Saturday, 20 August 2016

Jumping ship to Wordpress

I have moved from Blogger to Wordpress. From now on, I will be posting only on Wordpress which can be found at this link.
The main reasons I decided to move are that I prefer the design options and cleaner look Wordpress provides. Not being the most tech savy person, at first it took some getting used to but I persevered and now find it more user friendly than Blogger. It's easier to customize themes (like the banner I made on and uploaded) - when I uploaded the same banner on Blogger it didn't merge well with my page, even after editing the available options. I have opted for the cost free plan because it provides what I need but there is the option to upgrade if desired. 

The one annoying thing was that when I imported my blog content from Blogger to Wordpress, many of the posts did not transfer well. I guess a seamless transfer is unrealistic. But I had to go through every post individually to reformat them and re-insert photos which was rather time-consuming. Now that it's done, I'm glad I've moved to Wordpress. Hope you like the new page as much as I do! *Link again*

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Gemini: soft and shy v feisty and fierce

"A Gemini woman is two, or more, women rolled into one. One minute demure and doting, the next ruthlessly sarcastic." In many ways, I am a typical Gemini: curious, love discussing all subjects, passionate, romantic, empathetic, non-judgmental, stubborn and sarcastic. There are some Gemini traits which I don't believe apply to me much or at all: very confident, life and soul of the party, easily bored, shallow and fickle. Whilst I am predominately rather shy, whimsical, sensitive and with a love of all things floral, there is a fiery side to me which makes a very occasional appearance. Many of my blog posts are written when I feel the need to vent, when I'm feeling vulnerable - as these are not everyday occurrences, they are not reflective of who I am entirely. Therefore, I wanted to write a post which shows the other sides of my personality: namely feisty, fearless and strong-willed. So here are some examples of times when I've been just that:  

I drugged a guy and I liked it
I went on a volunteering trip to the Far East to help teach in a local school. A guy I'd previously been on a few dates with, but was then just friends with, said he loved the idea of volunteering and could he come. Stupid me, I impulsively said yes. I regretted him coming as soon as we were on the flight - he was rude and arrogant to the air hostesses. I hadn't seen this side of him and didn't like it one bit. We were in a 2 bedroom villa with his bedroom in the garden in a separate
hut type building. The first 
night whilst asleep, I woke from a deep sleep with him on top of me enthusiastically kissing and licking my neck. He was seriously excited considering he'd been kissing a corpse who'd just woken up. Weirdo. I pushed him off of me, got up and told him to get out. He said 'let's talk' and I was thinking that I just didn't want to be anywhere near him. I knew I wouldn't feel comfortable staying in the same place as him. I didn't want a confrontation, felt vulnerable with him in my room and just wanted to get away from him. So I said I was thirsty. Thinking quickly, I calmly offered him a whisky, crushed 3 sleeping pills into it and told him to down it which the idiot did. He passed out shortly later, snoring loudly with his mouth wide open. I packed my suitcase whilst listening to him snore, left and went to 
another hotel. Whilst leaving I paid the full amount for the villa since it would be unfair for him to pay for a 2 bedroom place and I didn't want him to have a reason to talk to me. He woke up 12 hours later frantically calling and messaging me. I blocked him and had a great holiday. Was just a little awkward when I had to dive behind a clothing rack when I saw him in the street, was on the same flight home and then afterwards had to give him his car keys as he'd parked at my building. #awkward He had no clue he was drugged though.  

A stunt woman I am clearly not

 I had been on a few dates with *David. I liked that he's independent, intelligent, lives alone, quirky - what you see is what you get type of guy. That's refreshing in Kuwait. On this particular occasion, we were going for dinner. I parked my car near a McDonalds and we went to the restaurant in his car. I was looking forward to the meal, to getting to know him more. He stated a few times that he didn't want anything serious, didn't want a relationship. I said I didn't want a friends with benefits arrangement, that it's not my thing and that I can't separate sex from feelings. I wasn't angry, just disappointed that he was just another guy looking for sex. I remember feeling that he was distant, cold and aloof. The dinner was rather awkward. We were driving back for him to drop me at my car when he brought up yet again that he didn't want a relationship. I remember thinking 'did i ask you for a relationship? No.' The way he kept repeating not wanting a relationship was annoying and arrogant - something I'd expect if I'd said 'please be my boyfriend, oh please do me the honor'. My only intention was to know him more and yes I was honest about a friends with benefits arrangement not being for me. So we sat in silence with me thinking about how presumptious, insensitive and arrogant he seemed. He brought it up yet again! We'd been in the car about ten minutes and this was now the third time. I'd had

 enough. He stopped at the lights on Salem Al Mubarak Street and I spied the McDonalds where I'd left my car. So I quickly and suddenly jumped out the car in the middle of the road in 4inch heels as gracefully as I could (unsuccessful), slammed the door and, as quickly as my heels allowed, weaved through the cars to get
 across the busy road. I remember him saying 'what are you doing? What are  you doing?' as I was jumping from his Jeep and looking at me with a shocked, 'you're crazy' expression. I was rather proud of myself. Until I spent 15 minutes walking around the car park in the dark looking for my car with no success. I was at the wrong McDonalds (they all look the same when dark and my sense of direction is shockingly bad). Total cringe. I had no choice but to text him. He  sent me the location of my car which was 3km away. I had to get a taxi to my car. So that bold move didn't quite go as planned. 

