Not to Scale (NTS) Expat life

Dominating the skyline in Kuwait, the Al Hamra Towers

What do people usually means when they say “Not to Scale“?

Looking back in my college days where we are asked to draw a floor plan, elevations and everything, this term is very common and eventually it becomes a normal terminology. Triangular Scale is a very important tool that I have often used, and through the years, I have learned that in reality, not all things can be presented with the exact proportions. Everything depends on how you make your own perspective.

Just like we gain and lose weight as we grow old…

Idealism has a fair play through the years.I asked myself before where could be a perfect place that expats finally call it a “home”?

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The view of the Skyline of Kuwait from the Liberation Tower , here despite the dusty weather, everything seemed quite a normal day.

To scale means allowing us to understand the relationship between a drawing or an illustration and a presentation or a scale model—against the Reality. If you are able to draw accurately as per scale and you can immediately shift from one scale to another, like from 1:100 to 1:50 then you can do very well in doing architectural drawings and spatial design.Looking at scale models help us to have a perspective of what would it look like once it built, a bird´s eye view, a glimpse of the vision into reality.

I can very well use the principle of Scale in my life as an Expat.

After we leave our homelands, we , too have a perspective in minds. We all carry a luggage of dreams, hopes and expectations.

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Beautiful well-preserved Gable Houses in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

I know from a fact that from an Expat eyes, everything is different from the tourist’s view and from the locals itself. A Tour Package always highlights the best, the most sought-after destinations and attractions, the off the beaten path are reserved for adventurous ones.As tourists, we want to see the icing of the cake.

What´s in? where´s the famous places? where are the top attractions?

The quaint beauty of an old Fortress ,Kaprun Castle where in 1645, the Salzburg Musketeers once occupied

A place is only a setback of your expectations, dreams and aspirations. Everyone has their own reason why they decided to move to a new place—either for work, better life, education, to bridge a relationship, or to just simply fulfill a wanderlust—the longing for a change.But in reality, the moment we started to see things in a different way, our perspective of the new place is changing.Probably this is the stage where we start to integrate, accept and ” do as the locals do“.

Pre Covid-19 Virus Era, where touring historical places like the Reichstag in Berlin can be a good place to entertain your 4 year old daughter and listen to audio guide telling about the charms of this City.

I grew up not knowing what is “Recycling ” or upcycling is.But since I came here, I started to obey and do what is norm and not just to avoid the angry stares of my neighbours if they ever saw me putting plastic in the Restmull, the black container.I started to dispose the Green, white and brown glasses in the Glass Containers as well and yes, I got acquianted with the “Yellow Sack” as well. In my bag is always an extra shopping bag, even in my bicycle and in the car, there is always a place for shopping bags.

Why, because here in Germany, you bring your own bags and pack your own grocery. I even observed the Rühezeit, the silent Sunday where we don´t mow the lawn in the garden and no loud music.I remember our times in Kuwait where the shopping cart is alwys full of plastic bags. There is no recycling there, people totally just throw garbage everywhere.Littering is quite a norm.They are really a big fan of using plastic bags there for grocery shopping.I think you collect up to 20 pieces of shopping bags for every grocery!

Now that I remember it, I felt odd.

Fast forward,5 years after, I began to look at Germany, especially Bavaria, in a “Not to scale”terms.Do I really belong here ? or this place does even exceed my expecation?

Cycling in my new neighborhood offers a new freedom to explore places

If you have your own terms of measurement about the quality of life that you want, or your preferred surroundings, then it is better not to put borders. If you expect too much and then ended up into a mountain of dissapointment, then you just feel worse.

“Why are people here are so unfriendly and “cold”?

“Why the weather keeps on changing every four hours?”

“Why Winter here in Germany is too long”?

” Why learning German is necessary to survive here?”

” Why customer service here sucks or totally non-existent?”

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Because in reality, things can be crooked, out of proportion, partially twisted, and though it looks to be perfect, it will have uneven features. I call this “Reality bites in the life of an Expat.”

As an onlooker, with naked eyes, I always ponder on the views that I see. I think it´s normal.For 5 years that I am walking the streets here in Bavaria, I still am not that fully integrated yet…or maybe I am, but sometimes, I feel like I am feeling at home.A combination of these rollercoaster feelings.

