Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Kuwait Bans Melmac

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Today on the front page of the Kuwait Times is the announcement of a ban by the Ministry of Commerce on selling any goods containing melamine, stating it was “based on information received from the Customs Department and office of the Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council, and has to do with melamine containing urea formaldehyde, which is banned” because it is “believed to be harmful to health.”

I was so curious, I had to Google “Melamine kitchenware + danger” because, to the best of my knowledge, Kuwait is now the only country in the entire world to ban melamine.

Melamine appeared in dog and cat food, and is believed to have been the cause of some early poisonings in the US, but as far as I can see, that came from insecticides, not from eating off melmac.

On the same front page is an article about hundreds of camels dropping dead in Saudi Arabia, also believed poisoned by a insecticide contaminated feed. Is there some relationship?

It isn’t an issue in our house; we don’t have melamine. But I have this irrational fondness for Melmac, because there used to be a show called Alf, about an alien that lived with an American family, and he was from the planet Melmac, which always cracked me up. I can’t imagine the generations of Americans – and others – who have eaten off Melmac dishes without any serious effects. How can this be? Is Melmac now formulated differently from before? Are Melmac plate users going to succumb to some serious problems because they ate off Melmac plates?

And why is Kuwait the only country in the world banning Melmac?

August 26, 2007 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Cooking, Customer Service, Health Issues, Kuwait, News, Technical Issue | 18 Comments

The Road to Damascus

I am dancing for joy! Adventure Man and I are taking a trip soon, back to Damascus! We spent many a happy weekend, even a couple weeks there, way back when, driving from Amman whenever we could. We loved Syria.

I would sit in the old Hammadiyya Souk, drinking tea and feeling the ghosts of the centuries of traders who had sipped tea in the same place. There is, for us, something special about Damascus.

I know there are a lot of Syrian bloggers out there. And it has been a while since we have seen Damascus. I would love to know a couple really great places to eat (we eat in local dives and we eat in the best hotels; we look for good food and atmosphere and know that cost and value are not always the same so recommend whatever YOU love), a good shop for the silk brocades, and anything else you think we really should see.

August 26, 2007 Posted by | Adventure, Blogging, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Travel | 6 Comments

The Arab Way (2)

Here is when the Arab way doesn’t work. . .well, it does work, but not in your favor. I was taking my car in for some repairs a couple weeks ago; they told me “just bring it in, we will take care of it” and fool! I believed them!

So I get there, seek desperately for a parking space, and go inside. I take a number. Not too bad. Only five people in front of me.

Five people. But here comes Bashir, and he sits himself down right at the counter, no number. The clerk finishes with number 34 – and Bashir shakes hands with him, greets him, makes small talk with him – and takes care of him.

Meanwhile Ali and his four brothers walk in. They have a number. They want to sit down, but I am on the far end of the couch so only Ali sits down. He tells his brothers they can sit, but with a big wolfy grin – like a dare. Let’s see which one of you will sit next to a WOMAN. And not one of them will. The manager walks over to Ali, greets him and they chat and then Ali and his brothers are all taken to another area, where they get specialized service.

Old Abdul shuffles in next, and I know I am screwed. OK, OK, I tell myself, you have a choice, you can laugh or you can stew. If you stew, you just ruin your own day – it’s not going to change anything. So I just laugh.

Eventually, I get seen, and the dealership makes the problem go away, and I think to myself that in the US this would have cost a lot more, I would have waited a lot longer, and I wouldn’t have all this material for a blog entry.

The Arab ways works – but it works best if you are an Arab, if you are a Moslem, and if you have connections. I am betting it also helps to be male, but I have seen women who knew how “to be preferred”, too. 😉

August 26, 2007 Posted by | Blogging, Bureaucracy, Community, Cross Cultural, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Kuwait | 8 Comments