I  once offered to pluck a guy's eyebrows. He had complained that he hadn't had time to go to the barber so I enthusiastically said I would do it. He sat down and out came the tweezers. Being the perfectionist that I am, I got really into it. I was really channeling my inner beautician. He was adamant that I shouldn't make them look girly. I'm not into men with over plucked eyebrows so had no intention of doing so. I was concentrating so hard on making them perfect and symmetrical; after 15 minutes or so of flinching, he was getting impatient to see them and agitated. I told him I was nearly done, just to be patient - I was determined to get
  those last, few, stubborn hairs. He wouldn't wait - grabbed both my wrists aggressively, pushed me backwards and ran to the mirror. "What the f*** have you done?", "Is this a  f***ing joke?!',  he screamed. I was really shocked and disappointed that my hard work was clearly unappreciated. I really thought he'd be happy. I sheepishly mumbled something like 'but they look better.' 'I look like a f***ing idiot!', was his response. Then he punched the bathroom door really hard. His level of anger was frightening and I remember feeling shaky. Then my
 inner feistiness came out. I got his wallet and threw it at him and shouted at him to get out right now. 'Don't worry, I'm going!' He stormed out in a fury. My wrists hurt and there were even marks from where he'd grabbed them. It was one of those surreal 'did that   just happen?' moments. But at least I didn't show I was intimidated even though I was and got rid of his hairy ass.

 Freddy Kreuger weirdo 
This one isn't really a big deal but I found it quite funny. I went for dinner a few times with a guy who was rather  intense. He kept saying I was mysterious and that he was trying to work me out but couldn't. He said he was trying to 'make me his soulmate'. He asked loads of questions then kept probing way too much, in a somewhat argumentative way. This just made me guarded. During one of our random conversations, I mentioned (can't remember the context) that I used to have vivid nightmares about  
Freddy Krueger. After date 3, I finished with him. Amongst other things, he replied with a photo of the man from my nightmares. He actually googled it and sent it to me as a response to being dumped. Weirdo much? My reply photo of Freddy giving him the finger was the perfect response, but I shouldn't have written the message above it. 

Don't mess with my family
I'm fiercely protective of my family and of those few I consider true friends. When I was about ten years old, my younger brother (he would've been 8) was being bullied by a horrid, fat ring leader type who was a few years older than me. Not just name calling, he was beating him up badly in front of his 'friends' and taking money he had. remember asking him why he was covered in bruises and had a black 
eye but he said 'I fell'. I knew it wasn't true so I investigated and found out the name of the culprit. I wasted 

beyond furious. I went to his house, picking up a huge brick along  the way, hid it behind my back and knocked on his door. His dad answered and I sweetly said 'Is Ryan there please?' He went to get him and a confused Ryan approached the door. Still smiling sweetly, I told him that if he ever even looked at my brother again, I would be back.  He started laughing which is when I threw the brick at this face, heard the crack and scream and ran. He or his friends never did touch my brother again and my brother was none the wiser.

During a school trip to Llandudno in Wales, aged about 14 /15, we were playing in a park with rope swings, zip lines and a lake at the side. I was feeding the ducks bread when a girl, at least double my size, came up behind me and whispered in my ear 'is it weird not having a mum?' I didn't even turn
around. Then she said it  again. Something took over me. I saw red and charged at her like a bull, pushing her into the lake, just narrowly missing falling in myself. She hurt her head and ankle and she was obviously drenched. I can still her standing in the lake looking like she'd implode. The teachers were so shocked as I was usually so quiet and studious. They asked why I did it, I didn't tell them. I didn't want their sympathy. I got detention after school for 2 hours everyday for a week and didn't feel bad at all. She apologized years later and I did too. 

Don't mess with my friends

Two years ago, my best friend *Sophia and I were celebrating
New Year at a concert in Dubai. We were having a great time - dancing, laughing and enjoying the music and atmosphere. A sleazy guy wouldn't leave us alone and kept dancing close to us. I told him to go away. He didn't. I didn't see it but Sophia told me that he'd just grabbed her ass really firmly. Again, I saw red and charged at him and pushed him with all my might (which isn't much but still). He stumbled away with his hands in the air like he hadn't just been a pervy creep.

