Eid-alFitr to my Muslim friends!

Eid-alFitr, The feast after end of Ramadan is one of the most-awaited & celebrated Feast in Muslim countries, and Kuwait is far by no exception.

I have always look forward to this Eid during my Middle East days.I have fondest memories that we would have a long break from work especially if Eid and the sighting of the crescent moon falls on weekend. Everyone is looking forward for family gathering, get-together with friends, there is food & sweets everywhere, and I could really see Avenues full-packed! There is sale on most shops as well.

People flocked into the malls wearing their best dresses, the sea-side along Gulf road is jam-packed too, and of course, there is a long lines in restaurants.

But What is the essence of this feast? Is this another  excuse to indulge & procrastinate?

Does this change in any way the overspending and overeating habits that becomes a norm?

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Feed the Hungry !

Just to give you an insight of what is supposed to be happening on this Eid, it shold be like this. After observing a stringent lifestyle during the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims around the world are preparing to celebrate Eid al-Fitr. Also known as the festival of breaking the fast, the day will mark the end of the month of sacrifice and self-purification and will herald the beginning of festivities.

Eid ul-Fitr is one holy festival for Muslims, which marks the end of Holy Month, Ramadhan. It is an Arabic word, juvenile amalgamation of Eid and Fitr, which means festivity and the breaking of fast, respectively. The festival is celebrated on the conclusion of the fasting during the month of Ramadhan. This joyful and blissful day is celebrated to thanks Almighty for his blessings in the holy month of Ramadhan. Muslim grace with presence at the congregational prayer service that held in morning. Eid-ul-Fitr has a meticulous Islamic prayer, which consists of two raka’ah or simply units in a large hall or an open field. Muslims of all age group wear new clothes, cook some delicious and tasty food, invite relative, neighbors and friends to celebrate the auspicious day with them. To fast in Ramadhan encourages sympathy for needy and hungry and motivates Muslims for donating very generously to all underprivileged. According to Muslim belief, they are commanded by Almighty God to do the fasting until the conclusion of Ramadhan as mentioned in Holy Qur’an and also pay Zakat-al-fitr before offering the Eid prayer.

Normally, Muslims wake relatively very early in the morning of Eid-ul-Fitr i.e. always before sunrise and offer pre-sunrise prayer (Salatul Fajr). In addition, Muslim keep in view the Sunnah (actions and traditions of Prophet Muhammad) follow it and clean teeth with toothbrush or Miswaak, and take shower or “Ghusul” before the Fajr prayers, put new clothes or the best available cloth, and also apply perfume.

Many Muslims attend communal prayers and listen to akhutba or sermon on the first day of the month of Shawwal. These prayers are held outside or in large venues, such as sports arenas, in some places. Many Muslims may travel far to participate in these activities. Some communities organize different festivities, such as communal meals or events for children, on this day.

If a Muslim has not given zakat al-fitr during Ramadan, he or she can give this on Eid-al-Fitr. Zakat al-fitr is a form of charity consisting of a quantity of food, such as barley, dates, raisins or wheat flour, or its monetary equivalent given to the poor. Many Muslims may also prepare festive meals to share, wear new clothes, visit relatives and give presents or candy to children. Cards can also be sent, often featuring the words “Eid Mubbarak” (blessed Eid).

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An Arab woman, right, decorates a girl’s hand with henna as a preparation to celebrate Eid al-Fitr that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan . Most of the Arabian Gulf countries celebrates  the Eid al- Fitr day. (Photo Credit : AP)

But do these Eid-alFitr rituals really happens?

Do you have an Eid-alFitr experience?

I just wish  for a blessed and peaceful Eid to all my Muslim Friends. May this festivities gives the credit it deserves and the spiritual harmony it should have in all our hearts.

My prayers for the victims of the recent blast near the Prophets Mosque in Saudi Arabia.

To all my Muslims friends back in Kuwait, Eid Mubarak!

 

 

The Kite Runner

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Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.

~Anais Nin

10 Surprising Things About Parenthood in Kuwait

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The Icon for Architecture in Kuwait-the Kuwait Towers. the first special place I have visited when I arrived there last 2008, and the last place I have visited when the time we left Kuwait last May 2016.

I have never imagined in my whole life that I will get married, get pregnant and gave birth to my daughter in Kuwait— a small oil rich country  yet place for  mirage diversity. Looking back  at our Expat days spent there brought both smiles and fond memories.  Kuwait will always be a special place close to our hearts.

