Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Wooo HOOO the New Q8 Books!

Brava! Brava, Fajer! What a great gift to the children and the community, to make Q8Books more accessible and family friendly. Woooo HOOOOO!

Reading and literacy are key to civilization. Brava!


From the Kuwait Times:

Kuwait’s community bookshop gets new life

Spooky Books storytime

Finding quality English books in Kuwait is a challenge as any book lover here knows. Local lawyer Fajer Ahmed, 26, recently took up the challenge when she acquired the small but well-loved bookshop, Q8 Books. She moved Q8 Books from downtown Kuwait City into a renovated space in Bayt Lothan, the non-profit arts and culture center located next to Marina Mall in Salmiya. Home to more than 15,000 titles of all genres including literature, general fiction, history, romance, thrillers and mysteries, westerns, classics, cook books, true crime, self help and motivation, family and lifestyle, business and philosophy and arts and crafts, Q8 Books has something to suit every reader’s taste.

By adding sofas, tables, chairs and beanbags, Q8 Books created a cozy, relaxed atmosphere along with free WiFi that invites customers to come and hang out. “We want to encourage reading, writing and communication in Kuwait, “Fajer explained. “As one example, we provide local writers with a place to display and sell their books free of charge, we also do all the administrative work for them.”

A community bookshop
Q8 Books also holds a free weekly story time for children, offers 50% store credit for trade ins, encourages book clubs and other responsible community groups free space to hold meetings and has an outreach project to support a library in Gambia. “We thank Bayt Lothan for giving Q8 Books a home,” Fajer said. “Without them none of this would have been possible.” Q8 Books’ erudite former owner, Jacob, started the bookshop almost a decade ago with only a handful of books. During his travels, he would browse used bookstores and markets to find quality titles that would be appreciated by the book-loving community in Kuwait. Jacob continues to help out at Q8 Books along with a group of dedicated volunteers and support from the Kuwait Writing Club.

Fajer also organizes regular events in order to build Q8 Books as a community space. On the first of November, Q8 Books hosted a Spooky Book night for kids, which included a story telling by local street artist Monstariam dressed in a bunny costume, a crafts and arts table, coloring and glitter, a costume contest and a chance for parents to browse and chat.

Kid and family friendly
“We really enjoyed Spooky Books night,” said Umm Sara, a mother of three children who attended the event all wearing ‘scary’ costumes. “The kids loved the story telling and we got several books. Much better than going to a mall and they got to draw and color and dress up.” The Kuwait Writing Club also took part, judging over 80 submissions for the writing competition. The winning submission will be published in Kuwait Times. “We also had a cover design competition for children to draw covers for the age appropriate horror story, Goosebumps, and every kid that took park received a free book of their choice,” Fajer explained.

Q8 Books will offer monthly events for children and parents with the goal of encouraging reading. “When kids come in playing games on electronic devices, we try to find books with the same characters and get them interested in reading,” Fajer noted. “ Children’s Bookshop has also donated coloring and reading books to give for free for every child that walks in.” Q8 Books encourages Kuwait’s community of readers to share their love of reading. They accept donations and offer store credit for traded in books. They also invite anyone to email if they are interested in volunteering, donating or just want to talk to someone about suggestions for what to read.

Q8 Books is located in Bayt Lothan, next to Marina Mall. Store Hours: Weekdays 9am- 1pm and 5pm-9pm. Weekends 11am-9pm. Follow them on Instagram @q8bookstore

By Jamie Etheridge


November 8, 2013 Posted by | Books, Character, Civility, Community, Education, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Free Speech, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Poetry/Literature, Political Issues, Social Issues, Women's Issues | 3 Comments

The Most Expensive Soap in the World Made in Qatar

There is nothing so lovely not so luxurious as a really good soap. My niece introduced me to my very favorite, an Iris scented soap from Santa Maria Novella in Florence which she brought me as a house gift when she visited in Germany.


This (below) is not the Florentine soap made by nuns. This soap is not for sale; it’s for promotion and for royals only – From Qatar’s Gulf Times:




Al-Sherif shows off the soap as Dr Hassoun (second right) and other guests look on at the unveiling yesterday.  PICTURS: Jayaram

The “most expensive soap in the world,” made of pure gold dust, olive oil and virgin honey and embedded with diamonds, was unveiled by Khan Al-Saboun Bader Hassoun and Sons at the Qatar Pool and Spa 2013 at the Doha Exhibition Centre yesterday.


Weighing around 100gm and with a price tag of $3,800, the soap dubbed ‘Qatar Royal Soap’ with the word ‘Qatar’ in Arabic inscribed on it, is being dedicated to Qatar and its great achievements in many fields, especially in winning the bid to host the FIFA 2022 World Cup.

Khan Al-Saboun Bader Hassoun and Sons chairman Dr Bader Hassoun explained that the soap was specially made for royalty aside being beneficial for the skin due to its natural and organic contents.

“Our company, based in Lebanon, has been known for specialising in natural and organic beauty products for years and we have very committed patrons due to this specialisation,” said Dr Hassoun, whose family has been in the soap making business for over eight centuries.

He said that the soap, though highly valued, has not been produced for commercial purposes, though it was earlier reported that it will be available for sale in Al-Saboun City Center – one of the company’s six branches in Qatar.

