Some of the mundane

I have been trying to think of all the little things that are different about life here, but are quickly grown used to. I’ve been trying to keep a sort of running list and this is what I’ve come up with so far. I hope it gives you a little flavor for things here.

The super of a building is called a “Harris.” Ours is named Hamdee. He lives in a miniscule apartment on the ground floor of our building. Our security guard, Abdulathy, also has an apartment on the ground floor. They are such kind and gentle men. Their apartments are also used for storage of such things as gas tanks for our stoves,


gas tank under kitchen drainboard for stove


orange cord is to gas tank under drainboard

mattresses, and extra furniture so they are relegated to basically living in one room.

Horn honking is a form of communication. I’m making a stab at understanding it, but when it’s outside my window all night long it is harder to decipher (after the first night it stopped keeping me awake).

Cars pass in emergency lane, which has pretty intense rumble strips about every 10 meters.

Speed governors beep or flash lights on the dashboard to indicate when speed is in excess of 120k/h. Many of the major roads have speed cameras as well. You never receive a ticket, but when you try to leave the country to travel they tell you of it and you have to pay before you are allowed to leave. People are not allowed a one-way ticket if they are in debt for anything in Kuwait.

Flash brights and tailgate to indicate you want a car to move over so you can pass, if you don’t move over fast enough (never mind that there is a bus in the next lane) then they begin weaving in and out too close to breathe. There are many accidents.

Lights fall out of the ceiling and routinely burn out, sometimes just days after the bulb has been changed.

Fans in walls open to outside in kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room.


fan in kitchen with unscreened opening to the outside

It is hard to fathom how this works insulation-wise. Walls are relatively thick and cement. Windows are single pane and poorly insulated, as I discovered when I awoke to a puddle of water in my living room after an intensely heavy rain.

Power automatically shuts off about once a month. I’ve given up on resetting the electronic clocks. I use my phone as my alarm.

Almost any chain restaurant in the US is also here: Starbucks, PF Changs, Caribou, Olive Garden, etc. and of course, all the fast food restaurants as well, except for Chik-fil-a.

Every outlet, every light bulb has a separate switch, even on many of the extension cable surge cords.


outlet with on/off switch

Maids mop and hose down bathrooms at least 2x per day (all bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms have drains in the floor


my bathroom floor drain

and they squeegee the water to the drain), sweep hall numerous times, monitor students in halls and bathrooms, general errand running within the school (copies, laminating, messages), heat water, move furniture, wash dishes. House maids do dishes, laundry, ironing as well as dusting, mopping, change bed sheets, etc.  School maids make 100KD/month (about $350) and house maids make 25KD/month (almost $90) per apartment.

“Harris” washes cars every single day, sometimes 2x a day for 5KD/month (+/-$18). He leaves the driver’s side windshield wiper up so you know it has been done.

Cabs usually cost between $10-$30, depending on how far you go. My cab driver often waits (napping, I think, though he is always awake and starts the car as soon as I am at the gate) outside the house I tutor at while I’m tutoring and then takes me home. A couple of times I have had to go to the bank afterwards, and he waited (sometimes over an hour) while I was there too. He is awesome.

Tutoring gives me a glimpse into private homes, usually quite ornate and expensively decorated. Not a lot of knick-knacks or bric-a-brac around. They seem staged almost. I’m pretty sure there are back rooms that are more cluttered and comfortable, I just haven’t seen them. The two I’ve been in also have an elevator!

Pedicures are done in a big bowl of water without jets, of course. They always paint with quick dry and then send you out the door. They will happily go into your bag and get money to pay if your nails are not dry enough. J They wax and thread faces, besides lips, eyebrows, chins, bikini, etc

Water is stored in large tanks on top of buildings or next to them.


water tanks on top of building across the street from me


water tank next to the same building that gets filled by the water trucks

A water truck delivers water many times a day and night. It seems they are always on the road and not particularly quiet.

No temperature gauge on hot water heater. It’s nearly boiling, or cold except when it’s hot outside and then it’s hot or hotter.

Internet cables are left to dangle down the outside of older buildings and in through the window. I hear the cables bumping against the window or the building when it is windy.


internet cables dangling in the breeze. Oh, and laundry too.

7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. adriannedawn
    Jan 31, 2014 @ 12:48:02

    Yay! This is so great. I love reading about these “mundane” things. I think it’s interesting! I particularly love your cab driver. Love you! xoxo


  2. lindawoodar
    Jan 31, 2014 @ 13:28:23

    Agree with Adrianne! Really do get a snippet of what it is like for you, living in such a different world now. Something reminded me of a night in Cardiff, Wales many years ago when it was necessary to “feed” the teeny-tiny wall heater with coins to ensure I didn’t freeze overnight!


  3. Ellen
    Jan 31, 2014 @ 13:38:20

    Hi Pam! I’m really enjoying your blog. It’s fun to read about everyday life and how many things that we take for granted in the U.S. are a luxury in other countries. Keep posting!!! Hugs


  4. maryronw
    Jan 31, 2014 @ 13:45:16

    I really enjoyed this , Pam, but I do have to ask about critters and creepy things there. Thanks SO much for keeping in touch! ❤️❤️Aunt Mary

    Sent from my iPhone



  5. Ronna
    Jan 31, 2014 @ 21:09:16

    How fun to hear the “mundania.” Daily living is what gives us the flavor of your life there.


  6. Jena
    Feb 01, 2014 @ 12:53:26

    I love reading about all the little things! Thank you for sharing!


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