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Monthly Archives: July 2011

Amy Whinehouse’s Death

It is always a sad predicament when one finds a youth with so much potential die at such an early age. It is not for anyone to say she “died too soon”, as our lives and paths are predetermined, it was her time.

Her choices however, are what we can lament.

Having hit top of the iTunes most downloaded charts since news of her death became public knowledge, the world mourns the loss of Amy Whinehouse.

Some however, are more interested in searching for images of Amy Whinehouse with no make-up or wig on; to those I say, show some respect.

These actions further fuel the fact that we are as much responsible for her death as the drugs that killed her. The general population of the world is so quick to accept stars and celebrities, and so quick to condemn them when they slip up. It is a vicious circle whereby the stars and celebrities themselves also add to their downward spiral.

I cannot say I was a fan of hers per se, I may have liked a song on the radio that turned out to be hers once or twice, but that was the limit of my interest.

Much like Heath Ledger’s and Brittany Murphy’s demise, Amy Whinehouse is sure to spark emotion and condolences from around the globe.

It is not for me to say, however celebrities lives are not all glitz and glamour, there is a dark side to fame that is always shown in real life yet never explored.

Britney Spears, the mouse-keteer, Christina Auguillera, Hilary Duff, Lindsey Lohan, Miley Cyrus.. Compare the starts of their careers with where they are now. The good girl image is quickly discarded as soon as their fame skyrockets.

All one can hope for is that a lesson is learnt from all these young deaths.

Part 3 – My Life in Exchange for Yours – Twice Saved

With the day of my brother’s wedding looming on the horizon, and no sign of a give from Tyrants position, as well as no bite from the other job offer with the other company, I decided it was time to take matters into my own hands and spoke to another compatriot at the office, a different manager in charge of a different branch, with a department of 2, compromised of him and his senior accountant. I told him of my predicament, and he took pity on me. Not before however, Tyrant saw me in his office and ordered me out.

That day Tyrant informed me that it was within his ability to fire me and send me packing.

Luckily for me, help was on the horizon. Everyone was aware of Tyrants maniacal tyranny. Early one morning as I was sitting with another manager (I shall call him Mouse, and the reason as to that name shall be revealed later) and telling him stories of the hardships I have had to go through in Tyrants department, none other than Tyrant himself barged in and ordered me out of Mouse’s office, then proceeded to harangue Mouse for allowing me to waste office time. That single incident was the straw that broke the camel’s back Mouse came to my rescue and requested an internal transfer.

Tyrant finally accepted, much to his chagrin, to have the last laugh, he decided to record my transfer as having occurred at the beginning of the month, despite us being in the middle, so that my measly salary, in its entirety, would fall solely on the head of Mouse.

Mouse agreed, and I was finally free of my depression, which had manifested itself in a loss of appetite, lack of sleep, loss of weight and a general lethargy that had me dreading the idea of waking up in the morning, for fear of the clash that was imminent to occur that day.

Mouse was very kind, and his senior accountant was also a gem, her name was SMASH, she did not tax me much in terms of workload. The difference between the two departments was what areas of the empire they were responsible for; Mouse was handling agriculture, different retail and real estate. The main difference was, this operating system was in Arabic, whereas as Tyrants was in English. The reason Mouse requested me in his department was for my English, which proved to be the single greatest asset in my arsenal when applying for jobs.

Fate had it in store for me to learn to type in my native language, which seemed a daunting task at first, but I am thankful for it nowadays, as I can truly use the mantle of bilingual. And, it came in very handy, as later it shall be revealed.

The wedding came and went, and it was a glorious bash of epic proportion. Two weeks later I was back at work, striving diligently to prove myself to Mouse and work hard.

Luckily for me, Mouse’s department’s PCs came with internet access. And it is with this small gift that Fate and Destiny truly smiled in unison upon me.

Now, for all intents and purposes, I came to realize that this career was a dead-end job. One could not claim for a raise until a period of 3 years elapsed on their employment with the company. These were the words spoken by Mouse himself. I was in no position to argue.

Once upon a fine day, Mouse went on vacation, and left SMASH in charge; as I went about performing my diligent daily functions, it came to me, at that moment in time, to Google the term “accountant jobs in Kuwait”, and I came across a website, for a company I hadn’t heard of, in a position I felt I wouldn’t fit in, but nonetheless, I applied.

The one thing I had made at that local company was connections, and one of them was a rugged American contractor, Phil, who loved to walk about whistling. Upon hearing him speak I was instantly drawn to his office, which happened to be a mere couple of feet away from me, as it was the first proper accent I heard since first joining the ranks of that company.

After establishing a friendship with him, it was his advice to not be afraid to send resumes all over the world, and all over the country, never be afraid of a cold shoulder. Apply to jobs you are under-qualified for, no resume goes unread, and at most you will serve to increase their candidate pool, so that when such time occurs that they have an opening suitable for you, you will be contacted.

Mouse was not on the Phil-boat, he viewed him as a threat for some reason, as he was required to pay Phil’s salary through his department.

