Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Cutting Severed Ties

Please excuse and forgive my rant about the phone company about Rogers (the phone company in Canada). Prior to my rant, I was going out regularly and enjoying the mild weather (uncommon for this time of year I was told). I spent some time with the other halfie which has since stopped. I am not trying to be mean or hurtful, but after an evening out where I felt like I was constantly being attacked I stopped communicating with her altogether. *Sigh* I suppose that as an expat this is bound to happen, but it's still unpleasant.

I’ve been trying to put myself out there more-psychologically and physically. Neither is easy in this country, as I have discovered. The other halfie and I were out a few weeks ago and she was discussing Reiki with me. I had heard of it before, but only in passing. As she discussed Reiki, the conversation turned into something that I became extremely uncomfortable with.

While I appreciated the information session (no sarcasm intended), it became an overwhelmingly awkward conversation where my faith was slandered and my high standards and expectations were called into question. Although I have high standards and expectations, I have never imposed them on others (at least I hope I haven’t). It’s the same with my faith. I don’t preach, try to convert or even defend my faith; it’s not my style. My feeling is that I respect that you have your opinion, so please respect that I have mine.

Prior to this awkward conversation I had to endure a conversation [with her] where I was being told I have to just let go and find the positive from all of the loss I’ve endured as a way to completely move past those experiences. I agree to a certain point, but this kind of advice is patronizing and disrespectful, especially when the person touting hasn’t gone through the same experience(s). As my family and friends know, I’m already a stubborn person by nature, so it’s no surprise that I do not appreciate people trying to tell me who I am/will become, how I will think, what I will do in the future, blah, blah, blah.

I think my negative reaction stems from the countless conversations I’ve had with people about my decision not to have children—a very controversial subject I learned early on. I am always annoyed with people when they tell me that I will change my mind about my decision. People assume they know that I will change my mind. I am 31 years old and have thought long and hard about this issue. My mother and my doctors strongly suggested that I forgo having children, and I made a decision, one that I have never taken lightly, not to have children. This is MY choice since I would be carrying one, or multiple, children for 9 months. It is MY body and I am not willing to risk my health when I know how blessed I am to be alive today (I had a close brush with death as a child). Go ahead, judge me. Call me selfish, but before you do either know that I’ve never felt a twinge of maternal longing that lasted more than 2 minutes. Then read this article so you understand people’s potential reasons for being childless: I digress…

I have loved spending time with the other halfie because I believe she has good intentions at heart, but I needed to walk away from our short-lived friendship. I should have seen the warning signs, but my desire to see the best in others always clouds my vision. So, one friend less have I. Thankfully, I’m still blessed to have some awesome people in my life!

Up next: adventures hunting for bookstores in Kuwait! <It sounds like a horribly boring disclaimer trying to be interesting, hahaha!

Friday, 10 May 2013

No, Neil Sedaka, Breaking Up Is[n't Always] Hard To Do

This post is definitely aimed at my fellow Canucks in Ontario. For many, MANY years, I have been a Rogers (Communications-Canada) customer. Like any relationship, it has had its ups and downs, but at the end of the day, I'm always happy I've stuck around. However, Rogers is really starting to tick me off. So, how do I get out of this bad relationship? I really want to cancel my contract with them when I'm back in Canada this July (YES! I'll be back in Canada from the middle of July until the middle of August!). However, if I do that, which I would really like to do, I have to face the consequences: starting from scratch with a new cell phone provider. Considering the options in Canada, I'm not looking forward to doing this. With Telus, Rogers, Kodo and Bell ALL suckering us into contracts I'm becoming more interested in hearing what Wind has to offer....Of course the real questions are 1.) When will I return back to Canada permanently to use my phone? 2.) If I cancel my contract how the heck am I going to use my phone while I'm on vacation in Canada? 3.) Will Wind be a reliable company to use? As far as I know, they only offer service to SOME places in Ontario...That's just not enough to entice me. 4.) Should I look into using a small, obscure company that will have lower prices, but not have the reliability of services (like the bigger companies do)? Why, oh why is it SO darn difficult to align myself with a GOOD, RELIABLE cell phone service provider that isn't going to charge me an arm and a leg each month? ANY suggestions or feedback people have on this topic are very welcome!!!

