 1.) being with my family in Canada...Yeah, that didn't happen (am I really surprised?); 2.) I just want people to have love, joy and laughter. I wish all these naive things that I still inwardly hope for on a daily basis: that people are safe, healthy, fed well. Just listen to this song and you'll know what I'm talking about: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1TTnPdZOZI. I really miss taking part in Operation Christmas Child: http://www.samaritanspurse.ca/operation-christmas-child.aspx and doing some good. Shouldn't I when I have so much to give? Lastly, I tried to get a new watch which, when I went to shop for, was a big miss. I shouldn't have even bothered. Let's be honest, I'd rather give than receive.

I did receive some beautiful gifts and cards! Thank you to some very wonderful people in my life in Kuwait. Living here wouldn't be bearable without people like you.


 The gift of dates and Arabic sweets (from Vivel) from a co-worker who knows how much I LOVE Arabic sweets!
 My "Christmas" tree. Reality: a beautiful plant from the wonderful Egyptian woman who drives me home and gifts and cards from friends :)

On Christmas eve, the Irish chef and I were invited to another gathering at our friends' place-the same couple who invited us for Thanksgiving dinner. Once again, we ate too much food and I even indulged in the spiral ham (DELICIOUS!). I thought the cheesecake was a bit odd, but the cake itself was very tasty! It's a vanilla sponge cake covered in a cheese spread (like Cheez Whiz), and had finely shredded cheese sprinkled on top of that. It was quite...interesting. It, weirdly enough, didn't taste horrible. It was OK after the first two bites. However, I'd taken about three bites and stopped and then couldn't bring myself to eat anymore. The concept was just a tad too unsettling for me. The other food was AMAZING and we relaxed and chatted for a few hours before excusing ourselves. It was a really nice evening as Christmas carols played in the background and the place was festively decorated; Christmas didn't feel like it was only happening outside of Kuwait.

The spread that welcomed us (although we brought the Patchi chocolates-yummy!)
 BEFORE we dug in. CHECK OUT that ham in the conventional oven! SOOO yummy!!!
 The food unveiled! I think a bit was from Mario's, the Filipino restaurant in Fahaheel...Still haven't gone there yet :(
 Hello chicken! Everything was so goooood :D
 The lasagne was delicious. By the way, did you know that lasagna (in Italian) is the singular noun and lasagne is the plural, but in Canada (and outside of the U.S) people tend to use lasagne...Interesting...Or not.
The spiral ham!!! The cheesecake: literally cheese on vanilla cake :)

Prior to Christmas eve, things had been a bit...Unnerving. Two weeks ago I had to complete my medical examination for my residency...Yes. Again. It was just as psychologically damaging the second time around. I DO have to praise the gentleman who took my blood. I don't know if he's an RN or a phlebotomist, but he was quick and it was almost pain-free! My arm didn't bruise either (last time my arm went lovely, dark shades of blue, black and purple).

All was not sugar and lollipops though. Earlier this week I was informed that my x-ray needed to be taken again. Sure enough I trudged back to the TB Unit (yes, as in tuberculosis). It's incredible, but I was under the impression that Canadians are immunized against TB. Annoyed to find myself back in this situation I did research and I found out that Canadians ARE immunized against TB as children (at least in Ontario), and can receive vaccination again as adults. I was immunized for a WHACKLOAD of diseases before I left Canada this past summer (not that I'm a fan of vaccinations), but I was ensured by the doctor that I was caught-up/up-to-date on everything. Yet, there I was, back explaining to a doctor that I didn't have a lung disease. Talk about deja vu (sorry, I know I'm missing the accent aigu and accent grave!).

So, again, I was given an all-clear and returned to work only to find out that the government wasn't going to grant me residency because of my police record check. EXCUSE ME???? It's not older than 6 months (I'd gotten it done in August), and I'd been in Kuwait practically since the day I'd received it. My record is clean. I was fuming. First my passport, then the x-ray and now my police record check? I'm thankful that my manager took control of the situation or else I might have just jumped on a plane home. As I've thought about this whole ridiculous process of getting my residency and Civil ID, I've realized what it is that annoys me so much: I find it offensive that I'm treated with such suspicion and even antagonism. It's unfortunate I feel this way, but it's something that, after 14 months of living here, has not changed. I feel unwelcome here. It's as if I'm not good enough for many grandiose people here.

