The Welcome Dinner

Accessibility in Kuwait FFF-

Originally uploaded by The Toze
Another example of accessibility in Kuwait. This disabled parking place was near the restaurant we went to, El Gaucho, which is very common here and not quite as upscale as it is in the states, for my welcome dinner. It was funny in the Sunday staff meeting when Yassin, my boss who is from Sudan, assigned Chris, American, to organized it I could have sworn we agreed on Weds., But on Tuesday, Feryal said that we were all going out to dinner that night. Alex who is a head of office and from Serbia also thought it was Weds. Almost the entire office went and some of them even brought their families. So in the Kuwait office there is a Deputy Country Director, Yassin, four heads of office, for each off the Iraq governates that we work in. Yassin serves as a head of office and the country director and then his deputy head of office, is also in the Kuwait office.

The four heads of office are Yassin, Chris from America, Alex from Serbia and Javanshir (Java) from Azberbijan.

The reporting department consists of Ali, who is from Sudan, an intern Seth from the states and Linda who is from India.

Two Iraqis run procurement, for security reasons I’ll call them AJ and R.

One engineer who is also from Iraq AN.

The finance department is run by Nata who is from Azerbijan and she works with Leesa and Thennal both from India.

Senineit (sp?) who brings us coffee, cleans the office and does some other administrative things aroung the office is from Eritrea, Africa.

And then there is me and my assistant Feryal. On Sunday we are hosting a five day Conflict Management Conference so we also currently have a ton of visitors in the office. Eva is the office manager from Jordan and she is really Bette Ruedaish, for those of you who don’t know Bette she is kick ass, no nonsense woman who can get things done like nobody’s business. If Bette and Eva got together we would all be in trouble.

Eva is from Romania and grew up there under the communist curtain. In college she met her husband, a Jordanian and he convinced her to marry him and move to Jordan. Becuase she didn’t have access to outside information she had no idea what Jordan was like. She said she got there and there were no flowers, no greenery and it was a real culture shock. She first moved there in 1984 with her husband. She returned three times to Romania with the intention of never going back to Jordan. She has one son and he speaks fluent Arabic and English. She said when her husband’s family came for the wedding, one of his male relatives covered his hand with his Dishdashah, the one piece robe they wear before he shook her hand.

She said “I was really upset and I go to room and I’m crying and my husband has to explain to me that to shake hands with a woman is a very intimate act, you can pass feelings through a handshake. Thinking back at some of the hand shakes I’ve been subjected to, it gave me the heebie jeebies. She is a fascinating woman.

Iraqis on Iraq – A novel concept.

The other day I was talking to R about the war in Iraq. I asked him whether or not the Americans should leave. He said no, but he thinks that we need to come up with a new plan. He said that the problem was that they invaded the country, disposed the dictator and then there was no plan for what next. So under Saddam they had electricity sometimes and now they never have it. So, the problem is not the disposal of a totalitarian regime, but rather that there was no plan after the initial plan of disposing Saddam.

R is married with a daughter who is a little more than a year older. Since the MC operation moved to Kuwait he only gets to see his family around once a year. I asked him if he would prefer to be stationed in Iraq. He said he is working on getting his family to Kuwait, but it’s expensive around $8,000. He said that it was his responsibility as a father and a husband to get his family out of Iraq because there is no future there.

AJ who is the father of four children, his wife had twins a year ago said that he also wants to get his children out of Iraq, because it will be better for them. When I asked him if he would leave Iraq forever he said no that one day it would be his responsibility to go back. As I sat there and talked to them it didn’t matter what country they were from or what their native language was, they were just two family men concerned about providing for their families and ensuring their children have a future. Both AJ and R are trained as teachers.

At the table we got into a discussion about the lack of accurate reporting on the war and Alex told me that only one in five suicide bombers is Iraqi. I asked why and he said because if you’re an Iraqi who kills other Iraqis then the family members of the Iraqis you killed come after you. AJ and R also said that it’s not the Sunnis fighting the Shias, but rather it is infighting that is occurring so Sunnis fighting Sunnis and Shias fighting Shias.

All the Iraqis I’ve talked to think the Americans should stay and Alex said if the Americans leave there will just be another dictatorship. There was also consensus on the need for a new plan.

“There was a plan?” I asked Alex.

“Yes, the plan was they were going to do what they did in Kuwait. America would go into Iraq, depose Saddam and then it would be a big party, just like it was in Kuwait.”

“That was the plan?” I asked.

“Yes,” he replied. I looked at him and remarked that it didn’t sound like a plan and he shrugged his shoulders. If that was the plan, I still don’t think there was one, I wonder why it worked in Kuwait and not in Iraq? I’ll have to ask Alex. Alex was actually stationed in Iraq, before the office was moved to Kuwait. He and his wife are expecting a baby and she will join him here in October. He has been working for MC for seven years, he started in Serbia, after a U.S. action there. He is very direct and open. He said “Everyone thinks Serbians are baby-eating monsters, but that is because of the media.”

Ever since I arrived AJ has seemed very serious to me. When were at dinner I asked him, why are you always so serious. AN answered, “Because he has four children.”

AJ laughed.

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