Sorry to rant, but you'd think that Canada's large cell phone provider would be better at offering support. It's like when automated voice instruction was unleashed. How many times did I hear my mother first clearly state into the phone, "Accounts," a few times before getting so frustrated she'd yell, "ACCOUNTS! I said ACCOUNTS, not DEVICES!!!" Automated voice direction is one of the worst moves corporations have made (all, of course, to cut costs....only really annoying customers). It's inefficient, frustrating and it makes the idea of being loyal to companies like Rogers extremely unappealing. My Greek bestie has been with Wind for years and she seems to like it (I've never heard her complain about them, but of course that doesn't mean it's amazing). What to do? Honestly, breaking-up with Rogers (after more than a decade of being their customer) doesn't seem like a hard thing to do. That's not how a break-up after over ten years should feel. So, Rogers, if you're not going to give me any other option of communication EXCEPT the phone and live chat (online), when I'm outside of Canada, I can tell you that you're not offering good customer service and that, for me, isn't worth the trouble. In July when I return to Canada, I will make a final decision. I hope to not be singing Neil Sedaka at that point, but rather Taylor Swift's 'We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together'.

On the flip side, things in Kuwait continue to go well. I LOVE my job!

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Return of the Mik

I spent my last week in Canada doing my usual “I’m-leaving-home-for-an-extended-period-of-time” routine before I was off yet again. I know why my mother nicknamed me ‘boomerang’ now. I flew out of London on a gloomy, cold evening, and left a little earlier than normal because my friend in the military (the one who I’d seen while she was docked in Kuwait), was flying into our hometown to see her parents. Seriously, we couldn’t have timed it better! Her plane landed shortly before I was heading to Toronto, and so we sat and had a quick coffee. We talked about her wedding plans and she showed me pictures of potential wedding dresses (she looked beautiful in them!). It was an awesome send off!

I usually end up flying through the U.S. to get to Kuwait, but after my previous trip through the U.S. (in March and April), I finally decided that I’m no longer going to do that. I have a million negative experience stories, but I’ll save those. Sorry, America. You’re home to many people I love, but I refuse to enter your country unless I’m visiting my wonderful friends there. Sooo, this time I flew from Pearson (Toronto) to Schiphol (Amsterdam, Netherlands) and from Schiphol to Kuwait International Airport and it was AMAZING! I never want to fly through the U.S. after my experience flying through Amsterdam. I don’t even know why I ever flew through the U.S. since each time I go through Europe (Frankfurt, Istanbul and now Amsterdam), it’s a stress-free, unique travelling experience.

I got to Kuwait safe and sound. A driver from the company and the Irish chef were there to greet me (I accidentally put in my last post that this is what happened when I came to Kuwait for my interview, but I made a mistake). I flew into Kuwait late on Saturday evening and started work very early the next morning. Yes, I AM crazy, but I really wanted to spend as much time with my family as I could. My first week at work consisted of me getting settled in and filling out paperwork, doing training (health and safety), and lesson prep. I really, really like my co-workers! I’m the youngest and I’ll admit it’s kind of nice when they take care of and help me. I work with three Egyptian gentlemen and a Scottish woman who has an awesome sense of humour! We have another new team member who started at the beginning of May-another woman who is American. Now our team is a bit more…Balanced (the ratio of men to women). I love the working environment, my students and my colleagues. I feel like this position is a much better fit for me. I don’t feel stressed out, half-dead, extremely exhausted or even annoyed when something changes at the last minute…Or perhaps it’s the combination of the warm, sunny weather and being familiar with the customs here? Whatever it is, I feel a lot happier in my career than I have in a very long time.

I moved back in with my old roommate, my Lebanese partner in crime (the woman I went to Dubai with). I had only been here a few days when she mentioned she was going to the salon to have a manicure and pedicure done and asked if I wanted to join her. I decided to go along with her since I’d never had either done before. She was in shock when I told her that! I did do acrylic nails (when I was in high school), but I had never done an actual manicure. It was awesome! We went to a salon in Fintas called Ahlam and chatted with a lovely group of Filipino ladies. After painting my nails a shade of red that my father would never approve of, we made hair appointments for the following week and went on our merry way. I couldn’t stop staring at my nails, enamoured with the luxuriousness of it all. I even got a foot wash AND a foot massage! Why haven’t I done these sooner?!? Well, to be frank, I was too poor, or too preoccupied with spending my money on other things. Anyhow, the girls at the salon are very kind, but for me (who speaks no Arabic), I would have struggled if I had gone alone.

