Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Kuwait Ministries Ban Photography?

I am in total shock.

Thank you, Bit Jockey, for sending this to me, an article from the Kuwait Times.

We had so much fun! We had photo challenges, Kuwait sunsets, National Day Celebration photos, so much fun. And now, you can get arrested for taking photos? Not of military or political or sensitive buildings, not for reasons of national security, but . . . just because?

Most photographers in Kuwait are careful not to photograph women, or any citizens without their permission. Why on earth was this ban created?

How on earth will they enforce it? What are the penalties?

KUWAIT: After the ban three ministries placed on photography, most Kuwaiti youth are a bit confused about what to do with their cameras if they can’t use them in public and why such laws were implemented in the first place. The Ministry of Information, Ministry of Social Affairs and Ministry of Finance recently came to the conclusion that photography should be used for journalism purposes only. This has resulted in the ban of Digital Single Lens Reflex Cameras (DSLRs) in public, on the streets and in malls

What most Kuwaiti photographers have come to wonder is how such a decision could be reached by authorities, especially considering that digital cameras and cell phone cameras have the same abilities. What most people think of photography as a hobby has become a bit misguided due to the fact that the country has so little exposure to art. While using a DSLR, passersby may wonder if the camera is being used for the wrong reasons.

Mohammed Al-Eisa, who picked up photography as a hobby more than 10 years ago, said that he has decided to take photos of animals or still life due to the fact that these subjects don’t mind having their picture taken and don’t make a scene. “I started facing problems the very first day I bought my camera,” Mohammed added.

What often happens is that a big black camera tends to worry people. Taking a picture of a stranger would seem like much less of an issue if you were using a more discreet camera or even a cell phone. Mariam Al-Fodiry said that she has faced similar problems with her hobby and that being a girl doesn’t help at all. She said that in some cases it makes the problem even worse. “Switching to abstract and landscape photography was one the options I considered after getting into enough trouble,” Mariam said.

Majed Al-Saqer said that sometimes people stop him while he is in his car with his camera, as if he were planning to kill someone with it. He said that he isn’t sure what the real problem is, whether it is people taking photos of each other or the size of the camera.

November 20, 2010 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Blogging, Bureaucracy, Cultural, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Law and Order, Living Conditions, Photos | 15 Comments

Gulf Coast Citizen Diplomacy Council

I have a friend from church; she is a woman I admire greatly. Older than I am, though not much, she participates in the Spartacus Program at the “Y”, she is good at running things, she is good at making phone calls and even sounds like she enjoys them, she enjoys social life and she sparkles.

She is always thinking.

“I think I know just the group for you!” she exclaimed as we were working on a project. “Have you heard about the Gulf Coast Citizen Diplomacy Council?”

No, no, I hadn’t heard about that. Having lived here six months now, there is a lot I don’t know.

She told me all about it and she was right. It is right up my alley. The Gulf Coast Citizen Diplomacy Council greets foreign visitors and performs a variety of services, escorting them to appointments, showing them the area, even taking them shopping or inviting them for a dinner in your private home, all in the name of hospitality and showing the best side of this beautiful part of the United States.

The Gulf Coast Citizen Diplomacy Council is a non-partisan, non-profit organization whose mission is to create and encourage collaboration between like-minded community stakeholders who value sharing the Central Gulf Coast with the rest of the world by:

° Facilitating professional and personal interaction for international leaders during official visits to the Central Gulf Coast

° Enhancing respect and communication through international exchanges and alliances
Forging cultural, educational, and business relationships with the global community through citizen diplomacy

° Promoting greater understanding of global affairs in our community through a balance of public events, educational activities, and the International Visitor Leadership Program

° Promoting the Central Gulf Coast as an important center of commerce, culture, and tourism

How cool is that? Even AdventureMan is excited about joining this club; we are so grateful for all the wonderful hospitality shown us through many years of adventures abroad. We feel grateful for an opportunity to be hosts in turn.

In this club I am not so alien. The club members are people who have a broad world view. I met other people who have lived or visited in Qatar or Kuwait, and other parts of the world where I have never been. Oh, what fun.

Many of the members are former military, and I found myself listening to a discussion of an upcoming meeting. As this is a community that parties hearty during Mardi Gras, I assumed it must be the name of a Krewe, a Mardi Gras social club, all these high-testosterone men were discussing camellias, must be a code word for some secret society, right?

