Chaos after the Hunger

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Like Fish? – A Red Snapper in sweet & sour sauce

What do you call the aftermath of a sumptuous meal?

A chaotic &  messy sight? I call it simple pleasure . Hunger satisfied. Full tummy. Everybody  ate with gusto!

Photo details : This photo was taken in of the unique Seafood restaurant in Kuwait, it’s called ‘ Fish Market’ situated along the Arabian Gulf and beside the Kuwait Towers. You can choose your type of fish, veggies & other ingredients from the open market inside the restaurant  and decide how to cook it.

It is worth the wait since it’s all fresh & unique. We choose this Red snapper to be cooked with sweet & sour sauce and indeed, it was a great meal. Chaotic & Unique.

What type of dishes could make you eat with chaotic delight?

This post is in response to this week’s Photo Challenge | Chaos

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Expat-Mama in Kuwait

Today, Sept. 12, the whole Muslim community around the world is celebrating one of the holy festival in Islam, known as ‘Eid al-Adha’( or the Feast of Sacrifice). Eid -al-Adha is a festival that marks the end of the Hajj -an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia that lasts three to four days. The Koran recommends all Muslims make the journey    (or Umrah)  at least once in their lifetime. Worshippers typically slaughter an animal like a goat or sheep. Imagine close to 10 million animals are slaughtered in Pakistan on Eid, how about on other countries?

So in time of Eid-al-Adha festivity, for our next Expat Mama around the World series, you will get to know more of surprising facts about motherhood in  Kuwait especially from a Muslim Expat-mama perspective.  Kuwait is a  Muslim country  where there are 2.4 Million Expats  despite that the summer heat could rise up to 50 degrees and where oil is cheaper than water.

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Rechiel’s Story : An Expat Mama  Raising  her third- Culture kids with core values of Islam. (Photo credit: Aysha Aldrini)

 

There are roughly 180,000 Filipinos living and working as an OFW ( Overseas Contract Worker) ,in Kuwait and Rechiel is one of them. She left the Philippines for work  since 2003, so basically, she lived more than a decade in the Middle East, imagine that!  Kuwait has been her 2nd home for a long time now. Surprisingly, she and I happen to go at same school in High School.  (which I only found out later when she told me) She is a dear friend of mine and here she shares her Expat Mama Story :  A Muslim Expat Mama journey to Motherhood in Kuwait.

Rechiel’s Background

Rechiel is a Filipino Expat Mama of 3, and working in Kuwait for almost 13 years now in a Shipping/Logistics Company. Unexpectedly, she found love and eventually got married to her Egyptian husband ,Wasim, who is also an Expat in Kuwait. They have 3 beautiful daughters namely  Cha, Salma & Maryam. She is an active member of the Anchors Toastmaster’s Club in Al Bader Company. She loves  swimming,photography , and Karaoke of course!

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Kuwait sunset from the Arabian Gulf 

On converting to Islam and raising her kids in Islamic faith

Rechiel converted to Muslim faith from the time that she married her Muslim husband. It was not a mandatory requirement, nor a legal prerequisite for marriage of Non-Muslim & Muslim but it is her personal decision to revert from Christianity to Islamic faith. By changing her views on spirituality and faith, she dressed up in modesty as  Muslim women should be, she changed her lifestyle and start to wear Hijab. For her, doing this  shows her total submission to her husband and abiding the teachings of Allah from Qúran.

Here’s my Interview-Story of her as an example of a down-to-earth  Expat-Mama who is raising her children with Filipino, Egyptian and Muslim values in Kuwait.

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Expat Kids  and Expat Mama

 

Tell us About your Background

My name is Rechiel, I’m the from Philippines and came to Kuwait as an OFW ( Overseas Contract Worker) . I got married, and gave birth of my 2 girls in Kuwait. I am literally living for more than a decade in the Middle East now. It’s been a challenge for me to work full-time at the same time being a mother to a teenager, and 2 more girls. It’s like working round-the clock. From the moment I got home, I spend productive time with my kids but cannot spare anything more than an hours’ time. My interest has always been photography but I do not have time on hand to pursue my interest owing to other responsibilities. I do not know when, but one day I definitely will find time to pursue my interest. It is hard being a mother ,that is a fact, but my life is totally rewarding raising them.

Share something about the current country you are living in and notable aspects of life from an Expat Mother point of view.

