Sunday, January 10, 2010

Can't think of a fancy title

I keep attempting to start blogging again and clearly my attempts are not working! I have three or four draft posts just sitting there since my last "I'm back" post but I've never gotten around to finishing them. Life is simply too busy at the moment.

But I just got a comment on a very old post so I published it and then decided that since I'm in here, I may as well say something!

I just got back to London yesterday after the Christmas holiday, but this time I came back alone. P is starting a new job in Kuwait this month, and he and our baby Thunder have moved back there. I'll be following them once I'm done with the semester, around early May. I can write from anywhere but I'm teaching three undergrad courses this year so I need to stay in London until the teaching term is over. It sucks that we have to be apart for these three to four months, but it's necessary for both of our careers so we decided that we can get through it. These next few months are crunch time for me anyway, so I guess this way I can just totally immerse myself in writing and teaching with horse-blinders on and plough through. But I miss looking up from my desk and seeing P sitting at his desk working, with little Thunder curled up on his red pillow next to P's computer.

I'm sad that our life in London is coming to a close, and we're definitely going to miss our amazing little flat here and our lovely neighbourhood and daily routine. But I think I can honestly say for the first time in maybe four years that I am actually looking forward to moving back to Kuwait. There are a lot of exciting things going on right now that I want to get involved with. Kuwait has a lot of potential, particularly in individual people who are doing interesting things, and we need to find a way to really harness all this potential and make a change. And I really feel like Kuwait is slowly changing and I want to come back and be a part of it, because change can go either way and the more of us there are pushing for good, the better chance we have of getting Kuwait out of the mess that it's in. I'm sick of being negative about Kuwait and want to go back to feeling positive about it (the way I used to feel years ago), and rather than focusing on the things I hate I want to start concentrating on how I can perhaps contribute to fixing it. I had many conversations with people over this break about ideas and projects and things to work on when I'm back, and I'm eager to get started.

So that's it for me for now. I have tons of work to do today as I'm teaching a new class starting tomorrow and need to plan out my first lecture. I don't know if this post means I'm going to start posting again - chances are it just means that I'm procrastinating!!

Friday, July 31, 2009

I'm back (I think)

OK so it seems like there are still some of you out there who might be interested in reading this space again, so I thought I'd start with a bit of an update on what's happened in my life since my last post.

Biggest news is that my P and I got married last August (so, very nearly a year now)! We are now both living in London, and I have about another year left until I finish up my PhD. I'm in full-on writing mode now, which is exhausting and intense but really satisfying and exciting. P is working as a free-lance graphic designer here, which means he also works from home. So it's amazing that during our first year of married life together we get to both work from home and spend this kind of time together. It's also great because generally our time is our own - although we both work in front of our computers for at least six to ten hours per day, if we decide we want to blow off a morning and work late at night instead, we can.

And to complete our domestic bliss we now have a little guy in our lives (no, not a baby) - a half-Bengal five-month old kitten named Thunder. We have become a pair of obsessive doting parents who talk about our baby with each other when we're not home. If you saw how cute this little creature is, you'd totally understand!

Anyway, we're living in a completely different part of London now from where I used to live before I left for fieldwork. It's an amazing area - one that P and I actually discovered together a few years ago. It's right by the river (on the south side) and is a lovely part of town to live in, and we spend many an evening taking long walks up and down the river discovering new secret sides to this city. We're also closer now to all of our favourite places in London, like the Borough Market, which is very important seeing as food has become such a dominant force in our lives! Most evenings are spent together in the kitchen coming up with new recipes and eating proper home-cooked dinners. (I may start a recipe section on this blog if this re-attempt at posting regularly works out.)

Oh, and my sister "Lola" (formerly known as "Raine" here) is now doing her PhD in London too (although she lives with her husband in Windsor), and it's amazing having her here now too!