On a positive note (because I refuse to dwell on the aforementioned point), I wonder what the new year will bring. I hope there will be travelling and I hope that I am with my family and friends in Canada and Japan. I also hope that job opportunities in Canada improve!!! I'm hopeful that the work that I'm doing will lead to something positive, and that I stop fretting long enough to take some risks! Life is too short to be as scared as I (continually) am. 2014, here I come and I'm not going to hold back! Sorry for the bravado; It's more like a mantra I've adopted to encourage myself because I am notorious for allowing fear to hold me back.

Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!




Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Out With the Old, and In With the New

I would like to say a big thank you to the people who read this little, insignificant blog of mine. My last post (http://halfieinkuwait.blogspot.com/2013/11/nights-to-remember.html) was viewed (SHOCKINGLY) 602 times...What?? WHY?!? Hahaha! Okay, so, as you can tell, I haven't fallen back in love with writing, but I have fallen in love with a few things since I posted last month.

November was crazy at work, and so when I came home I was pooped and blogging seemed unappealing. I apologize. I focused on exercising, reading and trying to adjust to the weather change. I also was a bit preoccupied as my SIM card broke (again). This is #3 from Zain and I will never use their services again. To make matters worse, it seemed as if my sturdy Blackberry Bold 9700 was starting to die. I went without a phone for weeks before I stopped being stubborn and went out and purchased a new Blackberry Q5 and had to ask a friend to purchase a SIM card (from Wataniya) because I still do NOT have my residency...Let's not even go there (but oh, we will). Armed with a new phone and SIM card, I was ready to take on the world. I also MacGyvered my SIM card by cutting it to size (I had to make it a micro SIM). Unfortunately, I lost a lot of contacts and somehow old contacts that I'd deleted (like my ex and the other halfie), suddenly re-appeared. Ugh. I'm still missing contact info for some people in Canada and Kuwait, but I hope people will contact me via email or Facebook.

Out with the old and in with the new ;)

So, let me explain my beef about my residency. I have been here for awhile, as you know, and I still do not have my residency. First I needed another, NEWER police record check (which I obtained while I was in Canada during Ramadan). Then I didn't have enough empty pages in my passport (I was told by a superior that I had enough, only to be told by the government that I needed 6, not 5 empty pages. Lovely). So, I called the Canadian embassy in Kuwait and explained the situation. Because my passport wasn't going to expire for another 3 years and I still had 5 empty pages, they refused to issue a new passport. I literally begged the woman on the line to see if an exception could be made. Thanks to that amazing woman I was able to apply for a new passport. I picked the new passport up a month ago and I'm still without residency and the ability to travel. Thank God I didn't book tickets to Canada for Christmas...Let's not even go there (and I mean that).

Thank God November passed quickly. Other than purchasing a new, overpriced (but unlocked!) phone, I did get out a bit :)  November consisted of a lot of walking/jogging since the weather has cooled down. I feel really good!!! Since there's no daylight savings here, walking alone at night isn't realistic. By the time I get home from work (about 4:15pm), the sun is already setting and it gets dark before I can complete a good walk/jog. On these days, I hit the treadmill in the gym downstairs and on weekends I venture outside. Unfortunately, the last time I worked out I accidentally dropped my iPod and now the screen is shattered, it only works sometimes and my headphones were ripped out of my ears and one literally was detached from the cord/wire. Yay. I know what I'm getting myself for Christmas!

The Georgian lady I met every weekend save one in November. We ended up shopping even though we were actually on the hunt for a location to hold a baby shower since one of the instructors at the uni is pregnant and another instructor's wife is pregnant and both women are here only with their immediate families. I will, no doubt, miss my best friend's wife's baby shower (as if it isn't bad enough that I missed his wedding), and I feel the need to spread some good cheer. These women are awesome and I want them to have something nice to remember about their pregnancies in Kuwait. The Georgian lady and I went to 360˚ Mall this past weekend and confirmed a spot there and I'm SOOO excited! We're going to hold the baby shower at Ladurée at the beginning of next year! The Georgian and I sampled beverages and sweets, decided on the basic menu items and took pictures of the desserts so we could finalize our decisions after sampling more at home!!! The manager, a very professional and kind gentleman, assisted us a great deal and everything we ate was on the house! I was very impressed considering other food establishments were unwilling to work with us to create a menu/event that suited our taste(s) and were going to overcharge us.

*All pictures are from the following website: http://www.bombasticlife.com/place/kuwait/laduree__360_mall_kuwait.html

 The entrance
 The view from the back of the restaurant
The view from above
 My pics: the spread! Eat up, girls!!!
 1/3 of the pastry case
 2/3 of the pastry case
3/3 of the pastry case...HOW are we supposed to only choose a few of these to serve?!?