I hate it here during the long winter months but I really love it here during Spring and Summer. I loved how good the roads are and how communting can be so easy and flexible, and yes, that everything adheres to punctuality. I loved that I can even worked from home during this Pandemic times ,do part time jobs and have a job security. I appreciate that women even can take longer maternity leaves to care for their babies and come back to their jobs.

I loved the fact that my child is growing up in a kid-friendly environment and we are surrounded with playgrounds and nature.Its even amazing that traveling becomes easy, and I don´t need to worry about cash when I get sick because of the good Health Insurance System here. I even got new vaccinations ( all for free!) since I came here.

Speaking of Not to scale scenarios, here in Bavaria, the tallest building ( a Tower or a Turm) actually that I have ever been to is the Olympic Tower in Munich and the Pfeifturm here in Ingolstadt, which is btw a former watchpost. The tallest building here in Bavaria is actually the Commerzbank Tower in Frankfurt, reaching up to 259m.Actually, Frankfurt is the only city with lots of Skycrapers.Here in Germany, they try to preserved the German cultural heritage therefore the historical, Medieval and Renaissance skyline still dominates most of the old towns up to this day. It´s actually its unique charm.

There´s nothing compared walking into lovely, German old Town´s unique streets lined up with well-deserved architecture and rich history.

Exploring my own little town where not seeing “Skyscrapers” is actually also nice.The Architecture and landscape is so nice and very picturesque.
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The view deck from the interiors of the luxurious Al Hamra Towers in Kuwait

This is an absolute contrast to the former views that I have while living in Kuwait. Kuwait is a small city but it has skyscrapers and modern buildings. Quite a few are worthy to mention actually, just like my favorite-the Al Hamra Tower, the tallest building in Kuwait.It´s even named as one of the best inventions in 2011 by Times Magazine.After we left I´ve heard that there are more sleek buildings and modern architecture built.We´ve got used to the norm that modernity and functional aesthetics comes with beautiful modern buildings.

Speaking of malls, I haven´t seen quite comes close to the Avenues in Kuwait.It´s really a shopping mall with beautiful architecture.This mall itself is an attraction there.While here in Germany, shopping is like taking a leisure stroll in the inner city lined with authentic, unique shops.I haven´t really had that “mall feeling” even from our local Ingolstadt Village where “branded” marks have their boutiques and it´s already considered high end .I am not a shopaholic and into top end brands.I am more of the functional shopper–getting what I need and love to ogle some pretty nice things.Nowadays, a trip to the Greenhouse, Botanical gartdens and anything with plant shop is my thing.

But then I guess, “not to scale ” in Expat life also means that you perceive things depending on your taste.When you have seen beauty and therefore your standards have been set, then others can either comes to second or outweigh your preferences.

I prefer sightseeing in the beautiful streets where there are unique , wood-timbered houses looks like a fairy tale land.

But, looking through Kuwait from above made me realize that scale is really not important. Some things might quite look a bit odd, or lacking in proportion, but then, it embodies the urban presentation of the area.

Why would the local ladies dressed up to kill , heavily make-up on, nails are done and perfumed when they are covered in Abaya with only the eyes being shown , in stilettos and doing grocery shopping?”

Or why would most of the drivers love to speed up their cars, with children in front without seatbelt and with loud banging music?

Recently we came across a car and it´s driving a bit faster than allowed, with loud Arabic music in the background and then suddenly, I realized that I already made an assumption .They are absolutely Arabic ( doesn´t matter if they came from Saudi Arabia, Lebanon or UAE; or even Kuwait) but when I´ve heard the word “Yalla , then I am sure I haven´t been wrong.

Was my mind programmed? or were my ears gotten used to these local behaviors?

I am sure I would probably recognized in a crowd that they are German,or coming from Bavaria if they say ” Servus, Grüs Gott! ” as well!

What do you loved the most in your city?

Wishing you all Happy Sunday and Stay safe.Tschüss.

Up close and personal with Camels

Camels of different sizes and colors in a Camel Farm in Kuwait

I think one of the most memorable memories I´ve had in Kuwait was meeting up close and personal with Camels. Yes,not in a Zoo, but rather in awild Camel farm.Camels are integral part of Kuwaiti culture and it´s valued highly in this country.