 Don't mess with my teaching ethics 
 In a previous job, I was asked by the Principal to change a student's grade from a 'D' grade to an 'A' on their report card because 'the parent had complained and they had wasta .' The student was not the brightest but was trying and had already improved from an 'F'. The Principal had prepared the 'new' report card with the changed grade and asked me to sign at the bottom, as required by the teacher. She was very
nonchalant like it was no big deal to falsify official  documents. I refused, saying it wasn't honest. She was  shocked and angry and told me if I didn't come back to sign it before the end of the day, there would be 'consequences'. I didn't go back. The next morning I was summoned to her office and given an official written warning for 'defying the Principal's orders.' I was told to sign the warning letter and told that it would be kept in my file. I refused to sign it or to have it in my file and calmly told her so. I then left her office, went to my classroom, put my things in a box, and walked out right past her office telling her 'I quit.' The look on her face was priceless.

 Yes, I am mostly too sensitive, shy and soft but we all have  
triggers. Generally, these are deep-rooted and sub-conscious results of childhood experiences. Most of the time, it takes a lot for me to be outwardly feisty but ocassionaly it's impulsive and heat of the moment. Although I have Gemini traits, I wouldn't say I have a double personality; I think it's just multi-faceted and individual like most people and dependent on circumstances. Everyone has weak points which trigger certain reactions and make us lose control. Identifying what makes me lose control, where it comes from and not acting upon it impulsively is the wise thing to do. I'm learning to think rationally/of the potential consequences before making an emotionally charged decision. However, sometimes action needs to be taken in the moment and most of the things I've written about above, rightly or wrongly, I don't regret.
(Apologies for bad formatting / layout - I'm not in Kuwait and Blogger on an iPad is not fun!)

Friday, 22 July 2016

Mixed signals in Thailand with Kuwait Chronicles Part 3/3

Day 3
We hurriedly got ready. I was feeling happy, that we were on the same page. We were picked up in a mini-van to take us to the pier for our boat trip. We were both exhausted. Sitting in the mini-van surrounded by fellow tourists, I was having visions of the rest of our holiday being spent in contented bliss.
Now that we’d been intimate, it wouldn’t be awkward. We could hold hands, randomly kiss, talk about our feelings and have more amazing sex. About 30 minutes into my ‘vision’, I quickly realised that this wasn’t going to be the case. He wasn’t sitting close to me, he wasn’t holding my hand, he wasn’t whispering sweet nothings into my ear. We’d slept for 4 hours, maybe he’s just exhausted? Yes, that’s it. No, that wasn’t it. We had a fun day
lounging on a boat, kayaking, snorkeling and trekking. I was trying not to let it affect me and to just enjoy myself. But there was zero mention of the night before, zero affection and we’d been transported back into the friend’s zone. I realised, once again, that I was purely a physical commodity and a friend when needed. I just wished that he had not told me he liked me and had just stuck with his original, gut instinct.

We went for dinner that evening to the most beautiful restaurant, with d├ęcor I just
adored. Antique pinks and golds, seating on the floor with huge plump cushions and a picturesque terrace 5 meters from the sea. We sat on the terrace overlooking the sea. I was quiet during dinner because I was hurt. After thinking we were on the same page, the day had made me realise we were not at all. I didn’t say anything. I just ate quickly then said I was going to go for a foot massage and a walk. He went back to the hotel. The next morning, he text me asking if I wanted to go for breakfast at the hotel. I said I was going to another place I liked. I felt heavy and that I needed to get things off my chest so cue another message from me:

Day 4 – 10
So needless to say, we didn’t share a
bed again. I tried to put my dented ego to the side and enjoy the rest of the holiday. We spent the remaining time doing water sports, quad-
biking, zip lining through the jungle, sampling lots of different cuisines, watching a lady boy cabaret, going to a market, watching fireworks and fire performers on the beach. We had made a pact just to be honest with each other which cleared the air. I did still feel mixed signals but just chose to detach myself from them.

On our last evening, we went to a fusion
restaurant with yummy seafood. He said that he’d had an amazing holiday and that it was thanks to me. I said I’d had a great holiday too and joked that I’ve certainly learned to take risks and deal with the consequences. I plucked up the courage to ask him face to face why he had slept with me if he knew he didn’t share the feelings I did or want the same things. He said ‘I just wanted to try it, to see what it’s like.’ (He’s not been intimate with a westerner). That really hurt. So I was just a little alien experiment. He also told me that it
would be hard to be with a westerner because he likes a girl who can talk dirty in Arabic in bed and that there are jokes/sarcasm that he could only share with an Arabic speaking girl. (despite him speaking perfect English). He also said that he’d be anxious about telling his parents about being with a non-Arab girl. I must be a real glutton for punishment because I also asked him ‘would you be jealous if I was with another man?’ Silly me was hoping he’d say yes, but he flatly said ‘no’. Dagger to the heart. But I asked for it. That was really hard to hear but better than pretending. I told him that in future, he should make his intentions/feelings clear towards a girl and try not to give mixed signals. I couldn’t help feeling ‘why am I not good enough?’ Why is it that when a man really likes me I’m not very interested and when I really like someone they don’t like me back?' Maybe it’s karma. Or life leading us in the right direction. 

