Hark denizens, expats and locals! This blog is specifically for you! Kuwait's one-stop-shop for Intriguing titles that MEASURE up to the content. From social gatherings to local news, this blog has it all. The main aim of MyBloogle is to give you a good read, leave you with a smile, and hopefully have you tune in once again as a regular reader! Home to the Q8FootSoldiers running initiative in Kuwait!

Monthly Archives: September 2011

Congratulations! You Won! Google is giving you $1.56Million!

Apparently, with Google’s 14th Anniversary, some destitute persons find it amusing to send this out via email:

(add aswq@huuntt56.org to your list of emailers to BLOCK)

Here is how it will work, you reply, sending in your details, they ask you for your bank details, then a “nominal fee” of $100~200 for transaction costs, whats the big deal? You just won 1 Million Pounds right?

I mean come on, seriously? Please, do we look like we were born yesterday?

Don’t fall for it.

We Were Fearless, We Were Young

“Man is most nearly himself when he achieves the seriousness of a child at play.”

Heraclitus

Mischievous Kids

Remember the days of playful innocence, when exploration and adventure were the key elements to any child’s entertainment? When we could get away with anything for the simple fact that we were mischievous?

As we get older, we find more reasons to be afraid, and limit ourselves and our enjoyment as a result.

As children, there were no such things as consequences. In itself, that is both a good and bad thing, however it mostly led to enjoyable times, the memories of which we cherish forever.

It is truly as children that we get to enjoy life’s many bountiful moments with reckless abandon, for the more aware we become of the true nature of the world around us, the less likely we are to take risks and be ourselves.

We scraped our elbows and scabbed our knees,

without worry of illness or disease.

We went out and played in the sun,

Sunblock ignored, it was all for fun.

We yelled and screamed at the top of our lungs,

In youthful innocence, our minds did belong.

One fine morning I happened to hear exuberant cries coming from KIES’s newly founded football pitch (link). From the vantage point of my balcony, I discerned the source of the racket. They were kids, playing football. A quick glance around the pitch showed no points of entry to my skilled eyes, until I focused on the gate, which, if pulled a tiny bit out, will offer a sliver of an entrance to those that are nimble and agile.

I had thought to run around the pitch in the morning on a weekend, but my broad shoulders would nay fit through that gap anymore, even though, once upon a time, I would have been the first to break into pitch…

And so I was reminded of my youthful indiscretions:

~~~~

Once the school near my house (where the Orange ex-campus for GUST now stands) had a swimming pool installed for the Summer. My friends and I decided to jump the fence and use that pool to cool off during the hot Summer nights, even though we did not go to that school!

Of course, the school was not without  grounds keeper, who chased us, all half-naked and dripping, back to the fence from which we jumped.

Still laughing though.

~~~~

Another time, we were collecting a type of seed/ fruit from trees known colloquially as “Kanar“, I never fancied its taste myself, found it bland and disgusting, but the adventure of picking it was too enticing to pass up. Once we were picking it off a tree in a nearby building (where we did not live), and some resident took offence and chased us, again, we ran away as fast as our legs could carry us, however leaving my brother behind, who elicited sympathy from the angry neighbor allowing him to leave unscathed.

~~~~

Our building had 3 attachments to it. They were rented out to a bachelor, an AC shop, and the last was to a married man who built an extension to his house. This extension prevented us from being able to circle around the building, and more importantly, it prevented us from reaching our clubhouse, built atop the AC shop (both were adjacent). We would carefully tiptoe on the edge of his tin roof so as not to make any noise. We rarely didn’t, and many a time he would chase us away.

Those of us that were taller were able to jump over the building fence, as we would always be near the back of his house, so he would need to circle around the apartment to get to us, offering us a few precious minutes to run and hide. One time we were unable to escape on foot due to uncontrolled fits of laughter, so we lied to him that it wasn’t us, and he fell for it.

The most memorable prank we pulled on him was during Eid, when they sold those little explosives that would give off sparks. My friend had a slingshot, and we had an idea. I lit the fuse, he aimed the sparking explosive, my brother watched on as our 3rd friend banged on the man’s door, no sooner did he open the door did we let the explosive fly, sending him running back into his house.

And us running away.

Laughing.

~~~~

We would play football on a daily basis during the Summer, only going upstairs to change or sleep, nothing else. TV was a waste of time.