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Kuwait skyline as seen from Arabian Gulf taken from the Scientific Center along the Arabian Gulf. One of my favorite place to take my daughter for a morning stroll and walk. At 1 month, she visited the Scientific Center’s Aquarium. I am sure I would show her her photos by then.

Here I wanna share with you 10 Surprising Things About Parenthood in Kuwait that I personally experienced. The content of this post is based from my personal encounters as an Expat living in Kuwait  for almost 8 years. Being in Kuwait for work is totally different when you have a family and a young child.

Disclaimer : This post does not promote anything for the purpose of advertisement or whatsoever. My views pointed out here are personal & may not be the same as the other Expats living here or Kuwaitis itself.

Kuwait has a high Total fertility rate compared to other GCC countries , with 2.48 Births per woman and on rank # 80 ( as of 2015 est  based on World Factbook CIA )

Pregnancy and Childcare in Kuwait is totally different from the culture that I was raised with. The reality bites of  giving birth to my daughter there  while working as an OFW with no relatives around to get support really opened my eyes on how is it to become an Expat Mama. You need to be tough.

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Mornings with a Baby in the azure blue Arabian Gulf,for sometime, this has been our paradise.

1.On Pregnancy & Giving Birth Alone …Literally Alone.

The choice for  private or public hospital in Kuwait for Prenatal care during Pregnancy & giving birth depends on your personal choices, quality of medical services & of course, the cost. There are plenty of private hospitals around  and in every area in Kuwait has Public Hospital. You can go there with a very minimal fee (1KD /stamp ) depending where you are registered as a resident. I am 37 yrs old when I got pregnant with Natalie and has a high risk condition from which I found out on the later part of my pregnancy. I opt for a private one during my Prenatal care, I find it really expensive and yet It was also very comprehensive & helpful for a First-time Mother like me.

There’s no Midwife/ Home Birthing here, Doulas are not a common norm .You can only give birth in hospitals since Kuwait is a Muslim country and has strict laws about getting pregnant outside marriage. You cannot be admitted in hospital if you cannot present a Marriage certificate .If you are not married & got pregnant by chance , then at the hospital you will  report you to authorities right on the spot. You will end up in jail and face punishment. Unlike in the Philippines or in Holland, formalities in admission to hospital such as this is not much of an issue . Take note also that there is a strict rule that your spouse cannot see you once you were admitted. Yes, ALONE. Only you and your baby in your utero all throughout the labor to birth phase.

Your Husband can call the hospital to check on your status. It was quite an experience being alone and not having your spouse there on your side. I felt so afraid, at the same time excited. While in the private ones , your spouse has the chance to be with you all the way .

2. On Unbelievable cost of Childbirth.

For Mamas out there, how much does it cost you on the birth of your child? Mine’s only 13 KD!

You can call this cheap but this is impeccably practical. You can invest your money on diapers & childcare later !

I gave birth to my daughter in Kuwait through C-section which only costs us of around 13 KD ( or around 43 USD). YES! Unbelievable right?  Only this amount. Considering all the medications I had during the induction of labor this amount is really insane!  If i did it in a private hospital , my doctor told me it could come around as 850-1500 KD, maybe more. Giving birth thru  C-section in Philippines  is so costly that is why Natural birth is still encouraged. Such big difference. In Holland, you need to push and push harder in giving birth at home  since natural birth is much preferred unless you need medical intervention.

I had complications giving birth and my daughter is in Transverse position. I was induced  for labor for almost 3 days but unfortunately did not progress . But then on the last-minute that both me & my baby was stressed ,her heartbeat dropped & I was rushed to O.R for emergency C-section. I was really amazed how fully equipped and good  the government Maternity Hospital here. I have rumors before that it could be a daunting experience ,but as far as my experience , I couldn’t complain for anything . Yeah maybe the pain.

Everything about the induction process is bloody painful. My whole body cried out for so much Pitocin and all those other stuff. It’s just too overwhelmingly painful.

The whole experience has taught me how to be tough ,to listen to my body . The Doctors and staff are knowledgeable, helpful and professional enough in taking  care of me. I was lucky enough that the staff assigned to me were really kind, & helpful . I’m glad there were Filipina nurses who attended to me immediately. My daughter was admitted to the Special care unit after she was born and I am very glad how they took care of her. She had a medical care from the Neonatal unit up until 1-year-old to track her progress. By the way, It’s totally free!

My postnatal medical care were also covered in this hospital. You only pay a very minimal fee for the prescriptions and medications provided. I was really impressed and happy.

