Mama Boooooga! Mama Boooooooga!  Na taka nee nee? Iko dizi, biyazze, nya-nya, daaniya…

Mama vegetable (is here)! What do you want? I have bananas, potatoes, tomatoes, coriander…

Her shouts from downstairs wake me easily from a light morning sleep. I spent my first night in Nairobi listening to bats squeaking at the windows, and desperately trying to find a comfortable bed corner. Eryn is in unfamiliar surroundings, so she’s sleeping with us at the moment. But since she’s a bed hog (as is the Hubby) this means she gets the prized (and most comfortable) centre bed position, while I’m stuck using my arm as a pillow and balancing my butt off the edge of a sagging mattress.

I get up, grab the baby who has already been playing with Hubby’s nose, lips and eyelids for 10 minutes, throw on my hijab and walk downstairs to greet the vegetable seller.

Jambo!  Hi!
Jambo, habari yako?  Hi, how are you?
Mzuri sana.  Good thanks.

My aunt and MIL jump in to bargain for green chillies, onions, leeks, cucumbers and tomatoes. We buy the lot for just $4.

(more…)

My best friend once asked me what our parenting style was. I said, “well, we feed her when she’s hungry, put her to sleep when she’s tired, hold her when she’s sad or lonely and play with her.”  Seemed straightforward enough.

I’ve noticed a lot of Kuwaitis shopping with their babies in tow — but in the arms of the maid. And the maids all stare at me and the Hubby in some kind of wonder as we walk around with Eryn in the sling.  Actually, we’ve been getting stares from everyone. It seems to be normal for many Kuwaiti families to put babies on a schedule and let the nannies take care of things.

To be fair, not everyone does this.  But yes, most Kuwaiti (Middle Eastern, Gulf) families rely on maids to care for their children.

When we arrived at the airport, I was feeding Eryn some Cheerios and pears, when baby Malaika toddled up to make friends with us. The two babies held hands and Eryn shared her toys — but the entire time, baby Malaika looked up at her nanny, smiled, laughed and held her hand while her parents stood in line for the visa. She once made a patting motion on her nanny’s leg — the same motion that Eryn makes on my shoulder or breast when she’s happy and comfortable. Everyone does, and should do what’s best for themselves and their family.  It just made me wonder how attached baby Malaika was her to nanny and not to mommy.

(more…)

 come here, come to me baby!

The last time I was in Kuwait it was Ramadan, and the city was solemn.  The fast was reflected in austere fashion and lack of available food during the day time.  Even at night when people came out to party after breaking their fast, the malls and the mosques were filled with people wanting to perform extra religious rites.  When we went out shopping it was to buy new scarves and abayas.  Qur’an poured out of car radios and reverberated from every minaret.

This time, it’s summer.  Everyone is on holiday.  And it shows.  We (finally) made it to a mall this evening.  I can’t possibly tell you how many malls there are, but lets just say that the culture here and in many places in the middle east, is to hang out at the mall.  It’s hot.  It’s the desert.  There are no parks.  So what better place to go than an 8,200 square mile airconditioned playground with 15 cinemas, 36 restaurants, 20 lane bowling, 10 Starbucks, and about 200 designer shops? 

I’ve noticed a huge change in the people and the religious culture as well.  Before, I’d hear the call to prayer, pause and reflect in its beauty.  Now I’m more likely to be changing a diaper, struggling to feed Eryn solids, or fending off exuberant family members who are super stoked to see me.  I hear it, but it’s in the back of my mind.  We still pray of course, there’s just a different feel to the city that penetrates everything.  Tonight at the mall, it was pounding Europop streaming from the shops.

The fashion is in full summer mode too.  So while I saw a lot of black hijabs previously, now there are a few plunging necklines, skinny jeans and leggings galore, harem pants (of all things), and colour everywhere.  Kuwaitis always dress up.  It’s normal to be semi-formal 90% of the time (formal in the other 10%) — so I’m feeling out-of-place in my only t-shirt and gap jeans.  Even the food is designer.  I had the BEST falafel sandwich EVER (here’s Eryn checking out the shop).  Fresh, lightly fried falafel, soft pumpernickel bread, shredded carrot salad, cabbage and pomegranate!  Brilliant. (more…)

Air conditioning has new meaning for me now that we’ve landed in 50 degree heat. But not just to stay cool. The airline “lost” our bag with all of my and Eryn’s clothes.

So we’re both commando.

Thank God I packed extra jammies in her diaper bag. But with this heat, she won’t be wearing much. I’ll just be naked under my abaya, because in some brilliant streak of genious, my Hubby packed it last minute.

Apparantly the bags were checked in Washington, and logically arrived in Q8. Someone may have walked off with it, or it’s fallen down behind some canister only to be found in 25 years. I hope we get it back. Baby clothes are too expensive.

So this afternoon we walked out of the airport, and in full shade, my cheeks burned in the heat. Insanely dry heat. Like standing in front of an oven. I hate to imagine what the actual sun feels like. I’ll check that out tomorrow.

Eryn was a star on the 12 hour flight. It was full of servicemen, and they all had a great time making her laugh. Now unfortunately, she’s tired and cranky and is not in good spirits to meet the family. She’s not home. There are tonnes of strangers making goo goo at her, and at 10pm Q8 time, she’s crawling around wondering when she’s going to get lunch. She’s had several full out meltdowns already.

There’s only a 7 hour difference… Shes resillient So I’m sure she’ll be fine in a couple of days. I’m the one who’ll have the rough night — trying to figure out how to get a wide awake baby to sleep at 2am, and eating my lunch now at 11pm.

Dinner is late here.

Lucky for Eryn though, she’s getting my broken German and Lebanese, the maid’s broken English, grandma’s Arabic and Hindi from the bollywood soaps on TV.

Sheesh. Even I’m so foggy I can’t even write a proper post :)

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