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Monthly Archives: December 2011

Dystopia of Segregated Healthcare in Kuwait

Nothing quite infuriates the educated mind more than blatant, unabashed RACISM, which is exactly what was printed in Al Qabas Newspaper today (link).

The Issue of Private Medical care for Kuwaiti Nationals is being thrown around nowadays, as Ghanima AlFahad points out, in her first “Demand”:

1) مستشفى خاص للكويتيين، نعم خاص بهم ولا علاقة للوافدين بهذا المستشفى.

Which translates exactly to, A hospital exclusively for Kuwaitis, yes just for them, expats have nothing to do with it.

Does this mean that the staff will also be all Kuwaiti? The ENTIRE staff, not just the attending and on-call doctors, but everything from Nurse to Janitor to Doctor? Or are expats good enough to clean after you Ghanima but not good enough to be treated in the same hospital?

Point number 2:

2) تطبيق القانون بحذافيره على كل مخطئ ومتلاعب وخاصة الوافدين المتلاعبين.

Implementing the law to the letter on all wrong-doers and con-artists, especially expat con artists.

I cannot bring myself to debate these issues as I was under the impression that with the abolishment of racial segregation in the United States in 1968 and of apartheid in South Africa in1994 that these issues would be naught by moot points in the 21st Century, however it seems that there are still those with archaic ideologies and thoughts.

Healthcare is healthcare. Disease, calamities and accidents do not distinguish what nationality you are, DEATH does not care what nationality you are.

The good thing about this is that not everyone agrees with Ghanima’s antics, the Kuwaiti Doctors Union stated that the development of a hospital for “Expats only” or one for “Nationals only” would be detrimental to Kuwait’s image on the global platform (link).

In a recent press statement, the union explained the stipulations of the bill are not in line with the agreements, which Kuwait had signed with the international human rights organizations.  It argued the proposal will tarnish the reputation of Kuwait because it does not have medical, financial or humanitarian backing.

The union pointed out many people have been suffering due to the deterioration of the health sector and it will only get worse if Kuwait encourages discrimination through the construction of hospitals for expatriates.  It is not proper to push for the establishment of these hospitals under the pretext that the expatriate population in the country has increased remarkably and they have depleted the resources of the Ministry of Health at the expense of the citizens, the union argued.

The union is quoted as saying, “We recognize the right of every Kuwaiti to the best medical care as stipulated in the Constitution but the problem requires root-level solutions, instead of attributing it to the rising number of expatriates.  This is not a plausible justification for the negligence of some ministers and lawmakers,” .

The union also called on the concerned officials to carefully study the proposal to prevent huge losses, which might negatively affect the medical sector, citing as an example the Health Ministry’s failure to achieve its objects when it approved the health insurance bill for expatriates in 1999.

Bearing in mind that a report published throught Wikileaks stressed that health service for expatriates in Kuwait has deteriorated, in addition to allegations that medicine given to expatriates is only a little better than chalk (link). The truth behind this report is questionable, The Chairperson of Kuwait Pharmacists Society Dr Tareq Habib refuted this.

He added the Health Ministry spends more than 180 million dinars annually on medicine and medical equipment, urging the ministry must counter the allegation. He saw the need for lasting solution to the health Insurance issue to avoid unfair accusations that harm the country’s image.

The only thing that tarnishes the country’s image is the fact that archaic ideas such as Ghanima’s are allowed to be published in a daily newspaper.

Wake up and Smell the FATS

Eighty Percent of Kuwaiti Children OBESE (link)

Kuwait 5th MOST OBESE Country in the World (link)

It truly sad when one reads such headlines in the newspapers.

Obesity has become a major epidemic. It is unfortunately the hidden cost of progress. Given the fast pace, on-the-go lifestyle adopted by all members of the family; working parents, children (ECA’s, tuitions) etc. all are forced to turn to unhealthy, artery choking “quick-fixes” for hunger… Junk Food.

