Monday, 17 December 2012

Wanted: A Purpose-Driven Life

I always thought that being a teacher meant that I was giving back to society in a modest, yet meaningful way. Teaching in Kuwait has taught be me that being an instructor here means nothing to anyone, including some co-workers (perhaps this is just at my corporation). I know that as a teacher I walk around in a stupidly optimistic bubble pretending that I actually do something worthwhile. Ironically, as I walk around in my idiotic bubble, I simultaneously doubt my ability to teach effectively. As I’m sure you can guess simply from the country I’m in, I’m not simply teaching teenage girls English. Sometimes I feel like a mama duck with her little ducklings following her around. Somehow I still feel like my work is menial. Perhaps this is a discussion better left for another time? Yes.

On a somewhat related note, my flatmate has quit our company and will be leaving next Thursday to return to Poland before moving with her partner to Switzerland. Onto bigger and better things is she! I will have the flat to myself for a full month before I move in with one of my Lebanese co-workers who lives a few floors above us. I love living on my own, but I’ve really enjoyed having a flatmate (she’s my first), and I can already tell that “good-bye” is going to break my heart. My goal was to keep everyone at a distance and I have honestly succeeded…Except with my flatmate. We share a lot of the same morals, values and beliefs about what is truly important in life. She’s taught me so much! We have shared certain secrets that no one else here knows about and we have done some crazy things here that have bonded us forever.

One of my co-workers who has worked at the school longer than we have (she’s a halfie, too!!! She’s half Kuwaiti and half Libyan), suggested that we go out for a farewell-ish dinner. So, off we went to the Avenues to try out BENIHANA on Saturday evening! OHHH, YEAH! After my disappointment at Sakura, I wasn’t sure whether or not I should allow myself to get psyched about Benihaha. This weekend was a weird one for me. Friday I ran like mad and upped my jogging time (for a few intervals at the end), and also increased the length of time I ran for (from 30 minutes to 40). Because of the intense run I was exhausted and spent the afternoon working and the evening chatting with my friend in Oman. I awoke the Saturday to a dead iPod (NO WAY AM I RUNNING WITHOUT MUSIC), and a version of iTunes that doesn’t let me simply drag and drop music onto my iPod (what?!? How the heck do I get music onto my iPod with the 11.0 version of iTunes??? Curse you, Apple!). I was NOT a happy camper. As soon as my iPod finally recharged I gave up on figuring out how to put music onto it and went for a walk outside since there were people in the gym and I’m too intimidated to work out in front of others.

I hadn’t planned on walking outside, but it was nice to be outside and enjoy some, er, “fresh” air. I love being outside and I know people here think I’m crazy for spending time outdoors, but like Emi says: “I make no pretense of being normal. I’m not.” After my walk-jog, I quickly jumped into the shower; I had a dinner party to get myself ready for! As I was getting myself all dolled up, my flatmate asked, “Miki, would you do my make-up for me tonight?” Had my excitement at having an excuse to get all dressed up rubbed off on her? Pershmaps. I did her make-up and we chatted so much that we lost track of time-oooops! I rushed to finish my own make-up and get dressed up, new, fancy boots and all. That’s right. I bought myself some new boots. TWO pairs to be exact. Awesome. If you’re in Kuwait, Nine West has already put a lot of their stock on sale. I’ve been told that sales before Christmas in Kuwait are huge and items can be up to 80% off! Warning: Mikiko should avoid malls at all cost. I’m not a big shopper, but shoes are DEFINITELY a weakness.

Boots at Nine West: both pairs were 12kd each (less than $45CAD!!!!!)!!!!
Running behind, we went to pick up the Georgians (also co-workers) from their apartment and to meet our Kuwaiti/Libyan co-worker at the restaurant. We arrived to quite a quiet Benihana. No matter. We quickly ordered dishes (reasonably priced) and were soon entertained by our chef who cooked our non-sushi dishes on the grill in front of us. He was incredibly sweet and funny. My co-worker noticed that although our chef was going above and beyond to entertain us (she watched other chefs throughout the night and none of the other chefs were joking around and doing crazy tricks), we were entertaining the few other patrons in the restaurant. We must have looked like a sight: five women, two Georgian, one Polish, one Kuwaiti/Libyan and a Japanese Canadian all laughing loudly, chatting, oooo-ing and ahhhh-ing! Sushi, yakisoba, green tea ice cream and tempura ice cream later, I thought I was going to explode. The food was substantially better than Sakura and I love the atmosphere at Benihana!!! Is it the real deal? Well, it’s pretty darn close. *Insert Mik smiling* Maybe it was the company. Maybe it was the food. Maybe it was both, but for the first time in a long time I felt like I wasn’t away from home. It was scary and exciting at the same time because I realized that I could really live here. No, not the forever kind of live here, but the kind that I could do for awhile. No, it’s not Japan. But Canada isn’t Japan either. However, Japan isn’t Canada. I sound like an idiot. Kuwait is not Canada, nor is Canada Kuwait…Obviously. What I’m trying to get across (and doing quite terribly), is that it’s incredible for me to realize that this foreign place can feel like home.

The table setting

The restaurant's creation/solution for the other halfie who can't use chopsticks, lol!

Mmmmm! Maki sushi!!! Sakeno to ebi tempurano!