So that's my update. Those of you reading this who know me in person are probably disappointed at this boring post, but I promise to try and be more interesting in my next ones! Meanwhile, in the past year or so since I stopped posting I have actually met one or two of my former regular readers; so much for thinking I was being 'anonymous' all along! Seriously though, I know my identity is hardly disguised anymore, and over the years I have shared enough information about myself on this blog for anyone in a society as small and incestuous as Kuwait to find out who I am if they were so inclined! But despite this fact, I am going to remain posting as Kleio and maintain 'anonymity' on this blog solely for academic purposes, in that I don't want my real name, in which I write and publish academically, to be linked to a personal blog in cyberspace. But I am very aware of the fact that most of the people who read this now know me as who I really am, and that's absolutely fine with me!


Testing...testing...is there anybody out there? I haven't posted in over a year so I highly doubt anyone is still checking in here, but I will post this anyway just in case I do get a response. I have been toying with the idea of starting up this blog again but I have a sinking feeling I am talking to myself.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

My Comeback Post

It's been ages since I last posted, and this blog has more or less died since I came back to Kuwait last summer. But today I checked my blog Email for the first time in months and found a handful of Emails from old readers/commentators and one or two comments that I hadn't posted. So I looked through my blog again and realized that I actually miss posting every now and then. The problem is, I simply don't have the time to post these days. My days are spent conducting my doctoral fieldwork in the mornings and afternoons, and then when I get home in the evenings I usually write or spend time with my P (who is usually equally busy). The research part includes constant reading, regular meetings, the perusal of mountains of documents, non-stop note-taking, as well as my fieldwork journal which I keep to document my day-to-day experiences while conducting research. In terms of writing, at the moment I am editing/fine-tuning three specific papers for different purposes, as well as getting down random dissertation thoughts and mini-"sections". In between that I'm trying (not tremendously successfully) to go to the gym, and every now and then there is a worthwhile event going on around town that gets me to leave my flat and actually engage in some non-fieldwork human interaction (art exhibitions, dinners at Edo, gatherings at friends' places, weekend morning brunches by the sea, desert treks). But these are quite few and far between!

But there is something else that I do quite regularly as well. At least once every two or three days I find myself going out on an excursion to explore more and more of Kuwait. Sometimes I'll drive around and discover new hidden sites by car, but more often I prefer to explore by foot (which is becoming less doable now that it is practically summer). The wonderful places and things I discover in the nooks and crannies of this country are what keep me sane. My private adventures around Kuwait (sometimes accompanied by my P when he finishes work in the evening or on weekends) make me feel so happy and so sad at the same time. They provide me with a tremendous sense of purpose, and an inexplicable sense of loss. I guess that explains in a nutshell everything I've been feeling about Kuwait over the past nine months since I've been back.

I did get a break from my fieldwork routine a couple of weeks ago. First I went to California for a conference for five days, which was an amazing trip on many levels (not least because the exact area I was in was once home to me but I hadn't been back there since 1996). Then on my way back I stopped in London for a couple of days to do a bit of research, meet with my supervisor, and see some friends. It was great being back and it felt like I hadn't left. I've really missed London and I just loved walking down the street in the rain with my iPod on, going about my normal routine. I can't wait to move back in a few more months.

I thought I'd end this comeback post with a few pictures. I just love the mix of places my research takes me to. All of the photos below were taken within the span of ten days.

19 April 2008: Newport Beach, California on a beautifully sunny but brisk day. The icy blue Pacific was chock full of sail boats.

23 April 2008: Greenwich, UK on a chilly and rainy day when the sun suddenly appeared out of nowhere and made the wet green grass sparkle magically.

30 April 2008: Bneid Algar, Kuwait in the midst of an orange sandstorm like none I've ever seen. The first photo was taken from the parking lot of the building I was about to enter, before the storm hit that precise spot. In the minute it took me to ride the elevator up to the 7th floor the storm blew right past us.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A Very Orla Christmas

This post is a follow-up to my last Oral Kiely post, which is nearly two months old.

