The taste of Dusk | Evanescent

“Dawn comes slowly, but Dusk is rapid..”

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My Expat Life : One fine but swift taste of Dusk in Kuwait

If you live in the Middle East, like for example in Kuwait, you would probably shun the abundance of the sun, but I have never met a sunset that I did not like. With the heat during summer that rises up to 52 degrees C, and that needs to getting used to, the mild 25~30 degrees now that we have here in Germany feels like a tropical summer sans the humidity.But in real life, it’s impossible to completely divorce our perceptions of the sun scenes from our awareness of the hour. These times are both crucial, first getting ready to start our day and the latter is ending it, rushing to get home.

How do you really know the taste of dawn from the taste of dusk?

Back then I used to live in a flat located at the upper floors and I always enjoy watching the sun rising up, slowly, sluggard as the date trees swaying on an early morning dawn. I could take lots of photos while enjoying it changing the horizon from reddish, purplish, to burnt oranges. We have large windows and during sunset, I love the way our place is filled with these colors. A sweet and yet swift moments to enjoy.

I love jogging along the Arabian Gulf on early mornings and watch the sun’s  masterpiece almost every weekend and when I have the chance. If not, our bedroom window is like a giant screen showcasing this beauty. With the sea in the backdrop, life back in Kuwait is full of precious, evanescent  sunsets.

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A fiery show in the sky during dusk here in Bavaria during Fall.

But then thorough watching dusk is a different thing. Or is it only me who notices this. Now I have written before why I adore watching  sunrises and sunsets in my life, whenever I have the chance and wherever. In different place, there is a different magic that happens when the sun sets. It is a swift, rapid, retreat. From coming home from work, I can watch the sky while the sun sets, or when I passes by the sea nearby our home or watch the boats docked in the harbor create a magical atmosphere, like a graffiti artist burst his colors on his canvas. Here in Germany, where we have 9PM sunsets , more often I am too tired to stay outside to watch it or I am too caught up with putting my daughter to bed.

I have read an interesting article how to distinguish the difference of dawn from dusk. I couldn’t really tell if its true or not but it says that the first is in our heads. At sunset, our eyes are daylight adapted and may even be a bit weary from the day’s work, or eyes might be strained already. As the light fades, we cannot adapt as fast as the sky darkens. Some hues may be lost or perceived in a manner peculiar to sunset. At sunrise, however, the night’s darkness has left us with very acute night vision and every faint, minor change in the sky’s color is evident. In short, you may perceive more colors at dawn than at dusk. [Red-Green & Blue-Yellow: The Stunning Colors You Can’t See]

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As swift as a ride back home, the skies changes into a rapid kaleidoscope of colors.

Great thing to know, right?

I’m sure if you are a keen observer, you will distinguish these colors, as evanescent they might be.

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Watching my life away during sunsets in Kuwait

The most important thing is, a peaceful sunset, watching the sun sets can really change the way you feel about your day, a proof that any bad day can still end up beautifully. This is by far the best mantra that I wanna keep.

Do you love this post?

If so, when was the last time you have let yourself get lost in watching the sun sets and tasting Dusk?

This post was inspired by this week’s DP Photo Challenge |Evanescent

Only in Kuwait!

 

 

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Only in Kuwait | by Justbluedutch

Why Kuwait is such a controversial country? It’s a tiny oil-rich magnet in the Gulf and yet  holds a profound mystery for some who haven’t been there, and a nonchalant charm for Expats who have toiled there every single day.The other day I was reading the recent study by Internations citing that Kuwait (along with Nigeria & Greece )  is still on the bottom sink for “Worst Country for Expats “. I dunno how to feel about this but somehow, I knew, stats are based on facts too. I , for example, how is it to live there day after day.

Being an Expat allows you to see things in both ways. More of a culture shock for some but normally it is how you  see things, accepting it  and adapting to a new culture. Integration happens when you began to pick it up and live with it , and not for the sake of  comparison to your own roots. I have seen strange things in Kuwait. Some that is so odd that makes me crazy.Who doesn’t? For locals, it all seems normal for them.Nothing to argue about. As simple as : If you don’t like it here –pack your bags & Leave!

I think anybody comes to the Netherlands , or in Germany, even in Philippines would also have something to say about the “not so ordinary “in their eyes as an Expat. Looking back at the 8 years I spent in Kuwait, for some things I don’t really get why and How on earth they are doing it. I have written the Guide to Expating in Kuwait and for those who are new to this country’s arid climate “How to beat the heat in Kuwait “ you might as well chuckle with me as you know exactly how is it .

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Shuno Hada! No Parking , both in Arabic & English signages. What are these cars doing in here?