I know that he is a good person. It’s not everyone that I feel comfortable with; I love that we can talk so honestly about any subject. He is smart, funny, geeky, cultured, interesting and has a good heart. I even like his braces and the cute way he snores. He is very calm and polite but also has a hidden dark side which is funny to see come out. Everyone he talks to likes him because he treats people with respect and kindness. Giving clear signals/ sensitivity to women’s feelings may not be strengths but I guess no one is perfect, least of all me. It has reiterated that it is not a good idea to create fantasies in my head, influenced by the romance of Thailand or otherwise. It has also made me realise that if a man truly likes me and wants me as more than a physical thing, he will not be unsure. He’ll not want to be without me. It’s all or nothing. And convincing any man to love me is just not going to happen. So logically, it’s just not meant to be and it’s not the end of the world. Despite the awkward moments I’ve shared here and the confusion/bruised ego I felt, I choose not to hold onto anything negative and I wish Kuwait Chronicles all the happiness in the world. I learned from it, we genuinely had an amazing holiday and the memories of Thailand and of Kuwait Chronicles will always be precious to me. 

I'd like to apologize for not posting in so long and for not replying to comments/emails, I think I needed to take some time out from writing so openly and just process things on my own. I will get back to people very soon.

Mixed signals in Thailand with Kuwait Chronicles Part 2/3

Day 2
I had a nap in my own bed then went for a walk. I thought he was still sleeping or that he’d want to do his own thing, to explore the little town we were staying in. So I didn’t text. Whilst walking around the gorgeous little shops, I got a text ‘Good afternoon, feel like going for a bite?’ So we went to a local restaurant on the beach. Then we decided to go jet-skiing. We shared one jet-ski and I felt a bit awkward about where to put my hands, especially as he was joking
about deliberately throwing me off the jet-ski. (He didn’t) So I held on to his life jacket and in the process, nearly chocked him to death. My flirtation skills are just too smooth, I know. 

We went for massages which were in a private room for two overlooking the sea. The therapists left us to get ready and handed us both a pair of plastic pantie things to put on. Sexy. Cue awkward moment – I went in the tiny shower to change and took with me a dressing gown I’d spied…so no flesh on show. He then did the same. The therapists came in and motioned for us to take off our robes. I really didn’t want to reveal myself mostly naked apart from a pair of very unsexy pants (at least not the first time) so I impulsively said ‘you lie down first’…thank God he obliged. Once he was face down, I quickly got on the bed. 

We then had cocktails on the beach, lying on huge bean bags overlooking the sea. The music was amazing and the atmosphere of the place, I loved. 

Back at the hotel, we drank more red wine (French of course) in his room until the early hours, both us sitting on the day bed. I remember we were talking about taking risks, how both of us are shy and he said something like ‘what’s the worst that can happen by taking a risk?’ and also said ‘ I’d be happy if a girl made the first move. I never know whether it’s appropriate or not’ Girl brain: ‘Panic. He wants me to make a move? I like him but I can’t.’ I just think it should come from the man. So I told him it should be the man who makes a move. Hint much? We continued chatting…Again, I said a few times, ‘I should go, let you sleep’. He said no, he wasn’t tired. I could still have left, I know. I didn’t want to. I wanted to spend time with him and I wanted to know if he liked me. I was falling asleep sitting on the day bed, like the night before he said ‘be comfortable, lie down’. I did. This time, I got under the covers and faced him. (Brave, I thought…taking initiative, I thought). We talked facing each other for about an hour, our arms occasionally brushing ever so
slightly. He told me I had beautiful eyes, a huge heart and that my perfume was ‘mesmerising’. A few awkward stares then looking away. Chit-chat and confusion resumed. I fell asleep. I woke up early and did the same thing…silently left his room and ran next door.

When I got to my room, I felt really confused and sad. I felt that if he liked me, he would have hugged me or kissed me. I didn’t have a clue what he was thinking. One minute he’s
saying nice things, not wanting me to leave, telling me to sleep in his bed and the next
he’s snoring. I was lying in his bed facing him and he did nothing. I needed to know what he was thinking so I sent him a WhatsApp later on that day (cowardly, I know considering we were next door). But at least then, I’d be clear and not emotional. So I sent him a message. In hindsight, it was ridiculous to say that I wouldn’t be upset if he didn’t like me because, well, I was. Being so direct even in a message is not something I’d do unless I was sure someone liked me, so being so unsure and still sending it took a lot of courage. It was one of those ‘send the message and then run and hide’ moments. Here’s the message I sent and subsequent conversation:

Although his messages were honest with the odd compliment thrown in to soften the blow, he’d basically just said he saw me as nothing more than a friend who he could have a holiday fling with. I felt cheap and silly and that I’d been led on. All romantic notions of falling in (mutual) love in Thailand were squashed. But I was glad I knew, that the guessing and confusion was put to rest. We had plans for the rest of the day, to go visit another town but I told him I just wanted to do my own thing. I felt embarrassed and stupid and needed some me time to come out of that. As pathetic as it sounds, I cried for about fifteen minutes (ok…twice) - that wave of rejection and dent to the ego taking over logic. I don’t like men in that way easily or ask directly if they like me so it was pretty humiliating. I got myself together and decided to stop wallowing, it must be a blessing in disguise. I went for some pampering and a walk along the beach. Whilst walking, I saw him across the narrow walking street. Awkward. I looked away and tried to pretend I didn’t see him but as we were walking towards each other, I couldn’t avoid it. So in my best upbeat voice I said something like ‘Oh hey, how are you? Enjoying your walk?’ (lame, I know). He said ‘I don’t want things to be awkward between us and I really appreciate you being honest.’ I told him I felt silly, he said don’t. I scuttled off feeling awkward. 

We had a kayaking and snorkeling trip booked for the next morning. So in an attempt to make things less awkward I sent a message. In these messages he said that my bikini and dress had made his hormones go crazy etc which just made me feel that I’m only good enough to satisfy his physical needs within a Thai postcode, but nothing more. But then saying things like ‘I’m so comfortable around you, maybe you can get into my head.’ No, I’m not going to convince someone to like me as more than a piece of meat. You take the initiative that you've been advising me to take. You either like me or you don’t. I’m either more than a piece of meat or I’m not. Dented ego talking? Perhaps. Here is the conversation that followed:
So I went over, feeling that we’d somewhat cleared the air but I was still confused. The messages left me with mixed signals. He knows I don’t want something purely physical but he’s inviting me over. Does he like me as more? Does he just want to try his luck? So I was cautious but hopeful that he felt the same but after being so open, I had reverted back into my shell. I was determined that I would not be intimate with anyone who only saw me in that way, honest or not. Our ‘jacuzzis’ on the terrace only had cold water and to me, it was thoughtful that he had boiled the kettle 15 times and filled it to make it warm. So we went in the Jacuzzi with our red wine. Despite the 15 kettles of hot water, it was pretty cold and we didn’t last long. So back into the room and more red wine. This time, I was determined to leave early and get a good sleep for our early trip the next day. I sat in the wooden chair as I didn’t want a repeat of the last 2 confused nights. We drank quite a lot and after a few hours got talking about the messages we’d shared that day. I decided that I’d already been honest so there was no point being otherwise. So I just said that I do have genuine feelings for him, that being someone’s fuck buddy doesn’t interest me, that I need a mutual connection and that I’m glad we’ve cleared the air and just want to enjoy the rest of the holiday. He said that we do have a connection, that he does like me, he is attracted to me, that we have lots in common, that he’s never been more comfortable with anyone else. I said that if that’s the case why say he sees me as a ‘dear friend’. He said he said many other things which he did, but the ‘dear friend’ part is all that I saw albeit blurry from my silly
tears. Cue more confusion. Mixed signals aren’t fun. At this point, I remember feeling relieved – that he did like me as more than a friend. Given what I now know, he was thinking with the brain between his legs.

Next thing, I’m lying on his bed and he’s giving me a foot massage. It was better than
any foot massage I’d had in Thailand. It was sensual and we had chemistry. But maybe it’s just my girl brain? You can probably guess what happened next…amazing kissing led to being naked, exploring each other’s bodies and then the inevitable…twice followed by a repeat performance as our alarm’s sounded 4 hours later to get up for the trip.

Mixed signals in Thailand with Kuwait Chronicles Part 1/3

Yes, I went to Thailand with Kuwait Chronicles. No it doesn’t have the romantic
ending that one may think. This is rather embarrassing to write but I know I’ll feel better once it’s off my chest. 

So Kuwait Chronicles is someone I started chatting to when he left comments on my blog, I read his and found his writing interesting. He completed interview questions for one of my blog posts. We exchanged numbers and have been chatting frequently for over six months. Anyone who reads his blog will know that he went through a divorce about 6 months ago. As I had been through the same thing, our chats were mostly about how he was dealing with his situation; I tried to give advice and genuinely wanted to help him throughout this difficult period that I am very familiar with. There was no flirtation or expectations - I was well aware that he was hoping for a reconciliation with his ex-wife and respected that. He was very honest about his flaws and keen to work on them which I admire.

We were chatting a few months ago and he was saying that sadly it’s definitely over between him and his ex, that he needs to accept it and move forward. I knew that he still loved her but saw no choice but to stop hoping. He often reminisces about what he could have done better, what he should have done, if only he had done this or that then
things would be different. I advised him to try not to think retrospectively about what he should have done as the past can’t be changed. I advised him to let her know that he had realised the errors he had made and wanted the chance to prove how much he had learned, how much he loved her and missed her. He did so but she said it was too late and that it was definitely over. 