Football, our best friend growing up

Those were the times the locusts came to Kuwait, and we would catch them for fun.

We scaled fences that were twice our height, jumped off cars and rode bicycles in the middle of the street.

We were fearless. We were young.

The Heart of Kuwait like you’ve Never Seen Before

A picturesque post of a birds-eye-view of Kuwait City from Baitak Tower, capturing the true beauty of Kuwait City.

(Click the images below to enlarge).

 

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The picturesque skyline, complete with sea view

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Shot from above of Souq Mubarakiya - The white rows

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more skyline

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Safat Square

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Souk Mubarakiya from Up Top

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Safat Square + Glass Glare

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Nightmare Parking in Kuwait City!

Kuwait City is Magical; it is the perfect fusion of modern and classic, of past and future, of business and pleasure, of fine dining and shopping.

The 2 years I spent working there were amongst the favorite of my career, as it was amazing to be “in the middle” of the City, literally and figuratively!

Lunch was always an adventure, with the plethora of restaurants offering a multitude of dishes, catering to every taste imaginable.

However, despite the obvious attraction of working in Kuwait City, the bane of anyones existence there is undoubtedly the same: Parking.

Unfortunately, Kuwait is experiencing a growth spurt in its driving populace, and the streets are not fit, nor are the parking areas, to accommodate the sudden spike in drivers.

 

Parking in Kuwait

I love Kuwait City, but Parking is a nightmare! How are those parked meant to exit the parking lot, theres no physically possible way of doing so, unless their cars fly!

I Remember two incidents from my days in the City; I worked in the KAC Building opposite Muthana Complex and Jashnamal, I had to visit the Ministry of Finance often, which was just literally down the road, so most of the time I would just plug in my music and foot it over there, as it took the same time to walk on foot as it did to drive, go there, find a parking spot, do my business, walk back to car, drive back to office, find parking spot again.

One such incident I decided to take my car to the Ministry of Finance’s parking lot. A.K.A hell on earth. It is not an uncommon sight to see a bright “FULL” sign outside parking lots in Kuwait City.

Parking in Kuwait

At the early hours of the morning, all parking lots are already packed to Capacity. How do they even pack those cars in so?

 

Still I waited in line, got my ticket, and got in.

As I was on the hunt for a spot, I saw a car leaving to my side. Success?

No. I was near the exit, and there was another car coming in from the proper side, vying for the spot that I had mentally staked as mine.

Not to be discouraged, I entered through the exit. In my defense, the parking lot was in total disarray, with people parked in turns, on sidewalks, pavements, wherever they wished. So my daring feat was not out of place, survival of the fittest I say.

Now, the guy on the other side got wind of my treachery, and attempted to intersect, on that day, I was the better driver, and managed to squeeze in before him.

Better luck next time old chap, you would think right? I looked in my rear view, and the man was parked directly behind me, cutting me off. I figured the most I was in for was a few choice words, so I gathered my papers, took a deep breath, put on my “sorry-I-beat-you-to-it” smile and walked out.

The man had something pointed at me; an ID card or something (could have been an AA card for all I know, I’m not good with seeing small objects at a distance), and was yelling. I gathered he was, or he believed himself to be, some Ministry of Interior official or something, bedecked in a dishdasha and giant sunglasses, and was ordering me to show him my “licence and registration“.

The car I was driving was a rental, and with my wallet in my pocket, I told him here is the registration, I left my license in the office.

He went on and on and on about how he would revoke my license, have me retake the test, how there was no respect anymore.

Etc. Etc. Etc.

I wouldn’t have minded the verbal lashing, had it taken place in an environment that supported his claims that “the likes of me” were the ones ruining driving in Kuwait.

He then gave me the registration and sped off.

I was under the impression I would return to find my car towed or my tires slashed. Luckily neither happened.

The second incident, also at the parking lot of the Ministry of Finance, involved my colleague, who was driving at the time, and I was his passenger. As we were leaving the Ministry and getting into his car, he accidentally, and very lightly, bumped his door into the car beside him, which happened to have its owner seated right there inside.

He took offense and honked his horn, motioning wildly inside his car with his windows rolled up.

My colleague apologised, then got in his car, and on the way out again, rolled down his window to issue another apology to the man.

At this point, what would you have done? I was expecting the guy would just say, no harm no foul.

Not this guy.

He was like, yes just make sure you don’t do it again.

Another day of driving in the City!