The sliced onion/erupting volcano concoction!

Watashino ebi yakisoba! My shrimp yakisoba!

Dessert: tempura ice cream

My dessert: green tea ice cream (nihoncha ice creamwa daiskuiiiiiiiii!!!!)

Getting involved with doing secret Santa has also given my mood a boost. My flatmate decided not to take part in the whole thing since she’s decided to leave. Where did that leave me? With HER secret Santa: My Lebanese friend whose husband is from London (Ontario, Canada-my hometown). I ended up giving La Lune (her nickname), the homemade hot chocolate mix: forgot to take a picture of it, but it is definitely tasty. OKAY, I HAD to be QC (quality control), as well as baker extraordinaire because my chocolate-loving flatmate wasn’t around to help me (not that I’m blaming her; she had to go to work, lol!). I dumped the mix into a nice container and topped it off with mini marshmallows. I was able to drop it off while La Lune was teaching. My flatmate saw La Lune notice the present after class, and La Lune broke out a big smile! Priceless. Next up? A funny gift. Check. I’m super duper excited to give it to her!!!

I love my co-workers. Yes, of course there are people who I don’t jive with. Overall though, I genuinely LIKE everyone, and I love 95% of them! I was bonding with one of the Turks who offered to make me some Turkish coffee (which, of course, the Arabs claim is theirs and the Greeks claim is theirs. LOL). So off we went to the kitchenette to make me some Turkish coffee. I just thought she was going to make me some coffee and that was it. Turkish coffee is boiled with water and sugar in a small pot and brought to a boil and then cooled before being boiled and cooled a few more times. My co-worker instructed me to drink it and then flip the cup over (with all the grounds in the bottom of it). The coffee was soooo tasty!!! It was strong, flavourful and aromatic. I LOVED it!!! Afterwards, my co-worker came back and told me she’d read the grounds for me. She’d read what?!? She shook the cup so that all the excess grounds came out of the cup. She inspected the cup and opened with asking if I knew if someone close to me, like my sister, is pregnant. I was thinking, “Dear God, I hope not!” Negative Miki: hold your tongue! I answered that although I had a few friends who’d recently given birth and who are pregnant now, no one in my family (to the best of my knowledge) is pregnant. She sat quiet and pensive for awhile. I waited anxiously because even though I’m not really into this stuff it’s still fun to have someone who knows what they’re doing predict your future. She finally started talking about my life and future, and boy did she ever read into it! She hit the nail on the head as I sat pretending not to be stunned. After going on for about fifteen minutes she looked up at me and I was speechless. I didn’t want to confirm what she’d said was accurate because then I would have admitted things about myself that I wasn’t comfortable sharing, but I thought, “I hope that what she said comes true.” Change is in the air and much sooner than I’d anticipated. Let us hope it’s for the best because I’m sick and tired of feeling melancholy because I’m living a life without purpose. There has to be more to life than loss and disappointment. I feel like living in Kuwait has rejuvenated my spirit in some ways. Surprised? Me, too! It’s time to start moving forward and taking risks. No, not of the heart, of course. Never. Again.


  1. When I read the price of the boots I was like "12?! I pay more than that for a latte here!" But then I noticed the conversion. Haha daft old me.

    The Japanese restaurant looked so good! Yum, I love green tea anything. Hot, iced, it doesn't matter!

    Do they have Noodle House in Kuwait? Its where my friends and I go for meals out. I don't know, Benhihana reminded me of it. I totally understand that feeling after you go out with friends and have a good time. You just feel so happy.

  2. Gabek: Don't worry! I still have to mentally calculate the conversion to make sure 12kwd is a bargain, hahaha!!!

    In Japan, they always have green tea flavoured sweets everywhere and it's my weakness.

    There is THE Noodle House here...Is it the same chain? Would you mind letting me know? Here's the link:

    Meeting amazing people here has made things so much fun! I'm actually very independent and can be antisocial, but here I've tended to be much more social-a good thing, I hope!

    1. It's the same one. Frankly, the food is only average (and overpriced), but it just became our tradition, so we kept it! haha.

      Being in a new place, social circles will really save you. When I first arrived I just stayed in my house watching TV whenever I had free time. It was extremely unhealthy. Now I always make an effort to befriend new arrivals.

  3. wow, you got boots for 12KD!!?? That is such a great deal! Now you know where I'm going to head to after work today!

    I've always wanted to try out Benhihana. I see it all the time in the Avenues when I'm riding up the escalator but I've never stopped to try it out. I should go.

    1. Layla: GO! They had boots, dress shoes, purses, wallets and coats all on sale! As for Benihana, it's really nice. I want to go back again and try out other dishes. The staff was also incredible!!!

    2. Thank you thank you thank you! I went to the Nine West in Al Fanar straight after work and now I'm the proud owner of a new pair of boots! They were just 14kd.

      I'm usually the last to know about sales like this and by then, all the smaller sizes are sold out. Thank you so much for the heads up about the sale! I've told all my friends about it too!

    3. Layla: No need to thank! It was a happy coincidence I even went shopping in the actual mall (I usually just make a quick grocery stop there).

      If I hear about any deals in the future I'll post them here, deal? *La Senza will be having their BIG sale the second week of January*