On Culture Shock and Arabic language

Kuwait is one of the most prominent countries of the GCC and like all other middle eastern countries has a lot of expats from all parts of the world working and living with their families. Culturally , I found Kuwait to have much Asian influences. There are lots of Filipino/Asian stores so when it comes to food, I felt like I am in the Philippines. In my work, there are also plenty of Filipino colleagues, so basically, I didn’t have much hard time adjusting. Believe it or not, I understand Arabic , but up to this time, I know I still need to make great effort to learn it. When you have kids and needs help with their Arabic homework, you just feel motivated to learn. My kids go to  International school where different nationalities so there is always a great culture mix-up. At home, we speak English  and Arabic so my children are all bilingual.

On the other hand, my husband being from the Mediterranean region (Egyptian) ,He, too feels very much comfortable to be living in Kuwait. But nowadays he too got confused with the living status here.We have plans to move to Alexandria but still the plans are not that concrete. Being an Islamic country Kuwait has a typical living conditions for women outside their homes. We are Muslims, so  socializing is restricted when it comes to interacting with other groups of men and women.

On leisure activities for family and Kids in Kuwait

Kuwait is a desert country, with a hot climate.There are not much greenery like in the Philippines or in Egypt. I got used to the living conditions here even when I was still single but as a family ,we make it a point to enjoy the outdoors when it is not too hot. I am thankful that at least we have the beach for us to have picnics & for the kids to play in the sand or swim. As parents, visiting the Aqua parks, amusement parks, public parks, cinemas, shopping malls, museums, science centers and all such institutions are my favorite spots in Kuwait  since both me & my kids can enjoy.

On Arab culture criticism for being Lax at Parenting

I grew up in the Philippines where courtesy & politeness is being taught at a young age. We say “Po & Opo”and respecting the elders is a vital trait. We even have GMRC ( Good Manners & Right Conduct ) subject included in the curriculum. Here in Kuwait,one unusual culture that I don’t like is when an Arab mother tolerate their kids to disrespect them in front of others. Kids are yelling at them if they don’t give something that they wanted. This is very prevalent in malls & restaurants. The teenagers are such a bully . It disturbs me at the same time challenging for me to see that my kids are exposed to multi cultural diversity and how to keep them on the right track.

How is it being pregnant, giving birth and raising your child away from your home country. Or relocating with your kids to another country? What are the adjustments, struggles & rewards you’ve made?

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Salma, her second daughter on her 1st Birthday -Little Filipino-Egyptian Princess

On Pregnancy, Child Birth and Post-Partum Care

For me, It was nothing unusual being pregnant and giving birth to kids in Kuwait as the country has a well-equipped hospitals and gives utmost importance to health care. It is much cheaper and affordable to gave birth here compared to the Philippines. The hospital that I went to was efficient and took care of me during my Caesarean operation up to my post- partum care. I could imagine that if I gave birth in Philippines then this type of service is very expensive. Pregnancy in Kuwait is also different since Kuwait has extensive Prenatal care and taking care of a newborn comes easy for me with the help of my husband and close friends. My work  even allowed me to have paid Maternity leave. Vaccination of newborns and toddlers are also within reach, very accessible.

On giving birth alone in the Public Hospital

If you gave birth in a public hospital in Kuwait, you can’t see your husband or others , not right before you gave birth. I feel very blessed to have a very supportive and able husband who arranged everything for me and make it easy for me during the time I was giving birth up to the time I am recovering. It is a normal convenience to have a “Kadama”( maid) in Kuwait so I felt lucky to have such extra help.Even without my immediate families from the Philippines, I did not have a hard time.

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Maryam, Rechiel’s youngest child (Raising a Third Culture Kid in Kuwait )

 

On expensive cost of Visa& Residency papers and Tuition fees

Although many things quite cheap in Kuwait, the high cost of living as an Expat family could make a toll on Expats here in Kuwait. The bureaucracy about paper works for a newborn to get residency and visa is quite complicated. It’s a good thing that my husband is well-versed on Arabic and  in the in& outs  being a  Mandoup , ( A liason officer and official representative of a company to transact business & paperworks in the ministries in Kuwait ) so it goes quite easy. For a non-arabic speaker & Expats, this is a big problem and takes time. Aside from the visa fee 100kd ( approx. 300 Euros/ 330 $USD) for 1 year residency  plus another 50kd ( 170 $ USD/ 150 Euros ) for Health Insurance, it is costly for an average family with 3 kids that you need to renew every year. Adding up the expenditures are the visa fees for parents, expensive tuition fees, flat rental and utilities. I knew many Expat families chose to let their kids study in Philippines or in their home country instead of expensive schools in Kuwait. Yes, gas is cheap & affordable in Kuwait but maintenance of a car is also costly.This is the reality of the cost of living as an Expat.