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Napping along the quiet promenade beside the beach

3.On Baby-Friendly facilities and the LACK of it in Kuwait

Breastfeeding is highly commended by all Hospitals from birth of a child. But Breastfeeding  in public is considered offensive. There are only limited areas which has a facility for Breastfeeding mothers and changing rooms. In some large Malls and restaurants, there are abundant changing rooms as well as accessibility to it. Some shops doesn’t even have ramps, totally not Stroller-friendly. Since I had a child, I become aware of this and always opt for a Baby-Friendly facilities such as High chairs, changing tables and play areas . I wear my daughter from 4 months until she was 12 months or so. When she got so heavy then I gave up the sling , besides she likes to walk now ! I couldn’t imagine how I go on without it, It was really amazing.Wearing her on a sling causes lots of stares from many people here , i received many comments about it but I ignore it. It’s not a norm here, but you as the parent should make the right choices for the best of your child & yourself. It’s very rare for Kuwaiti women to wear their child,mainly because most of them has nanny to take care of their little ones.

4. On Harsh Weather Worries , Kuwait is a Sandstorm country.

As an Expat , I am constantly worrying about the weather. If you  have read my post – Only In Kuwait , where I noted that  the sky turns to different colors within 3 hours .This is a place where sandstorms, dust, & heat & harsh winds is prevalent. During Summer, I was on my wits end on how to deal with the heat and humidity. You can’t take out your child for a stroll if it is 50 deg outside and completely dusty . We often take her out early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Sandstorms in Kuwait is another shock that I need to get used to. The sky suddenly turns dark gray and totally hazy because of dust. I had the experience that it totally turns into orange into black . It was a sight! You need to take care when this happens because its unhealthy for you & your child plus it could last for days.

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Beachbumming : Typical way for your child to let go of her steam.

5.On Childcare and Hired Help for Families

A typical Kuwaiti family with 3 children or more has 2 Housemaids ,1 driver  and maybe 1 Nanny to focus mainly with the baby.  It’s very common to have a hired help to take care of your child. Most children grew up with a Nanny. For Expat parents  who are both working full-time , they can put their child on Nursery & Daycare center depending on their choice. Oftentimes, you see a full entourage of babies with their uniformed Nannies in the mall while their Mothers are busy shopping and bumming their asses in the mall drinking coffee or in the salon maybe. Most of the time, if you go on a playgroups, It’s depressing to see only maids with the little ones.

I find it so  important to have a network of friends and mothers who have children same age as your child to survive ,especially on hot summers. I am grateful for friends to  visit and arrange play dates with my daughter. It is a lifesaver!

6.On lack of Discipline & Public Child Tantrums

I don’t know why but here I often see many child  throwing tantrums in Public. In malls, parks , supermarkets, and restaurants.I find it sad to see some children throwing garbage out from their cars, or on the ground as they please. I don’t see much politeness either. Little children seldom say Please or Thank you to waiters or strangers.This is on my personal encounters. But I am always glad whenever I see kids showing good character in public. I remembered that all Filipino children were taught to say “Po” and the Mano po tradition with the ones older than them. This is far by non-existent here.

7.On Easy Access to Beachfront , the beach can be your playground.

Having an access to the beach within 5 minutes from your home is really a treat . I feel lucky that as I open our bedroom window, we have a direct view of the Arabian gulf. This really gives us an opportunity to take our daughter for a spin in her stroller, on having lazy morning walks during weekends and playing in the sand. Kuwait doesn’t have much of beautiful nature to boast, so living near the beach is good if you have kids. I mean it’s healthy . Green lawns are scarce and looking for a convenient playground with lots of greens is like searching for pearls.There are various playgrounds & indoor play areas, you just need to have patience to find them. In every local area,there is a playground so it’s quite easy. But don’t expect much of it.

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Exploring in the park

8.On family Outings during Fridays

Friday is the rest day for all of  Kuwait. This is the Ruhetag version of Germany’s Sunday ‘s quiet  day. It’s so  heartwarming to see the whole family prepping early for a beach trip, picnic in the park or camp in the desert. Kids flocked to playgrounds, during hot summers they mostly stay indoors or  spend a day in the Mall. Here, both parents are so involved. I oftentimes saw fathers playing with their kids and totally hands-on. Kuwait boasts of their big Malls. The Avenues is an example of a great family destination especially when its hot outside. It is designed to  become a one stop destination for the whole family. It has  an astounding beautiful Play areas for kids while you get busy shopping or meeting friends. It has the amazing Kidzania, the Magic planet with its minimalist design, Baroue, & Color Me Mine are among others to keep your child entertained and parents as well. It’s a great place to just  relax and bond with your family.