Before I never even imagined that such farm exists .Before I have always wondered how it is to ride them or even touch them, afterall, they are not that high standard animals.They are wild, big and some people can´t stand their smell.I prefer seeing them wild like these rather than when they are touristically made up for people to take photos , and ride them.

I asked a friend to go with us and we took a drive along the 6th Ring road and further down in the direction near the Iraqi borders. This trip offers sights of the neverending highway with only views of desert trees, swayed by gentle breeze, the wide barren dessert is very inviting and hundreds of Electric power lines stood before us.There´s something peculiar about the ARabian landscape over here. The Camel farms of Wafra and Kabd can be reached almost an hour of driving .Along side the road we came across huge trucks and some on-the highway Bakalas.

Camels can close their mouths and nostrils to avoid dusts during sand storms.

My friend knows someone who owns the farm there and arranged the day of our visit. We were able to visit the camel farm quickly and even allowed to use their tents. Seeing them wild, in herds and some even rearing their babies is definitely worth this trip. I even tried milking a camel and it was one of a lifetime experience that I´ve ever had. I have never heard of Desert Ship before but meeting these camels made quite an impression on me. They are indeed a superanimals of the desert.

All I know that they symbolize endurance to me.They are tough animals so to speak. They can tolerate long hours in drought and carry heavy aprrox. 200 kg of weight loads without drinking and still walk up to 40-50km a day!

I saw camels of different sizes, colors and built. Some looked so calm and weak but the others are quite nosy and aggressive. I remember they loved Kubz or the local Kuwaiti bread to munch. Most expats in Kuwait indulged in adventure like this especially during the winter months where the heat is bearable and the light cool breeze is a luxury against the 48 degree summer temperatures. Most families make a family trip and have desert camping on these sites.Now I understand why these animals are strong, resilient and very domesticated.In this farm I think I´ve seen more than a hundred camels plus other animals like goats and horses.

Camels can stay without water for months together. If available, they can suck 100-150 liters in 5-10 minutes.

Kuwait is an oil-rich country, with a high income economy and personally I know that (KWD) Kuwaiti dinar is one of the highest valued currency in the world. 1kd is equal to approx.2,77 Euros. Working in this country have helped me so much about understanding the locals and I have learned so much from its culture.

Speaking of camels, one of the unique sights in Kuwait is their Camel racing.I haven´t been able to watched it live on the tracks but I have heard that it´s quite famous and unique in Kuwait.

I have heard that only female camels are used in racing because the male camels doesn´t obey orders.This actually made me laugh!

Did you know that baby camels are born without humps?

Their beige skin is soft to touch and their face is quite dorable when seen up close. Did you know that camels have two rows of thick eyelashes to protect their eyes? These eyelashes serves like wipers to prevent their eyes from dusts and sand storms.They are able to close their mouth and nostrils to keep away from the dust.I watched how they move, and sit lazily, and they are a bit friendly.They loved to munch on cactuses with thorns as well, no wonder they have that kind of mouth!

Quite fascinating as well is that apart from the largest Dhow Ship that has been built that entered Guiness Book of Records, is that a camel named Bedour also bag another World Record.It´s for being the most expensive Camel purchased in the world amounting to 2 Million dinars from a camel auction in Safat Camel Auction in Sulaibiya in Kuwait.The seller even refuses to take Atm or cheque payment.Ma´shallah!!

Have you ever did a camel ride?

Until then, Tschüss and Salam.

Yallah Yallah, Kuwait!

This photo looks like in an Autumn mood, but its taken on a bright, cool winter day (dry winter) somewhere in Kuwait.

Do you have a foreign word that lingers in your mind? or reminded you of a place you´ve been to?

I can understand a little bit of Arabic but I can´t read or write it. I think it´s one of the most complicated language in the world that I have ever encountered, German still on top! 🙂 In Arabic, so many intricate strokes,so many unknown lines, its really an artistic language, i meant on the writing technique.Arabic writing is a way of ” Kunst” .The very first time I have heard the Quran prayers, I find it really intriguing. I thought, are they singing, wailing or saying a poem? Hearing it almost 5x a day , then it becomes naturally a part of my senses, just like a song that reminds us of a memory. Whenever I hear it, I know that it´s the prayer time, or Salah. At work, when I see my Muslim colleagues gather and start their prayers, I know that the prayer call is always on time.

