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2002 Blog    

November 30, 2002 - Eagerly Awaiting the Family.

Lorie, Jared and David arrive tomorrow. It is midnight here and they are just boarding the plane in Calgary. Their routing means they will arrive in less than 9 hours. Not bad. Hopefully they will get some sleep on the aircraft. I am really tempted to take them shopping when they arrive. Ramadan will be over in a couple of days but before it ends all the stores are open really late. Some close at 11:30 but many are open until after 1am.

Now I will see if all my cleaning and preparation was enough. To make matters worse, the plumber and carpenter arrive the morning after they arrive to tear out the cupboard under the sink and replace it with a new one. Chances are that they will be up at 5am anyway because of jet lag. The bad part of it is that they will be totally zonked during the evening hours when Ramadan partying is at its most exciting. I get a long weekend next weekend so we can hang out and they can meet some of the other Expatriots. Lots of Canadians and a host of Americans, Brits and others.

Jared and David will get to meet their new bagpipe teacher. I met him at a gala affair hosted by the Caledonian Society of Kuwait (a definitely Scottish organization). Bader, the teacher, is actually a Kuwaiti. He went to college in Edinborough years ago. He fell in love with the bagpipes as well as a Scottish woman (whom he married). He just returned from Scotland where he visited the grave of his late wife. He has several students and looked positively fabulous in his Kilt at the dinner. He and another piper opened the affair and he played several tunes later in the program.

More to follow as the Gordon contingent in the tiny country of Kuwait grows.

Signing off for now from Kuwait, Thom Gordon

November 22, 2002 - Ramadan Memories

As I glanced over my left shoulder at the sinking sun blinking through the palm trees, my stomach let out a faint growl. OK so it is not really fasting, I just haven't eaten anything since shortly after 7:00 am. The Islamic boys at the office would scoff at my feeble attempt. Mind you, I haven't been gorging myself and staying up all night to make the daylight hours more of a challenge.

Another beautiful day! The sky has a trace of mid-altitude clouds that seems to be dispersing as the sun settles into the desert. As the light fades, a brilliant red horizon appears to the west.

My short picture taking session is over. Not much to show for it. I missed the small girl standing tall out of the window of a Toyota Land Cruiser as it swung around one of Kuwait's many traffic circles. She was in heaven! Why did we have to go and spoil all the fun by adding seatbelts and laws to put children in their places...

The small herd of goats and the dilapidated building they were near provided a few nice shots. One particular goat was keeping his eye on me as I moved around them to frame the Water Towers in the picture. He looked a little like a poodle with his furry lower legs and disheveled beard.

I also caught a few buildings in varying states of construction (or was it destruction; it's so hard to tell!) The crowd of kids playing soccer in a large open area dispersed before I could think about including them. The sun was getting close to setting and many had probably not eaten as well. I walked across the field to improve the view of a stand of trees and was greeted by a very distinctive Kuwaiti walking by. His exuberant 'Salaam A Lai Cum' (May the Peace of Allah/God be on you) was accompanied by a warm face. I tried my best at 'A Lai Cum Wa'ha Salaam' (the same back at you). He obviously didn't understand English when I pointed to my camera he took off his white cap and stood tall and proud for an excellent picture. Look for these pictures and more when I get around to posting them. Jeff and Anji have their www.Jeff-and-Anji.com website with photos. Check it out. I may post some photos there or at least be Cross-Linked.

Off to the apartment for break-fast (supper!)...

Got a bit of a shock this morning when I went to put on my shoes. There inside was an enormous squished roach. Serves me right for not looking yesterday! I thought my shoes were a little uncomfortable. I wore another pair until I get them scrubbed out. Ah, the Middle East: full of surprises!