During this time, the company at Al-Ardiya once again decided to give me a call, having kept me on hold for 2 months or so, and inform me that there is another position open. I went and met with the same HR guy again, took another couple of exams and was ready to be made an offer to.

It was much less than the last offer they made me. In actual fact, it was the same amount I was getting paid currently with this company.

I toiled with the thought of whether or not to make the jump, negotiating with the HR guy for an increase, a mere 10% increase over my current salary. As it stood, I was being offered the same salary, but this company was much larger, hence the possibility of promotion was always there.

When I reached an agreement with the HR guy as to an increase in their offer, again, a mere 10%, it took me a day or so to cement the idea in my mind and call him back to confirm my acceptance.

I was shocked to hear him tell me he had found another candidate willing to do the job for less, and that my offer had expired.

I will never forget that HR guy’s name, neither his smug attitude.

Suffice to say, destiny had another plan for me, and again, that 2 day delay worked in my favor, as it was later to reveal itself.

Mouse discovered my online activity and sought to put an end to it by cutting off my internet. Again, the mind works in mysterious ways, and despite not knowing how to, I was able to re-instate my internet connection, due to the fact that his senior accountant was on vacation and I compared our settings, hence I was able to continue upon my quest of sending a resume to every company in the State of Kuwait that was hiring.

I learnt later that SMASH was also upset at Mouse for his inability to grant her a decent raise, despite her having served her 3 year initial period. To compensate, he agreed to have the company pay an amount to send her to one of those 2-day workshops that offer you a certificate in the end, right here in Kuwait. I was asked if I was interested, but I declined, as in the name of self improvement, I had already signed up with a training institute to partake in a course that would see me add a title to the end of my name, the course was due to start in January, however, it got delayed, and in the greater scheme of things, that delay was a godsend.

Later on, she found a better position in a different company and jumped ship. She was made to pay for the course she attended on this company’s dime, the one I previously had turned down, and January 2008 marked her departure from the company.

On a fine day in January, I received a pleasant call from the audit office I mentioned above, asking me to come in for an interview. They had a written exam I had to take, and that was a 3-hour ordeal they said, so I had to make up an excuse of car-trouble to ditch again. Mouse was not amused but conceded nonetheless.

At the time, I had what would be considered long-ish hair, to others. To me it was just hair, at cheek length, nowhere near as long as it used to be during my years of university. I showed up, in a my current attire for work, formal shirt and cotton pants, and proceeded to meet with 2 people at that office; Sun, the manager, and Moon, the senior of the department. I was given the exam, followed by a translation, Arabic to English and vice versa, which, thanks to my current 6-month stint in an Arabic accounting position, I was able to glide over with ease.

Sun, called me back a while later, and I went in for another interview. Despite having failed the entrance exam, he was extremely pleased with me; the translation of that Ministerial document sealed the deal.  Honestly, it came from a lifetime of reading John Grisham novels, as the majority of the passages I was working with where Ministry related, and hence had a dab of law to them. Again, I heard the mold and potential line, feeling all the while like a pile of clay or putty.
There was however a catch; the HR manager there, as well as Moon, the senior in the department, had requested that in order to offer me a contract I must first present myself to them in a suitable form –with shorter hair.

This is what I looked like when I applied:
 

And this is me during my rebelious uni days on the beach at Sharm, see? That is long hair! The one above was not!