We were talking one day about our plans for the summer. He said he was seriously considering going on a trek to Nepal which involved volunteer work. He asked if I’d like to come. As much as I love the idea of volunteering, I’m not so keen on the idea of camping outdoors and trekking everyday. So, I said so. My plans were to go to the islands of Thailand, spend some days relaxing and other days doing trips and sightseeing. He said that it sounded like an interesting holiday and would like to come. I thought why not, I’m there myself and it would be nice to have some company whilst doing trips. And we are honest enough with each other to be able to say ‘no, I don’t want to do this trip but you go ahead’, which I liked. I don’t like to feel obliged to do things I’m not too keen on. 

So I let him know where I was planning to stay and he booked the same hotel. We were in separate rooms but, ironically, next door to each other. I spent the first ten days there myself and he came for the last ten days. 

The day of his arrival, I was unsure about what to expect. Despite talking a lot for a long time, we’d only met in person once. When we first met he was quite shy but then so was I, he brought me a rose which I thought was adorable and was the perfect gentleman. He’s of average/slim build, with dark, floppy hair, about 5’8, wears black rimmed glasses
and has soulful eyes with camel style eyelashes. We talked for hours and it felt natural. Prior to the holiday, I thought what if we don’t get along? What if it feels awkward? What if he expects a holiday fling? Does he see me as a friend to discuss his problems with or does he see me as more? Is he really over his ex-wife? Is he coming to Thailand because he likes me or because he has no other options? He changed his travel plans, that must mean something? Are we going to fall in love
whilst walking along the beach under the Thai sunset listening to the waves and eating coconut ice-cream? (I’m a girl, we think such things) Honestly, I liked him as more than friends but, due to his situation, had never even hinted at this and was scared to let myself feel too much. If something were to happen, I wanted it to be natural, to come from him and to be sincere. 

Day 1
He arrived at about 10pm at the hotel. I was in my room trying to discreetly listen for his arrival. I knew his room was next door as when being shown to my room, the receptionist told me that there were only two rooms with spa baths on the terrace and that the other was next door. I knew we’d both booked these rooms. So, I heard him arrive. I had decided I wouldn’t text, that I’d be cool and nonchalant. A WhatsApp message shortly after ‘Hi, I made it, want to come over?’ I asked if he wasn’t too tired after the journey, he said no, I went over. I knocked on his sliding doors, feeling weirdly nervous, we kissed on both cheeks and I proceeded to present him with mosquito spray (I cringe at myself too), then proceeded to sit awkwardly on the wooden chair opposite the bed whilst he sat on the edge of the bed.. We had some red wine, well a full bottle and exchanged pleasantries about what I’d been doing so far and random other things. The conversation, as it’s
always been, was very natural and before we knew it still rooted to my chair) it was 5 in the morning. We’d spent the last 6 hours talking. We then went for a walk on the beach, lay on some sun loungers until it got light, got lost on the way back (I thought I knew a shortcut – I didn’t). 

Back at the room after another glass of wine, he said something like ‘make yourself comfortable, you can sit on the day bed.’ There was a day bed thing in the corner of the room so I went there and he sat next to me. We drank wine, listened to good music and continued chatting. During our conversation, he said ‘I want you to be comfortable, to be yourself, to take initiative, do what you feel like doing.’ Translation in my girl brain: ‘does he want me to make a move? I’m not doing that. That’s not for me to do. Does he like me? What does he mean?’ I said something like ‘I am comfortable or I wouldn’t be in your room, would I?’ It was late so I said a few times, ‘I should go…you must be tired’...not wanting to outstay my welcome and be one of those annoying people who never leaves. Each time, he said no I’m not tired. Girl brain: ‘so he doesn’t want me to go?’ It got late, I was falling asleep and he said ‘you can lie down, be comfortable’. I lay down on the furthest edge of the bed on top of the covers with my back to him. If I’d moved an inch, I would’ve fallen off the edge of the bed. At this point, I was thinking that I didn’t want to sleep with him, I just wanted to know if he liked me and at most to hug and fall asleep, and I was beyond tired. I woke up in the exact same position I’d fallen asleep in. Looked behind me…he was
snoring. It was 8 am and I didn’t know what to do. I panicked and silently tiptoed out of the room and ran into mine with the cleaning ladies looking at me with an amused expression. I fell asleep in my own bed cringing that we’d shared a bed for 4 hours whilst not even looking at each other.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Teaching in Kuwait