9.On Disturbed bedtime

How crazy it is to see a baby out in the park until midnight? You see children playing in the beachfront at night. Only in here that I see kids riding their bikes in the dark, toddlers playing in the sand until 2 am in the morning enjoying a family midnight picnic. During Ramadan , people  spend so much time outside at night. I grew up having our bed times set at 8 pm , except on weekends that we are allowed to watch TV and stay up late. In Kuwait, going out with your kids at 9 pm is normal. I stick to my routine with my daughter to put her to bed on time and especially not to disturb her nap times.

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Raising your child as Third Culture Kid (TCK)

10. On Safety Issues for Children

In Kuwait , I find it relatively safe & crime rate is at par, but as parents we can’t compromise their safety . While in Europe that you can let loose your child in the streets and go home from school by themselves, here its a totally different story. It is not safe to leave your child to play in the streets alone , especially if you live near a highway. There are no sidewalks or safe path walks  and  cars are speeding up even on residential areas. Besides , There is the garbage problem that you don’t want your child to expose . There is a school just 5 minutes away from our building, it doesn’t even have a pedestrian zone.

As an Expat Mama,  I have learned that no matter where you are, Parenthood is a distinct journey to self-discovery. You get to know more of yourself as you go through with it. Becoming a parent is a privilege, and not a right. It is a wonderful blessing. Indeed consider yourself blessed if you have a child on your lap and if you have been on the journey of raising them. If there’s one thing that I learned as I go on this journey of Motherhood, it’s this :

‘You get two big windows of opportunity in your life to do stuff like build castles, play in the dirt, lick pebbles, & just play ; The first is when you are a Child, the second is when you have ONE. ‘

Don’t get too wrapped up to missed it.

Are you an Expat Mama?  How is Parenting done in your country or in the place you live  at the moment? How are you coping so far ?

Do you find any surprising things about Parenthood? I would love to hear your own story.

 

 

Kuwait :From an expat point of view

I came to Kuwait in May 2008 totally ignorant about this country. Yes,i know about Saddam’s invasion but i haven’t got any clue what to expect from this country. You see, sometimes, when you make big changes in your life, it’s so spontaneous that you embrace it enough to get it through your skin overnight. Now, for almost 8 years of living and working in this small, yet oil-rich country, Kuwait has been close to my heart. My second home. I have embraced the Kuwaiti way of life, Muslim culture, the real heat during Summers , the fierce Sandstorms, the Authentic brightness of the sun, and the parenthood in this culture.

I’m telling you, Kuwait is not your typical tourist destination .If i were a tourist, i would never put Kuwait in my Bucket List. Why?  No nightlife, No public partying, no alcohol, not much “Green Nature “ to see here, (yeah there is Desert), No Pork! Public Transportation is bad, besides,who would want to go out in the scorching  heat? Kuwait is totally dormant especially during Ramadan. It doesn’t have an appealing profile in Wikipedia, or  in Tripadvisor. But still, there are approximately 2.4 Million expats living here.People are attracted to go to Kuwait  mainly to earn money. People go here to work, and this is  from my own perspective.

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Kuwait Towers.The Symbolic Architectural Heritage of Kuwait.

Now from the moment you step out of the plane and out from the Airport, you inhaled Kuwait. The air you breathe in  is different. The heat & humidity is quite a shock to most foreigners .The heat is real. It could stung your skin. If you come here during the months of May to August,then you might really praise the invention of Airconditioning.You cannot survive here without an AC. When people complained to me that they have hot temperatures, i shrug & always said,“Do you know how it feels to have 50 deg temps?“Getting used to the heat is one of the hurdles you need to overcome. A good pair of Sunglasses is also a  must-have. Never ever come here during Summer!!

As we all know, Kuwait is an Islamic country. Arabic is the main language spoken although English is widely understood by  Kuwaitis .Paperworks in Ministries are all in Arabic so it’s a nerve-wrenching experience to deal with them if you don’t understand it.Prayertimes are widely observed.Every place has it’s own Mosque (Masjid).I have seen cars parked in the middle of the highway, just because the driver needs to pray.I have seen my colleagues pray together, inside the mall,in the park, even in the island of a Roundabout.

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Kuwait Skyline showing modern Skycrapers like Al Hamra Tower.

