Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Building New Kuwait

I have a thing about safety. When living in Doha, we watched buildings go up with no discernible regards to building codes. I don’t even know that codes exist, or perhaps they are still being written. At least one construction worker per week “fell to his death”. Workers worked round the clock, trying to get the skyscrapers up before a deadline. People who scouted buildings for major corporations would shake their heads, and turn buildings down with serious foundation problems, girding problems, unbelievable structural faults.

Here in Kuwait, maybe things are minimally better. I had to stop shooting these workers when they started waving and only holding on with one hand. They are standing on a plate of glass being taken up to be installed.

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I love these scaffolds. I hope you can see how this one curves in and out as it scales up the building.
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The high tech joints close up:

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October 3, 2006 Posted by | ExPat Life, Kuwait, Social Issues, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

DWP – Driving While Poor – to Be Outlawed in Kuwait

I’ve been watching the blogs, and I haven’t seen a mention of this, not a whisper. In yesterday’s Kuwait Times, front page, is an article about the proposal that all cars over ten years of age be taken off the road. The intention is to reduce congestion on the road.

I am guessing this will not apply to collectors of classic cars. I imagine this is aimed at the poorest of the poor, driving what they can afford, and holding their car together with prayer, shoestrings and chewing gum.

If Kuwait had a good public transportation system, this might be part of a solution. As it is – do you ever see a woman on a public bus? Taxis are available, but expensive. Domestic workers tell us that when they have any control over their transportation, they only go with a driver they know and trust.

I would guess that most of the cars 10 years and older on the road are owned by people who really need them, to get their children to school, to get to work, and to get groceries, etc. Legend has it that all these old cars on the road were brought in after the 1st Gulf War and sold – at great profit – to people who previously had been unable to own cars. For the working poor, cars give a smattering of dignity and luxury to a life full of scraping by and saving as much as you can. Yeh, the POS car puttering along in front of you is inconvenient, but have a heart – people need their cars, unless there is a good, reliable, decent and reasonably priced public transit system available to men and to women, which there is not.

I am also hearing friends telling me about the rules about driver’s licenses being enforced – you must be working, or you must have a college degree . . . but it is only applied to some, not to all. . .

October 3, 2006 Posted by | ExPat Life, Family Issues, Kuwait, Middle East, Social Issues, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

We Need to Talk About Kevin

This morning on BBC, as part of the coverage on the horrorific murders in the peaceful Amish country of Pennsylvania, they interviewed Lionel Shriver, author of the award winning book “We Need to Talk About Kevin.”

This is not a recommendation. Shriver’s book, which has won several awards for literary excellence, is not for the faint-hearted. It is a tough, muscular, bleak examination of a similar, fictional incident, written after the Columbine High School massacres.

My best friend and I read this book at the same time – it was a book club selection, paired with another book on a similar theme, “Early Leaving.” We ended up exchanging horrified e-mails every morning, discussing events in the book as if they were a part of our daily life, and speculating on where this was all going.

It is from a mother’s point of view, written to her husband, from whom she is separated after . . . .something . . . We don’t know what that something is. The book unfolds steadily and relentlessly. You want to stop. Truly you do, I am not exaggerating. The book rolls on, so dark, so ominous, you know it is leading up to something truly horrible. You don’t want to look. And you can’t stop reading.

“Why are we reading this???” we asked each other in agony. And we didn’t stop.

“Why did you want me to read this?” your friends will say, as you pass this book along, and then, shell shocked, they will come to you to discuss it. Most often, I didn’t even recommend the book, but friends would overhear other friends talking about it in hushed, horrified voices, and would insist.

The book is the scariest, most real book I have ever read. It hits at the heart of every mother’s secret fears – what if we have done something wrong while raising our child? What if our child turns into a monster? Do we ever really know anyone – our children? Our husbands? Ourselves? We are all so vulnerable in our mothering skills, so quick to blame ourselves for our children’s failings, and this book bravely explores that fear, that vulnerability, without taking the easy way out and giving easy answers.

If you read this book you will find yourselves talking about it months – even years – after you read it. It is a terrifying book.

And after you read it you will understand why my heart is breaking for everyone involved in this unthinkable killing in Pennsylvania. Were I some superstitious person, it would be so easy – it is clearly the devil’s work. I can’t imagine what this man could have been thinking, but he chose his victims – young, innocent girls – with purpose. My heart aches for his wife and children, who will bear this shame for the rest of their lives, and for his parents, who will wonder where they went wrong. My heart breaks especially for the peaceable Amish, revered throughout America for their simplicity and commitment in living their faith, who must try to find a way to forgive the man who took their innocent daughters’ lives.

October 3, 2006 Posted by | Books, Family Issues, Fiction, Relationships, Social Issues, Uncategorized | 4 Comments