Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Sunrise Meditation

Good morning, Kuwait!

I had to go out on the balcony this morning to take the sunrise photo; my windows are so streaked with dust and humidity that I can’t find a place clean enough to shoot through! I got a delightful surprise – the morning was comfortable! For a brief time, as brief as it may be, there is no humidity, and the temperatures are falling. “Falling” in this case means maybe down in the 80’s F., LOL, but comfortable!
Actually . . . it was lovely!

You can see, we have that suspicious dark layer hanging over the horizon, hmmm. . . . .looks suspiciously like pollution. Anyone having trouble breathing?

The verses for today’s meditation are from the Psalm for today, Psalm 62:

Those of low estate are but a breath,
those of high estate are a delusion;
in the balances they go up;
they are together lighter than a breath.
10Put no confidence in extortion,
and set no vain hopes on robbery;
if riches increase, do not set your heart on them.

11Once God has spoken;
twice have I heard this:
that power belongs to God,
12 and steadfast love belongs to you, O Lord.
For you repay to all
according to their work.

Have a great day, Kuwait.

September 16, 2008 Posted by | Community, ExPat Life, Health Issues, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Spiritual, sunrise series, Weather | 7 Comments

Girgian Surprise

The doorbell rang.

No one rings my doorbell. The doorman always calls to let me know if a visitor has arrived.

“Who’s there?” I called out.

“It’s GIRGIAN!” a chorus of voices rang out.

Girgian is a children’s holiday, a little like Hallowe’en, about half way through the month of Ramadan, when costumed children come and ring your bell and are given sweets, sometimes money. If you are really lucky, they sing a song. My understanding is that normally the children go around to their families, like aunts and uncles and cousins, and to close neighbors.

I had had a full day, and I had more to do. I had come home and showered because I was no hot, and then – I had gotten into my lightest nightie so I could continue working in comfort. What to do???

Thank God, there was an abaya hanging in my hallway, and I grabbed it and flung it on as I headed to the door. In come eight gorgeous little Kuwaitis, all English speaking, all dressed top to bottom in gorgeous finery, bright thobes and prayer caps, beautifully hand woven bisht with gilt trim, dresses with embroidery and lace and gilt skirts, golden headdresses – oh! They were gorgeous!

No one has ever come for Gergian before. I didn’t have anything prepared. Thank God AdventureMan has a sweet tooth, and thank God, they were polite and appeared delighted with handsfull of Oreo cookies and marshmallows, which were all I had.

Some days, you just never know when a blessing will appear. Those darling children made my day.

These are not the children who came to my house, but I found this on YouTube, posted, thanks be to God, by fellow Kuwait blogger Chikapappi! Thank you, Chicki!

This is what Girgian costumed children in Kuwait look like, and how cool, they are singing!

September 15, 2008 Posted by | Community, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Ramadan | 8 Comments

Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton

If you missed Saturday Night Live’s spoof of Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton (Tina Fey & Amy Poehler), see it now:

Watch it now, before they take it off!

September 15, 2008 Posted by | Entertainment, Humor, Leadership, Political Issues, Women's Issues | 10 Comments

How Can I Forgive?

Today’s Gospel reading touches on a very difficult theme – how do we forgive those who sin against us? It is so much easier to cling to hatred and resentment than to let go.

Note to my Christian friends – did you know that the Gospels (Injil“) are considered one of the five Holy Books of the Qur’an? I didn’t – I learned that from Fahad, a blogger who comments here. Wikipedia says that “Muslim scholars generally dispute that Injil refers to either the entire New Testament or the four Gospels. Others believe the Injil was not a physical book, but simply a set of teachings. The word Injil is used in the Qur’an, the Hadith and early Muslim documents to refer specifically to the revelations made by God to Isa (Jesus), and is used by both Muslims and some Arabic-speaking Christians today.”

I mention this only because it is Ramadan, and a season of contemplating God’s word. My Christian friends might wonder why I quote from our books to my Kuwaiti / Gulf friends, but in truth, I find that we are all wrestling with many of the same moral questions, and we just have more tools in our spiritual tool boxes when we share ideas and approaches. I find my Moslem readers can greatly illuminate my own readings when I ask how their books approach – say the problem of Job / Ayyoub or problems of wealth and poverty, or, as today – forgiveness.

This is yesterday’s reading from Forward Day by Day.

Matthew 18:21-35. Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?