Part 4 – My Life in Exchange for Yours – Mouse Revealed, Sun Shines

Good afternoon dear all who are reading, today we come across the final chapter of my first employment. The idea behind naming Mouse shall be revealed, as well as the tumultuous task of finding a replacement on such short notice.
As most of you know, today I am travelling to Cairo, plane leaves Kuwait at 4:40pm. I will take that much needed relaxation time to pen the second part of my work story, again, with hidden wisdoms in the middle, that show how the world works exactly as it is supposed to, and everything happens in due time, when it is supposed to.
To those who have taken the time to read these ramblings of mine, I thank you. To those who have chosen to comment, I thank you even more.
Onto the next part!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
When Sun asked me for my salary expectation, I told him what salary I had in mind, which coincidentally was the same salary I had been offered the first time I visited the company in Al-Ardiya, and also the same salary that the new girl in Tyrant’s department was given. His response literally blew me away, despite my salary expectation being lower than what he had planned to offer, he raised it, making it 60% more than what I was earning currently with Mouse. I said, for that amount, I was willing to wear a dress to work if need be (I should have had higher standards for myself but, alas).
Suffice to say, I agreed.
The package comparison came as follows, at my current place of work I was getting a mediocre salary, a leave of 14-days, with a two-week notice period. By that time, the two-day weekend had finally caught up with this company that time forgot, and Thursday was a full working day, making Saturday a holiday. The work hours shifted to become till 4:30 each day. The package I was being offered was 60% more than my current salary, a plane ticket home, 30-day annual vacation, working hours from 8-5 for the months of May to December, 8 – 6 for the months of January to April (audit season).
Upon returning to my workplace, I was quick to inform a dear friend of mine, a charming, loving, funny secretary by the name of Rose. She told me to be like a frog, and never quit hopping from one job to the next. I took her advice to heart, and never for a moment stopped implementing it.
As expatriates, we are here for mainly one thing; to earn a better living than what we would in our country of origin. Loyalty will not be rewarded, and seniority is over-rated; what is the point in accruing a hefty end-of-service benefit/ indemnity at a later age, when working for a higher salary now can offer you a better standard of living? Find a better offer and take it.  That is the wheel of life in Kuwait.
A dearly departed teacher of mine once said, expatriates are in this country for one thing; it’s a 3 letter word that ends with an X, and it is not the first thing you think of.
Now came the time to break the news to Mouse. After a mere six-month stint in his department, and with the wounds brought about by the departure of his senior accountant, it was time for me to administer another blow and hand in my resignation.
Now some would say, how could I do this to Mouse? He had taken me in and taught me when Tyrant discarded me. It all comes down to prospects.
This day in age, the proof of seniority through age is a defunct belief. If in order to prove myself, I have to depend on the time I spend in a place, and not upon the effort I put in or how well I do my job, then thank you, it is time for me to go.
Like all those who are faced with change, I was hesitant to accept this new position, despite verbally agreeing with Sun to start in March of 2008. As humans we have a fear of the unknown, and learning a new skill-set, for I was leaving behind my career as an accountant for a step up the corporate ladder to auditor, was a daunting notion.
I discussed my offer with Mouse, and he claimed to have attempted to speak to the owner of the company to meet my offer (or something close to it, he said, since I was familiar with the work here). The owner refused, and my resignation paper was approved.
I did however take into consideration Mouse’s efforts on my behalf, and agreed to delay my departure from the company, instead of the contractual two week notice I gave him one month, in which I vowed to find and train my own replacement.
It was a grueling month in which I had posted ads online, posted on Facebook, spoke to HR, and even interviewed a few candidates myself to assess their skills. Apparently, everyone is bilingual, and everyone took English courses and had certificates to prove it from the American University, however, put them in a conversation and they stammer and stutter. Mouse’s English was not up to par, so he specifically requested that his new accountant be fluent in the language.
One of the possible candidates was a woman suggested by the owner of the company. She came in, all made-up and multi-colored, and when Mouse wanted to meet with her, she was away chatting with her friends from the office.
Mouse told me he did not wish to hire a woman. SMASH had left him disgruntled, so he overlooked the potential candidate, rightfully so in his eyes, as she had already ditched him on her first interview.
As I was interviewing a friend I suggested to come in for an trial, with perfect English, Mouse’s prerequisite, the owner of the company came up to me mid interview and told me he wished to speak to me in private, and then he berates and accuses me of being preferential and not giving his candidate the proper due process. My response was simple, I had in fact given her an exam, and her results were unsatisfactory as per Mouse’s review. I did not mention that Mouse did not wish to hire her on the grounds of her gender and lax work ethic.
My friend did not get the job, Mouse shot him down for not having accounting experience, completely overriding his previous comments to me about being able to teach accounting to anyone but needing someone with perfect English. 
As it turned out, hope was on the horizon.
Remember the IT guy who took away my gaming privileges? Through him I was able to find a suitable replacement, Mali. Another friend I acquired that I have kept to this very day, whose history, or rather, his relatives history, crossed paths with me previously.
In my rush to train my replacement, Mali proved to be extremely capable and competent, I made a hasty error in which I informed the general manager of the department that a certain client had not paid, when they in fact had, as part of the accounts receivable process.
As you can see, this company lacked the simplest segregation of duties, whereby the GM himself was calling clients and asking for payment.
Since the GM does not deal with me directly, he lambasted Mouse, who was quick to point the finger of blame to me. Accordingly right? Later I was to realize the importance of delegation and how, before upper management, I do not exist, and it is my immediate supervisor who should oversee that my work is correct. My next manager showed me that. This one, quite fittingly, deserved the title of Mouse.
 Now, in a very childish fashion, he asked me to go speak with the GM. I knew what was coming, I had made a mistake and it was rectified, I knew I made a mistake; that should be the end of it, right? Wrong. Mouse insisted I go meet the GM, so I took Mali along with me, and the phrase used by the GM was, “accountants words are like bullets, they shoot out fast, make sure you check the accounts properly next time!”, to which I replied, in my mind of course, there will not be a next time.
Against my better judgment, and according to Mouse’s wishes, it was time to bury the hatchet with Tyrant, as with my departure imminent, it was time to bid farewell to all, himself included.
I had wanted so badly to just ignore him, for he was the reason behind my bout with depression. His inhumane treatment of his employees, his disregard for peoples feelings served to further fuel my loathing of everything he stood for.
However in the end, I conceded and bid him a polite farewell and bon voyage, we shook hands, and that was that.
So on February 3rd 2008, I made my debut at the new office. As for my quest for self enrichment, and the course I had been planning to attend, the one that got delayed from January, well, it was slated to start off in February, however, it got delayed to March, the month I joined my new office, and whereas my old workplace was in Shuwaikh, the training area was in Kuwait City, literally across the street from my new one, walking distance.
Suffice to say, I had gotten an overdue haircut and, prepared to make my debut in the next phase of my life, and chapter two of this two part story; the second coming.
Destiny works in mysterious ways.
The lessons learnt in this part of the story are that we do not know where our destiny lies; as it was evident, with so many opportunities presenting themselves, and so many missed opportunities, they were all building up to one. The lack of internet in one department, the presence of it in another, the art of sending out haphazard resumes, even in failure opportunity presents itself. And as one can see, the dates for everything fit almost perfectly, as if, in some grand scheme, they had already been pre-planned, and just awaiting the right time to come true.