People are creatures of disorganization. Parking lots quickly turn into scenes of chaos during peak times, with people parking over sidewalks, next to “NO PARKING” signs, or even in the middle of the street!

A bit of a live demonstration, behold, an empty parking lot infront of the building I work in:

Early in the morning, the parking lot is empty, a vast expanse of black, tarmac ocean, calm, serene even.

The Roundabout, no stragglers or lazy parkers... Yet

A short while later:

As you can see, people have already started parking around the edges of the Roundabout, despite the parking lot having PLENTY of empty space, albeit a short distance farther from the buildings where these parkers wish to go.

The parking lot, midday, HAVOC

 

The Magic of Bookshops in Kuwait

(Add a +1 to used book shops in Kuwait, as we have just discovered a new one)

There is no greater aroma or atmosphere than that inside a bookshop. The smell of the fresh pencils, awaiting to be used, the paper and books awaiting to be written on, the pens whose caps await to come off, to race across white plains to educate young minds.

It is always a nostalgic trip down memory lane when one ventures inside a bookshop-come-stationary shop. Immediately bombarded with memories of school, the trepidation of the first day was always overshadowed by the trip into the book shop to pick up the education utensils, the pencil-cases, sharpeners, rubberscolors, pencils etc. All bedecked with your favorite, multicolored characters.

I enjoy these trips nowadays, they serve as a much welcomed break from the toils of daily monotony, and a brief reminder of the playful innocence of our youth and exuberance.

At first glance, the London bookstore on Qutaiba street in Hawally appears nondescript, a totally regular small bookstore.

The London Bookstore

With magazines and newspapers on the outside, and stationary on the inside.

Narrow inside

However, you would be foolhardy to dismiss this as being the only offering within the Bookstore, for much like Alice, we must venture down the rabbit hole, into the catacombs below, and the magic that entails.

Down the Stairs and into the Rabbit Hole

And the world below reveals itself slowly.

And what to our wondering eyes should appear?

Breath-taking in its expansive size and splendor.

Getting ready for the school year, bags et all

Now the great thing about this discovery is, as I lost myself amidst the plethora of shelve s containing everything from greeting cards to crayons, from Islamic books to posters, from thumb-tacs to other knick-knacks, I came across the Holy Grail of all avid readers in Kuwait, a lone, dust-covered shelf in the farthest corner of the maze, containing, much to my excitement, second-hand reading books!

(yes I was excited, I love reading)

Back up the Rabbit Hole we go

With technology advancing the way it is today, people have lost the sense of a good paperback book in their hands, opting for the cold, lifeless, glazed tablets as an unfit substitute. Nothing beats the feel of a book spine beneath your fingertips as you eagerly flip the pages to discover how the tale twists. Flicking through with your finger on a plastic screen is just not the same!

Hence, add this bookshop to the small list of second hand bookshops in Kuwait, giving us a grand total of, wait for it, 3! Q8Books (link) in Kuwait City, which offers an amazing facility of searching their inventory online for the book you want, Better Books Kuwait in Salmiya (link) which is the only cafe/bookstore in Kuwait, and now London Bookshop in Hawally.

Live Photos of the Horrific Accident on the 30 this Morning

The Fire department arrived, late, to put out the fire

Earlier today, I wrote about how I was able to recover pictures previously deleted by cops at the scene of an accident (link).

Well, thanks to technology, I managed to recover the best of them. Sorry Police Force, you had no right to delete my pictures,  hence this is my Phoenix Song.

They are graphic, so be warned (images can be clicked to be expanded).