Not only did I gorge on food this weekend, but I also did so a week ago...The Irish chef and I were invited to an American Thanksgiving get together at an American couple's home. I made homemade cranberry sauce (my absolute favourite dish to make at Thanksgiving and Christmas...Yes, we make a HUGE turkey dinner twice in the the span of three months!). I found fresh cranberries and organic sugar at Lulu Hypermarket (LOVE that place!), grated orange rind, and added 100% orange juice, not from concentrate, with no added sugars (like we needed anymore). I worked to music (this was before the iPod broke); the sauce simmered. It smelled so good! It made me homesick. It made me excited for the evening's festivities!

 Ready, set, cook!
 Not appealing
It doesn't look like much, but even my aunt-who doesn't like cranberry sauce-will eat mine :)

The result was a HUGE potluck-style dinner complete with Filipino food (the lady is from he Philippines) catered by Mario's in Fahaheel-oh, yeah, I'm SOOO going there-TWO huge turkeys with stuffing, ACTUAL bbq'd pork sausages and ribs (the gentleman works for the American military and can get pork!) and sweets galore! Oh, what a night! We were joined by a TON of other guests and, it was revealed that the real reason we were (supposed to be) celebrating was because the couple had planned to wed only a few days prior. Unfortunately, they were not permitted to marry because of a missing stamp on some document that needed to come from the U.S. and so they'd had to postpone. We celebrated their upcoming nuptials anyway!!! There was a Christmas tree, big smiles and great conversation. I've realized that I'm missing gatherings. Thank goodness for the baby shower :)

 This was what we saw when we walked into their flat!
 Hello, food! You look mighty tasty! Nom, nom, nom!
I didn't think I was missing pork until I had one of those sausages and then it was all over for me!

The weeked before the Thanksgiving dinner I had gone out to sample cakes with the Georgian lady before we knew where we were going to have the baby shower. Being rather hungry, we went to The Village in Abu Al Hasani (a short drive from Mahboula). We ate at the Japanese restaurant Méli Mélo. The ambiance at The Village is nice because most eateries have outdoor seating and there is actually some plants around. The water fountain on the opposite side is also quite pretty.

From, http://www.ilsul6ana.com/2012/01/22/feature-munch-new-branch/






I tried a mango cake and pistachio cake and neither were impressive to me. They were single-serving sizes, so maybe the bigger cakes are better??? I don't know.
 The sushi wasn't bad here and the portions/sizes were decent :)
I think the Georgian Lady and I like salmon and seafood!!!
I swear this pattern is the exact same one that I found at the 100 yen store in Japan (like a dollar store in Canada).
 The menu
The view of the restaurant. Beautiful weather!!!
The restaurant looked quite nice inside!

I have had a bit of a frustrating month, but I should add that it's still been a great month in spite of crazy flooding (I drove through it with my co-worker and our 10-minute drive took us an hour and ten minutes!), socializing, planning the shower and eating...A lot...As always.

 Trying to escape the water by driving onto the sidewalk as it quickly rose. Since there's no real sewage system here, everything floods VERY fast!
 This was when it started to get really bad :S
It never fails: There is always at least ONE accident/day in this country. Horrible.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Nights to Remember

What do you do when you're no longer inspired to write? Perhaps it's a weather-changing funk I'm in, but I feel....Out of it. I haven't blogged for weeks. Even worse, I haven't even missed it. What's happened to me, the girl who never shuts up??? The girl who has difficulty ENDING a piece of writing?!? Let's hope she's returned!

Missing Thanksgiving again this year was easier and difficult; I missed my family and yet missing autumn wasn't something that occupied my mind, as it had last year. I was off from work for 9 days because of Eid Al-Adha and had planned to go to Sri Lanka...It didn't happen. It was my good fortune though. I spent the week with the Irish chef, the Georgian lady, the Texan and the Texan's co-worker, D. I loved the conversation! D was born in Kuwait but is actually from Iraq (for some reason I may have this info incorrect...Her family MIGHT be from Iran...Yikes! Sorry, D!!!). While people at the table had different views, even opposing ones, the beauty of being mature was that we actually LISTENED to each other and had healthy debates!

The week was full of socializing: I met up with another Irish teacher from the university, the Irish journalist, his wife and their adorable baby boy. The Irish chef and Georgian lady were also in attendance (as you can tell, they didn't travel either, lol!). Coffee was had. Breakfast was had. FUN was had. I may have been stuck in Kuwait, but I sure as heck didn't let it stop me from going out, and going out I did! I kept myself surrounded by amazing people, and the 9 days flew by!