Everyday life in Kuwait and the Arabian Gulf

In my days in Kuwait before, I always hear the word ” Yalla”. It signals a new day, a new beginning, and another call of the hour.

The Avenues and the Prestige— the most beautiful piece of Architecture in Kuwait where a shopping mall defines a whole lot of modern design, elegance and Function.

Looking back, there are many useful and simple Arabic words that are really helpful to Expats. It´s very handy if you happen to know and memorize them. The words ” Mashallah, ( normally means something beautiful, a form of adornment, or compliment) “ Salam Walaikom ( Muslim greetings of peace) , and “Inshallah” ( God willing..) are very important words to take note aside from the usual “Shokran ” ( thank you) and “Afwan ” ( you´re welcome)

But for me, the one that stands out is “Yallah “.

Yallah, Yallah means many things. It can mean, “let´s go” , or okay, or a form of agreement, encouragement and exasperation. When I needed to call a Taxi, I dialled “Brother” ´s number and just say “Yallah” and he immediately understands me.Brother is an expat from Bangladesh whom I really trusted while I was in Kuwait. It is very normal to get service in Kuwait so you can have a regular taxi service to avoid running into rude taxi drivers. With Brother, I felt safe and I don´t need to worry to much.I´ve lost contact with him so I don´t know anymore what happened to him. I hope he is safe during this time of Pandemic.

The word Yallah really depends on how you use it in a sentence. It can also means ” Hurry Up!” or quickly get it done.Just like the life of an Expat is always on the go for changes whether its a new job, a new place..or a new, challenging weather to get used to.

Friday is the rest day in Kuwait ( as well as in other Muslim countries). It´s a no- work day, and a day to rest, sleep-in, do groceries, meet friends, watch a movie or just stay at home.Normally I would visit the Friday market with my friends ; haggle like a pro, and often utter the word “Yallah” to convince the vendor. I terribly missed the authentic flavors of Shawarma and freshly grilled kebabs, the Biryani and Baklavas.The Madjool dates that I buy in Lulu Hypermarket is unforgettable.The hustle an bustle in the old Souks is really chaotic, but nevertheless beautiful to watch. The number of expats in the streets is overwhelming, as well as their authentic smell. It makes me dizzy, and claustrophobic. They say that smell can trigger memories in us. That once our memory is impaired, then our sense of smell is also affected. It makes sense though…

Yes, some things are really unforgettable…Ma´shallah!

The arabian carpets are laid down in the tiny streets of Souk Mubarakiya.Now I regretted that I did not buy one from these!

One of the fascinating things I did was watching the fishermen haul their boats and getting ready to unload their fresh catch of the day. Everywhere in Kuwait, you can have a glimpse of the Arabian Gulf . Aside from boat trips, fishing is quite a normal sight. Along the Road no.5, traffic is always heavy, and crazy. Since cars rule the roads and definitely Kuwaitis loves speed , it´s really easy to get distracted and things go unnoticed.It is a scary thing to ride your bike there. The weather is scorching hot, and there is definitely no cycling paths! Yaállah!

At the beaches in Salmiya, Khiran and Mahboula, are the perfect place to watch sunrises and sunsets. I lived in the area of Salmiya for a long time.I loved watching the sea from our windows and it brings me such nostalgia.Those were beautiful scenic views of nature, so simple and yet so precious.

A Fisherman´s idle times…
At night, the promenade along the beach and Marina malls lights up.
The ” Mushroom” water towers in Kuwait

Strolling through the streets of Kuwait can be quite strenous especially if you are not used to hot, dry climate as high as 48 degrees in Summer.Wearing long sleeves and long pants in a heat like this? and living in an air conditioned room for almost every single day…? Yaállah Kuwait!

But this weather did not stop me from discovering its hidden facets and gems. These “Mushroom” like water towers are really beautiful, and there are lots of Arabic traditional teapots spread all over the city, serving as water fountains landmarks.In Kuwait, we always drink from the bottle but I really don´t understand why they are fond of having landmarks in a shape of an arabic teapot?

Another beautiful landmark in Kuwait. It is lighted in Kuwaiti flag colors and illuminates along the roads going to Salmiya.

I wish that Kuwait continues to grow, as a city, as a place ful of compassionate people and that the expat community will thrive to be an important part of its growth. As an Expat, I believe that our stay in any foreign land gives us a chance to contribute something and make an impact to any circle we belong.