Wrong. As it turns out, many people here, men and women, are passionate about gardening, and there is a club devoted to turning out perfect camellias, and they are having a show coming up in December. I learn new things ever day. 🙂

The Gulf Coast Citizen Diplomacy Council was only founded a short couple years ago, and has already won awards for its programs and hospitality. A truly impressive group. 🙂

November 20, 2010 Posted by | Adventure, Civility, Community, Cross Cultural, Entertainment, ExPat Life, Friends & Friendship, Interconnected, Kuwait, Leadership, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Qatar | 4 Comments


When a western-world thinker first goes to live in an Islamic country, the words we love to hate are “bukra” (tomorrow) “badeen” (later) and “insh’allah (God willing), because in the world we are coming from, when you say “tomorrow,” it means that the plumber will be coming tomorrow. In Islamic countries, “tomorrow” or “later” might mean that they don’t want to upset you by telling you that it is unlikely that the plumber will be able to come within the next two weeks.

“Will you have this dress back to me by November 10th?” you ask, because you intend to wear it to the Marine Ball.

“Insh’allah,” they might answer, God willing. They have never seen a dress come back that fast, but God is mighty, and in his power anything is possible.

In today’s Lectionary, James reminds us that “insh’allah” should be our own response to every commitment, and I always find it humbling. We in the West are always so sure, so confident, and as we plan, God just laughs. Or weeps.

James 4:13-5:6

13 Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there, doing business and making money.’ 14 Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wishes, we will live and do this or that.’ 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. 17 Anyone, then, who knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, commits sin.

5 Come now, you rich people, weep and wail for the miseries that are coming to you. 2 Your riches have rotted, and your clothes are moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you, and it will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure* for the last days. 4 Listen! The wages of the labourers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. 5 You have lived on the earth in luxury and in pleasure; you have fattened your hearts on a day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and murdered the righteous one, who does not resist you.

November 18, 2010 Posted by | Community, Cultural, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Middle East, Random Musings, Spiritual, Words | 2 Comments

Demon Cat From Hell at the East Hill Animal Hospital

The Qatari Cat occasionally has a little problem with cleanliness and hygiene, and since we don’t know if it might be a sign of something serious, we booked an appointment with a vet, the vet everyone talks about as being the best vet in town, so caring. We’ve visited her operation on open house day and we were impressed with her professionalism and knowledge, so we called her.

It was a really really good thing we did. When it came time to take him to the vet, I just plonked the cat cage down next to him, picked him up and put him inside, before he even really knew what was happening. He complained all the way to the vet, but nothing serious, like our diabetic cat who hated car motion and always threw up and defecated when we would take her places. 😦

We signed in, visited with the three little kittens seeking adoption, and then, our name was called. We took QC into an examination room where the assistant weighed him and stroked him and told him how sweet he was. He ate it up. He was as good as gold.

The vet came in, and took a look, said it didn’t look serious but that sometimes you see this problem in big cats and long haired cats, so they would just clean him up a little and shave his bottom.

“Hold him down like this,” she showed her assistant, and the Qatari cat cooperated. Er, well, he cooperated until the first vibration of the razor hit his hind-end hairs, at which time he did an instantaneous transformation into The Demon Cat From Hell, twisting, howling, hissing, trying to bite or scratch, little legs going in reverse, back writhing . . .

“I can’t hold him!” the assistant cried, and she hid her terror, but her voice trembled.

“Get the towel,” the vet said calmly, as she held him down with her two strong hands while the demon-cat-from-hell told her he intended great harm to her as soon as he could get free. She threw the towel over his head, which only made him madder and squirmier, but as the vet tech struggled and held the Qatari Cat down, the vet calmly continued with the “grooming.”

“We use these to clean the bottoms,” she said, pulling out those antiseptic wet-wipes we all carry around to wash our hands when there is no water around.

I just laughed. I have chased the Qatari cat around with warm wet cloths, with wet wipes, with towels . . . he does not like anyone messing with his bottom.

“Now that you’ve shaved him, I think he’ll be OK until the next time,” I said.

Trust me, Qatari Cat, when he is rational, knows I am the alpha. He obeys me. I can tell him to come in out of the garage and he will come; I can pat the bed and he will come lie down next to me. He knows my signals and he acknowledges my Queen-of-the-food-supply-and-warm-body status. Mess with his bottom, however, and all rational thought (in cat terms, rational thought, not our terms) flies out the window as the basest of instincts takes over.