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Joining Walk for a cause and Socio-activities in Kuwait with friends .

On having Fewer friends and Mommy-practicality

When you’re an Expat,  got married and have kids– your lifestyle turns 360 degrees change. You have fewer friends, and limited time to socialize because your priorities changed. I knew many friends in Kuwait but being an Expat Mama, my days are filled with family, work & little time for myself. I guess, this is the consequence. I can’t even have the latest fashion & cosmetics out in the market, not because I can’t afford it, but I become practical and go beyond the material value.

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An Expat mama journey to Motherhood, from Philippines, to Kuwait to Egypt to United Arab Emirates.

What is your say about raising your kid as a third culture kid?

I am raising Filipino-Egyptian kids in a Kuwaiti environment. My kids love Adobo at the same time eat Kubz everyday, adores Kebab,Biryani, and mostly Egyptian dishes. They can speak both Tagalog, English and Arabic. Raising a Third-Culture Kid is both challenging and fascinating because for example, in school they are exposed to different cultures and social media is a big influence too. At their young age, I try my best to teach them important core values we have at home so they remain open-minded & flexible.

How do you make an impact as an Expat Mama in your country of residence?

I’m thankful that my work have given me the chance & exposure to contribute my views. I feel honored when I got the chance to have a Speech about the role of Women as mothers in the society. It is a great privilege that a Filipino like me could have a chance to make an impact in my work, and being a  Muslim now gives me the respect from the community we belong to.When an Arab person approaches me and makes comment about how I am raising such adorable kids, it is more than money can buy. A true happiness any mother wants to have.

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Being an Expat-Mama is a privilege. It gives me the chance to raise my child in a competitive world to prepare them in their  future. It’s not always a glamorous life, but it sure does the best life I want. Wherever we are, either in Kuwait, Philippines or in Alexandria, home is where me & my family stands close to each other, and that’s what matters most.

 

Thank you Rechiel for this wonderful story of your life as an Expat Mama. It is a pleasure being your friend and this post is for you and your family and  Eid Mubarak !

 

 

Did you enjoy this post?  Follow my Expat -Mama stories in my Twitter and Instagram.

Are you an Expat Mama? Do you want to be featured in this series? Feel free to send me an email at justbluedutch@gmail.com .

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One fine day in the Desert & Camels | Morning

Whenever you think of Desert, it always comes along with Camels. They are prefect combination. If you have ever been to the Middle East then you would exactly know what I mean.

So one fine morning in July , we drive through the Wafra Farms in Kuwait .Wafra is located in the Southern most part of Kuwait which is almost parallel to the Saudi border. It is part of the  Al-Ahmadi governorate and ironically it sounds, but this place is actually known for its fertile soil and farms. Yes, there are farms in Kuwait! The farms in Wafra are supplied with water from underground lakes.Many locals & Expats drove to Wafra Market to buy fresh vegetables  and have a sidetrip of camel-sightings!

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Up close and personal with Camels

My friend had a Kuwaiti friend that owns a farm in Wafra and we were lucky enough to be invited to visit them. The farm has many animals, not just camels. I was particularly interested only in the camels but I found the other animals quite fascinating too. They have goats, sheeps and horses. When I saw the herds of Camels, I was really in awe. I have seen camels while driving along the Desert through the Tower posts and going through Kabd, but seeing them up close is something.

Have you ever tried milking a Camel? or even drink its milk?

The farm smelled of camel dung and manure!

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The gentle camels in Wafra farm
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They looked so much better closer. | Camels in Wafra

And of course, our trip won’t be complete if we won’t have our usual Diwaniya and our cup of morning Tea.

 

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Tea or Chai in the Wafra Farms in Kuwait

Mornings with Camels and Deserts may not be your usual cup of Tea, but it sure a worthwhile thing to spent a different morning.

Friends, Recently, what’s the off beaten path morning you’ve had so far?