Karma Collects

They say Karma, the cosmic balance of good and evil, is a fickle friend, a very fickle friend indeed. One day she may choose to smile upon you, and in that day none can touch you. Howevr, none can protect you from her wrath and disdain once your time comes for retribution.

Not so long ago, I performed a feat of RobinHood-ian proportion, believing myself to be the fabled defender of the oppressed and down trodden. Coincidently, this event occured on the same day of my post regarding Pizza Hut’s super supreme customer service (here). The story goes as follows:

We were hosting a relative over for dinner one evening, and inadvertently, he chose to park his car in an area that a corrupt, vile, wretched educational institution claims is their own, and go to great lengths to enforce this territorial monopoly upon the poor people in the surrounding buildings.

(For more on how the evening went, feel free to view the previous post, this one is concerned with the events AFTER the family gathering.)

Unbeknownst to my relative, as he bade us farewell and headed back toward his car, the evil, corrupt, vile, wretched institutions nasty henchmen saw to it that the area they believe is theirs by rent-right was cordoned off with a sizeable metallic chain and padlock.

Fortunately that night, I had chosen to accompany my relative on his walk back toward his car, for the first time since he started visiting, as I had understood he was parked far away and thought to myself, well he would enjoy the company instead of walking alone.

Upon assessing the situation, the responsibility of freeing my friend and relative from the clutches of these Machiavellian thugs, rested upon my broad shoulders.

As I meticulously schemed, a single, lone lightbulb came to life above my head.

3 years or so ago I had purchased a mighty sledgehammer, to be used as an exercise tool in homage to Rocky Balboa, in a vacant, empty yard behind my building that housed several large tyres. That formidable weapon proved to be the voice of the people, as I exercised it in ways befitting its original purpose as opposed to my intended purpose; it broke down the walls of tyranny.

I ran back home, my face alight with a huge smile in anticipation of the wanton destruction I was about to wreak upon this evil, vile, corrupt, villainous institution.

I retrieved my hammer, thoughtfully named Mjolnir, and proceeded to smash away at the chains of oppression that these thugs had placed up to trap the hapless, hopeless persons of the area in a criminal way for their own nefarious purpose. My relative, smiling ecstatically, thanked me and drove off into the night, free at last.

For good measure, I decided to take the long chain as booty, and to serve them a reminder that wherever there was injustice, the hammer of justice was sure to prevail.

That day I went to sleep feeling quite the hero.

Last night however, I came across a stark, grim realisation.

In an act of equal destructive proportion, some bandit had come into my building, located my bicycle which I used to go on adventures with the DBCK, proceeded to hack away at the chain I used to keep it safe on the stairwell, and the wretched thief made away with my bicycle in tow, as well as the small chain I used to keep it locked.

An Eye for an Eye, Iron for Iron, a Chain for a Chain.

Karma, Collects.

Part 2 – My Life in Exchange for Yours – Revelation of Tyrant

Picking up where we left off, as Dear Anonymous wants to know, why was my first manager referred to as Tyrant in this story?

Read on, and once again, thank you for your time in reading this, all comments/ criticisms welcome 🙂

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ever since my return, Tyrant had pulled a 180 with me. The first 3 months I spent in his department he was firm, but fair, friendly even. This new side I was suddenly being shown was downright ugly. The side that everyone had warned me about the day I joined. I was being subjected to the same abuse his other accountants had grown accustomed and conceded to. There are a few incidents that are notable, and shall be discussed as the story continues.

During my absence, a new accountant was drafted to the team, as the senior accountant at the time was planning on leaving. Him being a fellow countryman, H-Mad shall be his name, we meshed instantly and became great friends – to this day.

His story was that he worked for a company, and left it to come to this one after a disagreement on his raise. We would spend the evenings together, hard at work as Tyrant toiled in his office behind us over the phone. I recall one incident where, after working for a straight 10 hours without a lunch break, I was sharing a kit-kat bar with H-Mad, so I passed it along over the top of our stalls, right under the nose of Tyrant, who could see it from his office. Apparently, the hungry hippo was craving a break and a kit-kat also, as the very next day, he sneered during his typical daily rant towards us by saying something along the lines of “and you stay overtime to just eat candy” infront of some other people in the office. He fancied himself a ladies man, although he was grotesquely rotund, he had a disgusting habit of sitting in his chair, pushing it back, and patting his immense girth like some savage caveman after a delicious meal.