Here is the sweet part. The clinic wrote us a thank you note for our visit. When it came in the mail, I was almost afraid to open it, afraid they would tell us that unfortunately, their practice is full right how and that they would like for us to find another vet for the Qatari Cat. Not so. It was a genuine thank you note, thanking us for our visit. They are totally a class act.

East Hill Animal Hospital, Pensacola, FL.

November 16, 2010 Posted by | Adventure, Civility, Community, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Pets, Qatteri Cat | 5 Comments

A Horse, A Helper, A Harp

This is one of our readings for today, from The Lectionary:

James 2:14-26

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters,* if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill’, and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? 17 So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.

18 But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith without works, and I by my works will show you my faith. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder. 20 Do you want to be shown, you senseless person, that faith without works is barren? 21 Was not our ancestor Abraham justified by works when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was brought to completion by the works. 23 Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness’, and he was called the friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 Likewise, was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another road? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead.

When I read it, I took it personally. In last night’s concert, several of the tunes were by an Irish composer, Turlough O’Carolan, considered the last great Irish harp composer. He came from a poor family, given work and help by a Mrs. MacDermottRoe, who educated Turlough and saw promise in him. He was blinded by smallpox at eighteen.

Imagine. 18 years old. Blind. It could embitter you for life.

Mrs. MacDermottRoe gave Turlough “a horse, a helper and a harp” and Turlough went out to make his living by composing tunes and setting poetry to them, earning his keep by composing for individual patrons and by performing at events like weddings and funerals.

What a wonderful, great act of faith! She didn’t say “Peace be with you and good luck!” She gave him a means to support himself and trusted that he would make use of it. He was a prolific composer, and his works are often played today. When I read today’s reading in James, it just reinforced the message. Mrs. MacDermottRoe put her faith into action, changed a young man’s life and gave a great gift to the world.

You can read more about Turlough O’Conner at Wikipedia: Turlough O’Carolan or at a biographical website, where you can hear one of his tunes while you read.

November 15, 2010 Posted by | Biography, Character, Charity, Entertainment, Music, Work Related Issues | Leave a comment

Sweet Prospect: Music At Christ Church

I remember when I lived in Qatar, and Kuwait, and then Qatar again, how I would read about something in the paper – the day after it happened. The things I did go to – and there were some spectacular events in Qatar – were mostly word of mouth, a personal invitation, very few cultural events were well advertised.

Not so in Pensacola. There is a wonderful Symphony, truly wonderful. There is an Opera, and several theatres, and even a Pensacola Ballet. And there is Music at Christ Church.

Yes, I am partial. We attend Christ Church, and I always love a concert where the surrounding is so beautiful. Tonight’s concert was irresistible – hammered dulcimers. Hammered dulcimers! Some of the earliest music in our country was hammered dulcimer. Lucky for me, AdventureMan loves music, and was as eager as I was to go to this concert.

So off to church in the morning, then meet up with our son and his wife – who ran the half marathon today, HOOOO-AHH! And of course, our darling little grandson, who wants nothing to do with me these days, not when there is AdventureMan, the original fun-guy. Famous Dave’s Barbeque, a wonderful meal with a truly great waiter, patient, kind, didn’t mind a baby and four dawdling adults – good fun, good conversation, good food, and then off to the concert.

The sun started setting around 3:30, and the concert began in the dimmed church around 4. It was sheer magic. The group, Sweet Prospect, is so talented, and their music is so lovingly performed. Melissa Allured plays the recorder as well as most of the melodies in the selections they played today, Sheryl Bragwell plays the hammered dulcimer and a bowed psaltery, and Gary Diamond backs them up with guitar. They played a wide variety of tunes; Scottish, Irish, early American, even a very Wyndham Hill sounding piece from a Lopez Island (Washington State) artist Gary Haggerty, called Coffee American, which was lively and quick.

(angel playing Psaltery)

I have a complaint. The concert was only an hour long. I could have listened longer. But oh, what a wonderful hour it was! I love the Music at Christ Church program. There is a suggested donation for the concert, but if you can’t afford the $10 donation, no one is standing there scowling if you want to come into the church and hear some great music. There is a bowl out for collecting the donation, people toss their donation in and sit down. The concerts are also sponsored by several levels of music lovers at Christ Church who are patrons of the arts, and contribute generously so that these opportunities are available to the Pensacola community. How cool is that?