 

This post is in response to this week’s Photo Challenge |Morning

 

 

Beautiful Surprise | Cherry on top

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I know Something beautiful is about to pop.

You’ll never know what kind of surprise you will see. Only if you look closer then you will find it. It is a field full of beauties, but you stand out.In time you will be ready to spread and reveal yourself. Your mystery is about to pop. I am sure you will be a beautiful surprise.

In response to this week’s Photo Challenge |Cherry On Top

Architecture Above :Liebfrauenmünster

Germany is not only famous for its beautiful nature, dreamy castles & Burgs,UNESCO-world- heritage sites, sausages,Oktoberfest, Football & beer. This country is also a home to many beautiful churches & life-standing Architecture.As I recall my experience while seeing the great DOM Cathedral in Trier, I was in awe seeing another hidden gem  in the small city of Ingolstadt,in Bavaria, the Liebfrauenmünster. If you walk into the old city center, you can’t miss not to see its towering beauty.

Last Saturday, I was grateful that finally its open. The first time we visited, it was closed so we tried to visit again. This church was constructed in 1425 and was completed in  1525. The Architectural style is Gothic and it has 2 Towers with heights of 62m & 69m.

 

 

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I love everything about the facade and exteriors of this church. Its beautiful in the outside but the interior is another thing. As soon I opened the door (photo below ) ,I am perplexed of the harmonious musical chants from the pipe organ  (Klais Organ) which has 4 manuals, 106 ranks, 70 stops, 5,436 pipes.

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The doors of Liebfrauenmünster

The pipe organ was built in 1928 with 84 Ranks / 61 registers (+ 6 Ext. / Tr.) on 3 manuals reusing many old Bittner register by Steinmeyer (D, Oettingen)
1977 technical properties reusing some Steinmeyer Register from 1928 through Klais (D, Bonn).

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The pipe organ in Liebfrauenmünster in Ingolstadt,Germany

The cathedral also has a choir organ with 60 ranks / 44 registers (+ 1 Ext.) On 3 manuals (Wegscheider 2016) and a chamber organ with 6 registers on 1 Manual (Jann, 1986) and an apple shelf.

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The gigantic columns of the church.

Another intricate detail is the base of the columns which are quite interesting.

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Decorative column base (Photo credit to my husband)

Another remarkable feature of this this beautiful church was its Vaultings.As I did my research, I found out that its  included in the listings of the South German Late Gothic design & building Praxis  which mainly features the selection of finest & complicated parametric modelling study of late Gothic vaults chiefly in Swabia, Bavaria, Saxony & Bohemia.

Begun in 1425 Chapels (c. 1512–1520) by Erhard Heydenreich, Baumeister between 1509–1524 A Staffelhall church (like Dinkelsbühl), certainly most famous for the bizarre, varied, and profuse vaults of its six chapels by Erhard Heydenreich; the most iconic of which is a double-layered vault in which the flying ribs of the lower vault take the shape of branches. Bucher describes these vaults as symbolising “the last stand of a dying style.” “They are still based on a disciplined geometric grid which explodes into fireworks of incredible technical and design sophistry. The Renaissance was to reject these games with a vengeance, very much as the Bauhaus was to obliterate Art Nouveau.

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Intricate vaulting design of the Liebfrauenmünster in Bavaria
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Beautiful door facade of the church

My daughter enjoyed marvelling the inside of this church,although I am not sure if she will behave if we attend the mass here one day. But I am glad to know that they have separate timings for kinder (children) together with their parents .

It was a great afternoon well spent visiting this church and I am looking forward to explore it more. Maybe climb the towers to have a great view of the city someday?

How about you, do you explore the culture & history beyond the sights you see in the places you visited?

For me, I have learned that whenever I looked up into something beautiful, I made sure I got a piece of history of it.Churches may serve its religious functions,but we must learn to appreciate the great effort & artistry of the people who built it , let alone who designed it.

Ingolstadt is lucky to have this church.It’s a gem. Indeed, something that the locals should be proud of !

This post is in response to today’s photo challenge : Look Up

Look Up

Walking in the fields of Dreams

I’m totally wide awake and my eyes are open. I know I’m not dreaming at all.But the views in front of me are good enough to put me into a trance…

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My daughter , Natalie runs like crazy into the woods.

For the past years, a sight of coarse landscape, browns, palm trees and arid desert- like place, now I am walking into a different path. It’s a whole new place.  I thought that this green world is gradually sinking into my system. I am in a new place, in a place I have never imagined that I would be. Morning walks have been my refuge for all the metamorphosis of changes that shocking myself for the last days.