“We have made only this one piece in order to showcase our capabilities for inventions in soap making and just to express our respects for royalty. So, the soap will not be for sale,” he maintained. Lebanese singer Reem al-Sherif was present at the launch.

November 8, 2013 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Cultural, Doha, ExPat Life, Italy, Living Conditions, Qatar, Shopping | , , | Leave a comment

Speaking More Than One Language Delays Alzheimer’s

From AOL Everyday Health:


WEDNESDAY, November 6, 2013 — A small but growing body of research is finding that people who are proficient in multiple languages have a lower risk of cognitive decline. In the largest study to date on the relationship between bilingualism and dementia, researchers from Hyderabad, India, and Edinburgh, Scotland, demonstrated that bilingualism may stave off symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia for several years. Their study was published in the journal Neurology.

The research team in Hyderabad  evaluated 648 people who had dementia symptoms for 6 months to 11 years before enrolling in the study; 391 of the subjects were bilingual. The researchers found those who were bilingual developed dementia on average 4.5 years later than people who spoke only one language. On average, bilinguals developed dementia symptoms by age 65.6 compared with age 61.1 in people who spoke only one language.

“Nowadays, a lot of companies are having expensive brain-training programs, but I’d say bilingualism is very cheap,” said Thomas Bak, MD, a lecturer in human cognitive neuroscience at the University of Edinburgh, and second author on the study. “The crucial thing about bilingualism is that it offers what we say is constant brain training. A bilingual person Is forced to switch to different sounds, words, concepts, grammatical structure, and social norms.”

Dr. Bak’s study demonstrated the impact bilingualism has not only on the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, but also on other types of dementia. Though the majority of patients in the group studied (37 percent) had Alzheimer’s-related dementia, 29.2 percent had vascular dementia, a type caused by reduced blood flow in the brain from stroke. Frontotemporal lobe dementia — from atrophy or shrinkage of certain areas of the brain — accounted for 17.9 percent of the diagnoses. Lewy body dementia, the second most common type of progressive dementia and one that is related to Parkinson’s disease, accounted for 8.5 percent, while 7.4 percent of people in the study were diagnosed with mixed dementia.

The researchers found bilingualism had the most dramatic effect on people who were diagnosed with frontotemporal lobe dementia. Knowing multiple languages delayed dementia symptoms by as much as six years in this group. Individuals with vascular dementia had an average of almost four extra years before dementia symptoms set in. However, individuals who knew three or four languages weren’t protected longer from dementia symptoms than those who were only proficient in two languages.

The More Different the Languages, the Better

The World Health Organization estimates 35.6 million people in the world have dementia, with 7.7 million new cases every year. And in India the problem is expected to grow even more dire. In 2009, the World Alzheimer’s Report projected India will have 10 million dementia patients by the year 2020. This was the impetus behind the new research, said Suvarna Alladi,MD, lead author of the study, which was funded by the Indian Department of Science and Technology.

“Dementia has become a major public health problem in India, and research that explores potentially protective mechanisms is of tremendous importance,” said Dr. Alladi. “Since many people in India can fluently speak two or more languages in their daily life, it’s heartening for us to know that something that we take for granted may protect our brains from developing dementia early.”

Teluga is the official state language in Hyderabad. Natives of the city are often also proficient in Hindi and Dakkhini, which more closely shares roots with English than with Teluga. This raises questions about the brain and “linguistic distance,” said Bak.

“You could argue the more different languages are, the better they are for the brain,” Bak said. “However you can also argue that when you speak languages that are so closely related you have to suppress one.”

Scientists have also become interested in whether cognitive abilities can be retained in similar ways if a person doesn’t learn a second language until later on in life, but there are yet no studies on this topic. However, many researchers, including Bak, speculate that a person who learns a second language later on life could glean similar benefits. “There are theories that would say you need the constant practice,” he said. “The fact that I can swim won’t make me healthy. If I actually go swimming it will make me healthier.”

Exercising the Brain

Numerous studies have found one of the best ways to slow cognitive decline is by mindfully engaging in brain-flexing activities, such as playing Suduko and crossword puzzles or reading books. I-Chant Andrea Chiang, MD, a professor who specializes in language psychology at Quest University Canada in Squamish, B.C., sees very little difference between language learning and any other type of brain exercise. “The brain is a muscle and it needs to be worked out like any other muscle,” said Dr. Chiang. “All those mental activities stimulate the brain and build up a cognitive reserve, even though there may be physical decline.”

Chiang has consulted with Ryan McMunn, who runs BRIC Language Systems headquartered in New York City. McMunn said a number of Alzheimer’s patients have sought out BRIC language classes online to help offset the symptoms of the disease, or are learning a second language because Alzheimer’s runs in the family. McMunn, who is American and lived in China after college, said his grandmother had Alzheimer’s disease, but he wasn’t aware of the research on bilingualism and dementia until after he began learning to speak Mandarin, which he now does fluently.

“Honestly I can’t think of a more fun way of trying to postpone these things,” said McMunn. “Learn any language; it’s a fun thing to do and it allows you to communicate with new people. I look at it as very beneficial.”

November 8, 2013 Posted by | Aging, Communication, Cross Cultural, Health Issues, Words | Leave a comment