The good news is that on the Sweet Prospects website you can also listen to some of their recordings, and you can buy their CD’s. THIS IS IMPORTANT, ADVENTUREMAN! The one I really really want is called Cold Frosty Morn. If you go to their website, it tells you how to order it, or you can find one of the bookstores in Pensacola that sells it. (hint hint) It is Christmas music. If you want to go listen to a tune or two by Sweet Prospects, click on the blue type above, and listen away. 🙂 If you live in Pensacola, and you want to learn to play the dulcimer – or several other early musical instruments – there is a group that welcomes you and will teach you how. Learn to play hammered dulcimer – in Pensacola. I am blown away.

It’s just been such a great day, full of church, family and culture. We are so glad to be in Pensacola.

I just wish Sweet Prospects would be picked up to be sent on a cultural tour to our embassies in the Middle East. I wish our friends there, who love music, and who know the early musical instruments of the Middle East, could hear this music, and see these instruments, which are so similar. As I enjoyed every minute of this concert, I was wishing my Arab Gulf friends could be hearing it, too. This music is so American, and yet, you can hear the early strains of the Irish, the Scottish, and yes, even the sounds of the Holy Lands, brought back to Europe by the early crusaders.

November 14, 2010 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Community, Cultural, Customer Service, Eating Out, Entertainment, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Music | Leave a comment

Welcome to Ed’s Seafood Shed, Mobile, Alabama

“Oh my Mom is going to love this place!” I told AdventureMan as we entered Ed’s, a Mobile favorite.

He looked at me sideways.

“She can’t climb all those stairs,” he said, “But I will help you push the wheelchair up the ramp.”

LOL, it is a long way up. But it is worth the push. 🙂

When you get there, they bring you a bowl of cole slaw, and no wonder, it is really good, not too sweet, not too much mayonnaise, and just a little bit of bite. It quells those stomach rumbles while you look at the menu:

We always have to try the onion rings. We look for real onion rings, not processed pieces of onion reformed into identical rings, and we look for a light batter. These were wonderful:

And no. No, we are not supposed to be eating deep fried onion rings. You’ll notice there aren’t a lot, and each one was delicious. 🙂

AdventureMan had the Scallop Platter, and I had shrimp and scallops. We both had turnip greens. You’d think that would be healthy, wouldn’t you? They were SO delicious, but I am guessing it is because they were full of ham, and salt:

We always have to test the hush puppies, rate them on a scale. These were pretty good!

This is the condiment of the South, pepper vinegar:

And now, what you have been waiting for, what Ed’s Seafood Shack looks like:

It’s just like Kuwait and Qatar; once the heat eases up, we all want to eat outside. 🙂

The food is so delicious, we can’t go too often. We’re too tempted by those onion rings and those hushpuppies. But the prices are reasonable, the outside deck is comfortable, the view is great and it is close to the Battleship Museum in Mobile. We saw many people having desserts, huge desserts full of chocolate and whipped cream and by the grace of God, we were able to pass those up. Bon appetit!

Update 14 Nov: I got the nicest note from the people at Ed’s Seafood Shed, and I want to share it with you:

Hi! This is Barbara Bridges, owner of Ed’s Seafood Shed. I just read your post about your visit to Ed’s. Thank you very much for the nice comments! I am so happy you enjoyed the food and the atmosphere. If you bring your Mom just call the front desk and my Manager will push her up the ramp for you.
(number for manager taken out by Intlxpatr in case they don’t want everyone calling them, LOL!)

Again thanks and hope to see you soon.

Barbara Bridges
Ed’s Seafood Shed

November 14, 2010 Posted by | Adventure, Cultural, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Food, Health Issues, Living Conditions, Travel | 3 Comments

Aung San Suu Kyi Released


YANGON, Myanmar (Nov. 13) — Myanmar’s military government freed its archrival, democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, on Saturday after her latest term of detention expired. Several thousand jubilant supporters streamed to her residence.

(You can read the entire story on AOL News

November 13, 2010 Posted by | Free Speech, Political Issues | Leave a comment

The Easy Way To Peel a Potato

I can’t believe it can be this easy!

November 12, 2010 Posted by | Food | 4 Comments

Veteran’s Day Tribute

Thank you for your faithful service to your country, and to mankind.

November 11, 2010 Posted by | Adventure, Counter-terrorism, Cross Cultural, Events, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Leadership, Living Conditions | 1 Comment