 The Irish chef, the Georgian lady, the Texan and his co-worker, D and I all went to Organica Fish & Chips in Jabriya. This is the last location still open in Kuwait :(
On the flip side, the food was AWESOME-as always!
 The Irish chef recommended the ice cream covered in espresso, so the Georgian lady and I had to test it out. Our opinions? GO AND TRY IT OUT! It was heavenly! We got it at Segafredo in Al Koot.
 The beautiful weather on the patio in Al Koot during Eid (October 2013).
 
Signor Sassi, an Italian restaurant in 360º Mall that the Georgian lady and I tried out.
Pasta AND pizza! Delicious!!! I swear I'm part Italian :)
 I don't know what these women were meant to be, but they were beautiful and walking around on stilts.
 All of the kids were enthralled and enchanted!

Although the vacation was over all too soon, I had an event to look forward to: The Coronation Festival at the British Embassy. I was able to snag some tickets for me, the Irish chef and the Texan. I kept thinking, well, Canada WAS a British colony, AND my grandmother had a British background. A few of my co-workers also went; it was a night to remember! The line-up at the security gate was looooooong! I don't think I've seen that many English people in Kuwait at one time :)  We got our drink (alcoholic) tickets and headed inside the grounds for a much needed drink. I relaxed with rum (although the red wine was very tempting). I couldn't believe my eyes: alcohol (a lot of it!), different ethnic groups (a lot of them-including Kuwaitis!) and people dancing on grass-people DANCING on grass! The property was very nice, lit up with lights around the perimeter. The company was the best part of my evening. I laughed. I was relaxed. I almost forgot I was in Kuwait. It was awesome! Unfortunately, no cameras (or mobiles) were allowed, so I didn't get any pics of the evening :(  

My ticket into the PAR-TAY!

I love how many holidays people are given in Kuwait! After a nine-day holiday for Eid, we had another holiday just this past week because it was Al-hijri, the Islamic New Year. The Irish chef went to Dubai. What did I do? Ahhh, sweet nothing! Alright, that's not entirely true, lol! I hung out with a former student and we'd planned to see a movie, but he got a little....lost. I couldn't blame him since a.) he's Saudi and lives in Saudi Arabia and b) his GPS was extremely difficult to navigate-even in English. Yeah, yeah, I know what you're thinking, "But Mik, you're a NATIVE English speaker!" What can I say? I'm definitely NOT tech savvy! Anyhooo, by the time we arrived at the movie theatre, the movie (Gravity) had already started. We were laughing pretty hard at the fact and decided to go and eat at Mais Alghanim on Gulf Street. We got some interesting looks from the locals-mostly raised eyebrows and what looked like surprise. Poor guy. After dinner we headed to 7 Bars, a shisha joint just behind Marina Mall. Since the weather is still pretty warm, we sat out on the top deck patio. I decided to try the shisha here once. You know, when in Rome...It was an interesting evening since my student is a much more liberal person than I took him for. He wants positive changes for his country-even for himself. It felt refreshing. Who knows what he'll end up doing with his life, but I wish him the best :)  Definitely a nice night out!
 The view from the outside during daylight (photo credit: https://foursquare.com/v/7-bars/4bc459904cdfc9b6bd759821/photos)
The view from the patio at night. Nice ambiance. (photo credit: https://foursquare.com/v/7-bars/4bc459904cdfc9b6bd759821/photos)
 View from the patio #2 (photo credit: https://foursquare.com/v/7-bars/4bc459904cdfc9b6bd759821/photos)

I ended my holiday on a high note: breakfast with the Georgian lady at Paul in Al Koot and spending the rest of the day with the Irish chef, just chillaxing! It was much easier to unwind knowing that my father's surgery went well and he's recovering without any problems-phew! I'll try to blog more, try to fall in love with writing again and do my best to keep my family and friends updated. Although-let's be honest-with an average of 4 hits from Canadians per week, I'm clearly not attracting my family...Or friends, hahaha! 

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Why the Long Face??

I haven't felt like blogging my lately; part of it is that I've lost my sense of humour...I'm not as funny as I'd like to think I am, but I try...Sadly. Hahaha! I've felt bloody exhausted lately. I'm working out again (walking since it's cooled down...A little), and work has gotten nuts over the past few weeks. Maybe it's the disappointment I've been experiencing? I won't be going to Sri Lanka due to visa/residency/passport issues, but let's not even go there because I'm trying not to be frustrated with the whole situation. Could be that I'm worried about my father. He's going to undergo surgery in a short while and he's never had surgery. Although it's a minor surgery, every surgical procedure has some risk and I'm not feeling to happy about the fact that I wont be in Canada with my father or supporting my sister.