Forgiveness is always a difficult matter. In the Eastern church, the season of Lent begins with “Forgiveness Vespers” in which each member of the church asks forgiveness of the priest and of every other member of the church. When the service is completed the entire church has asked forgiveness. It is a healthy way to begin a season of repentance.

To the question, “How many times?” Christ gives an answer that is the equivalent of “However many times you need to.” Forgiveness is a double-edged sword. The sins of those who need to be forgiven bind them and leave them less than free in their quest for peace. For those who must forgive, refusing to forgive can have the same binding effect. It is as though we are tied to all whom we have anything against.

Finding a way to forgive can be difficult. When someone has offended us unknowingly, going to him to confront him with his behavior can be positively damaging. Instead, I use this simple form in my prayers: “Lord, on the day of judgment, do not hold this sin against him.”

September 15, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 9 Comments

Rapists Arrested

From today’s Arab Times:

2 wanted Bedouns involved in ‘rape’ case held

Kuwait : Personnel from the Law Enforcement Department have arrested two Bedouns who had been sentenced in absentia for life imprisonment with hard labor for their involvement in kidnapping and raping an unidentified expatriate woman, reports Al-Anba daily.
The daily did not give more details.

I don’t know how the system works here, but it is a great step forward when rapists are arrested and jailed. These two have already been convicted, so we can hope they will be off the streets for a while.

September 14, 2008 Posted by | Community, Crime, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Kuwait, Law and Order, Living Conditions, Social Issues, Women's Issues | 6 Comments

“You Read the Policy?”

“You read the policy?” the insurance lady asked, and I could hear the laughter restrained in her voice.

“Yes, I did. It doesn’t cover much! With all the restriction, the flood insurance has to work together with the high wind insurance, and it seems to me I need to put the majority of my coverage there,” I replied.

“I’ve just never had a customer before who actually read through the policy,” she responded, her voice still bordering on laughter.

She and I get along great. She helped me out when a company refused to insure our Florida house, a year after all the insurance agencies had taken a major battering from an onslaught of hurricane losses.

I hate reading policies. Do you ever read through your credit card agreements before you sign them? Do you read through the restrictions on software before you download it? Do you know what your insurance REALLY covers?

Sometimes the cheapest policy isn’t always the best – it depends on how good they are when you need to make a claim. Even if you read the policies, it isn’t always what-you-see-is-what-you-get. You also need to check a company’s reputation for claims adjustments.

So far, we have been very lucky. We’ve never made a claim on our auto insurance; any accident – and there haven’t been many – have had only small damage, usually covered by the other person. The only accident I have had in the Middle East was when another American woman rear-ended me on the little road into our compound. The only claim we ever made on a house (we came home from a trip to discover a water pipe had broken) was wiped out by the deductible we had chosen, so we didn’t make the claim.

House insurance freaks me out. The power of almighty God is in a hurricane; a beautiful house can be nothing but shards and embers in no time at all. If you own a Florida house, you have to have separate policies for fire, for liability, for high wind (hurricane) and for flood. The total cost of all those insurances is about equal to one house payment. The fact that all my coverages come due during hurricane season works to my agent’s advantage.

You can track any hurricane/tripical storm in the world at Weather Underground.

September 13, 2008 Posted by | ExPat Life, Family Issues, Financial Issues, Florida, Living Conditions, Weather | 3 Comments

Daddy’s Little Girl’s Car

When we saw this car, AdventureMan and I both just about died laughing. Look at that color! It is Barbie Doll pink! I don’t know if you can see, but it SPARKLES! Oh, look at those fabulous matching wheels!

Only two doors, but some carrying space in the back . . . only a Daddy or a doting Sugar Daddy would buy a car like this for his little girl!

September 13, 2008 Posted by | Community, Cross Cultural, Entertainment, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Mating Behavior | 22 Comments

Streaky Sunrise

Circumstances had me up and about just before the sun was rising this morning, but I was filled with despair – how can I shoot the sunrise through these streaky windows? The men will be coming soon to wash the outside – more than 200 square feet of glass in our living room – the windows make up almost an entire wall.

The humidity of the last week made them damp and sticky, and then the sand storm blew in. The results are a disaster for my windows, now caked with burned on dust and grit, all streaked as the windows shed the day’s humidity.

