Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Heavy Heart: Police Dog Auction

In today’s Kuwait Times is an ad from the Ministry of Interior offering “28 Trained Police Dogs” for Auction on June 3rd.

Everyone knows there are clandestine dog fights here, where animals are goaded to fight until deeply injured and killed. This is not a dog-friendly culture. Dogs starve here all the time, are hit, beaten, abandoned, stoned, maimed, tortured by children and adults.

The thought of who might buy these dogs and the purposes they might be put to makes my heart heavy. Worse. It makes my stomach heave.

Working dogs do what they are trained to do. The work hard. They served Kuwait! They deserve a good retirement.

June 1, 2008 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Community, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Law and Order, Living Conditions, Social Issues | 7 Comments

My New Buddy

Just days before Sporty Diamond’s wedding, Big Diamond introduced me to a new friend – a Lumix, a Panasonic camera with a Leica lens.

It hardly felt like a real camera. I have lugged around Nikons most of my life, Nikons and their lenses and a variety of super films to capture that special moment. The Lumix felt like a toy.

“Just try it,” she laughed confidently.

Within minutes, she was in on her phone and computer, ordering the same model for Sporty Diamond and myself. That was five years ago.

In January, as I was doing one of the sunrise series, something whirred and clicked and jammed, never to work again. I didn’t worry too much, I had a smaller model of the same camera I bought to use in my purse. I knew I would need another one, but I had time.

When she visited, Little Diamond mentioned that exactly the same thing had happened with Big Diamond’s camera, and we figure maybe it is some kind of planned obsolescence.

Or an excuse to buy the newest model!

While back in the USA, I picked up the newest telephoto model of the Lumix. Without any additional lenses, this little camera goes from 18mm – 574mm. The zoom is so powerful that I can’t always hold the camera steady enough without a tripod, but it also has all the latest shake-reduction technologies. Actually, it has technologies I haven’t begun to master. I thought I would know it all, having had the same camera, but so much has been added in the last couple years, I still have a severe learning curve in front of me.

My sister has the same exact camera, so we can help each other out when we figure out some new capability.

I am not one of your more serious photographers. I don’t bracket my shots; I don’t do a lot of planning before I shoot. Most of my shots are shots of convenience – I even have the camera out on the seat while I am driving, in case I see something at a stoplight. Certainly in case I have a road problem, or in case some idiot drives next to me in the emergency land. I need a camera mostly for family moments, for our African adventures, for my daily Kuwait experiences and for those odd moments that capture my attention.

I am more of a documentary photographer. I grab whatever shot I can get, and delete delete delete all the excess photos. I do love getting to know the camera, and finding out what it can do. What I love the most about this camera is the great big huge zoom, the tiny, light body, and the bright, clear photos it takes under the worst conditions.

I have another buddy, a good friend who has really been there for me while I am jet lagging. The first morning – she knows I am up early – she called me and said she was on her way to the store, did I want to come? I was already getting dressed to go to the store, so I said yes. The truth is, when you are ten time zones out of whack, you are probably better off not driving a whole lot.

Yesterday, once again, she helped me run a couple of significant errands, things I really needed to do and she sacrificed a morning with her husband to help me out. That is a friend, indeed. Not only is she a lot of fun to be running errands with, but when I grabbed my camera and said “that’s a shot I’ve wanted and never been able to take because I am always driving!” she slowed down and let me have the time to take the shot. She didn’t even mind. Now THAT is a friend, indeed!

Nowhere else have I seen bulldozers up in buildings. I can’t imagine the building being destroyed was constructed with specifications supporting the weight of a bulldozer in mind. I can’t imagine what the bulldozer operator must have in terms of life insurance – or, well, too bad, I can imagine he considers himself lucky to have a job that allows him to send some money back home. At least this bulldozer is only three stories above ground – the last one I saw was eight stories above ground. And the driver didn’t even have a construction helmet on.

It is blazing-white-hot in Kuwait right now, but thanks be to God, there is no dust today, and the humidity is relatively low.

June 1, 2008 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, ExPat Life, Friends & Friendship, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Lumix, Shopping, Weather | Leave a comment

Sunrise, First of June, 2008

While we don’t have that seriously dark brown band of, hmmm. . . . something . . . on the horizon, there is a band of thick haze. The sun gets above the horizon, lights the clouds above, but it is fully minutes before it can get through the low lying haze for a visible sunrise.

This is what I think is ACTUAL sunrise:

Here, minutes later, we can see the sun over the thick haze on the horizon:

At 5 in the morning, it is a mere 84°F / 29°C out on my balcony, very comfortable, just a tiny soft breeze, me and all the laborers the only ones up and about so early. Well, maybe Ansam, who gets an early start on her day. 😉

June 1, 2008 Posted by | ExPat Life, Kuwait, Living Conditions, sunrise series, Weather | 6 Comments