Saturday, February 6, 2010

Day 23: Technical issues.....and other thoughts

Dear Family-

I am going to have to master the art of using Office to create my blogs! With all of the continued internet problems we seem to be having, I will need to start doing this offline and then send it up to the web. We were down for almost two days before we had someone come out and find the problem. I am not sure of what the issue was, but I would bet it was the result of someone plugging something in to the network. I can not justify the 30KD a month for internet, so I am sticking with what the company provides.

I have been in country now for almost two full weeks and I am finally starting to get my bearings. No matter how much you try to prepare yourself, things are flying at you too fast to try and keep up. I haven't been here long enough or seen enough to give my two cents as to what I think of things. I will, however, give you some insight to some of the things I have encountered on base and off base.

1. The native population is really a mixed bunch. I have not been introduced to any Kuwaiti people, but the ones walking around town are not the most friendly group of people. I think that it is safe to say that if you are not one of them, you probably don't exist in their world. No one has really been rude or anything it is just the way they do not notice you or acknowledge you. I am 6'-4", do not tell me you do not see me.
2. All work is done by third country nationals. (tcn's as they are called) They are definitely treated as a subclass of people in this country. Some would go as far to say they are treated as slaves, but I do not have enough experience to make that call. One thing is for certain, they do every filthy, degrading, and nasty job you can imagine. They deliver your Burger King to your house, pick up your laundry, clean, and do anything else you need done. You can't enjoy a meal brought to you under these circumstances. Tipping them well doesn't seem to help with this either.
3. Driving in Kuwait is a free for all. There are no rules other than Kuwaiti's own the road. They will not look at you driving and will literally pull out in front of you expecting you to avoid them. (reference #1) You have to be super alert and drive aggressively. Being courteous is like blood in the water for sharks. The speed limit on the expressway is 120 KPH. It is not unusual for people to pass you at 180 KPH or more. The draft caused by that is incredible. I definitely want a bigger car. A Camry doesn't cut it.
4. I lose a lot of my day getting to a from work. Getting to the base, getting through security and getting back again at the end of the day chews up about 1 1/2 hours a day. Considering a get up at 3 AM each morning to get ready and then don't walk back in the door until 6 PM. That is 15 hours. I get 30 minutes of exercise in before I leave each day and I am trying to figure out how to effectively get in another hour.

5. Eating in the mess hall is not bad. No, it is not home cooking or is it high dining, but it does offer you everything you can really want. The only thing (I can not believe that I am saying this) I have to complain about is that lack of vegetables. The only vegetables you have are canned vegetabless and they suffer from the affects of being canned. I am going to check at the Sultan Center on my days off to see if I can at least get frozen vegetables.
6. Contractors are a different bunch. There are a lot of good people here who would probably never be given a shot in the "real world". The professionalism and maturity required by corporations is not always seen here. Part of what I am seeing right now is the result of new leadership and a lack of willingness to engage in confrontation. I must of brought "scary me" with me because people are not willing to challenge me and generally treat me with a great deal of respect.
7. Most importantly, I really miss my family. This is hard to deal with and I try not to dwell on it. What I am doing is important to me and my family and it will be worth it in the end. It just sucks sometimes. I think that it is mostly when I feel cut off by the internet.

Well, enough for today, talk to you tomorrow.

1 comment:

Erin said...

Awesome post...we've been dying to know what it is "really" like living in a such a different culture. Hopefully you will gain more insight as the time goes on.

P.S. Are you scaring people again? I thought you decided to stop that?