One time in the office I was amused to hear the sound of what I believed to be a real purring cat, I thought it strange but declined to make any comment. Tyrant however would not be tethered, comes out of his office like a blundering ogre and proclaims who has a cat in here? In an amused, comedic voice. As soon as people started laughing, he realised something was wrong, and it was revealed that there was no actual cat in the office, only H-Mad’s ringtone. To say Tyrant blew a gasket would be putting it mildly, he was furious at being made a laughing stock of he immediately ordered H-Mad to change his ring tone. Since we are on the subject of ringtones, Tyrant had a habit of yacking away on his phone for extended periods of time, being in accounts I saw that his monthly mobile bill was running close to the 300KD mark. Imagine, a 40-something year old man, who’se ringtone was the “Buttons” song by the PussyCat Dolls. It was like a bell around the neck of an enormous kitten, for everytime that music blared in the office, I knew he was close.

At that time, there was trainee from a subsidiary of the company, she had had a falling out with her supervisor and hence was to our department until things calmed down. She was Kuwaiti. It came onto me to train her, and I did. I even went the extra mile and made her quizzes, a to-do list, a job description, the whole enchilada. This seemed to fall on deaf ears with Tyrant, he did not care.

My patience was wearing thin; day after day the demeaning attitude would continue to reveal itself, all the while I was unaware as to the reason behind this sudden animosity.

One time I called him on it; in response to his constant berating comments to everyone (including myself) I walked into his office and told him, to his face, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. He proceeded to rant on about how when he was young they used to catch flies by rubbing vinegar on the inside of barrels. At that moment I was looking at him and wondering, what exactly is this swaggering oaf talking about, I was being hypothetical and here he is lecturing me on fly hunting.

H-Mad informed me one day that Tyrant had spoken to him and was planning to let me go. During that time, we had already interviewed a fresh new recruit who was to join the department, a girl, so my services would no longer be required.

This new girl, a friend of mine as well to this day as well, had been offered a salary higher than mine (the same salary I would use as a benchmark in future interviews), despite us both being fresh graduates. The only difference was, her residence was transferred, whereas mine was made from scratch.

Armed with the news that my job was in jeopardy, I spiraled into a chasm of depression. I lost weight, felt lethargic all day, lost sleep and felt utter despair when waking up in the morning to prepare for work. When at home, I would scour the papers and the online world for hints of job openings and would quickly send out my resume to any and all.

I had one bite during that period, an up-and-coming marketing agency in Kuwait City, the very heart of business in Kuwait. As it had been on my list to one time take a bus to a place I had never been to (and up to that point, I had never been to Kuwait city alone) and just walk about and get lost and find myself, I decided to embark upon that adventure and head on over there. The manager I met with was a middle aged woman, well dressed, veiled, who smoked like a chimney with the tell-tale voice of a caffeine/nicotine abuser. She had asked me to jump ship for the same salary, and another ambiguous position as she wanted to “feel out” where my talents lay. I had always wanted a job in marketing, but getting one for the same salary I was receiving seemed illogical, especially at the beginning of my career. So I gracefully turned down her offer.

One day, I had arrived early to the office, the exact time is forever etched in my memory, it was 7:50am; work officially starts at 8am. Tyrant was not there, so I thought to amuse myself a bit and was playing a mean game of Mine Sweep. The thing about my cubicle was he had clear access to stand beside me, out of my line of vision, and see me. So, for the first time in a lifetime, he came to work early, and saw me. As he started to bellow out that I was wasting office time, I told him I was not on the clock yet, as it was 7:50am. Later that day, the IT guy came to my desk to disable the games, it was unimportant however as I saw how he did it and was quick to reverse it.

This dance of one-upmanship continued for quite some time. During that period, and after lasting a whopping one or so months, H-Mad decided it was time to split, he had also had enough of Tyrant, and left the department over a disagreement regarding his leave request, which would serve as his honey moon as he was getting married, an issue he had previously discussed with Tyrant prior to joining. Tyrant reneged on his word, so my friend put forth his resignation papers. It was later revealed to me that the life expectancy (work wise) for most Arab nationals with Tyrant was around 6 months.

Once I had made a mistake on an entry a while ago that both he and his senior accountant had failed to detect before he posted it. Standard procedure dictate that the posted entry into the accounts system would need to be un-posted by IT. Previously, he would simply raise the telephone and make a call to the IT manager requesting the un-post. This time however, he asked me to photocopy the entry I had made, emblazoned it with a huge “Ayman says he made a mistake. Signed Tyrant” and asked me to hand-deliver it to the IT manager.

To those who may think that believe that since I was erring a lot, he was in his right position to criticize or admonish me, I say there are limits to criticism. I may not have been a grade-A student, I was however, smarter than the average person, as Yogi Bear said. I updated several processes that took tedious amounts of time, created several excel sheets that to this day are being used in Tyrants department, and even drafted an operating manual for the job description of accountant in his department. So yes, I had put in the effort, but it was met with scrutiny.

