Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Roasted Tomato Soup

Tomatoes don’t do that great once the temperatures hit the highs we have hit recently. Time to pick them all, and fix some Roasted Tomato Soup. Freeze the leftovers for a taste of spring deep in the heat and humidity of a Kuwaiti summer. 🙂

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Roasted Tomato and Cumin Soup
From Nxabega Okavango Safari Camp

3 – 5 kilograms ripe tomatoes
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions
3 garlic cloves
1 large fresh red chili pepper
4 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons whole cumin, roasted and ground
2 cups vegetable stock
salt and black pepper

Slice tomatoes in half, place on a baking sheet and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Roast in a hot oven one and a half hours. (If you have a Misto you can give them all a good spray!)

Chop onion, garlic and chilli pepper.

Place all vegetables in a large sauce pan with 4 Tablespoons olive oil, cook until onions are soft (about 10 minutes).

Add cumin and fry another 5 minutes. Add roasted tomatoes and stock, cook further 10 minutes. Puree the mixture, transfer back to a sauce pan and gently warm. Check seasoning and serve.

(How can something that tastes so good also be so good for you?)

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March 28, 2008 Posted by | Africa, Cooking, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Recipes | 4 Comments

Dust Storm Headache

It’s early Friday morning, WeatherUnderground Kuwait says it is overcast, but I have that dust storm headache and almost-wheeze that tells me this is more than just an overcast. There is something in the air that I am not meant to be breathing.

Although I live in a very modern building, which would appear sealed, little drifts of sand come in through creaks. I can feel a draft in the kitchen, my curtains are dingy with dust that has seeped through crevices in window openings.

It isn’t easy to show someone what living in the middle of a dust storm is like, but I am trying.

Here is the sunrise this morning at 0600:

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An hour later, at 0700, it is 77°F / 25°C, and the particles in the air are magnifying the sun so that it looks like this:

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These are unretouched photos, straight out of the camera. The day is mostly a bright yellow-grey.

March 28, 2008 Posted by | ExPat Life, Health Issues, Kuwait, Living Conditions, sunrise series, Weather | 2 Comments

Hot Dust Storm

106°F / 42°C and Hot and DUSTY. This is what it looks like at 3:30 PM:

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The photo is not altered in any way. The orangey-yellow color is the real color of the sky. Totally weird. Big huge rolling waves coming in, good weekend to go shelling!

March 27, 2008 Posted by | ExPat Life, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Weather | 11 Comments

Home Schooling Muslims in America

The New York Times has this fascinating article:

LODI, Calif. — Like dozens of other Pakistani-American girls here, Hajra Bibi stopped attending the local public school when she reached puberty, and began studying at home.

Her family wanted her to clean and cook for her male relatives, and had also worried that other American children would mock both her Muslim religion and her traditional clothes.

“Some men don’t like it when you wear American clothes — they don’t think it is a good thing for girls,” said Miss Bibi, 17, now studying at the 12th-grade level in this agricultural center some 70 miles east of San Francisco. “You have to be respectable.”

Across the United States, Muslims who find that a public school education clashes with their religious or cultural traditions have turned to home schooling. That choice is intended partly as a way to build a solid Muslim identity away from the prejudices that their children, boys and girls alike, can face in schoolyards. But in some cases, as in Ms. Bibi’s, the intent is also to isolate their adolescent and teenage daughters from the corrupting influences that they see in much of American life.

About 40 percent of the Pakistani and other Southeast Asian girls of high school age who are enrolled in the district here are home-schooled, though broader statistics on the number of Muslim children being home-schooled, and how well they do academically, are elusive. Even estimates on the number of all American children being taught at home swing broadly, from one million to two million.

No matter what the faith, parents who make the choice are often inspired by a belief that public schools are havens for social ills like drugs and that they can do better with their children at home.