My mood change has definitely had some side effects: For one, I found myself watching a made-for-t.v.-movie about Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris. Not being a huge baseball fan, I couldn't believe it when I didn't want change the channel. I don't even like watching t.v., but I was engrossed. Why didn't I know who Roger Maris was? I should have known; baseball was a sport that my parents enjoyed watching together when I was younger and my father has knowledge of the subject. As a result, I know who Mark McGwire is and I'd known that McGwire had broke the world record for number of home runs. I'd even watched that on t.v. (70 home runs in a single season in 1998). Maris broke Babe Ruth's world record (60 home runs in a single season in 1927) by hitting 61 home runs in 1961. So what does this have to do with anything? It made me nostalgic; it reminded me of when the Toronto Blue Jays had made it to the world series in 1992. My parents bought blueberries, strawberries and red and blue food colouring because they wanted to celebrate the world series with a blue breakfast if Toronto won and a red breakfast if the Atlanta Braves won. Toronto won and this would be the first Canadian team (based outside of the U.S.) to win a world series. In 1993 Toronto was once again in the world series set to play against the Philadelphia Phillies and won the series. Again, we prepped for a blue or red breakfast. I'm just boasting now...

Secondly, I've been shopping. I went out with my student a few weeks ago and we had lunch at the Indian restaurant Asha's. It's a chain, and although there's a location just down the street from me at Spoons, we opted to go to Marina Mall. Afterwards we shopped and my student, obsessed with perfume, bought some new scents. I purchased some new *WARNING! TMI in about five words!* undies at Victoria's Secret. Why didn't someone tell me about these amazing undergarments sooner?!? They are amazing and puts La Senza (the brand I usually purchase in Canada) to shame, especially since La Senza is a subsidiary of Limited Brands Inc. which is the owner of Victoria's Secret. The two have a bit of a tumultuous history in Canada, but the hope everyone had when Limited Brands bought La Senza was that this meant Victoria's Secret would FINALLY come to Canada. My sister has informed me that it has and did so quite awhile ago! WOOOHOOOOOOOOOO!!!

 Lunch @ Asha's in Marina Mall (Chicken Biryani and a pineapple coconut lassi! VERY delicious!)
Dessert (my student's suggestion) @ Chocolate Bar. I think this is their version of Bananas Foster.

I also made a shopping trip out with the beautiful, and always fun, Turks. Turk #1's sister was visiting Kuwait and they had asked me to go out make-up shopping with them. I happily obliged and even bought some make-up myself, surprise, surprise...Not. Hahaha! I was very good and only bought one nail polish (just a base coat! It doesn't even have any colour!!!), and a lipstick (who knew?). I ONLY purchased the lipstick because I was meeting the Irish chef and his friend, The Canuck (honestly, the Canuck lives in Guelph, sooo close to my home town!), at a...Shindig after my shopping trip and I'd forgotten all of my make-up (including the one thing I can't live without in the desert: lip balm) at home. I should mention that I look dead without any colour on my lips. It's like my lips don't have any pigmentation, so I had to *wink-wink* buy lipstick!!! It was cheap. Sue me. Lol!

This weekend I've been working mostly, but I did call up the Georgian to meet for coffee, which became lunch at Smash Burger (she lives next door to the joint and hasn't eaten there before!), then coffee and dessert at Starbucks. She's awesome. I really, really like her and I'm so glad that she's still here.

 I can't remember the name of the burger I chose, but it has mushrooms, swiss cheese and truffles! Sooo goooood! Check out that side of mayo for my fries!!! My mother's best friend is Dutch and got me hooked on fries with mayo when I was a kid (^ - ^ )/
The baristas here are AMAZING and patiently tried to make a London Fog for me (they'd never heard of it. Luckily I used to work for Starbucks for MANY years and could still remember how). I couldn't resist the raspberry cupcake. The Georgian opted for a latte and a slice of tiramisu; so well paired compared to my mish mash....That's me though. A big ol' mish mash of weirdness!

Food has still been a constant companion of mine (as you can see by the pictures). I really need to take a photo and post it soon so my father knows that, despite my voracious appetite, I haven't gained TOO much weight, hahahaha! I've started walking again since the weather has cooled down a bit, and by a bit I mean a few degrees, lol! I've also adopted some plants that I still haven't managed to kill off yet-to their relief. They're giving me positive energy! I try to talk to them, but I find that just singing and touching the leaves is going alright...They haven't died on me yet, so my singing can't be THAT bad! They're being potted this weekend, so I'll post an updated picture soon.


Until next time, all you beautiful people! I'll try to lighten up and smile more, because really, life's too short not to! Planning a BIG vacation next year also helps, but just a bit ;)