We found this field and I call it ‘Field of Dreams‘. This field of dreams is beautiful.Green is beautiful.

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Morning view of the Donau

Today, I wanted to take a walk. I needed a walk. Just 5 minutes away and we are absorbed already by the green forests, the smell of the woods, the gentle sloshing of waters from the running waters from the River Danube and the orchestral symphonies of chirping birds.Now this has not been my cup of tea from the last 38 years of my life. Nature is a beautiful thing here in Germany I must say.

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Our green world here in Deutschland

Everything is just so fresh. My soul is rejuvenated by the wonders of nature in simplest forms of forest, green tall trees, and the peaceful womb within plants, flowers,dancing squirrels, running rabbits, humming birds,and the slow-paced life here in Bavaria.

As I walked through the path with these giant green trees towering above me, I felt that the heavens are hugging me. Never have I have felt so free, so divine, so natural.People walked with their children, cycling, and running with their dogs. the partnership in nature continues.In the forest, the only thing you trust is your gut. You see the path and you just need to go forward.On my first walk in the forest just within Luitpoldpark, I don’t know where the path will lead me. It’s like walking into an unknown territory and your defenses are down. You just let nature guide you.

This feeling is similar when I am facing big changes in my life.Walking further, inhaling the soft winds that blew on my face , taking one step at a time, and allowing my inner spirit that leads me to a wonderful discovery of another beautiful world.This is what I called walking into the field of dreams. It takes courage to take that first step to make it all come true.But this is all worth it.

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What I found in our field of dreams.

Have you ever given up on your field of dreams?

Here’s an honest confession , I have never seen a pine tree like this in my whole life.I have always love how we adorn our Christmas tree and I thought, how it would feel to run my fingers through its leaves ? to smell its raw scent? Pine tree with pine cones in it, I thought I would always need to buy it from the shop, painted & with glitters.

Dreaming is something else, but to walked into that dream is another story as well. Seeing these simple things from nature really made me happy. Happiness for simple things, no filters, no explanations needed. It should be like that. It doesn’t need to be complicated to find happiness in everyday life.

From where do you find your happiness today?

 

 

 

Dandelions : Return of Summer

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Celebrating the return of Summer with Dandelion ~MorningWalk
During one of my  morning walks,  I spotted this beauty amongst other weeds and bed of flowers.It stands out,not because of its size but because of its  uniqueness & symbolism.Dandelion is a symbol of the return of Summer for me. Even they are flowering from February through to November – It means they welcome in the colder, grimmer months.

We are having a  beautiful summer now in Germany.  Summer along the banks of Donau & green woods is a pure bliss.Not like in Kuwait that we spent most of the time indoors because its soaring 50 degrees hot outside.Here, we love to connect with nature,the sun & its power.The moment you step into the woods, you feel its power.

Indeed Summer has return, now in a new beginnings.Just like the Dandelions who is resilient to hardships and struggles, I also embrace the changes in my life and not giving up, just moving forward.

The clock has ticked and It’s still season for Dandelions.

What is the season in your life right now? Is it also symbolizing Dandelions?

I read some interesting facts about this flower & I wanna share with you. I personally can relate to its symbolism.The dandelion is the only flower that represents the 3 celestial bodies of the sun, moon and stars. The yellow flower resembles the sun, the puff ball resembles the moon and the dispersing seeds resemble the stars.I had walks around 7pm and I found out that their heads are closed & bowed down, now I knew why.

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Summer Bliss with Dandelions
  • The dandelion flower opens to greet the morning and closes in the evening to go to sleep.
  • Every part of the dandelion is useful: root, leaves, flower. It can be used for food, medicine and dye for coloring.
  • Up until the 1800s people would pull grass out of their lawns to make room for dandelions and other useful “weeds” like chickweed, malva, and chamomile.
  • The average American recognizes thousands of logos for commercial products, yet recognizes fewer than five plants that grow in his/her area. Dandelions are most likely one of those familiar plants.
  • The name dandelion is taken from the French word “dent de lion” French word “dent de lion” meaning lion’s tooth, referring to the coarsely-toothed leaves.
  • Dandelions have one of the longest flowering seasons of any plant.
  • Seeds are often carried as many as 5 miles from their origin!