Just got back from the city. I was lucky to escape intact. We were walking through a plaza area crowded with people. Explosions all around us. The smell of gunpowder strong in the air. Under attack? No, it was just the mid-Ramadan celebrations. The children were giggling and laughing as firecrackers explode all around us. What did we really escape, you ask? We made the mistake of wandering through the gold souks! There was some really nice stuff in there. Fortunately I convinced myself that I need Lorie to be with me before spending money here. Two reasons: I need to see how it will look on her and she needs to practice her bargaining skills so we don't pay the 'laughing price' (the one they quote foreigners when the walk in the door). Lorie said 'don't buy me anything!' but she looks so good in gold, it is hard to resist. She appears to be allergic to any kind of jewelry other than gold of 18 carat or higher (oh drat!).

Driving here has been becoming more and more zany as Ramadan continues. I have been noticing the number of wrecked cars along the major highways grows every night. Two, then three, then five. One topsy-turvey SUV sat wheels up for almost a week just off the fast lane on the way into the city. The telltale skid marks tell many stories as a Kuwaiti (or perhaps even an American), who is intoxicated with continual famine followed by feast, augmented by heavy overnight partying, looses a grip on reality at perhaps 150 kph and winds up slamming into something or simply rolling over several times. Some of the cars, and even trucks, are extremely beaten up. I saw some dramatic skid marks at a sudden lane-end that arched back and forth across the highway as the driver fought to avoid hitting the foot high curb that suddenly appeared in his path. No wreck at that site and, from the skid marks, it looks like he might have pulled off a nasty bit of asphalt ballet to win the day. I wonder if he learned anything from the experience. There I go being silly again!

November 17, 2002 - Shopping, Kuwaiti Style

Shopping in the Middle East is a whole new adventure in life!

I have this theory that stores exist somewhere on the continuum between extremes on several different scales. One of those scales is the width of the aisles. Another is the neatness of the goods arranged on shelves. Another is the variation in the goods offered. And perhaps the scariest one is the cleanliness of the establishment.

Even in North America you run into different aisle widths. In some cases you can easily pass another shopping cart without endangering the items on the shelves. In Kuwait the largest aisle in any shopping store makes it virtually impossible for two carts to exist in the same aisle unless they are one behind the other. In some cases the displays make it challenging or downright impossible for even one cart to maneuver through the store. There are a few large clothing or Hi-Fi shops but well over 95% of them are off limits to any kind of cart or stroller. Cost-conscious shop owners seem to feel that all you need to navigate the store is enough room to put one foot in front of the other. The average shop is maybe 8 feet wide with goods literally piled up along both walls. The cell phone shops are notorious for being the tiniest around. Maybe 4 by 6 feet or smaller with a display case that takes up most of the shop. It seems that there are more cell phone dealers in Kuwait than there are people so it makes sense that they would make them so small. I would hate to be obese in this country. You would find it difficult to go shopping.

Neatness! OK, I am a male and can never find anything in grocery stores but I always know where to look in Radio Shack. I visited a hardware store that had probably 6,000 line items in a store as big as most American living rooms. How do you organize that! If you have ever been to a flea market or garage sale where everything is piled high on way too few tables, you can start to appreciate the shop-keepers approach to 'presentation'. There was some incredibly interesting things among the avalanche of stuff he had to offer. It was difficult to realize that this stuff was considered NEW. There were things that I haven't seen anywhere for over 30 years.

It is rumored that you can get anything in Kuwait but the trick is finding it. There is an area larger that downtown Calgary where there are thousands of shops. Hundreds of tiny computer shops assembling and selling computers from whatever parts they can scrounge. There are hundreds of video/cd shops that sell DVDs within hours of the movie hitting the theatres. I have watched a few movies where people routinely walk past the camera as the movie is being re-recorded in the theatre. The prices are really low but so is the quality. I have managed to track down bagpipe reeds, car parts, furniture galore, guitars (some with pre-broken necks) and Starbucks! OK, so this place is not entirely uncivilized...