1.Only in Kuwait that the Handicapped parking spaces are seized by ordinary people.Even the ones with a clear signage.Only in Kuwait that you could be beaten by a mob because of a dispute in a parking lot. Why do I get the feeling that pedestrians never felt safe along roads in Kuwait. Sure thing, SUV rules!

2. I love coffee, absolutely but I don’t get it why they drink tea almost every hour and drink coffee or Arabic coffee {gahwah}  in small cups 3 rounds in one sitting. Why not just get a mug? Did you know that only in Kuwait that a tea boy is called “Office Boy”?

Did you know that in the Avenues alone, ( the largest super mall there) there are 6 Starbucks , in all over Kuwait there are 76 branches! I am sure this list will be updated soon. I tell you, people there always need  a caffeine fix. What about Costa Coffee, Coffee Bean & Leaf, Caribou, Second Cup,Tim Hortons etc., the lists go on.

Coffee and Tea in Kuwait will never get boring. So as the sweets, cakes & pastry shops!

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I swear this is a typical scenario in the streets of Kuwait!

3.I don’t understand why  maniacal drivers  put up their feet on the dashboard and let babies do the steering. Is it the new toy?  In 120-140 km/h.In the Gulf road, and some things that this speed is still so lame!

Yes, without seat belt.

Wearing seat belt seems like more of an offensive rather than defensive. Taxi drivers have 2-3 phones being used simultaneously WHILE Driving! It’s a bonus if you found one having Skype calls to any point in the world. You have the whole story all throughout your ride.

4.Seriously it’s only in Kuwait where I saw camels, sheep, lamb & goats being transported and paraded in the highway. Especially in the busy roads of Al- Ghazali  road going to Shuwaikh, in front of a shopping mall Centerpoint.  I know the Friday market is out there but still, it is an odd sight for me. It’s a thing when you see these poor animals paraded to slaughterhouse. Right there, in front of your car. You can even smell the camels from your window.Way to the desert area, you see camels strutting their stuff in the roads going to Wafra /Kabd /Khiran/Abdali area and yet you don’t see any road sign for you to watch out for animals.

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Sabah al kheir Kuwait! Camel herd in Wafra farms.

5.People don’t mind incorrect spelling of signage of shops, menus of the restaurant and even directions. You’re so smart if you figure it out yourself. Well as for food, you need to eat like a local for you to know where is the best Shawerma or best done kebab & grilled stuff. With burgers, people seems to know where it is no matter what the hour is.

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Only in Kuwait. laundry shop in Abraq Khaitan.

6.The make up Oh God. Talk about make-up and Loads of it. I have never seen that much heavily make-up women here in Europe, but only in Kuwait that women wears make up even going to a Bakala in 50 degrees .

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One Authority of the Soft small / big please?

7.Only in Kuwait that the sky changes from bluish to grey to orange to brown to almost pitch black due to sandstorms. But sometimes, this mighty M is always visible.

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Watching the sandstorm looms over McDonald’s.

 

How are things over there? Do you also  find ‘Strange’ things such as these?

How do you deal with it? I would love to hear your comments .

Be it from food, behavior of people, how locals interact with you, customs and traditional way of life, at work, even just the country itself.You really see diversity at large. Kuwait is one small country but booming with Expats you it’s no wonder that you can find an Asian store right next to the block next to an Indian restaurant and opposite to a Turkish pastry shop and just a few meters away to an American boutique. A Kaleidoscope indeed.

For the new Expats in Kuwait, welcome and enjoy your stay.

Are you on Twitter, Follow my Expat life escapades in my Twitter page Here !

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Only in Kuwait : National Water Gun Spraying Day

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Two Days of Terror

Here we go again,  In a few days its the National Water Gun Spraying Day in Kuwait. The Two days of Terror !

Unfortunately, we live almost 10 minutes away from the Arabian Gulf, I could see from our bedroom window the long coast of the beach and during this holiday, The Gulf road becomes a battleground during the celebration of National Day & Liberation Day  in Kuwait. Battleground for what?

The Gulf strip is known to be one crazy Battleground for car-maniac driving & being attacked by water gun- spraying teenagers ( Sorry, also adults included !)

If you think that this looks & sounds fun, then hold on for a minute. It’s not. 20 years ago, Kuwaitis celebrates the National Day & Independence day (February 25-26 )   by commemorating their liberation from Iraqi invasion. Kuwait TV airs shows that depicts the memories of the war & the celebration is focused mainly on nationalistic pride activities such as throwing party confettis in the air and having the nationalistic parades. Everything is synchronized harmony. Its a celebration where everyone can have a great time without any harm & injury. Its something that both young & old look forward to see, and to spend outdoors. The whole family can look forward to a weekend  holiday with full of fun, colorful carnivals & parades and can drive safely & go home in one piece. That was a history.

