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.