Cleanliness is also something that many North American stores take way too seriously. In Kuwait many shops save valuable expense budget by eliminating the cleaning staff altogether. Sure there are some American chains where the Philippino or Indian staff reluctantly carries out the over-zealous orders to clean, dust or sweep several times a day! The local grocery stores avoid this nonsense since most of the dust eventually leaves attached to packaging or customers anyway. It would be difficult to clean anyway, what with all the uneven floors, missing tiles and customers in the way! It wouldn't be the same experience here if all the bathrooms were clean and you didn't shudder at the thought of what your food had been through before it found its way onto your plate. I ate at an Iranian restaurant yesterday and it would have been condemned by the board of health for use as a waste disposal site. Fortunately the fire was hot and most biological elements are safer when they have been reduced to carbon. Too bad the same doesn't apply to toxic materials. Heavy metals are good for you, aren't they?

I am not very good at bargaining so I am at a distinct disadvantage here. It really helps if you don't actually want to buy something. Mike, David and I were wandering through an old Souk area in Kuwait City when we found a stall that had lots of tools. Mike asked how much a variable speed reversing hammer drill was and by the time we finally wandered off 10 minutes later the price had gone from 8 Kuwaiti Dinars (CAD $40) to 5 KD (CAD $25). If Lorie had been here we might have gotten it for half that! She thrives on the bargaining. Actually I think I am a serious disappointment to Middle-Eastern business men because their daily entertainment comes from intense bartering sessions. I wonder if they offer any bartering courses on-line?

I am still busy cleaning the apartment for Lorie's arrival. She is due on December 1st (yippee!). I think I got rid of most of the grunge left by the previous tenants. It will need a bit of furniture and decorating to feel more like home. Now that I have high-speed internet I can create my Newsletters and listen to Country 105 (Today's Country - Yesterday's Favorites live from Calgary). I was really beginning to go nuts switching between head-banger music and elevator music. Occasionally we get the US Armed Forces Radio but even that has been rather thumpy. Kuwait Santa Fe sent two maids to clean under the cupboards in the kitchen this morening. The good news is that I am finally convinced the kitchen is clean enough for human habitation. The bad news is that the herd of cockroaches that were languishing under the sink have now been displaced to the trash. I hope they don't have serious spawning urges and return! I managed to thump them severely with my shoe but these are hardy beasts and could recover! I won't say how big they are but the local cats were afraid to come near my place! I saw one in the garage carrying supper home to the kids. A nice yummy mouse, still twitching. I wondered why I haven't seen any mice around. There are dozens of cats roaming the building to keep them at bay.

Speaking of cats, I encountered a pathetic looking one at the Friday market last weekend. There was an area where they seemed to have a few fish, some cats, guinea pigs, bunnies and all manner of birds. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of birds. Every kind imaginable from tiny finches to large turkeys. The poor cat was stuck in a cage surrounded by birds on every side. He did not look happy. Hungry, perhaps, but not happy. The smell of the place was thrilling. Something like the thrill of tossing one's cookies in the back of a car and having to drive 100 miles to the nearest washroom to clean up!

Enough about the pleasures of Kuwait. I am still enjoying the sunshine and warm weather here. Remember me when you are scraping your windshields this morning! Sorry, couldn't resist.

TTFN, Thom

November 9, 2002 - Ramadan Mubarrak

The great month of Ramadan began on Wednesday. Now it is forbidden to eat and drink in public during daylight hours. It is really not much of a burden for westerners as the workday has been cut back to 6 hours. 8:30 to 2:30 with, of course, no break for lunch. I find myself with much more free time and nowhere to go!

I spent the Wednesday evening browsing around the shops with David, a new Calgarian, who arrived last Friday. We wandered the streets of Hawalli until almost Midnight as the shops began to close. I am afraid my bargaining skills are rather lame. I had hoped to buy a good telephone with an answering maching but, alas, I came away empty handed. I will sure be glad when Lorie gets here. She can hone her legendary bargaining skills again.

I found a few more music shops yesterday and one had a set of cheap Pakistani bagpipes for under $200 CAD. They were similar to the set that John Weston showed me a couple of weeks ago. I don't think they would take a serious beating but might be a good beginner set Dave gets serious and we don't find a good second hand set somewhere.