“I don’t want the behavior,” said Aya Ismael, a Muslim mother home-schooling four children near San Jose. “Little girls are walking around dressing like hoochies, cursing and swearing and showing disrespect toward their elders. In Islam we believe in respect and dignity and honor.”

Still, the subject of home schooling is a contentious one in various Muslim communities, with opponents arguing that Muslim children are better off staying in the system and, if need be, fighting for their rights.

Robina Asghar, a Muslim who does social work in Stockton, Calif., says the fact that her son was repeatedly branded a “terrorist” in school hallways sharpened his interest in civil rights and inspired a dream to become a lawyer. He now attends a Catholic high school.

“My son had a hard time in school, but every time something happened it was a learning moment for him,” Mrs. Asghar said. “He learned how to cope. A lot of people were discriminated against in this country, but the only thing that brings change is education.”

Many parents, however, would rather their children learn in a less difficult environment, and opt to keep them home.

You can read the rest of the article HERE

March 27, 2008 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Character, Community, Cross Cultural, Education, Family Issues, Living Conditions, Social Issues | 3 Comments

Sunrise 28 Mar 2008

It’s always good that the sun rises, but not every sunrise is that good. This morning, I am reminded of what we must be breathing:

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The high at 0700 is 70°F / 21°C, and the week will be cooler, with high temperatures back down in the 90’s.

March 27, 2008 Posted by | ExPat Life, Health Issues, Kuwait, Living Conditions, sunrise series, Weather | 4 Comments

Kuwait Driver’s License

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“oh, I can’t,” I was telling my friend, “I have to go get my driver’s license today.”

“I had a funny thing happen,” she responded. “When I went, I didn’t understand the guy too well and he said something like ‘how long do you want it for?’ and I said ‘three years’ and I got one for three years!”

“You’re kidding!” I said. “I’ve been having to go every year!”

It doesn’t make sense, but you just never know in Kuwait. Every year for two years now I have had to go get my eyes tested and get a new license. But you never know, maybe her company has some other agreement, and she gets a three year license. Some things you just can’t worry too much about or it will drive you crazy.

So I went and took the 30 second eye test and later that same day my husband brought home my new driver’s license – good for TEN years.

If I had known I was going to get a ten year driver’s license, I sure would have made sure they used a better photo than the one my sponsor provided them. AAAARRRRGGGHHH.

March 26, 2008 Posted by | Bureaucracy, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Humor, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Photos, Technical Issue | 12 Comments

Calendar Cat?

I’ve been talking to the Qatteri Cat, asking him if he would like to be a calendar cat for the Animal Welfare League. So far, not much response . . . he’s too busy sleeping.

Maybe your cats or dogs will be more cooperative. You have until May 31 to submit your photo! It’s a worthy cause.

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March 26, 2008 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Community, ExPat Life, Fund Raising, Kuwait, Pets, Photos | 12 Comments

Ahmadi Singers, Orchestra and Pirates of Penzance

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Woooo Hooooooooo Al Ahmadi Singers and Orchestra! I love Gilbert and Sullivan so much, I might have to buy tickets for all three nights! The Gala includes a dinner, and the following two nights do not, but the singing will be great all three evenings, I have been promised.

The last time I saw Pirates of Penzance was at the Qatar Academy, and the Emir’s son was the hero. 😉 He did it with a lot of panache.

Pirates of Penzance! See you there!

March 25, 2008 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Cross Cultural, Entertainment, Events, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Music, Satire, Social Issues | 10 Comments

Peacekeeping in Dharfur

From the New York Times

Peacekeeping in Darfur Hits More Obstacles

By LYDIA POLGREEN
Published: March 24, 2008
ABU SUROUJ, Sudan — As Darfur smolders in the aftermath of a new government offensive, a long-sought peacekeeping force, expected to be the world’s largest, is in danger of failing even as it begins its mission because of bureaucratic delays, stonewalling by Sudan’s government and reluctance from troop-contributing countries to send peacekeeping forces into an active conflict.