 

In Europe, where in it is  pedestrian-friendly, the car stops to give way to the pedestrians .In Kuwait, the cars and its drivers rules !Maniac drivers are the King of the Road most especially in the major highways. I saw men driving with  kids in the driver’s seat,no seatbelts,annoyingly feet up on the dashboard,mobile phones are stucked on their cheeks!People are even driving on New Year’s Eve. I often wonder what in the world they are doing spending all their time driving around. Social status is also depends on the car that you drive. Swerving and cutting lanes is common and mostly causes accidents. Driving in Kuwait is not for the faint-hearted. Autobahn in Germany has no speed limit, yet the percentage of road accidents is lower compared to Kuwait who has speed limits set,  yet has a high road-accident rate .Kuwait has broken the world record of number of  traffic deaths.Not really the kind of record to be proud of.

I don’t know why but only in Kuwait that Men stared a LOT.I mean, its really crazy and uncomfortable the way people stares. I would believed that you could get so much attention if you are a Celebrity or a supermodel walking along the street and wearing flashy outfit! Don’t forget that Kuwait is a Muslim country and although Non-Muslim women here are not required to wear the Abaya, they are expected to dressed conservatively. I noticed that Kuwaiti women are fashion & beauty-conscious. They love the glamour & glittery lifestyle. Their wardrobe are always trendy and up to date with fashion . Of course, they have money to splurge on make up , clothes & everything. There’s never too expensive for them. You can always see fashionable women totally made-up even on a very laid back environment just like grocery shopping. International brands flocked in Kuwait’s top malls like The Avenues. From designer shoes to bags, they wear it even going to supermarkets. It’s no wonder also that Kuwaiti women are one of the top users of make up.I mean,they really wear it.Loads of it.Everyday.The number of salons both for men & women are more than the number of gasoline stations.

For most expats working here, An attractive salary offer without any taxes is the top reason to stay. Utilities are minimal. But the high cost of housing is getting higher due to rise in Expat population.If you are working from a private sector then you have benefits like Free Healthcare, Accommodation ,Transportation and Annual vacation leaves with Airfare .But sad to say that most disturbing inhuman acts of molestation and abuse for domestic workers are also coming from here.It breaks my heart to hear many stories of ‘Kabayans’ who are victims of injustice .I have high respect for these women who really work hard  just to provide for their families. In Kuwait , modern slavery is prevalent.

When i was new here, “Diwaniya”caught my attention. It’s totally Kuwaiti.  Every Kuwaiti household  have a  Diwaniya area,mainly a hall or Annex from their reception area for the purpose of meeting & gathering with male friends,colleagues and guests. This tradition is traced back since immemorial. The men usually dressed in their Dishdashas discussing various topics while relaxing,casual smoking,drinking tea,Arabic coffee & Sheesha, nibbling sweets or dates .I find it cozy with their beautiful soft cushions.

As an Expat , I could RANT a lot more about bad things about Kuwait, But then I would be a hypocrite to say that these things are absent in Philippines, in The Netherlands or even in the US.Every country has its own issues.  Maybe the extremities are different but injustice & social problems are prevalent anywhere.There is no such thing as perfect place. As an expat, I have learned to accept this country, with its flaws and everything, After all,it is my own freewill to be here. It doesn’t mean that I approve of the rudeness, Hypocrisy, Wasta System, Modern Slavery and Racism but Generalization is complete ignorance.

I have read lots of hate blogs about Kuwait. It’s like spitting it out as a vomit. So many hate and disgust in their words. Kuwait have wounded their hearts. People have the right to voice out their own opinions and some have low tolerance of anything that pisses them off. It may not work for you, but it doesn’t mean that it couldn’t work for others. I have known kind and decent Kuwaitis so in the end, I tried to keep an open mind and looked on the positive side ;

KUWAIT –A country with distinct heritage.Has a stable currency and one of the richest country as per Capita terms. Kuwaitis are more liberal and westernized compared to other Arab countries.Their government is progressive.Yes,their lifestyle is grand,and spend like crazy ,living in big villas & mansions, but they have the money to spend. They can afford the luxurious life.They have Oil and the State owns it.They are endowed.When a Kuwaiti marries,the government gave money .Education is free.NO TAXES!Gas prices as 70 fils (around 0.25 USD) per liter.Expats bring their families here and settled.One way or another,they know that life is better here compared to their home country.Or else they would have left already.

For those expats  in Kuwait, they have a reason to still stay here. For those who have left already, they’ve had also a reason to go away.

I hope i have given you an idea what to expect as an expat in Kuwait. But how about you, How is your experience as an Expat ? If you like this post, please feel free to hit the like button below & share it. I would also love to hear  your comments below.

 

Again, Thank you for stopping by !