I am settling into the new apartment slowly. The furniture and closets are old and were filthy. I will need to scrub them out thoroughly before I can put stuff away. Two of the three small dressers were damaged beyond repair. They have promised to replace them. I can forsee some painting and wall treatments to make the place homey. The place has three large bedrooms and a tiny maid's room. There are 4 bathrooms. Only one, in the master, has a bathtub but two of the others have showers. The tiles are pretty chipped up in the bathrooms but the carpet is not too bad. They haven't put any underpadding under it so it is harder than normal. The kitchen is pretty basic although there are a decent number of cupboards. The kitchen sink is a bit of a joke. It will take some getting use to after North American kitchens. I

I will be signing up for internet shortly. They have DSL installled in the building and the wire is already run. I am looking forward to being able to get Country 105. They don't have any Country music stations and I am feeling deprived (or is that depraved!). They have a classical station that occasionally plays some nice Jazz and Classical Guitar music but, more often than not, they play elevator music. They also seem to play the same tunes over and over. I think I have heard Mason WIlliam's Classical Gas half a dozen times over the past few weeks. The other radio stations seem to all play thumping music. I feel a little like I need to be bobbing my head back and forth to listen to it.

I am amazed at the water pressure in the apartment considering I am on the 9th floor (actually the 10th since the 1st floor is above the ground floor). The plumbing is better than my last apartment but one of the toilets flushes for well over a minute, consuming gallons and gallons of water! Pretty strange considering that they have to truck all the water in to the building. There is a huge tanker truck parked near the underground parking entrance almost every day.

Just out the Master Bedroom window is the Chicken Ranch from hell. The roosters seem to crow all the time. I think the huge spotlights on the building confuse them and they are crowing all night long. Many people have trouble sleeping but I am not having any problems since they just blend in with the building and occasional wind noises. The farm looks nice and green from this high up and covers about 1/2 and acre. A closer look reveals a fairly tattered looking operation.

The view out the deck is not as spectacular as the other apartment but I can still see the Gulf fairly well. I also have a good view of the MacDonalds and Hardies restaurants on the Gulf road. Too bad they are closed or I would go get some breakfast. I can see a host of nearby buildings. Since they are all 5 or 6 storeis I am looking down on a flurry of water tanks and satellite dishes. It is pretty shabby looking but I am sure it will grow on me.

It was extremely windy last night. There was sand swirlying around everywhere. Of course I had the car washed but at least it is in the Basement where it dirty as fast. The temperature is quite a bit cooler than it was last week but it is still excellent T-shirt weather. There isn't a cloud in the sky this morning and I am going to do a bit of shopping before the shops close.

I certainly know I will not survive long as a bachelor. I have no food in the house and can't go out for breakfast. The most exotic meal I have had so far has been soup. Boy I am looking forward to having Lorie here to keep me fed. I spent most of Friday cleaning out the kitchen. The previous tenants left grease everywhere and it really wasn't well cleaned. I wound up disassembling the cupboards and scrubbing down the doors in the shower. I put the drawer glides and wire shelves in the dishwasher. I still have some work to do but it is looking better. I can actually put the dishes away now.

I have only seen 1 cockroach so far but I am sure that PIF-PAF will keep them under control. It is the local equivalent to RAID bug spray. There are dozens of cats prowling around the place so I haven't seen any mice. I will probably get a few traps anyway just to be on the safe side.

I am preparing a list of stuff for Lorie to bring. They really have almost everything you could ask for but most of it is somewhat pricey. Some things are pretty reasonable. At Sears, for example, men's pants are available for about $25 CAD. John and Alice buy all their books through Amazon.com. Shipping is a little expensive but the selection is pretty good. They had several DVDs lifted from their shipment but Amazon is replacing them. They are having them shipped to Calgary where someone on leave will bring them back. This is the first time they have had problems but apparently many of the BP folks have continual problems with pilferage.

I have a nice new phone with an answering machine. The number is (965) 372-2720 if you really need to talk to me. The answering machine will pick up after 7 rings so if you are desperate, be patient...

Gotta go, a new Calgarian just showed up here today and I am taking him down to the local Sultan Center (Like Safeway or Co-op).