To start this properly, I will use both a detailed narrative as well as the fresh pictures I took, followed by the ones I recovered.

~~~

As I set out early this morning to head to the meeting point for the Q8 Foot Soldiers 3rd run (which was eventful in itself), I came across a scene of utter carnage.

An accident on the 30, also known as the Fahaheel Express, at 7:45am in the morning, when the streets are relatively empty, on a Saturday.

A car ablaze. Thick, black, acrid smoke billowing from its deteriorating husk, engulfing the beautiful cloudy blue skies, encroaching upon this serenity with its hideousness. Choking the world in a toxic stranglehold of destruction.

The amount of smoke was overwhelming, almost completely covering the adjacent building behind a smoke-screen of doom.

The investigative blogger within me decided to run across the pedestrian bridge, as the fire was on the other side heading toward Kuwait City. I snapped photo after photo, from different angles, of the carnage beneath, as the Police fought valiantly to maintain order, cordoning the street, and the paramedics rushed the injured to the ambulance. The fire raged on, awaiting the arrival of the fire department.

The burning car was on the exit to the left, this is the scene afterward, from on the pedestrian bridge. A few hours ago, his scene was a circus.

As I heard the siren of the fire department, I saw their vehicles speeding down the road on the other side, the fire may have been burning for a good 10 minutes after my arrival, no idea how long before. The fire department took time to get there. Nonetheless, their arrival was at a crucial point as the fire raged on.

The remnants of the horrific accident

I ventured closer to the scene, first from beneath the bridge, wondering to myself, this must be what investigative journalism is like! The adrenalin rush was overwhelming.

Secretly, I wish to be a live-action reporter.

The road beneath the burning car, forever scarred by the events that transpired. Unaffected otherwise, cold, calculating, awaiting its next victim.

I spotted a vantage point from which I could get some further amazing pictures.

The vantage point I took to photograph the scene, a mere few meters from the accident.

I got so close to the fire, I was roughly 5~10M away.

Horribly disfigured and mangled, the intensity of the fire having took its toll

I took off the banadana wrapped around my forehead and covered my mouth and nostrils with it, not wanting to inhale the toxic, nauseating smoke.

The burnt down husk of a vehicle that up to a few, mere hours ago, was running

Picture, after picture, after picture.

What remains of the vehicle

And then, A cop came up to me, angrily pointing toward me and demanding my phone.

View 2

At this point, all Arabic was forgotten, and I spoke only in English. I had no ID on me, as I don’t carry it when running, so I was very complacent.

View 3

He tried to delete the photographs, but was not familiar with the phone (My running phone, Nokia N97). I asked to aid him, thinking to pocket it and run, but what if he were to jump the fence and follow me? Not a good idea.

A view from the inside, burnt to a crisp

I told him I would delete them, and did so infront of him, as his buddy comes up to join him, the Honest Abe in me did delete all the photos, now wondering if I should have kept some and just opened another folder telling him see, all deleted. I did not think well under pressure.

I have no qualms now, I may have lost over 30 photos, but the ones I gained back, truly sweet. A victory for the freelancers out there who believe it is their right to cover any incident in public, for the public.

I am not just a blogger, I am a freelance journalist.

My blog does not merely center around my life, but it captures the life around me.

Feast your eyes on this:
The Fire department arrived, late, to put out the fire

My personal favorite, enter the fire department

 

A Close Up of the Carnage

What baffles me the most is how this accident came to be in the first place, it is saturday morning, most people are off, its 7:45am.

The reason, I believe, according to my instincts, would be that the person in the car had been out to a party, where he may have gotten intoxicated, and then, on the morning drive home, lost control of the car, missing his exit and careening at an impossible angle.

The road remains, impartial, unphazed, silent, awaiting, calculating.

Who will be its next victim?

Cops & Bloggers

This is merely a prelude to another post I am working on, but I have to wait for something to happen.

I have to take this opportunity to thank the Police for their strenuous efforts in upholding the peace by tackling the evil, growing phenomenon of the vile, wretched bloggers and photographers that plague scenes of catastrophes and crises with their handheld cams and such, with complete disregard for decency and human life, snapping away without a care in the world.

Thank you Police for keeping us all safe from these dastardly criminals. It is comforting to have the ability to sleep well at night knowing your constant vigilance over these ruffians is exercised.

Cop: Do you have any idea how fast you were blogging? Blogger: I'm sorry officer, I didn't know I couldn't do that..

Can you detect a hint of sarcasm in my voice? Just a hint?

Is it fair that the Police can forcibly ask you to delete any pictures taken on your phone, or even worse, commandeer it and attempt to do so themselves? Is it legal? You haven’t really done anything wrong.