I was claiming my overtime for hours spent in the office one month, hours verified with a record due to the finger scanner, I was taken aback when Tyrant decided to slash my overtime and say, tough.

At the time that H-Mad had informed me that my job was near termination, he had helpfully passed my CV to a friend of his in a more well-known, more diversified local company in Al-Ardiya area. I had gone there for an interview and a test, and that is where I learnt to come up with my ultimate skiving excuse of claiming I had a flat tire on the way to work, and merely rubbing my hands over any car tire to add plausibility to my tall tale. If it fooled Tyrant, it can fool anyone.

The interview had gone well; however, the new job was stuck in limbo due to some inter-departmental conflict within that company regarding the hiring of certain nationalities over others.

July was fast approaching, and I had another event to attend – my elder brothers wedding.

Kuwaiti law stipulates that an employee is allowed to take an upaid vacation after completing 6-months of work. Technically, I had, so it was my entitlement.

Now it is noteworthy to mention that at the time, the “enslavement” policy of most local companies was still in effect; whereby the Human Resource department would hold on to your passport, until such time that you would request a leave, and then it would be handed to you, given the necessary paperwork. Up till that point in time, my passport was nestled safely in my possession. Once I had a sit-down with tyrant and informed him that I wanted to request a 2-week vacation to attend the wedding, I was met with a “where is your passport”, and “No, you cannot go”. He then proceeded to tell me how he had missed his nieces wedding for work, and how work was important, work came first.

I told him, point blank, I was going to attend the wedding. He ordered me to get my passport to him, and not only that, he forbade me from returning to work until such time as I would produce my passport.

I conceded, much to my chagrin.

Set your Limits, and then Exceed them


As humans, we are prone to underestimating ourselves, limiting our capabilities, accepting less commendations despite earning them.

How often does the employee who toils in a company from 9~5 believe their work to be capable of being done by any random stranger, given proper training and time? Only to find upon leaving said job that the learning curve dropped drastically, and those once routine works performed by them appear tumultuous tasks to the new employee.

At times, people are content with lower levels of success as it means less work and responsibility on their shoulders, they see it that if one were to unleash their true potential, rise up higher on the corporate ladder, amass greater responsibility, work longer hours and generally be more miserable. This is a common misconception which is an internal roadblock to success and self-enrichment.

In underestimating ourselves, we leave little room for criticism. Just as a compliment can serve to send a person up to cloud no. 9, a criticism can shatter a spirit and will beyond repair.

Whereas if one were to delimit their potential, to accept that they are capable of great feats, of great understanding; sure-fire satisfaction will definitely follow.

Guesses and speculation, fear of the unknown, hesitance toward change, all cumber growth and potential.
Instead of the glass being half empty, it could very well be half full. You never know until you try.
Not failure, but low aim, is a crime.” – James Russell Lowell said that, I say, and thanks to my Anonymous Designer friend for this:

How often do we surprise even ourselves with our knowledge or skills? We are unable to praise ourselves properly for fear of sounding arrogant, but there is a thin line between Arrogance & Confidence. Our modesty prevents us from taking credit where credit is due.

As the lyric go:

I’m not cocky, I’m confident
So when you tell me I’m the best its a compliment – Ja Rule – New York

“Never be afraid to take pride in your accomplishments,” says I.

GulfNet offers free DSL, no catch they say

Or so their advertisement reads; the arabic part says the internet is on us, the router is on you.

If someone can call them up and check what the offer is:

Positivity after A series of Unfortunate Events

In November of 2010, I was subjected to a series of unfortunate events enough to inspire a new novel by Daniel Handler, or a thriller by Steven King.

Let us start, at the beginning.

Eid Al-Adha break was slowly dawning upon us, the much anticipated public holiday for all working class folk, as it is almost a 4-day break, add a weekend to that, and a week off of work, and you have a free-long-holiday.

I was travelling back to Egypt for some much needed R&R and family time, little did I realise what awaited me.

It was at the airport, and the subsequent plane ride back home, that things started to take a tumble downhill at break-neck pace.

First off, I was blonde at the time, granted, it was self-inflicted and by my own (for pictures of that social experiment, click here), but to the unbeknownst stranger, it had to be a freak accident of chlorific proportions.

As is my habit, I had taken the window seat on the plane. Upon descent, I was awed by the amazing scenery below and quickly pulled out my camera to snap a few choice pictures. As the lens was pushing out, it hit the window of the plane, albeit lightly, however, the camera refused to open after that, giving me an error message.

Misfortune number 1.


I was upset at this, the camera was still new! However, I swallowed that lump of discontent and thought positively, I was sure I would be able to find someone to fix it.

Upon landing, I quickly slipped my local SIM card into my phone, the number I had had since I started university in 2002, 8 years ago, all my friends knew me by that number. It did not register, a trip to Vodafone later that evening confirmed my uneasy suspicion, something had gone horribly wrong, and my number was recycled.

