14 June 2009

على أرض الواقع في الكويت (on the ground in kuwait)

Two lenghty days of travel have finally placed me in Kuwait. My apartment is quite chic (10th floor, brand new, fully IKEA furnished [so new in fact, that most of it was still in boxes], Arabic satellite tv, 4 lavatories, etc.) and everyone is remarkably friendly and helpful. After landing on the KWI tarmac, I zipped through the H1N1 health screening point, security checkpoint, and visa control with help from a sharply dressed Lebanese man hired by AUK to expedite my landing process. Although I cannot remember his name (he may never have offered it), this gentleman was tremendously helpful; particularly as I watched others struggle with limited Arabic, visa requirements, etc.

Things slowed a bit after he dropped me at the rental car desk. Despite struggling to overcome my initial fears about driving a rental a car (why on earth would AUK reserve a car for me?), all I had to do was wait for a car [with driver]; not attempt to navigate Kuwaiti roadways alone. However, the driver's lack of familiarity with the Salmiya neighborhood coupled with the still-under-construction state of the apartment building [building number and name of course both being absent from the exterior] and further confounded by my lack of international mobile phone and AUK contact numbers created a comedic 90 minutes of driving.

Weaving up and down sidestreets, cruising main thoroughfares, and stopping at five or six food vendors to ask for directions, we finally stumbled upon the apartment. Slightly exhausted at this point, I was overjoyed to set foot inside Tower A of the apartment building (whose address I still do not know; having since learned that it is on Amman Street) night I enjoyed a cup of tea and some conversation (limited by my Arabic) with the night security guard and maintenance man while waiting for the AUK Human Resources representative to arrive with my key and welcome packet (including some essential grocery items).
View inside the kitchen with a glimpse of some of the dishes I washed.Lavatory attached to my bedroom; 1 of 4 in the apartment (in the middle is a bidet, not a child's sized sink); shower is behind meMy first meal in Kuwait, bread, jam, and cream cheese (I have sinced purchased carrots, mangoes, cereal, and will head back to the Salmiya Co-op after I brush up on my Arabic a bit).