This is what the windows look like:

This is what the sunrise looked like at 0h-dark-thirty this morning, through my streaky windows:

Here is what is going to happen. The men will come and wash my windows – but not until the day before the next humid day followed upon by another sandstorm. I will have about six hours to enjoy my beautiful diamond-sparkling-clear windows before they streak again. 😦

There is not a cloud in the sky. Weather Underground: Kuwait forecasts that today will reach 111°F / 44° C this afternoon. For my non-Moslem friends, try eating breakfast while it is still dark, early in the day, and then trying to get through a day like today without eating, drinking, smoking or coffee. God willing, there will be no humidity, which just saps the energy right out of everyone. God willing, because it is Saturday, most people will be able to stay at home and off the roads while they are fasting.

I had a man almost drift right into me yesterday in downtown Kuwait; I think he fell asleep as he was driving. Of course when I tapped my horn lightly to let him know he was drifting, he woke up and was all embarrassed and drove off with a roar, maybe to show me he hadn’t been sleeping, I don’t know, LOL. Mostly I try to stay off the roads myself.

September 13, 2008 Posted by | Community, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Ramadan, Social Issues, sunrise series, Weather | 5 Comments

Keeps Me Humble

The very few people who know that I blog sometimes ask me “How do you get such high statistics?”

The simple truth is, my very highest attracting post, even one year later, gets the most hits. It isn’t about the content, it’s about the birthday cake photo. How humbling is that?

WordPress allows us to look at our posts in terms of the last seven days, the last 30 days, the last quarter, the last year and all time. Because I love statistics and trends, and what numbers can tell us and how they can mislead us, I love it that WordPress has added all these features. (They have also added technical features that outstrip my abilities and my desire. I want to keep it simple – just writing on some days can be hard enough for me.)

So here is a look at my all time high scoring articles:

September 12, 2008 Posted by | Blogging, Community, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Statistics, Technical Issue, WordPress | 11 Comments

Romance and Money Matters

I found this article in today’s New York Times Business. So here is my question to you – is it different in Kuwait than in the USA? I remember when we wanted a joint checking account here ( Adventures in Banking), one man looked at my husband in disbelief and said “Why? Just give her some money!” We never did get a joint account; it isn’t possible, but I was given a PAO on the account. It seemed bizarre to me, but it makes perfect sense if couples keep their moneys separately.

What do you think? Does this article apply to marriage in Kuwait?

The Key to Wedded Bliss? Money Matters

By TARA SIEGEL BERNARD
Published: September 10, 2008
IF you ask married people why their marriage works, they are probably not going to say it’s because they found their financial soul mate.

But if they are lucky, they have. Marrying a person who shares your attitudes about money might just be the smartest financial decision you will ever make. In fact, when it comes to finances, your marriage is likely to be your most valuable asset — or your largest liability.

Marrying for love is a relatively recent phenomenon. For centuries, marriages were arranged affairs, aligning families for economic or political purposes or simply pooling the resources of those scraping by.

Today, while most of us marry for romantic reasons, marriage at its core is still a financial union. So much of what we want — or don’t want — out of life boils down to dollars and cents, whether it’s how hard we choose to work, how much we consume or how much we save. For some people, it’s working 80-hour weeks to finance a third home and country club membership; for others, it means cutting back on office hours to spend more time with the family.

“A lot of the debates people have about money are code for how we want to live our lives,” said Betsey Stevenson, assistant professor of business and public policy at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, who researches the economics of marriage and divorce. “A lot of the choices we make in how we want to live our lives involve how we spend our money.”

Making those choices as a team is one of the most important ways to preserve your marital assets, and your union, experts say. But it’s that much easier when you already share similar outlooks on money matters — or when you can, at the very least, find some middle ground.

The economies achieved by pairing up are fairly obvious. However, the costs of divorce can be financially devastating, especially when children are involved. And, not surprisingly, money manages to force a wide wedge between many couples.

“Most people think people break up over sex issues and children issues — and those are issues — but money is a huge factor in breaking up marriages,” said Susan Reach Winters, a divorce lawyer in Short Hills, N.J.

Not everyone is married to a financial twin, and that’s not necessarily a problem. There are several ways that you and your significant other can become more compatible, and ultimately more prosperous, when it comes to money.

These guidelines are compiled from the successfully married and from experts on psychology, divorce and finance:

TALK AND SHARE GOALS Before walking down the aisle, couples should have a talk about their financial health and goals. They should ask each other tough questions: Do we want children? When? Who will care for them? Will they go to public or private school? What kind of life do we want? When will we retire?

This is a fascinating article – read the rest of it HERE.

September 11, 2008 Posted by | Community, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Marriage, Mating Behavior, Relationships, Social Issues, Technical Issue | 4 Comments