Salam, and Tschüss!

Kuwait Towers, a symbolic Architecture in Kuwait

Kuwait from A to Z

Beating the heat in Kuwait, an expat´s lifestyle

Life in the Desert, life in Kuwait

Hidden gems in the Arabian Gulf

From where I stand

From where I stand … here somewhere along the way fascinated with Manholes.
Journal about Manholes around the World

Do you love taking photos of your feet?

As I sorted out my gallery, I noticed that I have quite a few photos that shows where I stand, like a compass indicating my bearings. It’s funny because I haven’t realized that I’ve got this habit of looking down and when I see something interesting, I snap my phone and take photo. I’ve thought about the idea of collecting these photos and make a post out of it showing that wandering can be life changing.

This photo brings back lovely memories in me. The first year of my life as a Mother and I think the last year before we moved to Germany. My favorite pastime— I usually do morning run and long walks along the shores of Arabian Gulf. Watching nature and sunrises are my thing. Every week it gives me different panoramic views of the beach and the sound of the waves was really something therapeutic.
From where I stand here in the sand patterns of Arabian Gulf in Kuwait
From where I stand on top of Kuwait Towers

Isn’t it wonderful that we make a pause in order to admire where we are walking and not always in haste?

Well the road system and pavements and everything is totally different from Kuwait to Germany. Here, the roads are better, smoother, and well paved. There are actually plenty of foot paths and the manholes are worthwhile to look. Not so in Kuwait where it is very hot outside and there are no beautiful thing to look down on the ground, only dust.

The feel of sand on your toes…

I started taking photographs of manholes or drainage lately and develop a habit of looking down for some things that is mostly written down.When I came to Germany, I followed the path of “Stumbling stones“or Stolpersteine which wakens my curiosity about its interesting story about the victims of World War II and Nazi in Germany. There is so much more than these stumbling stones. Even if I grew up on the other side of the world, it really makes me grateful that dark past is over and I have the freedom to walk out in the streets without fear.

Standing in front of Humboldt University in Berlin, 2018.
This is the place where they burn books during the time of Nazi period. It is unbelievably tragic to know that later on they also burn people to death.
Standing where Germany was once divided.
Tag der Deutschen Einheit ( or Day of Unification is celebrated on October 3 and is observed as National Holiday in Germany)
Standing from where the old Berlin Wall stands. This wall tells us many stories, even more untold stories from the people who were divided because of this wall.

I don’t know exactly where did this fashion for feet-photography came from.Do you agree that internet is a great influence, it’s the source of all fad just like Photo Challenges here in WordPress. It’s the same as “Selfie” or “From where I stand ” type photos came out as soon as smartphones were born. I also love those people who photographed themselves with plants. These green-type photography is something that I do as well.

We’re standing where we watched the Handprints of Stars in Olympic Stadion in Munich, 2017
We love the Fantastischen Vier and all other artists who had their hands imprinted on the cemented ground.

From where I stand… after cruising through two rivers, August 2019
These rocks came from the limestone mountains of the Danube Gorge that were changed and eroded through millions of years.
From where I stand… somewhere in Bavaria, 2018
Last year’s Autumn in Germany
I spent many times doing long walks and watch the various colors of leaves on the ground. I call them “Natural carpet”

From where I sit, ( can’t stand) maybe?
It’s hard to stand on top of these concrete blocks breakwater along the Arabian Gulf in Kuwait

In life, we also stand where big changes in our lives happen, or situations where we stand in a line between important decisions and choices.

“Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.”
Here standing where I said “I do ” on my wedding Day.
Isn’t the carpet nice?
RadissonBlu, Kuwait 2014

Where are the most memorable place and situations that you stood your ground and took photos?

Do you have any particular subject for photography?

Have you enjoyed this post?  Make sure to hit the Follow button for more Expat stories and travel stories on this Blog. If you are an Expat Mama, you might want to be featured in this Blog for our series on Expat Mamas around the World! Drop me an email at justbluedutch@gmail.com.

Are you interested in Art? Please like our page and browse on my original Paintings Here.

Don’t forget t follow me on my  Twitter  and my Instagram  for more updates. Thanks for dropping by and until next time! Tchüss!

Peek |Sneak preview of the “What Ifs?”

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We all love to have a sneak peek of all the What-Ifs” of life… It’s normal, ingrained in our human nature.

