Monday, 29 October 2012

The Holidays, Eid Style!


I’m sitting at Starbucks, the Starbucks close to my apartment, on a lazy Saturday afternoon. I’ve already done this once during the break and I loved it. I ordered coffee after coffee while I eagerly read, comforted by the hum of traffic. I was the only person sitting outside, but it was lovely, and once the sun went down, there was an ambiance that was unlike anything else I’ve felt since I’ve been here. That’s when I realized it: I love lounging outside in the sunlight in this country, sipping on coffee, reading my book and listening to my music. Obviously, I stick out like a sore thumb, (for one, no one really even reads books, magazines or newspapers here. I think the other reasons are much more obvious, lol!), but the relaxation that comes with simply sitting in a place with (SOME) greenery, human activity and the entertainment of a good book, well, this is what brings me solace. Why? I have no idea. Maybe it’s the normalcy of simply sitting with a cup of coffee and a book. Perhaps it’s that I feel most like myself when I have the basic comforts of home, or maybe I just love the combination of coffee and novels so much that I feel relaxed and happy anywhere as long as I have the two.

Now, as I lounge, I feel a peacefulness that I have been craving for a long time, a peacefulness that comes from a lack of stress. In all honestly, it’s a lack of financial stress. Sans that pressure, I can enjoy things here in a way that I haven’t been able to enjoy my life in Canada. Sadly, it’s  much easier for me to make a half-decent living here than in Canada. My job, this little journey, has a purpose. Simply put, I want to open a business in Canada, but it is quite a large undertaking. So now I try to juggle teaching, doing research, and finding out how I’m ever going to fund  my ambition. I know that this jaunt to Kuwait is more of a “last hoorah” before I return to Canada and settle down...For another few years until I establish my business, at least. *wink-wink*

In the meantime, I want to enjoy my time here. So yesterday, my Polish flatmate and I headed to The Avenues (mall) with the sole purpose of buying a new blender…Again (her mission), and getting a new foundation and blush (my missions). We looked through Inglot (YES! They have an Inglot here!!!), MAC, Makeup Forever, Boots, Debenhams (a European chain that carries high-end make-up and clothing) and Sephora. Somewhere in between all the shopping, we had lunch outside in a gazebo like structure overlooking a water fountain, palm trees and grass! The restaurant, an Italian spot, was awesome!!! We shared a salad with roasted vegetables and a funghi pizza. We finished with espresso and just enjoyed the sunny weather and quiet patio (not many people like to be outdoors here). To walk off what we'd eaten, we shopped some more!

While we shopped, we got lots of samples since, in Kuwait, you cannot return OR exchange merchandise once you have opened it (we’re definitely luckier in Canada regarding this policy!). We got quite a few samples from disgruntled employees who weren’t happy that we weren’t immediately and unquestioningly purchasing merchandise, but I flat out REFUSE to purchase merchandise that I may not like, that I cannot exchange or return. As per my greatly anticipated Sephora run…Well, it was a very big letdown. It was a tiny shop that barely housed any of the name brands that I’d hoped to have access to. *BIG sigh* One of the employees assured me that by the end of November there would be a bigger selection, but he could tell I was disappointed. A LARGE sample of Marc Jacobs’ perfume, Benefit eye cream and his name and phone number later, I still felt forlorn. My flatmate commented on the customer service rep’s actions; I stayed quiet initially, but then I finally disclosed that I wouldn’t go anywhere near a Middle Eastern man (in a romantic sense). Ever. I don’t know if it was the tone of my voice or my facial expression, but God bless her, she didn’t ask for an explanation and simply dropped the subject while I dropped the samples into my shopping bag and the phone number in the garbage can. That’s when my flatmate turned new, amazing friend suggested we go into Dean & DeLuca. There are no words for what happened next. Who am I kidding?? I will ALWAYS have words! Hahahaha!!