Teaching here is a very unique experience - the ex-pat, teacher world of Kuwait is a small place. I know of and I’m friends with some truly inspiring teachers who are passionate about their job and go above and beyond what is required. That said, Kuwait is not an accurate representation of teachers in the UK as it often attracts those who are unable or unwilling to teach in the UK due to incompetence. It also attracts teachers who are money-hungry, ruthless and not particularly interested in the needs of the students. 
I’m becoming more and more disheartened by the quality of teaching students receive here and by the way management treat teachers. Some teachers have been here so long that they lose all perspective on what professionalism actually is. They behave in ways that would be completely unacceptable in the UK and severely reprimanded. However, they get away with it because it’s Kuwait and they don’t have to conduct themselves in the same manner as they would at home.
So I’ve selected a sample of some of the teachers I work with and know of to give an idea of what they are like. As I said, I know many amazing teachers in Kuwait so this is only representative of some. With the teaching world here being so small and many teachers having little else in their lives, teacher gossip and shenanigans are rife. However, despite the many rumours, I've only written things I know are true.

The promiscuous teacher
Usually going through a mid-life crisis or
just simply egocentric. At our school, I can think of a few. One (*Joanne) who is in her late 30s, is a bit plain-Jane, rather chubby (but nonetheless wears very tight, unflattering pencil skirts) and is very flirtatious with the younger, male teachers. Recently, she was at a gathering in the teacher's building where she also lives. The
male teacher who was hosting the gathering is in his early 20s and has severe asthma. Due to this, he leaves his door unlocked when he is there in case of a medical emergency. So after everyone left, he went to bed. She came back to his flat, went in without knocking and creeped into his bed. Classy. 

Another male teacher – he’s a pretty big fan – of himself, was seeing two teachers at once. All was going swimmingly in his macho-induced, pea-sized brain until he forgot the minor fact that girl 2 had a key to his flat. So in she walks to find him naked on his sofa with girl number 1 - her colleague. Twat. 
Last year, a married, American teacher from a different school was fired and left Kuwait because he went out for dinner with a Kuwaitiya student.

Mr 'I love Filipinas'
We have and have had a few of these teachers. Generally these are unattractive, obese men in their 50s who move to Kuwait and suddenly become aware that their passport holds the ability to attract certain women. Their macho egos and basookas delight in the fact that they can be with an attractive woman who is half their age and just adores them. I’d like to think there are some genuine love stories of this nature but I’m fairly sceptical. I don’t believe many 20 year old, attractive girls would marry an ugly, obese, ageing man if he was the same nationality and had the same salary as them. 

One of the most notorious Mr 'I love Filippinas' I work with, was drunk one night at a gathering and started giving some of the younger male teachers advice on how to get a Filipina into bed. He was boasting to them about how easy it was and how many he’d had. This guy is gross…..picture a pale, ageing Shrek with glasses and balding, dyed blonde hair. He probably thought he was being really cool when in fact he just made everyone cringe. His advice was something along the lines of: ‘you gotta make them believe you’re serious, say you’re catholic and lookin for a wife….once they believe that….bingo’. Vile, pathetic creature. Karma did bite him on the bum though when one of his disgruntled Filipina exes became very angry after he dumped her and she realised he wasn't sincere. She went to the effort of printing
out pages with his photo, name and wrote things like 'this man liar, cheat, bad man'
etc. She then distributed them all around the teacher building for all of us to see. Part of me feels sympathy for her as she was clearly hurt but another part of me thinks well don't get into a relationship for the wrong reasons. 

Mr 'I got me a mail-order Russian bride'
There are also a few teachers with Russian wives. One admits that she is a ‘mail-order bride’ who met her husband on a website
catering to men looking for a Russian wife. One of the male teachers told me that said husband advised him to get himself to Russia to find a wife, that he should go to one of the little villages as they are more desperate and that he will have his pick. Admirable guy. In another school, a Russian wife got married very young to her teacher husband who is much older than her. She had an affair with another teacher, was caught by her husband and has now left him and her children for his colleague. 

The 'down with the kids' teacher
Seen mixing with the kids at break times and trying to get the low-down on the latest lingo, the 'down with the kids' teacher is like watching your dad trying to dance at a disco… badly. We have a few of these types. Mostly they are just harmlessly trying to cling onto their youth. Some take it too far though and accept requests from students on
social media, indulge in gossip with them and I've known one to even go out for dinner and shisha with a group of students. One
in particular made me cringe when I saw him high-fiving each student as they entered his classroom. I’m all for enthusiasm and praise but that is just cringe-worthy. 

We have another elderly teacher who is a particular fan of non-uniform days. He replaces his usual attire of a suit and tie with skin tight, black leather trousers that leave nothing to the imagination and a matching waistcoat. The students adore him as he genuinely cares about them and I admire this along with his refusal to conform to the norm. 

