Saturday, April 16, 2011

Help! My Neighbors are Swingers!

So I take it the subject line brought you here.  It wasn't a typo.  Let me start from the beginning to paint a more clear picture. This is going to be LONG.   For a few months now, I've suspected that my neighbor upstairs is getting abused by her husband.  I would hear crying/sobbing all the time during the day and sometimes at night my husband and I would hear running, stomping, doors slamming and screaming and wailing like she was being hit.  I say LIKE she was being hit, because I have no proof that he actually hits her, although it clearly sounds that way.

One night, he even locked her out of the apartment and she was lying down in front of her door and crying in her abaya and niqab.  I let her come in to use my phone to call her husband, because she told me that she lost her key. (I didn't see any bruises when she took her niqab off) Turns out he had locked her out of the apartment, because he let her in about 30 minutes after she used my phone.  He had even called back my number and my husband answered my phone.  I was like.... "Tell him that it's MY phone!!"  I didn't want her to get "allegedly" beat up again.

The next day, she showed up at my place without the abaya with her sisters and asked if I'd like to join their party.  I was cooking dinner, so I kindly declined.  They came back later with two slices of yummy chocolate for me and husband.  I thought that was so nice.  I told her/them that I would visit her for coffee when I got back from Turkey.  I was leaving the next day.  So, when I got back from vacation, I baked some homemade oatmeal cookies (Thanks for the recipe Spanks!) and brought them along with her plates.  She wasn't home.  I tried again the next day, but no answer.  I didn't want to give her stale cookies, so on the 4th day, I went upstairs with her plates and some Turkish candy I brought back from Istanbul.  Now we begin the real story...

This time she was home and so was her husband.  They invited me in and the first thing I noticed was how small the dude was.  I was thinking, "Girl, you let this little focker beat your ass??"  I sat on the sofa and noticed how nice the place was furnished and gave her the compliment.  Her English was not that good, but she understood a lot of words.  Her husband translated some.  After telling her how much I liked her taste (in furniture, not men) she showed me around the apartment.  Somehow we got on the subject of music and I told her how much I like Arabic music.  By that time we were in the bedroom which had LED lights around the bed.  Different.  But kind of cool.  So, she and I were in the bedroom talking about music and her husband came in then.  He told her something in Arabic and she turned on the TV which had MP3's of Arabic music.  He told her to dance.  And I was thinking .... uh, okay?  Now let me tell you my mindset at this moment.  I had just come from Turkey and hung out with some great people.  They liked to have fun and dance and were cool to hang out with.   I was thinking, "Wow, some cool Kuwaiti's"... different, but open.  I didn't know how open.  So, I sat on the floor and was clapping to the music (off beat), nodding my head and closed mouth smiling... thinking, "Strange." She asked me where my husband was and I told her that he should be awake from his nap.

 I went downstairs to get him and said,"Look, we'll stay for 10 or 15 minutes and go."  I was really trying to be neighborly.  Back at their apartment, the door was left open for us to come in and we stood in the living room saying hello?  They called us back into the bedroom.  Her husband was relaxing on the bed and she was standing by the TV putting her hair in a bun.  Introductions were made and my husband said how nice their place was too.  I thanked her for showing me Kuwaiti dancing and said that I had recently been to a Kuwaiti wedding.  Why did I say that?  Her husband was all encouraging and told her to dance again.  I looked over at my husband puzzled. And he looked confused too.   Still, trying to not be rude we clapped off beat looking ever so awkward.  I wanted to get out of there but I just didn't think.  Her husband was like, "Dance, dance.  Please dance."  So we got off the floor and tried to dance to the Arabic music.  She danced with my husband and her husband was dancing near me.  At one point, I turned to look at her and paused..."Did she just touch my husband's chest??"  I turned back to her husband and he was scooching his pelvic region all close to me.  That was it!  I was like, "Man!  It's hot in here.... Wooo, I'm so tired!  I'm going in the other room." I quickly went into the living room.  The wife came in there with me and started showing me her wedding pictures.  That is when I learned that she is from Saudi, her husband is Kuwaiti and she is the second wife.  My husband was in the bedroom talking to her husband.  Then her husband said something in Arabic and she was running back to the bedroom.  Then her husband came in the living room and sat next to me on the sofa while I was looking at  their wedding album. He made small talk and then he started rubbing my lower back and a little of my side asking, "Is this okay, yes?"  I immediately said,  "No, it's not okay!... And he said, "Why not?"  So I said, "Because I'm for my husband and we don't do that!" Then I called to my husband, "We need to go Lulu (grocery shopping)!"  My man came out and I was trying to catch his eye so he could see that I was uncomfortable.  He missed it.  His wife was trying to take my husband back to the bedroom to dance for him and I said, "No, we've got to go."  I wanted out of there!  Her husband was asking if we could come back later that night for like an hour.... yeah right!  I stepped in and said, "No.  He's got to work and we've got to go."  I moved towards the door and wanted to run!