Today is Christmas, and for those of you that don't know, my family goes all out at Christmas. Now, I never actually got to order the Orla Kiely tent like I'd wanted to a couple of months ago. But no matter! For my Christmas present, my fabulous sister Raine got me the entire Orla Kiely camping set I posted about!! I got a tent, a sleeping bag, the wellies, and the lantern! As I mentioned in my post, practically everywhere online was sold out of the sleeping bag. How'd she get it you ask? Her wonderful mother-in-law, who is English, went to her local Millets in her town in England and bought it all and sent it to Kuwait! There was only one sleeping bag left in stock, so Raine bought an orange sleeping bag for my P that matches the whole set (besides, an Orla Kiely sleeping bag might be a bit too feminine for a guy to sleep in!).

She also got me and P a bunch of camping stuff to go with it - canteens, camping pots & pans, camping cutlery, a picnic mat, a mini barbeque, and all the fixin's to make 'smores (marshmellos, Hershey's chocolates, and graham crackers), as well as hot chocolate. Time to go camping...maybe Oman?

By lovely coincidence, as part of his gift to me, my P got me a gorgeous picnic basket. It is the perfect set - ideal for lovely afternoons up in Hampstead Heath (not so much for Green Island!). He really hit the nail perfectly on the head with this gift - it is just so me!

I won't go into detail on the rest of our family's Christmas gift exchange. Suffice it to say, it was a good one all 'round! Merry Christmas everybody!

P.S. In keeping with the title of this post, I will mention that my sister "Red Riding" also got me a fabulous Orla Kiely present for Christmas - a gorgeous bag and matching wallet, as well as an umbrella. See, it was a very Orla Kristmas! My collection is growing! *..* (<-- Only a privileged few will get this.)

P.P.S. For Halloween, my P and I dressed as Druids and built a replica of Stone Henge in our backyard for a Halloween party Raine and I threw for her birthday (which was on the 27th). Our Stone Henge was fantastic, if I do say so myself (although P did most of the work, but I was right there next to him helping out all through the night!). Anyway, I think it would be cool for us to put Stone Henge back up in the backyard and then roll out the sleeping bags and camp out amidst the stones! Our neighbours might think we're nuts, but who cares?!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Orla Kiely Genius

Orla Kiely is my favourite designer of all time. Everything about her designs and styles is just 100% me - from her bags and wallets to the interior design of her flagship Monmouth Street store. One of my favourite ways of spending a Saturday afternoon in London was to buy a coffee from the Monmouth Coffee Co. and then visit the Orla store next door and just walk around and enjoy all the designs around me. The colours and patterns of Orla Kiely are the perfect representation of the way I've always imagined my ideal world to be inside my own head.

Unfortunately, most of her stuff is outside my budget. I absolutely adore her clothing line but I simply can't afford to spend £200 on a single skirt. I have managed to buy myself a gorgeous wallet, and a pair of blue Orla designed Superga plimsolls which were only £50. And, my sister "Red Riding" bought me a gorgeous teal "hold-all" Orla Kiely bag last Christmas which I carry to university and now to work (it holds my PowerBook). So I guess I am gradually building up my collection.

This summer I happened to be walking by Millets in Salisbury when my eyes caught something that nearly made me fall over. There in the window of the sporting goods store was an Orla Kiely patterned camping set! Orla teamed up with Millets to create a range of funky camping gear in anticipation of the summer's festival season. There was a tent, a sleeping bag, a pair of Wellies, and a couple of little accessories. My initial instinct was to buy it all on the spot. But my conscience (in the form of my more sensible half) reminded me that my shipment to Kuwait was already full and it wouldn't be practical to buy this all right before moving back. So it was decided that I'd order it online once I got back to Kuwait, and so that I wouldn't have to leave the store empty-handed I bought the Orla printed battery-free flashlight.

And yes, I know that I've never been camping before but perhaps with the perfect camping gear I'll be more inclined to actually go camping! And there's always my backyard. However, depressingly, the sleeping bag is no longer available anywhere online. I've searched high and low and even contacted my friends in the Monmouth Street store (they know me well) and they don't carry it. The tent is still available so I just ordered it. But I am sad about the sleeping bag. Oh well.

Next summer we are so going to Glastonbury.