TTFN, Thom

November 2, 2002 - Drowning in Kuwait

Last night's storm was nothing compared to the one that is raging right now (1:30 pm). It is so dark that I can't see across the parking lot. Mike's office window was open and his chair and floor are awash. We are cut off from the main offices because the walkway is shaded but not totally covered. The lightning is blasting away outside. One strike was reallllly close. I think it hit the water towers next to us.

The air smells great now that all the dust has been blasted out of it. I am glad my apartment is on the fifth floor. It should not be flooded!

Anyway, I'm singin' in the rain.

TTFN, Thom

November 2, 2002 - Thunder in the Gulf

Last night we were treated to a fabulous thunder storm in Kuwait. It was the first rain this season and it helped to cool things down nicely. The mid-day high temperatures have been hovering in the mid 30s (high 80s Fahrenheit) and with this rain, the lows were dipping into the high teens (60s F). I helped ensure it would rain by having my car washed yesterday morning! The storm was somewhat tame by Texas standards but was exciting just the same.

I finally got a look at the new apartment on Wednesday. They were still in the process of cleaning it and refinishing some of the furniture. It is on the 9th floor and the deck overlooks the Gulf. There was not much in the way of furniture and the bedroom furniture looked pretty rough. Hopefully I can talk them into some new stuff. Most of the rooms are fairly large. The bathroom situation is a little strange. There are three large bedrooms, a tiny maids room and four bathrooms. Only the master bathroom has a bathtub and the maid's bathroom has a shower. The other two bathrooms only have a toilet and sink. All four have a bidet. The master bedroom has fewer closets than the other bedrooms. I am sure that, with a little bit of decorating we can have the place feeling like home. Hopefully I will move in this week before the holy month of Ramadan when the Middle East stops eating or drinking during daylight hours (purported to start on November 5th).

I was fairly busy this weekend (Thursday and Friday for those unaware that the Middle-East does things differently). On Tuesday night, I went with Mike (the other recently-arrived Canadian) to the Canadian Embassy for a meeting of the Canadian Commercial Club. Mike was glad that I drove because he was feeling very ... Tired (yeah, that's the word I'm looking for???) He consumed several ounces of ... sleeping juice and wasn't up to driving. Considering this is supposed to be a dry country he was drenched! And the rain didn't happen until three days afterward!

We met several people at the Embassy and got invited to a couple of Halloween parties. On Wednesday night (logical Friday out here), Mike and I attended a wild Halloween party at a huge private villa not too far away. We met too many people to count, including the Canadian Ambassador and his wife. The music was way too loud and it was interesting to watch the colorful characters (the costumes were astounding too). At one point I was listening to an Aussie, a Louisiana boy and a South African arguing about the best way to prepare Crawfish. They all had different ideas and were energetically trying to convince each other of their own recipe. The Aussie wanted to boil them in the water they were caught in, The Cajun wanted to boil them gradually in a spicy cajun broth and the South African wanted to barbecue them in butter (although I think he was talking about Crayfish, not Crawfish). I though it was amusing that here were three manly and extremely hammered men talking passionately about cooking!!!

The kitchen is a bit of a disappointment. There are a reasonable number of cupboards but the sink is pretty pathetic. The previous tenants had put a wallpaper border over the tile around the kitchen but it looks like that will be gone by the time I move in. The room is an odd shape and feels somewhat small. The appliances are european style except the American refrigerator which is a decent size. The washer and dryer under the counter by the sink. The stove is a little strange (part gas, part electric) but looks functional. There is also a small microwave and dishwasher but most of the appliances look a bit old and dingy. I may try to get some of them upgraded as the european models tend to break down frequently, even when they are new.

Thursday morning I went to the Harvest Festival at the Evengelic Church compound. I arrived just in time to hear the opening prayer. There was an enormous crowd of people (probably over 1000) milling around. They had a great Christian band singing a variety of Gospel and Contemporary Christian tunes. I met Pastor Dave (a Canadian originally from Calgary) as well as several other people. Dave gave me a line on some other music shops that I will check before buying a Guitar. They had a bake sale as well as a rummage sale. I bought a small Banana Cake and a Date-Nut loaf. I listened to the music for a while and milled around, meeting several people. I browsed through the two bookstores on the compound and enjoyed watching kids of all ages relaxing and enjoying a truly Christian celebration.