Misfortune number 2.


When the Vodafone employee requested to see some form of ID, be it a Civil ID or a driver’s license, I was shocked to discover that I had forgotten both my Civil ID and Driver’s License in Kuwait!

Misfortune number 3.


I had my brother help me out with his ID, and I acquired a new line. Upon getting home and firing it up in my phone, the fourth shock of the evening took place. My phone was not working.

Misfortune number 4.


Fortunately, that was rectified quickly via my cousin, who was quick to take my phone to a pro who reset it, with little loss of data, albeit a few new contacts.

The next day I set about getting my camera fixed with another cousin of mine. Note that I was wearing the same jeans from my flight, my favorite pair.

Finding the licensed maintenance shop was an adventure in itself, after visiting 3 different locations, the last one gave us an inconspicuous sliver of paper with a number, call the number and we got an address. The initial estimate for repair was quarter of the cost, I reluctantly agreed. After waiting there for half an hour, I was informed that the lens needed replacing, and the cost would be almost half of the original price. I adamantly refused and asked him to put it back together and give it to me. I was delayed a further half hour, and was utterly surprised when  the technician started using my camera infront of me. Apparently, it was a mere problem of dust in the mechanism, and it would cost me the inspection fees only, a very minimal amount.

I did discover at the shop that my favorite pair of jeans were torn in a very “sensitive” place, whilst sitting across from a lady no less! So I had to throw them away.

Misfortune number 5.


However, all these trials and tribulations were a prelude to a Magical, Serendipitous event that took place on the 25th of November, for on that auspicious day, Destiny decided to compensate me in full for the previous calamities.

It involved me, and a beautiful woman, and it made all those misfortunes worthwhile. For in essence, those misfortunes had faciliated our meeting so-to-speak. And thus began a story that will continue for the rest of our lives.

Suffice to say, all the above misfortunes, sans the torn jeans, were rectified; my new number was much cooler than my old one, I had a friend in Kuwait DHL my ID and license to me (discovering that there was a DHL outlet right behind my house because the delivery man came when I was out), my phone and camera were fixed.

So with all those misfortunes, something beautiful came out of it in the end.

God bless.

Setting Precedent – Freedom Run to Tahrir Square

This day in age, people can voice their opinion in a myriad of ways. Some go on hunger strikes, some shed their clothes, some bear signs and take to the streets, some blog, others tweet.

And some, like me, run to make a point.

Thursday 14th of July shall mark my return to my homeland, Egypt. I live in Nasr City, Abbas el-Ackad to be exact.
Friday morning, I shall take to the streets, and jog to Tahrir Square. The distance 12~15KM give or take.
This is my way of showing the spirit of the Egyptian people; a testament to our long winded-ness. The wheels of justice may be slow, but they shall move, as clear as I shall move to Tahrir Square.

We each do our part to contribute to the better whole, this is my calling.

I do not do this with any form of sponsorship, this not a socio-economic or political stunt.

This route has not been pre-planned. I run at my own risk, for there are no pedestrian paths for me to follow.

 I am not running to raise money, but awareness. Terry Fox did it for cancer, I will do it for Egypt.

Maybe this will serve to set a precedent, one day, someday soon, this could become an annual event, a walkathon, a charity fund-raiser, for any and all to partake, in commemoration of the determination of the Egyptian people, and in honor of those who fell during the Egyptian Uprising.

I shall track the course via Sports-Tracker and upload it once I am done.

إذا الشـــعبُ يومًــا أراد الحيــاة, فــلا بــدّ أن يســتجيب القــدرْ
If the People Desire to Live, Fate Must Respond Indeed

My Life in Exchange for Yours – When Destiny Comes Knocking part 1

I wish to become a writer, and this is my first attempt at penning a self-help/ autobiographical few chapters that are intended, in essence, to help people believe in the fact that destiny does indeed exist in this world today. What better way to do so than to give examples from my past experiences that are testament to that very fact?

When I sat down to write, I was surprised to have covered 9 full pages initially. Knowing that this is a considerable amount to read all at once, I’ll break it down into smaller portions to be read at leisure.

So without further adieu, allow me to take you on a journey into the past, and thank you in advance for your time.

(All comments and criticisms are appreciated!)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Chapter 1 – The First Job

On December 10, 2006 I re-entered Kuwait, with a dream in my mind and a song in my heart. Back to  the country where I had spent the majority of my young adult life, this time without the guise of requesting knowledge. I had returned on a visitor’s visa to find a job.

I did not know where to begin, I sent countless CVs to dozens of companies, went over all the ads in all the newspapers, but to no avail. The main prerequisite for finding employment in Kuwait was a “transferable residency”, which I did not have.

Fate, as it so often does, decided to take pity on me, and with her oh-so beautiful face flash me a brilliant smile. My search concluded a mere 11 days later, having interviewed and gotten accepted to work as an accountant for a local company with a myriad of operations that involved retail, engineering, agriculture and manufacturing. A friend of a friend knew that a manager at her company was looking for an English speaking accountant, submitted my resume, and I got a call to come in for an interview.