When we got back inside our apartment.  I was like, "He touched me!"  I told my man how he was rubbing my back.  And my man said, "She touched my back too!  Ugggggh!"  We looked at each other and said, "What the hell just happened?  What the hell did they think was gonna go down!?"  Oh my gosh, I want to rinse my brain out and forget this ever happened!   I felt like I was in a bad Seinfeld episode.  We called Desert Girl on the way to Lulu (grocery store).  I said," Girl,tell me I'm not crazy and this is not a normal custom here!"  She confirmed that they were not normal but crazy and that we were like the stupid people that moved to a haunted house and wouldn't move.

So the moral of the story is:   When in doubt, GET OUT!!!!
 It's time to move.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

I Love Istanbul!

Fireworks over the Strait of Bosphorus.  An amazing view from our apartment.
I have a friend that I worked with in the U.S. for over ten years... I'll call her Fun Girl.  She's Turkish and back living in her home country, Turkey.  We haven't seen each other in a couple of years and since I'm so close, living in Kuwait, she invited me to hang out with her and celebrate our March birthdays.  Her husband, Shutterbug, who I also know very well, booked an apartment over looking the Strait of Bosphorus.  My hubby tagged along for a few days and we enjoyed ourselves immensely.

We arrived on a rainy night and had to walk about a block to the apartment.  Apparently, the place we were staying at, was undergoing massive street reconstruction.  They were paving the road and relaying cobblestone. Glad I wore comfortable shoes!  By the way, if you're traveling to Istanbul, don't even bother packing too many diva shoes.  The cobblestones, roads, and stairs will end up ruining them.  One thing that impressed me , though, is the fact that the workers paved this incredibly long block in a couple of days.  Hmmm... something that Kuwait could learn from...

Our street where we stayed was under construction

Our apartment building was very old; much like Istanbul itself, yet I found it very endearing nonetheless.  As for the 6 flights of stairs that kicked my ass everyday... I was not expecting.  Like I said, the building was very old.  We would all go out and walk, walk, walk. Up and down the streets; seeing amazing things all day and then come back and trudge up those old-ass, curvy flights of stairs.  I was so out of breath and thankful when I got to the top everyday, that I forgot to take a picture of them.  Living in Kuwait has made me lazy and I had promised myself that after I got back from Turkey that I would kick up my exercise routine.  Well, God has got jokes!  'Cause my exercise routine was in FULL effect in Istanbul.  To get around you must walk!  Although there's every mode of transportation available... buses, taxis, ferries, subways.... You still have to walk up hills and stairs and cobblestone terrain to get to transportation!  By the end of the week, I was used to it, though.

Within a 5 minute walk from our apartment was fresh fruit stands offering juice... yummy and nutritious!
Imagine when the flowers bloom on this old rooftop garden ... charming!

The buildings are very old in Istanbul, but I thought the I the mix of old and new textures was cool and artsy looking.
The end of Istiklal Street.  The hub of great shopping and eating.

I loved walking up and down Istiklal Street.

A quaint Mediterranean house on Princess Island.

Getting around on horse and buggy, or bicycle on Princess Island.

A local baker with fresh goods daily.

So THIS is how they get heavy furniture up those narrow stairways!

There's a gazillion cats in Istanbul... but hey,  no rats!  I couldn't resist feeding all the kitties.

Next time, I'm going to try the bikes instead of the stinky horse and carriage to get around Princess Island.

The famous traditional fish boats next to the Galata Bridge.  I highly recommend you taste a fish sandwich here!

Local vendors and good eats near Galata Bridge.  Close to the enormous spice market.

The Bosphorus bridge in Istanbul.  One side is in Europe and the other  crosses the Asian continent.
They were playing/singing "Sweet Georgia Brown"  Theme for Globetrotters.

A boat ride on the Strait of Bosphorus 

I had a fantastic time visiting with Fun Girl and Shutterbug.  I must mention, that on the second night, they took us out (me and hubby) and surprised me with a birthday cake and Turkish gypsy musicians played while I belly danced at the restaurant.  I had so much fun!  I would definitely recommend visiting this friendly city.  Loosen your belt because you will eat great food!   I have yet to post more pictures.  I did get to see the Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmed Mosque), the Cistern and the Aya Sophia (Hagia Sophia).  I will post more pictures and video after I sort through them.