I also stopped at a beach along the Coast Road on the east side of Kuwait City. They were fairly nice. They had great sand and picnic tables with shade. There was only one couple frolicking in the water and very few other people around. There was a 'No Grilling' sign but the beaches looked like an excellent place to spend and afternoon or evening. Along that stretch of Coastline there are posh restaurants every half mile or so. Chili's, Fuddruckers, Carribas, Friday's and several others. The coast side of the road has parking, beaches and restaurants tied together with winding sidewalks and the occasional garden area. A really relaxing area. I am looking forward to taking strolls with Lorie and the boys once they arrive. It is about 20 minutes drive from our apartment but well worth the drive.

On Thursday night I attended the Saint Andrews Ball at the Holiday Inn Crown Plaza. It was thrown by the Caledonia Society of Kuwait. My main objective was to link up with some bagpipers who could hopefully continue Jared and David's lessons when they arrive. Interestingly the chief piper who gives lessons was a Kuwaiti named Bader. He, along with almost 2 dozen others were decked out in Kilts. There were two pipers who played during the evening. Bader played a set of half a dozen tunes. He did quite well. The other piper piped in the head table which included an Amir and several of the officials for the Society. I wasn't the only Canadian in attendance and there were even several Americans. It was black tie so I got a chance to wear my formal suit (including Bow Tie). Bader gave me his number and was eager to meet the boys. I met several of his other students and they were looking forward to some new blood. When people heard of Ryan's prowess on the pipes, they were all keen on him coming to visit and playing for a CSK function. As the night wore on and many of the attendees became ... lets call it TIRED ..., the stories got pretty fantastic. One particular Scot told me of his world-wide drinking exploits. Apparently he was in the British Army and was in the habit of knocking out people after a dozen or so drinks. The colour and perspective he added to the tales left me in stitches.

One interesting side note about the Saint Andrews Ball was that it was by no means a typical Scottish affair. By that I mean that the meal was exquisite, the room was extravagant and the entertainment was first class. They had flown in two entertainers from Scotland who had the crowd dancing up a storm (in the true Celtic tradition). I left well after midnight and it was going full steam when I left.

Early Friday morning, I met the Weston and Morgan families at Johnie Rockets for breakfast. I was thrilled when I heard Country music playing on the Jute-box in the background. It is really a splash old-time diner with the usual American breakfast fare. We talked and laughed and several of the other diners came over and greeted the John and Alice (the Westons) as we ate. In spite of the fact that there are over a million people in this area, you get to make close friends easily.

After breakfast I went to church at the Evengelic Church. The service was rocking and rolling. The congregation, representing countries from every continent, were not shy about singing praises to God. Following the Sermon, one of the permanent Pastors introduced Ron who is one of their new LAY-Pastors. He turned out to be another Canadian, this time from Edmonton. Afterward I talked briefly with Ron and his wife Grace. He and his wife teach at a local Bilingual school (English-Arabic).

Since most of the shops are closed on Friday afternoon, I drove around a bit on the way home just to find some places for later. I did find some high-end furniture stores that were open although most of the prices were almost twice what they would have been in Calgary. Much of the furniture there was American but they did have some really nice stuff. They did have some really nice bunk beds that were more reasonably priced (still a little higher).

Take Care and God Bless you all,

Thom Gordon

October 28, 2002 - Howdy from the Gulf

Hello everyone,

I finally got some money in the bank so I will be able to buy a few things this week. This is my Third in Kuwait and my cash was running low.