The party animal teacher
I think every international school in Kuwait has teachers in their early 20s who like to party. Fairly standard. Most keep it for the
weekend but a few over-indulge in various home-brewed concoctions during the week and come into work smelling of alcohol, cigarette smoke and in dire need of sleep. There has been much playground gossip about teachers getting drunk whilst abroad on school trips. One teacher I worked with was fired because he became addicted to ethanol and would drink it from a water bottle whilst at work. He even developed a skin condition whereby he was covered in large, dark red marks. He was often found in the staffroom having a nap and snoring loudly.

The ‘only students with wasta shall get my attention’ teacher
We have one teacher in particular who lives by this ethos. Mostly, most teachers including myself, dislike her. She always has time to deal with any student who is Kuwaiti and from a wealthy family but far less time, even disdain, for other nationalities. She particularly enjoys having meetings with the parents of her favourites and talks to them sweetly like their child is an angel who can do no wrong. However, when dealing with non-Kuwaiti parents she has a personality
transplant: she becomes aggressive, rude and talks to them like they are beneath her. It's completely unprofessional and blatant discrimination. Full of her own importance, she also employs favouritism on teachers – any teacher willing to kiss her ass will get preferential treatment. I keep my communication with her to ‘good morning’. I’d rather be fired than part of the kiss ass, wasta-seeking crew. 

The money money money teacher
We all know that the vast majority of expats come to Kuwait for the money, myself included; which isn’t very logical where I’m concerned because I’m not so great at being sensible with it. Anyway, whilst I understand wanting to save up money whilst here, it really irks me that so many teachers are literally obsessed with it. It’s their
sole focus and nothing else matters. They are stingy to the point of misery. Some even double or even triple their salaries by tutoring. I know (not heard of – know) teachers who have set up a classroom in their second bedroom complete with desks, chairs and a whiteboard. Generally, they will not tutor less than 10 students per hour. They charge 15kd minimum per hour. So that’s a minimum of 150kd per hour. Some do 3-4 hours of tuition per night and then more at the weekend. You do the math. The teachers who do this are mostly maths and science teachers as these are the subjects most in demand for Universities abroad. 

I don’t do tuition because I simply believe that I’m paid a fair salary to get students to pass exams, within my classroom. I get 4 months holiday a year so if that involves helping students at break times or after school then that’s part of the job. Some teachers at our school do not teach all the content and instead use this as opportunity to recruit students to their tutoring sessions. ‘We haven’t covered Unit 6 which
will be in your final examination but if you come to my tutor session, I will cover it then.’ I hate them because we do have enough time to teach everything and they are greedy and manipulating students for extra money. 

A tutoring session should be one on one and only for students who are having genuine difficulties. Not all parents can afford school fees plus paying extra because a teacher isn’t doing the job they are already paid for. 

The displaced University Professor
The teacher who grew up dreaming of teaching Emily Dickinson at Stanford, but instead teaches at a high school in the desert, and
hasn’t quite come to grips with it all. One particular teacher comes to mind: he dresses likes he’s just emerged from a grand, English countryside estate, speaks like he’s swallowed the Oxford English dictionary and has little patience for second language English learners (most of our students). He walks the corridors with an air of superiority and arrogance; when not doing so, he can be found sitting in his self-designated seat in the staffroom pondering to himself ‘how did I end up in my 60s having wasted over 20 years of my life teaching in Kuwait to ungrateful students who will never appreciate my thorough knowledge of Shakespeare and Dickens? Stanford really lost out when they rejected me. *sigh*’

The scary 'Old School’ teacher
These teachers are true disciplinarians and will not tolerate children who are rude, noisy or who have a droplet of character.
Often maths teacher, they don’t believe in creativity and can't abide 'new age' topics such as drama and art. They fear change and are extremely reluctant to even use a PowerPoint let alone anything else. In their eyes, repetition and traditional teaching methods are key. Often they have one foot out the door and are simply counting down the days to retirement. 

Although these teachers often have a wealth of knowledge and teach it in a methodical way which is helpful to many students, their lack of rapport and flexibility with the students is something I don’t understand. I particularly dislike teachers who are unfair and control the classroom via fear. They are cowards themselves who are so lacking in their own self-worth that they can only derive a sense of power from scaring children. Teaching and learning are constantly evolving and we must move with the times. Students have differing learning styles and it is our job as teachers to cater to such needs and to self-evaluate and hopefully improve. How can we improve as teachers if we do not allow students to voice their opinions in an honest way?

Teaching in Kuwait has been an eye-opening experience. There are good and bad teachers in all countries but unacceptable and unfair conduct are much more rife here. Teachers are only human and no-one expects perfection.  However, being fair, competent and interested in students should be a bare minimum, as should treating fellow teachers professionally. At the moment, I enjoy teaching because despite having to work alongside such characters, most of my time is spent in the classroom teaching students; I love seeing them progress both academically and personally. My classroom is like a little sanctuary where I can create the atmosphere and activities and which allows me to have far less interaction with adults. It's also a very realistic place for Ryan Gosling to come in and say...
Yes Ryan.....Yes I am....