Except for those on the front lines (medics and other first responders and whatnot), we all had a lot of time on our hands in 2020, particularly during the lockdown.
I chose to use that time to develop a skill and eventually master it (I practice what I preach).
It started off with the best tasting cookies I’ve baked on March 3 (here). After that, I became obsessed!
I started looking up recipes online and trying them out and customizing them as I went along. You name it, I made it!
I say mastered, not because I omitted this ingredient or added a little more of that ingredient. I say mastered because THERE WERE NO INGREDIENTS.
I had to recreate specific dishes using only what I could find at home (which thanks to Covid-19, wasn’t much, other than the basics).
It wasn’t the money that was the issue. It was everything else!
Every other day, you’d hear of a local co-operative closing down because of several people who worked there or volunteered to work there had contracted the coronavirus. Ordering groceries online wasn’t any easier because of how glitchy the websites were (they’d either freeze on me or log me out or so on).
In fact, about a month or so before Ramadan, I tried ordering online from Sultan Center.
My mom loves her Sparkling Water. We were almost out. I needed to get her a case or two.
My dad existed on Salads and slices of Turkey so I needed to get Fresh Veggies for him and about two week’s worth (if not more) of Turkey and Turmeric, tons and tons of Turmeric (which he sprinkles generously over all his food).
My brother’s wife needed a whole thing (carton? box? whatever you call the 24pc) of KDD Skimmed Milk and a tray of Eggs (30pc). She and my younger brother live on a separate floor with their own kitchen and everything so they needed their own supplies.
Her husband (my younger brother) had asked me earlier for 24 cans of Nescafe Iced Coffee Drinks.
My older brother asked me to get him a carton of Cigarettes and some KDD Juices.
The female staff members of our household (all 2) asked for a variety of flavored Instant Noodles.
Our driver insisted I order a ton of Round Bread (Brown and White) and a ton of Toast. Apparently, the staff live on bread. Also, he said he needed Hot Chilli Peppers. Apparently, food doesn’t taste right to him and the others, unless it burns a hole in their tongue lol
Finally, the cook asked for… well… everything else (beef, chicken, fish, eggs, milk, cheese, etc…).
So far, nothing out of the ordinary right? It was pretty basic stuff. Sure, it was a lot (more than the stuff mentioned), but we were about 11 people (14 if the kids came over) living under the same roof. Sadly, the website was excruciatingly slow!
It took me 3 hours to track everything down for everyone on Sultan Center and add it to my online shopping cart, at which point it automatically logged me out. I checked the cart, only to find everything gone.
I’d just quit smoking but I was so annoyed by the website that I felt the urge to smoke (and fought through it). Instead, I went to hang out with my family.
Around 9pm, I went back to my room and got on my computer and made my second attempt to order the stuff. Again, it took me 3 hours. Again, it logged me out and everything was missing from my online shopping cart. By midnight, I was ready to call it a night.
I was up way before 6am (because insomniac) but at 6am was ready to give it a third attempt. I added the things for the millionth time, only to find that some of them were no longer available.
So, I had to find substitutes and check with each person if they were ok with what I chose as a substitute for them.
By noon, everything was all set, up until I logged in and checked my online shopping cart which had double the amount (too much) of everything I’d wanted. It meant I had to go back and delete the extras in increments of 1 (which took about a minute or two, sometimes three, per increment, now factor in the 200-300 items in the cart and that’s what I had to deal with).
Once again, I felt the urge to smoke and then when I remembered that I’d quit, I felt the urge to cry. That said, I did neither.
By 3pm my order finally went through (and it had only taken me almost 24 hours lol). The estimated arrival date said something something Friday. Since it was a Thursday, I just assumed it would arrive the next day.
The next day, nothing arrived. So I figured, maybe they needed an extra day. Again, nothing arrived. I waited and waited and waited.
After about a week or so, everyone started asking me about their stuff so I went online and checked. Apparently, it said Friday not the day after I’d placed my order, but Friday 3 weeks from the day of my order.