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Kuwait Liberation & National day

Kuwaitis wanted more fun.

This day had been notorious for spraying foam on your cars while driving.  If you’re an Expat or just a normal pedestrian walking in the street, you might be their next & favorite target.  A not-so-good kind of Fun that results in injuries and damage. Fortunately, the MOI ( Ministry of Interior ) had banned the use of this foam & impose strict fines. But then, Kuwaitis have re-invented the game.This day turned into a National Water gun spraying Day. I’m telling you, you don’t want to make mess with these kids & teenagers who line up in the street to give you a bath and attacked you. I see this as a form of attack since they do it deliberately, with the intention of doing their thing without thinking the consequences. Last year, I was so dumb to bring out my baby to take a stroll in the beach. It was crazy! They literally would open your car windows and shoot you with their foams and it becomes worst that they even re-invent the foam, they opt to use spray paint. More & more people are complaining about the problem caused by this. Nobody is happy with this 2 days of terror.Except maybe the vendor of water guns.Its the season where their sales goes on high. No wonder so many opt to travel out of the country during this holidays or better, staying in indoors.

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Shooting Kids : Typical Fun during Liberation Day

I don’t know but this is not just my idea of fun. National Day definitely doesn’t give you the freedom ticket to harm anyone just because you think its your way of having fun & the norm of celebration. For those of you who are new to Kuwait then you might find this fascinating since this is new to your eyes.Be warned though. Just make sure you are well prepared when you leave your home.

As an Expat here, I am with Kuwait wholeheartedly , congratulating the whole nation for another year of Freedom. I wish that we could have a deeper sense of appreciating this country without the loud & harmful water toy gun & sprays.

Kuwait Expat Survival Tip :

  1. Don’t be a moron and be a  reckless street sprayers lined up along Gulf Road attacking even small children & babies.
  2. Think before you spend that 5 KD on that water toy gun. Is it really worth it?
  3. Don’t ever think of going to Gulf Road. Aside from the Relentless Sprays, it will be jam packed & lots of traffic.
  4. It will be a long weekend, and there are lots of activities & worthwhile celebration going on around Kuwait, find where you will have a sense of relaxation.

Happy Liberation Day Kuwait! Mabrook !

 

 

Diwaniyas: Kuwait’s own culture

If there’s anything that stands out from Kuwaiti culture up to these modern times, Its their DIWANIYA. When I first came to here, I was keen on observing Kuwaiti lifestyle and habits and especially the local lingo of many things. Diwaniya   is  also one of the first  Arabic words I have learned.

Right in the street of where I used to lived, I often see Kuwaiti men gathering together in their Diwaniya area, an extension from their Villa’s front yard. It becomes a common sight so I start to wonder what is  this type of gathering  and what’s the use of it. I have never seen this habit in Holland or in local areas in Philippines.

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Kuwaiti Diwaniyas evolved from traditional tents with seating pillows or cushions.

What is exactly a Diwaniya?

Diwaniya is a traditional culture of Kuwaitis that literally means “To gather together , or a place of assembly , parlour, Hall or lounge “. It originates from Arabic word “Diwan “ which means the place where the Amir meets his subjects and listens to their concerns. Now every household in Kuwait has its separate hall that serve as the Diwaniya where the Kuwaiti men receives his male guests. Kuwaiti Diwaniyas evolved from the traditional tents with seating pillows, into solid building with modern interiors. Nowadays, sophisticated Diwaniyas emerges with modern facilities which normally the setting for gatherings, public functions or political agendas.

The diwaniya include a main sitting place, called “Diwan”. Doors of the diwan overlook the internal hall that is comfortably furnished for guests. There are many cushions arranged in a specific way to be used as seats and armrests. The floor is covered with woven Persian carpets. The diwaniya, also, contains utensils for preparing coffee, which is redolent with cardamom. Using a special brazier, this coffee is prepared either on the far side of the diwan or in a small annexed room. Coffee preparing utensils consist of graduated sizes of brass coffeepots with lids and long beaked spouts called “Dallal”. Coffee is served in small cups made of pottery. Either the owner  prepares the coffee himself for guests or he hires a servant to do this job for him. This is why a Teaboy is an in-demand job in Kuwait.

Diwaniya in Kuwait has preserved its importance in the social, political and economic life. Today, diwaniya is considered of the important social institutes that play influential role in the democratic and parliamentary life. It became a referential indicator and place where many decisions were made. The number of the Diwaniyas increased to the extent that one Diwaniya or more can be found in every street. Some of them receive guests daily, others receive guests for only one or two days per week, and others receive guests only on special occasions.But definitely this is a daily part of Kuwaiti culture that has been passed from generations to generations. For well-off Kuwaiti families, a Diwaniya hall is a luxurious setting, and to be invited into it is quite an experience.