I , myself have a habit of having a sneak peek of almost everything, especially when I have the chance to do it. But, I am not so fond of taking a look through the lenses of the viewing binoculars to admire a view from a top. I don’t know why.

For me, I prefer to gaze through the vast expanse and look at a view from my own vantage point.I like this way of having perspective of things in front of me.

It’s common to see these coin-operated binoculars in any observatory deck. Even on top of Zugspitze, from the top of Alps, you can have a stunning view through these binoculars. Most of the towers I have visited in Kuwait have this same  amenities where aside from enjoying the view from above, visitors are given a chance to look further, for an intent close up of any sight they wanted to explore, for sight seeing purposes.

I had the chance to visit the Liberation Tower in Kuwait. It was one of the striking tower where you can see a great skyline of Kuwait in between skycrapers. The tour was privately arranged, and in Arabic, but I don’t really mind. I’ve always wanted to visit this tower so I grabbed the chance when the tour was offered by Aware Center.  At 372 m, the Liberation Tower is the world’s 38th tallest free-standing structure, by pinnacle height. It is standing proud & big symbolizing Kuwait’s liberation from Iraqi invasion. When we reached the 150th floor, within span of seconds, these views from the photos below  greeted me. I can’t really recall how fast it took for us to be on the top observation deck, all I know is that it was fast. Although the weather was fine, it was not a clear view because of the glass windows. Unfortunately, they are dirty, smudgy, and dusty, which is actually common in Kuwait because of frequent dust storms.

But then, it was a great experience to see the skyline of Kuwait from a view on top, almost desert. The buildings, the urban panoramic setting, with all of its beige tone dwellings. I can almost see the rummage  with all the trash piled up. The busy city center, in between the skyscrapers, and the crowded Souks (market place), and yes, the traffic jam. It’s surreal to see that this country is so small and yet managed to rise up, developed its own identity when it comes to architecture and modernization.

While I was still living in this place, I’ve always been a stranger on a daily basis, always roaming around, exploring like locals, and discovering the many facets of this city. I wanted to have a sneak preview of  everyday life in Kuwait, naturally. This particular view from the Liberation tower is no exception.

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Sometimes its good to look through the binoculars, to see things at a large range. But then, which is really a better view? After quite some time, your views will change eventually. Real experiences unfolds each facade of the postcard beauty you see .

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Sightseeing from above the tower is like a sneak peek of  “what is life in Kuwait?” It gives you a swift scan of all the what ifs of living in this place, dust, heat and all.

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In the end, it takes one to experience a certain culture in order to really know one.

Have you ever tried visiting a new place, and taking a look into the Observation binoculars and thought “what is it to live in this place? ”

This post is inspired by this week’s Daily Photo Challenge |Peek

The Green windows of Failaka’s Heritage Village

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Green windows in Failaka’s Heritage houses

I visited Failaka Island in Kuwait sometime during one Eid celebrations.I think I have been to almost all of Kuwait so one time, out of boredom, we booked our trip for Catamaran under Heritage tours to visit Failaka island. I love island hopping and beach getaways but a trip to Failaka is totally off-beaten.

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Heritage houses circa 1950.

Well,if you don’t know, Failaka is an island , 20km off the coast of Kuwait city.Before the war, people used to live there.This island was totally deserted by its inhabitants since the Gulf conflict and when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait.It literally looks like a ghost town, totally different from the skycrapers of the Kuwait skyline as you approach the city. If you are into war relics, desert life and archeology, Failaka might give you a pleasant experience.Of course, seeing the wild camels and eating inside a traditional tent is also a treat!

One of the memorable sights I have seen in Failaka was visiting the Heritage Houses with green windows  and doors as well.In Failaka Heritage Village, there are 40 Heritage houses. Visitors who wanted to spend a day or more here can rent these houses which can accommodate 5-15 guests.

The architecture is totally different, mostly made of timber, wood and rough finish. It’s the green windows that really captures my attention since it is so simple, really a cultural heritage.Heritage house is the typical Kuwaiti traditional house, it is the norm of dwelling for local Kuwaitis since 1950’s. These vacation rental houses can’t be considered as hotel or even star awarded due to their very heritage nature.They are periodically enhanced and restored by skilled craftsmen to retain its character.