 

Have you heard that it is also a superfood?So next time you see it, repel the urge to weed it out, and why not try the amazing recipes you can make out of it?

 

Danube River

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The Danube with the view of Neues Schloss (18-19th Century)

Back then in Kuwait, I have the view of the Arabian Gulf from our bedroom window and just 10 minutes, we can dip our feet into its shores. It has become our haven.It was great living so close to the beach.

But how nice it is to live so close to one beautiful River? To gaze at its mellow stream? to gaze at its serene flow? I am so grateful that we have the river Donau (Danube) just  5 minutes away from where we live now .

I have seen the Mosel River but the Danube has its own charm.We fell instantly in love with it.Who doesn’t?

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The Donau River from Ingolstadt,Germany 

The Danube is the most important stream of Europe. With its 2.857 kilometers from the well in Schwarzwald to the Delta in the Black Sea it is the second largest river of the continent. 2.488 kilometers are navigable and connect 10 neighbor countries namely ; Germany,Austria, Slovakia, Hungrary, Croatia, Serbia,Bulgaria,Romania, Moldavia & Ukraine.

The nature along the Danube changes from hills and wild canyons to flat land. Forests, fields and many river coasts are living space for many animals and plants. Many of the pretty landscapes are verified as National parks and Nature reserves.

I can’t wait to explore more of the wilderness along its banks.

My Ramadan Experience as an Expat

Have you ever experienced Ramadan ?

I am not living in the Middle East anymore but I wanted to share with you my wonderful experiences of Ramadan as a Non-Muslim especially in Kuwait.Now that Ramadan season has begun, I suddenly feel nostalgic of its memories in my Expat life.

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Observance of the Holy Month of Ramadan
I must say that I love the overall experience of it.  Before, Ramadan is only a word that I associated  with Muslims. I never have any real clue what is it really all about and what’s  happening during this important month in a Muslim country. I had my first taste of Ramadan when I came to Kuwait last 2008.

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Ramadan Kareem Lanterns -a beautiful sight during Ramadan month.

 

So anyway, from the time that our new work timings were announced , a day before Ramadan starts, I was really looking forward  to what will happen on the next days.As a Non-Muslim,our working days were  shortened and even lesser.We started at 9 o’clock in the morning and ended at 2PM. During this time, Muslims are fasting from sunrise to sundown, praying and do increased devotion of recitation of Q’uran. They are abstaining from smoking, drinking liquids and engaging in sexual acts during the time of fast which is strictly prohibited.

Seriously, If you are caught eating /drinking in public during Ramadan,there’s a legal penalty of 100KD /and jail for 1 month, (This is as per the time that this was imposed) also for anyone who forces or helps anyone to eat or drinks.But when I was pregnant,I was exempted to fast.My Boss told me it’s no problem.Normally  I just munch something inside my office and do it discreetly as possible.But the visits to the Doctor during Ramadan was hard for me.I needed to make an appointment usually at night since the shifts were difficult and more flexible at night.

During this time, Kuwait totally changed.A serene peaceful atmosphere during daytime but totally alive at night. Don’t plan to go to Gulf Road during sunsets since real maniacs out there and horrible accidents happens  because people are speeding in their cars trying to get home before sunset. There is some kind of Rush!Y ou can really feel that its Ramadan,even the weather changes.Sandstorms and high humidity becomes frequent.The date trees were budding with fruits.Even the decor were changed,you can see  traditional  colorful lanterns everywhere. All shops,Malls & restaurants are closed during the day so we need to wait until 8 PM to go out to buy something or do errands. Exceptions are some supermarkets who are open.Don’t ever expect that your paperwork in the Ministry will be done as soon as possible.Nope.It won’t be.I observed that Kuwaitis work less on these times.Everything was relaxed.Dressing appropriately is highly recommended.Ladies,be as modest as you can be.Playing loud music is not allowed.

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Muslims are praying relentlessly, anywhere.

Having an experience of Iftar or the breaking fast after sunset is really great.I love the bond between Muslims who shares meal together. Iftar can be so grand and festive in expensive hotels and restaurants but it can also be as simple as sharing their special meal laid on top of a newspaper after they said their prayers.When we go to Fish Markets,we saw the bunch of Muslim workers sitting in a circle and happily eating together.It is such a warm thing to see.There are so many mouth-watering goodies and sweets to indulge and try.I love how rich and diversified the Arabic selection of Ramadan treats.It is a must to try it when you are in a Muslim country.

