Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Pet Import and Export Service

Many people write asking about how we got the Qatteri cat into Kuwait, and I have to tell them that the woman who helped us is no longer here. Recently a friend passed along a card to me – there is a new woman providing the import/export help, and for those of you with people coming to work with your companies who have pets, this woman helps get the paperwork for either bringing a pet into the country or getting your pet out. She knows the bureaucracy and she knows how to get the job done.

She is also well connected with all services involved with animals; as well as import/export, she can arrange grooming and boarding, and will meet you at the airport with the papers necessary for bringing your animal into Kuwait – assuming you have arranged this with her in advance.

Here is her e-mail address – please share it with your HR departments for their resources:

petpassage@yahoo.com

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March 15, 2008 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Community, Cultural, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Pets | 4 Comments

A Case of Two Cities with Inspector Chen: Qiu Xiaolong

When my sister Sparkle recommends a book, I have learned to listen. I think I ordered this book about six months ago, but never cared enough to actually read it. After reading a recent Donna Leon (like dessert, I use it as a reward for reading something more challenging) I decided it was time to tackle Qiu Xiaolong.

I believe A Case of Two Cities is the first in the series; I tried very hard to make sure it was. When I first started reading it, it was difficult, but it didn’t take long to adjust. When you read a detective story written in a foreign culture, you have to park your old way of thinking, and quickly adapt to a new way of thinking. First, you have to learn what that new way of thinking is. They don’t just tell you at the beginning of the book “Here are the differences in values – you will notice . . .” no, but Qiu Xiaolong is courteous enough to take us by the hand and lead us gently into the Chinese way of thinking, the Chinese way of getting things done, and the technicalities of Chinese detective work.

As we meet Inspector Chen, a published poet, and a detective, ten pages into the book, a new anti-corruption campaign is starting in Shanghai, and Inspector Chen has been given a special assignment – a qinchai dacheng – as “Emperor’s Special Envoy with an Imperial Sword.” Even though imperial days are long gone, this warrant gives him emergency powers to search and arrest without reporting to anyone – and without a warrant. He is to seek and find Xing, a corrupt businessman who has caused huge loss to the national economy and is in danger of tarnishing the Chinese national image, and Xing’s associates.

Just as in the Donna Leon books about Commissario Guido Brunetti, and the Bowen books about Gabriel duPre, and James Lee Burke’s books about New Orleans, and Cara Black’s books about Aimee LeDuc, the detectives and investigators have to walk a fine line between going after the criminal and overstepping their warrant – stepping on the toes of those also engaged in corruption so entrenched that it has become a way of life. Each of these detectives has to maneuver that treacherously fine line – who determines when corruption has become too much? It usually puts their own lives in danger at some point, as those manipulating the system and making a fortune out of it do not want to be caught, do not want to be exposed, and will go to great lengths to protect their ill-gotten gains.

And just as in the above books, the book is more about the actual process than the crime itself. Inspector Chen must go about his task indirectly, having chats here and there, gathering threads of information with which he tries to weave a plausible tapestry of events.

As I was reading A Case of Two Cities, I kept making AdventureMan take me out for Chinese food! The meetings are often held over food, and the descriptions are mouth-watering.

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Best of all, when you read these books, you get a tiny little glimpse into another way of thinking, another way of doing business. We are all human, we all have the same needs, and we differ in how we go about getting those needs met. We differ in the way we think. It helps to enter another way of living, another way of thinking, it helps to visit through these books so that we can increase our own understanding that our way of doing things is not the only way, maybe (gasp!) not even the “right” way! Maybe (crunching those brain cells really hard to output this thought) there is more than one “right” way?

March 15, 2008 Posted by | Books, Bureaucracy, Character, Community, Cooking, Crime, Cross Cultural, Detective/Mystery, Language, Leadership, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Political Issues, Relationships, Shopping, Social Issues, Travel, Women's Issues | | 9 Comments

More Mubarakiya Sights

It seems to be heating up quickly. The months when perusing the souks in daylight hours are coming to an end. We are trying to make the most of it while we can. A few more quick snaps from the Mubarakiyya Market on a quiet Friday:

Vegetable market public art I hadn’t spotted before:

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Traditional clothing-seller:

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Bath supplies:

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Foodstuffs:

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Those of you who live here walk right by these stalls all the time, and never notice that they are disappearing. I have been perusing old books about Kuwait, even some not so old, and Kuwait is changing so rapidly that even books only 10 years old or so have become outdated by the rapid passage of time.

For those of you not in Kuwait, there are malls. There are SO many modern malls. As in other countries, some are more upscale than others, but they are malls. In most, you are not supposed to take photos. In most, you will see the same stores you will see in any other country. Mubarakiyya is special because it is still an active market in the old style.

March 15, 2008 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Building, Character, Community, Cultural, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Shopping | 5 Comments