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Green windows, a unique architecture feature in Kuwait’s Heritage house.

The traditional houses are the only genuine article in Kuwait and also GCC countries. They are all set into the village streets (Fereej) , all the streets and houses having their own names.Look at the shadow cast from these windows, totally enchanting.In the hot, humid summer months, the sight of green windows and doors can give a refreshing look.

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Green vine, green windows 

Notice also that in Kuwait, the use of grills (or bars) in windows is very typical. When I saw this, I felt like I am behind bars, making you feel like a prisoner.These type of windows are called “double casement”which opens from the middle.Totally closed, maybe for functional use because of the climate.

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Heritage house built in 1950’s.

When life was slower and simpler, these type of houses gives warmth and comfort to the locals.Placed against an earth tone wall finish, it looks like a breath of life.

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Green windows in the Heritage house in Failaka, Kuwait

I would recommend to visit this place if you are in K-town. It may not be a super attraction, but it is really a place where the past speaks louder than the sights. The war-torn almost barren landscape, the rusty war tanks, the bullet shots in every wall, and the memories of the war is actually the air you breathe.

Green color is the color of life, a symbol of renewal, of nature . Just like these windows that reminds me that out from a gloomy past, the future could still be bright, that life in Failaka can still be safe.

Also,want to know why you should not miss the sunset in Failaka?Read more Here.

How do you feel when visiting war-torn places? How was your experience?

 

This post is inspired by this week’s DP Photo Challenge :It IS Easy Being Green!

Into the desert | The road taken

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Into the desert in Kuwait

One of my fondest memories while living in Kuwait was exploring the roads into the desert. We had desert camping where the police check on us 3 times until ordered us to pack our things and go home. We’ve done fishing, picnics, and visited many farms near the desert. Yes–there are farms in Kuwait. There are farms with vegetation,and some with camels and other animals which is popular destination especially during the slightly ‘colder’months in winter .I have tried to milk a camel there and shoot with a rifle in one of these farms.

The road going to Abdaly farms, Wafra and Yasmin farms all the way up to the border of Iraq is surely a lonely, wide, hot arena of arid desert. With only the rows of power lines and palm trees as your view, and of course, watching in anguish, the car-racing maniac drivers who drive as fast as 200 kmph, obviously ignoring the cameras! But surprisingly, if you are adventurous enough,you are rewarded with a close encounter with camels, and  a chat with some locals with his pack of goats and sheep.

What’s your ideal road-trip like?

This post is inspired by DP Photo Challenge |The Road Taken

Mobile lifestyle in Kuwait

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Umbrella and mobile phone : A good match to survive the heat

Expats outnumbered the locals in Kuwait, with 70% of its  population is composed of expatriates. So expat life is rather diversified compared here in Germany. One typical street sight in Kuwait is summed up in the photo above. It doesn’t matter where you are and who you are and what you do in life. An office janitor can have the latest gadget phones same as his Modir ( Boss) as well as anybody.  Everyone seemed to be glued in their mobile phones anytime of the day. It seems like if you don’t own a smart phone, you are left out and isolated. It becomes a necessity and at the same time a hazard especially for reckless drivers who are pinned to their phones while driving. Taxi drivers,mostly Egyptians, Indians, Bangladeshi or Syrians, have 2-3 phones to manage while they go on their work. Crazy, right? but its true. They are talking to their families and friends while driving around. Insane as it may sound but Kuwait becomes fanatic to smartphones and internet calls. Before I was in wonder, but now, no more, horrific and fatal  car accidents  happens everyday, especially in the Gulf road and 5th ring road where drivers drive like maniac. Everyday life revolves around internet, social media and chatting. You should take a look at this article to see how far it goes. If you’re living in Kuwait, I know how it feels, it sucks!

If you’re an expat, having a smart phone with internet is a must. It’s a  materialistic symbolism too. One can easily  get an internet line provided that they have a civil ID to present when they purchase. One’s number is linked to your personal data in the country’s ID system. Another particular sight in  is how Kuwait evolved into mobile parenting.While out in the mall or park, you can see that children have iPads and tablet to keep the child occupied in their buggies while busy parents do their errands. Kuwait has become a symbol for parenting in the iPhone stage. When you move to Kuwait, a way to combat homesickness, your mobile lifestyle becomes elevated and your life revolves in your phone.