Basically, the stuff would arrive a few days before the beginning of Ramadan lol
Dean & Deluca + Lulu Hypermarket + Talabat.com + Local Cooperatives
The other sites were no better. A lot of other sites and apps were super glitchy. People weren’t getting access to groceries (my friends and cousins were all complaining about the same thing).
One cousin was in tears and said she had to resort to ordering online from Dean & Deluca (after she tried and failed to get access to groceries for her, her husband and their kids during Ramadan).
As for me, after the trouble I went through ordering from Sultan Center, I decided to search for less stressful alternatives. Unfortunately, there were none.
I was on the Lulu Hypermarket website and was on the very final step, but the button I was supposed to click (to create an account) was not clickable. Apparently they’d raised their prices to take advantage of people during the pandemic or whatever (I don’t know, ok?) and had to be temporarily shut down or something.
Next, I tried my hand at Talabat.com because surely they wouldn’t steer me wrong. How wrong was I? For whatever reason, typing up my home address was no longer enough. I had to drag the pin on the google map or whatever so the delivery driver could have access to my location, except the map was glitchy and wouldn’t let me do anything (no matter how many times I logged out or refreshed the page or cleared my cache and cookies).
Eventually, each Co-op (or at least ours) went live and you could supposedly order stuff from your local co-op online and it would be delivered straight to your home the next day (a feature that was not yet available until now). Navigating the website was an actual nightmare though lol The dropdown bar alone gave me major agita!
I understand why. Kuwait was not ready to go online, this fast with this many people. With time, they would obviously iron out the kinks and everything would run much more smoothly. In the meantime, my family and I did not have access to groceries and were running pretty low.
In the end, my sister in law suggested we utilize taw9eel.com which we did, but even then, you had to place your order as early as 6:30am and not a moment later, otherwise you’d get a message saying they were full (no more free order slots available) and had to wait for the next day to place your order.
The last time I’d used Taw9eel was probably back in January 2013 lol to order Xbox 360 Points (so I could purchase the Season’s Pass for the new DLC on Black Ops 2) along with a L’Oreal Super Slim Liner and some Clean & Clear Foaming Face Wash.
So after retrieving my password, I placed my second order with Taw9eel on June 5, 2020 and have been ordering online from them ever since! They had everything!
Sometimes things would go out of stock, but if you waited for a few days or a week or two, they’d come back in stock. Plus, the stuff you purchased (even Shampoo) had expiration dates on them, which was so convenient (unlike the exact same items purchased from Sultan Center)!
Their website was an absolute breeze to navigate! Everything worked great! I mean, I’ve placed 35 orders with Taw9eel.com to date and plan on continuing to order stuff from them!
As for my “cooking”, I started off with Side Dishes to accompany whatever the Main Dish was for Futoor (during Ramadan). I’d also make the occasional dessert.
Towards the end of Ramadan however, I was making main dishes for our entire household.
Cooking was surprisingly fun!
Even more fun was documenting everything on Snapchat! I took photos of all the ingredients, side by side, at the start of every dish I was making and I took photos and videos of every single step and then I took even more photos and videos of the final result!
It was extremely time-consuming and made everything take twice as long but it was worth it.
For one, it proved that I was the one actually browning the minced beef or boiling the chicken or sautéing the veggies. I had our Cook take pics and videos of both my (gloved) hands, kneading the dough or pouring the batter into the baking pan or so on.
For two, I felt it was prudent to document everything I made, in case I wanted to recreate it again at some point.
Lastly, I felt a great sense of achievement scrolling through my Snapchat gallery and looking at all the food that I’d made for my family over the course of several months.
It might not seem like a big deal for the average person, but remember, microwaving popcorn or boiling water in an electric kettle for my pseudo-coffee was about the extent of my cooking skills. So, for me, this was major!
Also, I’m glad I learned when I did because our Cook left for his 2 months vacation back in October, promising to come back in December and stayed in contact with the rest of the staff (his buddies) up until December, which is when he blocked the staff on WhatsApp, which deffo’ means he’s not coming back.
In hindsight, I wish I’d picked up Cooking sooner!