We walked into Dean & DeLuca and I was in culinary heaven!!! To my left was a full kitchen in full swing in the wide open for all to see-including their customers in the restaurant section. To the right was a glorious section of chocolate and candy. I found black licorice AND Allsorts. Be still my heart! I don’t even want to begin listing all of the sweets they had or else I’ll never stop typing! On my left was a beautiful dessert case full of a variety of Turkish Delights, dates (some were even covered in chocolate!), and other sorts of sweet goodness: namoureh, baklava, cupcakes, macaroons and miniature cakes. Straight ahead to the right was a cheese selection that made my flatmate and I cry with joy!!! Next came olives, tapenade, caviar, cured meat and smoked fish…Spices, dips, luxury crackers, cookies, nuts, jams, honey, tea, coffee, pasta and sauces were all snuggled up together. In the back corner was a selection of oils, freshly baked bread, including danishes, croissants and quiche…Oh…I didn’t want to even look because I knew I’d leave broke. So instead I opted for some 60% chocolate with blackberries and milk chocolate with figs for the Irish chef and the Serbian gentleman. I picked up a jar of Allsorts for myself, while I silently apologized to the licorice and promised it I’d soon return. My Polish flatmate settled on fresh bread (she loves her bread), and we headed home. My mini haul: 

Just a few treats! 
The new blender!!!

I assembled the blender as it had been sitting, all alone in its box (my flatmate flat out refused to open it in fear she’d break it), and my flatmate, ecstatic that I didn’t break the blender, enjoyed a smoothie FINALLY! In the afternoon I went to Organica Fish & Chips (I FINALLY got a picture). I was enjoying lunch outside with the Irish chef when I felt something wet on my arm. Afraid of what it might be, I looked down and saw a clear liquid and felt another drop on my head, then my toes and I looked up to droplets of water falling onto my glasses-it was raining! I’ve clearly been without rain for too long since I just stood up and started to laugh while the Irish chef reminded me that my food was getting wet and to get inside. Those who know me will tell you how much I loathe the rain (so much so that I left Victoria, British Columbia). Oooops! I dashed inside with my food and grabbed my camera and went back outside to take photos. I stood under the awning for a few minutes because I wanted to smell the fresh rain scent-something to remind me of home! I’m clearly grasping at straws because it didn’t rain long or hard enough. I returned to my food. It rained again later while I was sipping on a smoothie at The Coffee Bean. I wanted to run outside, but I thought people would laugh, so I merely sat and stared out the window in a trance. Below is a picture of my fish and chips at Organica:

Organica Fish & Chips: exactly what the restaurant name says. It was sooo good! I LOVE the batter. I honestly barely touched the fries. In fact, the Irish chef ate them. I ate TWO pieces of fish :)

The outside patio at Organica Fish & Chips: proof that it rained-enough for us NOT to eat outside. It was still raining when I took this picture.

I had to exchange my foundation (because it was too dark-don’t worry, I didn’t break the seal, just compared it with my current foundation), and the Irish chef wanted to see what all the fuss was about at Dean & DeLuca (D&D), so off we went this (Sunday) morning. I quickly exchanged my foundation (which the store clerk ripped the seal off of) and found myself once again giddy at the sight of D&D! No explanation is needed this time since I took pictures for you!!!

 A shot of registers and back of the pastry case (facing the store entrance)
 Celebrating Halloween: pumpkins were the equivalent of almost $40CAD!
 The candy and some of the chocolate display
 Middle Eastern Sweets #1
 Middle Eastern Sweets #2
 Divine-looking dates #1
Divine-looking dates #2
 
Holy Macaroons!
 Cheese: "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways..."
A carrot cupcake for my flatmate, mint chocolate truffles for the Irish chef, and a sweet dessert (also down below), the name of which I cannot remember, but sooo yummy!!! It had a rose water sauce on it. 

Second little haul: black licorice, "grape jellies," (a.k.a wine gums-because of the alcohol ban, they didn't write their proper name!)!!!!

No more shopping for me for a loooong time! Today, Monday, is my last day off and I'm going to try and get rid of the pounding headache I have :(   Eid Mubarak!

4 comments:

  1. Much enjoyed. Glad you had a good holiday.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Leah! It was an awesome holiday!!!

      Delete
  2. Hey! I've been reading your blog for a while now, and decided to finally comment. I love your blog! Please keep writing! I'm an American expat in Doha btw, so I can relate to a lot of the things you talk about, although I've never heard of the no exchange/return policy. Must be a Kuwait thing.
    Have a nice day :-)

    ReplyDelete
  3. To Gabek:

    Thank you very much for the message! I'm so happy you enjoy reading the blog :) I have friends in Doha and I'm trying to figure out when I can FINALLY go and visit them!

    Yes, the no exchange/return policy is odd to me, too, but it's fine.

    I hope you had a wonderful Eid holiday and that you'll respond again.

    Best,
    Miki

    ReplyDelete