Tuesday, September 9, 2008

blood and oil...

Heading out of Kuwait City towards Iraq can be found an official Kuwaiti government sign, “GOD BLESS U.S. TROOPS.” Is this the same GOD that Republican V.P. hopeful Sarah Palin said endorsed the war in Iraq as “a task that is from God” or the same GOD that she said we need to pray to for another matter -- a $30 billion national gas pipeline project that she wanted built in Alaska. "I think God's will has to be done in unifying people and companies to get that gas line built, so pray for that," she said. Here in Kuwait, with a mosque literally on every block, women covered up head to toe in black, the call to prayer wailing out every hour, and everyone fasting from dawn to dusk, one has to wonder what GOD was meant by the Kuwaiti sign? What GOD was Palin talking about? Is the religious right in the US really that different than the Islamic fundamentalist here? …despite gas being only around 80 cents a gallon here (in US dollars), I am, reluctantly, going to have to get a car… I do not want to, but Kuwait is just not made for walking… I’ve only walked a few blocks out from my hotel but it has been like an obstacle course… besides the over 100 degrees everyday, as seen in the photos, there is often no sidewalk… very often it is just sand… if there is a sidewalk, it is more often used for parking… I’ve never seen a country with more SUV’s and Hummers and their favorite place to park is up on any sidewalk they can find… many of the streets have fences going right down the middle so a walker needs to walk the entire block to cross the street even if they just want to go across the way… I also have not seen even one walking signal… many intersections do not even have stop lights at all… mant time that I have walked the streets, especially at night, I almost get hit by a car… drivers do not stop for pedestrians… I’ve heard this said about many places, the US, India, Taiwan, China, etc. but this is far worse than anywhere than I have been… it is built into the design of the city… everything is far away… roads and parking lots dominate the landscape… there is a bus system, but I’ve been told by many, Kuwaitis and Westerners, that it is ONLY used by the “lower classes” (the migrant South Asian workers) and they would not be caught dead on a public bus… what other university in the world has “valet parking” at their campus? A few people have commented that there are few people in most of my photos… one reason for this is that it is Ramadan and people just do not go out in the afternoon, but another is that no one walks, except quickly from their air-conditioned cars to the air-conditioned buildings… on global charts for carbon footprints, the Gulf states are all at the top… at least the UAE is starting to do something about it: UAE begins building new zero-carbon city , but city planning has to be thought in more holistic terms everywhere: Reflections: New Orleans and China

I got a lot done today-picked up and deposited my Resettlement Allowance, put up posters advertising my class, looked for housing and found a currency exchange that actually would covert the rest of my US cash! Starting to feel better!

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