Hungry? just log in and check into Talabat or call for delivery from Canary for mushakel and  kebab. Even if the  Matam ( restaurant ) is just around the corner of your flat.I am writing this because I have never seen such incidents like this here in Germany. A total culture clash I must say. Or maybe not yet…

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Hala February Festival and National Day in Kuwait

Oh well, Happy National Day Kuwait!

For expats out there, enjoy the long weekend with the Hala February festivities and stay away from the Gulf road or you’ll end up harassed by the water gun fanatics!

Want to know more about Expat life in  the Gulf? Here are some related further reading :

Hala February Festival in Kuwait

Only in Kuwait : National Spraying gun day!

Kuwait : National Identity symbol

 

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via Photo Challenge: A Good Match

Identity symbol, the Kuwaiti style

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Local Sightings : A Giant Kuwait Flag hang in the street during Hala February celebrations in Kuwait

You know you’re an Expat in Kuwait when the sight of the colors red, green, black and white has become a norm wherever you go.

One of the things that stands out and I particularly noticed while living in Kuwait for years was the local’s love of their national flag. It just sprouts everywhere! In the shopping malls, bridges, in the motorway, in almost all building’s facade,in cars and yachts,and oh even in the shirt that people wear! I’m telling you, visiting Kuwait during the festive month of February is quite an experience. As the biggest festival of Hala February approaches, around 4 weeks before the event, almost all houses including office buildings are heavily decorated with life-size Kuwaiti flag. The face of the Amir & the Crown Prince is also almost e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e.

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You can’t get lost. These signs will be your guide that you’re still in the country’s premises.

In the Miya-Miya shops ( 100 fils shop or like the Euro shops), tons of things are being sold with designs of the flag as well. From head scarfs, earrings, hats, glasses, pins, dresses, almost anything that you can wear on yourself!  In my old neighborhood alone, where most of my neighbors are Kuwaitis, all villas have this giant size flag hanging from their roof top down to their basement. It’s like their identity symbol. A competition of the biggest flag and I don’t really know who’s winning. Children wear dresses made out of the Kuwaiti flag colors. The colors green,white and red are made into a frenzy lights that dazzled at night. Kuwait loves sparkling, dancing, and almost surreal light displays.Well if you’re in an oil-rich country like Kuwait, you will put lights everywhere,too. This country is really a must see especially in February when they are celebrating their culture, national pride and liberation in their National Day.

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A girl dressed in Kuwaiti colors

I have never seen this kind of patriotism and pride which ever you may call it. Young children are part of this and they enjoyed it the most,for the fun part. In my home country, or in the Netherlands or even here in Germany on a daily basis. Even a Bakala in Kuwait has a flag in their doors. In the Philippines, flags and the ways that its being used is somewhat only  in sanctified functions.Here, I know that a surge of display of flags and symbolism comes very timely during sport tournaments and of course, during Football season and its fanfare.

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Hala Hala Kuwait!

What local sightings do you appreciate or see in your neighborhood?

Are you in Instagram? Follow my account Here for more photos of the local sightings I post about  my Expat life. Thank you for stopping by!

 

 

Window Shopping in Kuwait

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Window Display in the Souk al-Kabeer in Kuwait

Window shopping and sighting in Kuwait is definitely a treat.It certainly gives you a window of the local culture. From the posh window displays inside the high-end luxury shops inside the Avenues mall  up to the cosmic traditional Souks, the sight of unique display could bring a smile on your face. Take for example this particular display inside the Souk Al Kabeer. For Kuwaitis on the bigger sizes, it certainly offers the suitable clothing for a fact that there are no changing rooms inside the Souk.

Kuwait is ranked first with 42.8 %, Saudi Arabia (35.2 %), the Kingdom of Belize (34.9), Egypt (34.6), Jordan (34.3), the UAE (33.7) South Africa (33.5), Qatar (33.1), Mexico (32.8) and the United States (31.8) when it comes to Obesity and overweight people.

Kuwait’s love for fast food is one of the factor of the obese lifestyle. Where else can you find where there are more than number of Burger chains you can found in such a small country. Even the Starbucks giant is located almost in every corner. From my neighborhood before alone, we have 4-5 Starbucks within 500 meters range!  It’s no wonder that Kuwait also has high rates of Stomach Stapling than any country–Another American branding that landed on Kuwait.