Little did I realize however, that I was heading down the wrong path; a path of depression and self doubt.

At the time, life seemed good. The manager, that had interviewed me did not discuss a salary, as he said he would “judge” my potential within the 3-months period and then give me a figure. I was not paid a red fils for that entire period. He gave me a line that I became equipped to hearing in all interviews I sat for, you have potential, I can mold you into something. So, I foolishly decided to leave my career in the hands of this seemingly pleasant stranger.

Initially, I had also applied to join NBK. Of course, getting into NBK required a few known associates, lets call it as it is – Wasta, and I remember stapling that Wastas business card to the front of my application as I sent it in. they called back for an interview, I took part, I got offered another job. I believe it would have been call center.

I discussed this with Tyrant, whom I had been working for for almost a week. His initial response was shock. He took that as a flaw in my character, already seeking other employment in spite of his taking me in. I weighted the options before hand; NBK was offering a call center job, erratic hours, a yet unknown salary, a friendly atmosphere of peers, and the chance to work for a bank. Whilst here, I was being offered an accountancy role, close to my field of study (I was a business admin major), and the potential to be “molded” into a manager at some point in time.

I declined the offer with NBK, deciding to stick to my current promise.

Destiny and fate intertwined, as this was but the first branching of career path. I am sure that in some alternate universe, Lord Aymz had indeed chosen to accept NBKs offer, and how his life turned out, I can only guess.

Working at that company, I got to slowly dip my feet in the work pool and garnish a modest understanding of accounts. I was nothing more than a glorified data entry analyst, and my seeming savior turned to be no more than a demented demon, a Tyrant, as he shall be referred to henceforth.

The place I was working was considered the head office for the multiple operations of this company, so everyone was either an accountant, a secretary, or a manager. It did not take me long to be introduced to the majority of the workplace, and to find out that I was the youngest one there. My friendly demeanor made many open up to me, and they turned my attention to the fact that no Arab national had ever lasted long with Tyrant. I heeded their warning, however, I had seen nothing, yet, to verify their claims.

Tyrant had a filthy work ethic; his department was made up of 4 accountants at the time, and I had joined them as a junior. I quickly discovered that internet access was prohibited, so I took to searching the office network for documents to quell my hunger for reading things on a screen, there I discovered the word “Bio Data”, which seemingly is a biological term of metrics, turned out to be nothing more than a fancy word for curriculum vitae.

The working hours were Saturday to Wednesday from 8am till 4pm, and a half-day on Thursday, from 8am till 1pm. This was before a two-day weekend was declared for all, or should I say, the majority of companies. Tyrant however, had other plans.

Tyrant demanded overtime, which is not a bad thing, on the surface, as we were getting paid for the time we remained in office, even if it was to just twiddle our thumbs. The jist of it was we were not allowed to think of leaving until 6pm, you needed permission to leave on time, imagine that. Later, I came to realize that this tactic was to dispel the possibility of his accountants seeking interviews with other companies.

In all honesty, for the first 3 months of my employment, I had felt no ill-will from Tyrant. I was beginning to wonder if people were wrong about him; despite seeing his hard, rough, crude demeanor with others, he had been relatively easy with me. His vile side was that he would literally wipe the floor with his other accountants, with a thunderous, bellowing voice, in front of everyone. There is an Arabic saying which goes along the lines of, if you wish you criticize me, do it in private, if you wish to praise me, do it in public. With him it was the opposite.

I put in the overtime, tried as much as I could to learn something useful, and passed the time by reviewing more bio-data’s.

Time, as it has a habit of doing, passed. And the 3-months visit visa came to an end. I was then to travel back to Egypt and process the documents for my permanent visa. The first nail in the coffin of my career as an accountant with that company came with the declaration of my salary; it was below what I expected, contrary to his words of “molding” me into something. I shrugged it off, considered it to be me paying my dues, doing my time in the trenches. I did however voice my indignation to Tyrant.

After 3 months of grueling work, with countless hours of overtime, I was finally on my way back home, a rest of around 20 or days as I ran cross-country to finish my paperwork, got x-rayed, poked by needles, spilt blood and sweat to finish in due time, all the while calling Tyrant by phone to update him on my status.

My paperwork was done, and surprisingly, coincidentally, fate once again intervened to plot this auspicious occasion, as the day of my return coincided with 3 joyous occasions.

My birthday. My younger brother’s birthday and his graduation.

Yes, April 21st 2007, I was back in Kuwait, with residency process papers in hand, ready to celebrate both my birthday, my young brothers birthday, along with his graduation – all on the same day.

Then came the change at the workplace that set of a series of events that would prove the most beneficial to me.

~~~~~~~~
 
Tomorrow, we shall see why I refer to Tyrant as such, and how he turned a full 180, from good to devil in under 3 seconds.

August 2011 ( View complete archive page )

September 2011 ( View complete archive page )

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