Tuesday, August 26, 2003

... another day in Paradise?

Nothing really exciting to report, so I thought I'd try to give you a better idea about the situation here:

Right now I'm living in a great apartment about 30 minutes from where we're stationed. My teammates are living in another complex about 15-20 minutes further out, so we're trying to coordinate a 3 bedroom in my building, just for simplicity. We only have one vehicle between the three of us, so the logistics takes a bit of creativity. We're trying to procure another vehicle, but for now, we're just making due. The building they're in is a lot nicer, with amenities like a pool on the 12th floor (which never gets used), and a pool table in the lobby. My building also has a pool, on the ground floor, and the apartments are MUCH bigger... so we're going to have to make some decisions... (I know I know.. rough life, huh?) Actually, all the amenities are a somewhat moot point, since we really don't have much time to use them. Things are only slightly more hectic now than they usually would be, but time will tell.

I'm working 12 hour shifts, but that's also a bit of a moot point, since we're all on 24 hour call. Being the computer/network nerd, I'm (theoretically) more in demand than the other two, but that hasn't been the case yet. I was a bit relieved when the Exchange (mail) server went down this morning, so I could actually prove my usefulness.

For those of you that don't know about Kuwait, I'll paint you a bit of a picture (as I understand it). Apparently, just for being a natural-born Kuwaiti citizen, you are "provided" for... in other words, you don't really have to work. You are paid for being a native of Kuwait. There are, literally, twice as many non-natives here as there are natives, and their sole purpose here is for service and commerce. Stores, restaurants, hair/beauty salons, etc... ALL of these are owned and operated by non-natives. Egyptians, Filipino, Asian, etc... Most nationalities have some kind of stake in the actual businesses in Kuwait. It makes for an interesting culture.

I went to get a haircut the other day, for the bargain price of 5 KD (Kuwaiti Dinars), a little more than $15 USD. This isn't much more than what it costs in the states (at some places...), but the service is incredible. THe place we went to was owned by an Egyptian, and the haircut was the least of the process. I don't have much hair, so that was the easy part, of course. But I also was served a Turkish tea, a GREAT beard trim, lathered and straight-razor shave (yes, not even in country 72 hours and I already had a foreigner with a sharp object to my throat), neck/head "manipulated" (popped, chiro (Cairo?) style), back rubbed, some kind of pink goo smeared on my face (like a chemical face peel), and had my hair washed. Try getting all THAT for $15

Another impression of Kuwait I just HAVE to give you is the traffic. Oh... my... GOD! Remember what I said about traffic in New Jersey? Did I actually say it was the worst I had ever seen? Not even in the running anymore. The drivers in Kuwait are just ... terrible. There's no word in the English language that could possibly relate to you how incredibly bad the drivers are around here. But I'll bet there's a word or six about bad drivers in Arabic. I'm not exaggerating here, and as proof, I plan on taking pictures on the car wrecks between work and home. No less than 10 cars are smashed on the side of the road, and they sit there for weeks, apparently...

Well, that's all I've got for now, hopefully our 'net connection in the room will be up and running tonight, and I can start uploading some pictures. I bought all the power converters and transformers I need, and hooked my PC up to the TV. Everything is working great (after a 45 minute chkdsk scan on the system...).

More later!

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