I ended up returning to the salon the following week to cut my hair which was a disaster. My hair looks fine. In fact, I think everyone really likes the new ‘do. However, my hairdresser doesn’t speak a lick of English and so I depended on my roomie to explain what I wanted done. Unfortunately, without a razor and thinning scissors the style I’d requested couldn’t be done. Did that STOP my hairdresser from chopping my hair? Nope. She went to town on my hair, cutting too much off the length (even though I’d shown her how much was okay to cut). I think she could see me fuming-and I was fuming. Taking a lot of the length irked me the most because I’m trying to grow my hair out so that I can donate it to a company in my hometown that makes wigs for cancer patients who have lost their hair (wigs made on-site, locally distributed and sold). I have a tough time doing this because my hair is just so thick that it usually causes daily migraines. I know the haircut added about 6 months to process. I felt badly about my negative reaction and asked my roomie to explain why I was a bit shocked and that I did really like how it turned out. I kissed her on the cheeks, said “shukran” ("thank you" in Arabic) and headed home. I have since returned to the salon to do my nails again. I have to admit that the visits have reminded me of the episode of SATC when the girls have a discussion about class distinction. If I'm being honest, I'm a bit torn about the whole thing.

 A hot, bubbly, sweet-smelling foot soak=TOTAL relaxation and luxury!
 Getting my nails did ;)
The finished result. I like!

I really don’t know why I’m putting off the most important news…No, not the most surprising news, but definitely the most significant…and predictable: I don’t stop eating out. I don’t go to extremely expensive spots and that’s why I can afford to go out as often as I do. I also like that although I have my favourite spots, I am always willing to try out new places, and boy have I tried out a bunch of new places! Hold onto your shirts, everyone! Here we go!

The following pictures at The Breakfast Club are of my meals only...So maybe I go to The Breakfast Club a bit, lol!
 The Breakfast Club (in Fintas): The grilled haloumi sandwich (very good!)
 The Breakfast Club (in Fintas): The Italian frittata (SOOOO Awesome!)
The Breakfast Club (in Fintas): The American breakfast (The Irish chef's all-time favourite dish)

At Wasabi (in Mahboula) with my colleagues from school. Wasabi is MUCH better than Sakura, but not as good as Benihana
 Mmmm, VIRGIN cocktails. I feel like I'm 13 years old all over again!
Tempura "ice cream" (that actually was more like cheesecake)

With the Irish chef at Al Forno, an Italian restaurant at The Avenues (Mall)
 Delicious tomato, black olive and goat cheese pizza! Oh, yeah, and more mocktails-mmmmmm!
The pasta with an array of meat was sooo good! I think I'm part Italian. I DO love pasta, genettis and Sambuca, hahaha!

At SmashBurger with the other halfie. On a side note, she didn't care for her black bean vegetarian burger
 That's a pretzel bun! Mmmm, the fries were seasoned with rosemary-ooooooooh, special!
A better shot of the burger. I want to take the Irish chef here :)

With the Irish chef at a new restaurant called Sea Bass in Fintas (this is the fish, rice, tahini and seasoned eggplant without the salad, bread and soft drink that were included with the meal-all for 1kwd and 500 fils!)
The fish was DELICIOUS!!! I think that the Irish chef, his roomie, me and my roomie are going to be paying this place a little visit this weekend! Amazing!

Regardless of all the photos I haven’t ONLY been eating. The Irish chef and I have been trying to get more fresh air and exercise by going to Salmiya more often. Two weeks ago we went for a long jaunt along the shoreline. He brought his bike and I walked. We had such a great time getting away from our part of the country; we even found a little hidden boat museum. It was great fun and, as always, full of laughs and I DO love to laugh!

Clearly a certain someone wanted to be in the picture
 Information posted about the boats used in the region
 Actual boats on display

In other news, the mourning dove HAD laid eggs (as we had suspected) and the eggs hatched!!! My sister was sad to report that the babies have now learned how to fly and are gone. Lastly, I confirmed my flight home to Canada this summer during Ramadan! No, I’m not MOVING home, just coming for vacation. Since there aren’t any classes, my company told me to take some time off. I’ll be back in July and August for about a month. Oh, Canada! By the way, in October, for Eid I want to travel…Any suggestions? I really want to go on an African safari and see the Serengeti (Tanzania and Kenya), but even as I say that I feel like I’m 5 years old. I’m also considering Turkey. Hello, Cappadocia!!!

Canada: baby birds with their mama