What with everything that is happening with the Arab Spring and countless YouTube videos surfacing all over the internet from mobile cameras showing an indepth view of the atrocities being committed in those countries, one would think that investigative bloggerism would be acceptable as a news medium.

After all, in Kuwait for example, when there is an accident or a fire, it is in public. I am part of the public. I did not break into someones house and attempt to take pictures, for all intents and purposes, I could be a freelance photographer who sells pictures to newspapers, you have no right to commandeer my phone and ask me to delete any pictures from it.

In the end, it is ok, for where there is a WILL, there is a WAY. And with today’s phones being mini-computers in terms of operating systems, nothing deleted is ever gone for good, it is merely placed elsewhere.

The tech savvy, such as myself, can easily recover these files at our pleasure.

The purpose behind this post is to highlight that since something is happening in public, the Police do not have the right, as far as I believe, to single out certain individuals from the crowd and take away their phones/ cameras etc deleting the information, without a warrant.

Stay tuned for a blog post to follow shortly, with the recovered images.

“An accident at 7:45am in the morning, when the streets are relatively empty, on a saturday. A car ablaze. Thick, black, acrid smoke billowing from its deteriorating husk, engulfing the cloudy, blue skies, encroaching upon their beauty with its hideousness…

We, Q8 Foot Soldiers got Mentioned in the Friday Times!

Thank You Lisa Conrad!

What started off as a mere idea, an activity, now has the potential to grow into something inspiring.

Q8 Foot Soldiers, a brain child of mine that I started 2 months ago (link) with a then purpose of being a “Satellite Linked” group i.e. each person runs in their area, then uploads their progress to the page dedicated to that on MyBloogle (here).

The idea of Q8 Foot Soldiers came to the machinations of The Grapevine Kuwait (link) and also on fellow bloggers page, Blogyac (link).

Up to that point, I was impressed, a relatively new initiative getting mentioned so quickly across the blogosphere. One thing lead to another, and a Facebook page was created (link).

I was, surprised to say the least, when Kuwait Times (link) Journalist Lisa Conrad contacted me for an interview.

Surprised would be putting it lightly.

I was doing cartwheels inside.

Little do people know, being mentioned in the newspaper is actually one of my bucket list items. At first I thought I had it cinched when you could see a glimpse of me on the papers in the articles about Kuwait’s First Half Marathon.

So yesterday I ventured out to look for the Friday Times, to no avail.

I then went out again today at 12pm, but no places were open.

A friend informed me that she had read the article and liked it, so my desire was refueled, and again I went downstairs to look for the paper.

First bookshop – nothing.

Second – nothing.

Wait.

What was that? Two papers, lying on the side, removed from the other newspapers.

BINGO!

Without further ado, I give to you, the article, Running out of Exercise Excuses,  Q8 Foot Soldiers:

The Article in the Friday Times endorsing Q8 Foot Soldiers

 

Big thank you to our dedicated reader for grabbing a copy off the internet! Clearer Read

The key words are: Free & Dedication.

Tomorrow, Saturday the 24th of September, 8am, outside NES’s pedestrian path in Jabriya.

I’ll be there.

What IS a Homonym?

Don't Imitate...

That is a homonym.

Is it Taboo to congratulate Newlyweds in Kuwait?

For every occasion, there is a Card. Seriously.

Has it become taboo to congratulate newlyweds on the occasion of their marriage in Kuwait by gifting them with a simple, elegant, eloquently written card?

A very good friend of mine recently got married, and after returning from his honeymoon, our department at work decided to gift him with a card, congratulating him on his new role as husband, and it was my duty to find the card.

A lucrative business

I thought, simple, Qotaiba St. with its many, many bookshops, I’m bound to find a card there for marriage congratulations right?

Wrong.

I found cards for husbands from their wives, for wives from their husbands, for grandsons and granddaughters, for cousins and nephews, for 7th, 21st, 40th and 50th birthdays, for Diwalli and Eid, for Ramadan and Christmas, for Colleagues leaving the workplace, for sick friends getting better, I found Kuwaiti cards and postcards as well as just greetings.  What makes matters worse is they were not arranged in any particular order.

Look through the plethora of Occasions

After exhausting every possible solution, maybe buying a normal congratulatory card and scribbling “On Your Wedding!” in bold, I found a single, lone, solitary, reclusive card celebrating marriage.

And here it is, without so much as a greeting inside, only the word “Happy Marriage” on the outside.

One of a Kind

Luckily, I am a poet by passion, so I came up with this:

In order for a Marriage to be Strong,

To one another, your Heart must Belong,

That was crystal clear on your Wedding Day,

May God Bless you both, and Keep you Forever that Way.

So, who wants to join me in creating a carding business to compete against Hallmark? I’ll write the poetry, and we need someone to design the cards.

Game?

August 2011 ( View complete archive page )

September 2011 ( View complete archive page )

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