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Typical scene of Kuwaiti gathering together in Outdoor lounges,parlours or simply referred to as “Diwaniyas “.

The general atmosphere of diwaniyas became similar to that of social clubs, cultural and literary forums and political salons. Some of these modern diwaniyas are equipped with television sets, radios, satellite dishes, computers and phones. Other diwaniyas set themselves goals to achieve, like sports, economic, political. In the past , Diwaniyas plays an integral part of the candidate or politician running in election in Kuwait ministry. This is the hub for all opinions & informal discussions.They plan schedules and set dates to reach their goals. Others declare topics for discussion days before receiving guests.The public Diwaniyas are open for Expatriates,usually men gather together to chat any topic under the sun during their leisure times.

Historically, Diwaniya is exclusively for men only, but nowadays, a mixed gender Diwaniya are quite a norm or even the Women only Diwaniya. An example is the “Al Duaij Diwaniya of Qadsiya “ which welcomed a mixed gender audience of Westerners, US soldiers,  & Embassy staffs  that are based in Kuwait gather together to share views about Arab & Western culture.

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Typically Kuwaiti  : men in Dishdashas  in their Diwaniya

So if you’re in Kuwait and you heard the term Diwaniya, then you know that its simply means “Let’s get together & have a drink “!

What particular culture you appreciate in the country  you’re living in right now?

A Sandstorm experience in Kuwait

I often asked our office janitor why he doesn’t clean the windows. He replied : ” Its no use, it will be dusty again tomorrow “. It makes sense, right?

One word to describe Kuwait is Sandstorms (also known in Arabic as Shamal ).  Its plural because they come more often especially during Summer. After years of living here, I realized that its not only on the culture aspect an Expat get a shock, but also on the weather. If you are an Expat in Kuwait I am sure you know what I’m talking about.

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“A huge ‘wall of sand’ engulfs a city in Kuwait. This type of sandstorm is also known as ‘haboob’, derived from the Arabic word for ‘strong wind’ (Photo Credit: Rizalde Cayanan)”

The weather in Kuwait is arid, dust is part of the air you breathe when its dusty, literally. This is the practical & functional reasons why Arab men wear Ghutra & Dishdasha and women wore Niqab, Burqa, Hijab & Abayas. These type of clothing serves as protection from the harsh winds, dust & heat. The weather is totally extreme. When its hot, its really HOT. And when its dry winter, temperatures during this time could reach 0° C. The highest ever temperature recorded in Kuwait was 53.8 °C (128.8 °F) at Sulaibiya on July 31, 2012 which is the highest recorded temperature in Asia and also the third highest in the world. Try to imagine how people deal with this heat during Ramadan.

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Arab men wearing Ghutra as protection from strong winds & dust
My first experience of Sandstorm is still very vivid. I was at work when it happened. It was already a bit dusty and windy but around 7am the sky slowly turning into grey, into dark brown, into light orange, and suddenly it was really dark. I could hear the loud sound of the wind gushing through the windows & banging in the doors. I couldn’t see anything from the large window in my office.  I don’t have a smartphone yet during that time so I wasn’t able to capture it . It lasted for a few minutes and gradually it started to clear again. The dusty weather lasted for about 3-4 days. In some cases, it could last longer. Throughout the day, its dusty so everywhere in the building is dusty.

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Low Visibility during Sandstorm in Kuwait
I remember one time that while we are on the road, we cannot see further and the cars need to stop. I felt different emotions during those times. I felt sick, suffocated, surprised, amazed and yet excited to see all of these happening before my eyes. It was all new to me.

But then I get used to it eventually through the years. When I noticed from the window that its dusty, I brought an extra scarf and I have mask when going to work. I have learned to accept that it’s part of life here. When its dusty weather, you can’t enjoy outdoors. You cancel your plans. Nobody wants to walk outside while its raining dust. It could drain you physically as well as its not healthy to expose yourself into it. The funny thing is, its very common that its dusty on weekends, I don’t know why.

Here’s an interesting piece about Sandstorms in Kuwait.

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This photo was  taken in Kuwait during sandstorm &  was shortlisted from over 10,000 entries for the competition, Environmental Photographer of the Year award. For us who are used to this view, this view is quite normal  but to the majority of the world it looks exceptional and scary. In total , they have 111 photos that have been selected and they all tell a unique story. There’s a website just for this award you can check out [here].

Travel Tip :

Just in case you have plans to move to Kuwait, make sure you have a decent bandana, scarf or mask in your luggage. You will need it. When you arrive in Kuwait between April ~October, I tell you, it is HOT. You will already be sweating once you reached the carpark so make sure you dress light.

How about you, Do you have any weather shock story ?