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Delicious Ramadan sweets,best enjoyed with Tea & Arabic coffee.

It’s a time of reflection,meditation,to do charitable works and to learn something that is different from the usual norms.Everyone seems to be friendlier and kindness overflows.Exchanging Ramadan greetings is always encouraged such as “Ramadan Kareem ” and thinking less of ourselves and more of the less fortunate.Ramadan ends with a holiday celebration” Eid Ul Fitr “.It is a joyous time almost same as Christmas but with more religious significance.People dress up,visiting each other and sharing wonderful meals together and giving meals to the poor.One thing that is really authentic during this End of Ramadan is the mass Lamb murders.Sounds awful…right? but LOTS of lambs were cooked and portions were given to the poor.If you happen to pass by through backside of Friday market,you can see a herd of lambs in a truck,having a road trip for their journey to Butchery.This also marks the travel crazy frenzy season.Most Kuwaitis go out of the country It’s totally chaotic in airport.

 

Do you have your own story of Ramadan ? How was it?

Ramadan Kareem to all my Muslim friends!

 

Iranian Bread & Zubaidi Fish

 

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Warm & delicious Iranian Bread

If there’s anything that is a MUST in every Kuwaiti household for a weekly groceries,that is a bunch of Iranian Bread and Zubaidi fish (or Silver Pomfret).

While in Western culture ,the  bread ( loaf or any other type )  is the queen of every table and for Asians, it is rice, then here in Kuwait, this is every family’s staple. For  Kuwaitis, Iranian bread is as  almost as important as oil. They have eaten Iranian bread since they were born and start solids. Their grandfathers also did the same. Every morning after prayers, people dash to the Iranian bakeries and queue to get their stock. Since Kuwait became richer, maids and drivers now queue up instead, but still there are a lot of people waiting. They eat it with almost anything. With grilled fish, kebabs, chicken, hummus, tahini or just as it is. Its simply delicious.

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An Expat’s  favorite meal : Kebabs, shish tawook, Hummus, fries & Iranian Bread

The Kuwaiti nation eats also rice, and other things but you cannot compensate them with something else. I love Arabic bread (smaller pita bread or Kubz) that you can usually find in packs at the co-op). It’s very nice, but it cannot replace warm Iranian bread. Sometimes when I go to buy the bread, I eat one on the way back because it’s so warm and fresh and tasty, especially if you pay a bit extra like 5 fils and get sesame seeds on them. As an Expat, I have grown fond of eating this especially when its fresh and I used it to make home made shawerma. My Dutch husband taught me an very awesome trick to preserve breads, and that is putting it in the fridge and just take it out to defrost when I would like to eat it. It tastes as fresh as it was & surely, we don’t have stale & wasted bread anymore! This is how I preserve Iranian bread & Kubz.

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Local sightings : Local bakers using old-fashioned oven in making Iranian bread.

When I visit the Mubarakiya, I still see locals who make Iranian bread in a very old fashioned stone ovens. Normally you can find these small bakeries tucked in any governorate but mostly in nearby Co-op. One place I visited before was the one in Shamiya where I really love the taste of it. The smell and the sight of it is very interesting and every Expat should try this. Whenever you eat out in a restaurant ( or locally called as Matam ) they normally served hot & freshly baked Iranian bread along with any meal, while in any other fancy restaurant they also served different types of bread like the one we have tried in Leila’s ( a Lebanese restaurant ) which is more of hot  buns. I could finish the bread while waiting for our orders!

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Leila’s hot delicious hot buns
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A sumptous Zubaidi meal with rice

Although Kuwait is  abundant in all types of food, having a home cooked meal of Zubaidi & rice is always special. This very tasty fish with rice is often served in homes in the Arabian Gulf.  Zubaidi (Silver Pomfret) fish is Kuwait’s national fish that is local but can be found in the frozen section of many Middle Eastern or Asian shops. (You may have to degut them yourself). While some prefer to eat them with rice alone, others  make Kuwaiti Tomato Sauce (Dukkous Al-Tamat) to serve as an accompaniment.

Have you tried any Arabic  dish with Zubaidi or the Iranian Bread? How was your experience?

Read more on my Expat guides & tips in my Life as an Expat in Kuwait section and learn to embrace the Arabic culture to beat your culture shock.