The force, a joint mission of the African Union and the United Nations, officially took over from an overstretched and exhausted African Union force in Darfur on Jan. 1. It now has just over 9,000 of an expected 26,000 soldiers and police officers and will not fully deploy until the end of the year, United Nations officials said.

Even the troops that are in place, the old African Union force and two new battalions, lack essential equipment, like sufficient armored personnel carriers and helicopters, to carry out even the most rudimentary of peacekeeping tasks. Some even had to buy their own paint to turn their green helmets United Nations blue, peacekeepers here said.

The peacekeepers’ work is more essential than ever. At least 30,000 people were displaced last month as the government and its allied militias fought to retake territory held by rebel groups fighting in the region, according to United Nations human rights officials.

For weeks after the attacks, many of the displaced were hiding in the bush nearby or living in the open along the volatile border between Sudan and Chad, inaccessible to aid workers. Most wanted to return to their scorched villages and rebuild but did not feel safe from roaming bandits and militias.

A week spent this month with the peacekeeping troops based here at the headquarters of Sector West, a wind-blown outpost at the heart of the recent violence, revealed a force struggling mightily to do better than its much-maligned predecessor, but with little new manpower or equipment.

Despite this, the force is managing to project a greater sense of security for the tens of thousands of vulnerable civilians in the vast territory it covers, mounting night patrols in displaced people’s camps and sending long-range patrols to the areas hardest hit by fighting. But these small gains are fragile, and if more troops do not arrive soon, the force will be written off as being as ineffective and compromised as the one before.

You can read the rest of the article HERE

March 25, 2008 Posted by | Africa, Bureaucracy, Counter-terrorism, Dharfur, Family Issues, News, Political Issues, Social Issues | Leave a comment

A Long Way Gone: Ishmael Beah

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Back when I wrote an update on Dharfur, my blogging friend Chirp recommended a book, A Long Way Gone; Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah. I ordered it that very day, and read it this last week.

It is a truly heartbreaking autobiographical book about a young mischievous boy growing up in Sierra Leone, leading a relatively simple and carefree life in his village with his family. It is very African. He talks about the games he and his friends play, his fascination with rap music and the simple joys of the life he is leading.

Then the rebels come. The invade the villages, hopped up on dope, their dead eyes with no pity, raping, killing, chopping off limbs, stealing all the village food and burning the village behind them, often with people locked inside their huts.

Ishmael escapes once with friends, eventually returning to the village to find his entire family gone. Most of the book has to do with what he has to do to survive. Many villages are very afraid of groups of boys, even boys as young as these are – in their early adolescence – and will hurt them. At the very least, most of the villages hurry them along. At one point Ishmael is hiding out in the jungle forest on his own, hiding from lions, giant feral pigs, sleeping up in trees and looking for the rare fruit or grass that he can eat without getting sick.

Finally, after meeting up with some other boys and continuing to try to find his family, a village takes him in, a village run by the state soldiers. As they are attacked by rebels, the boys are forced to make a choice – go out on their own again (where the rebels will also try to recruit them, and if they refuse, will kill them) or agree to be soldiers. These are kids 12, 13, 14 carrying AK 47’s. As part of their training they are given drugs on a regular basis which keep them hopped up, full of energy, and not sleeping for days. The young boys learn to kill without pity. He becomes the very people he was fleeing.

This is a book about redemption. At the center where the boy soldiers are taken, they are constantly told “none of this was your fault.” It is a very African approach, a very human and loving approach to redemption of lives that might have been totally lost to the horrors they have witnessed and inflicted. The author is now nearly 30, and sounds – unlikely as it might be – happy.

Thank you, Chirp, for recommending this wonderful book.

March 25, 2008 Posted by | Adventure, Africa, Biography, Blogging, Books, Bureaucracy, Character, Community, Family Issues, Living Conditions, Political Issues, Social Issues, Spiritual | 19 Comments