Friday, October 19, 2007


Yesterday (Wednesday) morning my phone rang as I was getting ready to head out, and it was a familiar but unsaved landline number (beginning with a 25- so Kuwait City). I answered with the usual sounding "hello" I give to unknown numbers, which sounds different from the hello I use when people I know are calling me. The tone of my hello to the unknowns is actually something that I found myself picking up after living in London - it's a very English-style sing-song "he-llo?!" (think of it going down in tone on the first syllable and then up on the second). Much to my surprise, I got the exact same "he-llo!" back! It was an English accent on the other end of the line, with a lady asking, "May I please speak to [my name]?" For a few seconds, I felt like I was back in London. I certainly was not expecting to receive a call first thing in the morning from someone with a proper English accent, and I know it might sound silly but it really started my morning off right. I miss England, I miss the English, I miss the English accent, and were it not for my daily podcast downloads I fear I would start prank-calling random London phone numbers just to feel closer to them. And I actually ended up having a really good day yesterday - perhaps one of the best I've had so far since I've moved back. Go figure.

It was a (social) call from the British Embassy, by the way.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Fallon Genius

I've dedicated two posts in the past to the Sony Bravia adverts done by the international advertising firm Fallon - one on the bouncing balls ad and another on the next paint explosions ad. Well, the third "Colour...like no other" ad is out and this time its play-doh. But instead of simply writing this post about the new ad, I thought I would take this opportunity to celebrate Fallon's work in general, since they have been producing some of my favourite ads of all time lately. So, to begin...

...let's all take a moment to enjoy this brilliant new Cadbury's Dairy Milk ad. I think this is simply genius. I'm not going to get into a long discussion on what or why. I get it (that there really isn't anything to "get"), and I adore it, and most of the people I know who have seen it have had the same reaction to it. What a fantastic job. The idea is hilarious, and the passion in the gorilla's face and body language is just...inspiring! Cadbury's took a huge risk, and hit it spot on. And yes, this was done by Fallon - specifically by Juan Cabral.

Fallon's work in general is always amazing, so let me show you some of my particular favourites from recent months. There is this magical ad for the Skoda Fabia that makes me feel as gleeful as a child running down a rolling green hill. They also do the ads for Orange in the UK, and I really loved their latest campaign, specifically the Pay Monthly, Reserve Tank, and the Gigs and Tours ads. They are simple and lovely, and have a sense of innocence about them. In short, they make me want to switch from Vodafone to Orange.

And now we come to the latest in the Sony Bravia series.

I'm sure all of you are familiar with the bouncing balls and paint explosion ads by now (if not you can view them through the links provided in my old posts which are linked at the start of this post). This one is just as perfect, creative, and effective. First, it was thousands of little coloured balls bouncing down the streets of San Francisco. Then, it was a couple of apartment complexes exploding into bright bursts of paint in Glasgow. This time around, it's hundreds of coloured play-doh bunny rabbits (and one giant one) hopping through the streets of Manhattan. It's really well done. You want to stick your hand through the screen and grab one of the little bunnies and feel the squishy texture. And at one point they all roll together into a giant wave and the break is such a great moment.

One of Fallon's greatest strengths is their fabulous music selection, and this ad does it again. This time, they used the perfectly fitting "She's a Rainbow" by the Rolling Stones. You simply can't go wrong with 1960s Rolling Stones. When the ad started, the music immediately took my mind and heart back to my childhood (not in the sixties of course, but I became indoctrinated into the sounds of the 1960s British Invasion from a very early age, in my single digits) - and I thought that was very fitting considering the play-doh theme. I love the ad. It speaks for itself, just as the other two did. And again, you don't know it's for Bravia until the very end (well, Bravia ad fans will immediately identify some trademarks of creative genius, but, again, you never feel as though someone is trying to sell you something).

My favourite of the Sony Bravia ads is still the bouncing balls one though. It was the most magical and literally left me speechless when I first saw it. And, of course, the music selection in that one was perfect too.

FYI - most people don't know that the song on that ad, "Heartbeats", was not originally done by José González (the version used in the ad). It was originally released in 2003 by Swedish electro-indie-pop band The Knife. Their original version is fantastic and if you haven't heard it already you should certainly check it out (watch/download).