Last weekend was a blast. I spent over 3 hours on Wednesday evening wandering around the shops of Hawalli. I found shops with everything from satellite dishes and computers to musical instruments and DVDs. As usual there were an abundance of Women's fashion shops. I declare that over half the stores in this country sell the latest womens fashions from the latest designers. The huge mall that I parked beside was over 90% fashion shops. They also have a fabulous food count with several American fast-food places. They also have a Fuddruckers and Baskin and Robins (ice cream). They have a huge cinema and were playing many American films (XXX for example). The price is a bit steep (more than $12 Canadian) so I will pass for now. I also found the shop that has Bagpipe paraphenalia (although it was closed).

I borrowed a few DVD's from another Canadian family and at the beginning of one of the newer ones I could see the audience in the theatre! It was lousy quality as you can imagine... The others were much better but they appear to have a thriving piracy trade here. There are even some of the movies that were released in the past few weeks in the US. They sell players here that will play all regions as well as Video CDs, CD-RW and CDs.

I hope to have DSL shortly after moving into my next apartment so I can get back to using my personal email account. I get to check it occasionally but I still don't even have internet access at work. They hired me to get them connected and build IT capability from the ground up. I certainly have a task before me. They are currently using the Kuwait Oil Company for services but the beaurocracy of that organization and lack of resources there is a big issue.

The TV at my current apartment has a Satellite converter but it is not activated. There are three different satellite services and you can get almost any level of programming you desire. The only TV I get is local using the satellite wire as an antenna. There are two channels that have English programming some of the time. I watched an interesting program the other night - Arabic Music Videos. The camera work was not as good as many of the western music videos but it was still very well done. Most of them featured women artists and although I didn't understand the words at all, it was rather fun to watch.

Another highlight was a supurb Hindi movie that had English and Arabic subtitles. It was intended to be a serious tale of Women supression in India but it was extremely amusing for a variety of reasons. There was a lot of subtle comedy at the beginning when the Hero and Heroine met at a wedding where neither should have been. It had some fabulous dance scenes that looked like the movie was on fast-forward. The choreography was really to notch as hordes of dancers moved in flawless unison. There were several dramatic fight scenes where the Hero battled up to 100 foes single-handedly.

I also watched an Arab production that had some decent camera work and impressive acting. The leading lady really did an excellent job of selling her emotions. Now if only I knew what they were saying!

In addition to local shopping, I also checked out some of the American stores around. IKEA is fully appointed with everything, including even higher prices than Calgary. Ace Hardware didn't have as much hardware but had a ton of garden items (chairs, tables, awnings, plants, flower pots, etc.). Sears had a great selection of clothes although I didn't see any mens short sleeved shirts (maybe in the spring!). The mens slacks were cheaper than Calgary but the bedding was much more.

I went to the Evangelic Church on Friday and was quite surprised at how much was going on there. They had half a dozen or more services going on at once in as many languages. There were hundreds of people milling around. They have four English services on Fridays and two more on Sunday. The service was very energetic and the music was excellent. Ther sermon was very well done but the preacher barely covered more than the salutation of First Peter (profound if you read between the lines). The small compound had two small book stores that were well stocked. I even noticed some Veggie-Tales ties stacked in a corner.

One of the preachers at the Evangelic Church is from Calgary. I met his son (about 17) and wife (who sings in the band). The son filled me in on some of the youth programs and apparently they have a tremendous music program. I also met an American architect and his family. He was responsible for the Scientific Center that is along the Gulf road (rivals any in the US or Canada).

Mike Kostashuk arrived from Calgary this weekend and we have done a wee bit of exploring. He is quickly settling in to the job and already is deeply engrossed in dreaming up big plans for KGOC. He is in the office between Ted Morgan and myself so we are either the Three Musketeers or the Three Stooges (maybe a little of both). Either way we will have a serious impact on this small company.

I am looking forward to the Caledonia Society of Kuwait function this Thursday evening. It is a black tie event so I will get a chance to dress up a bit. I expect to meet up with a few pipers so that Jared and David can continue learning. Jared gets his first chance to play the bagpipes on November 11th in Calgary. I am sorry I have to miss it.

Cheers from Kuwait. Keep smiling and remember: "It is 30 degrees C here and its not snowing".

Thom Gordon

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