Coupled with that disturbing phenomenon of poor nutrition is the other major contributing factor to obesity: lack of exercise. It is not that people today are against exercising, they no longer see it as a way of keeping healthy. Instead, it is viewed as a tedious, strenuous exercise meant to sap your energy and leave you weak. Welcome to Generation LAZY. Any sport/ exercise that does not include fast paced fingers on keys or game pads is quickly discarded as a thing of the past, an archaic ritual done by primitive man to occupy his time. With Facebook, Twitter and a cornucopia of other online tasks and exercises (I use the term loosely) that require their complete and utmost attention, who has the time to actually move?

It is no longer an uncommon sight at many malls to find children out with their maids scoring a fast meal, as the parents are preoccupied with other issues more important than their child’s health. It is also not uncommon, as a young adult, to find middle schoolers and secondary schoolers that outweigh you 2-to-1.

Gone are the days of the Middle Ages where a man’s wealth could be measured by his girth. Today, science has proved the vast downsides of being overweight, from increased strain on the heart that could lead to cardiac arrest, to knee problems, diabetes etc. to name but a few.

There are those out there who have had enough and are actively attempting to change the world, such as Yousef Al Qanai, Kuwait’s running warrior (@YousefAlQanai on Twitter) who’s initiative/company Aymstrong seeks to battle the bulge and eradicate the fat from society by running such activities as a Weight Loss Camp (link) and a Bi-weekly running session.

One man’s ambition and dream is unfortunately not enough. People need to realize the hazards of Living La Vida Lazy, and unless they are convinced of this, and actively, ACTIVELY set out to remedy the situation, there can be no lasting change.

Take initiative, eat healthy, live healthy, for it is the best way to live. It is not merely a regiment you follow for a few months to lose the excess fat from your body then revert to your old ways and repack the poundage, it must be a lifestyle change.

So, unless you wish to continue reading such headlines as 5th Most Obese country in the world or 80% of Kuwaiti Children are obese, then do something about it.

Only you can change yourself.

The Right Type Of Flossing

....Not That Type Of Flossing...

Let me start off this article with a quote i just made up..” That little piece of thread is a tooths best friend”.

Flossing is basically the removal of food from in between the teeth. This may seem as an inadequate space to clean as it’s so small to cause any real damage….Guess again. Normally, there should be no spaces between teeth, sometimes even with no spaces food gets wedged in there and it can be a nightmare to get out. And so the Dental Industry has gifted us with this very simple yet very effective piece of waxed thread that’s used to remove any food debris.

Now the benefits of flossing are many and they’re quite obvious. For one thing, you’d look like that Witch from the Emperors New Groove when she had spinach stuck between her teeth which is not very attractive.

Attractive Isn't She??

Also, leaving pieces of your lunch or dinner in between your teeth will lead to decaying of this food stuff by bacteria and causing bad breath which plagues so many people, as well as irritation and inflammation of the gums which increases the risk of ‘bleeding gums’ during brushing. However, the most dangerous problem of food stuck between teeth is that bacteria starts to work on this food, producing acids that have the ability to dissolve the tooth tissue causing decay of the tooth in an area that is difficult to see except by X-ray examination. If this food accumulation is allowed to continue, calculus ( rock hard debris of food and bacteria ) begins to form on the roots causing loss of bone from in between the teeth and in between the roots pushing you into a dilemma that may end with surgery either to remove the tooth or cut it up to remove the defected area……..Now do you see how important flossing is??

Radiographic Evidence Of What I'm Talking About

Of course flossing has its rules and regulations. For one thing, digging the waxed thread deep between the teeth until your gums bleed is a definite No No. The proper way to floss is to gently slide the piece of waxed thread between the teeth using gentle forward and backward motions until it slips between the teeth, then an upward motion with the piece of thread adapted to the tooth surface is the best way to ensure proper and adequate cleaning. If you follow these rules and still experience bleeding gums, you may be suffering from inflamed gums which is easily remedied by proper oral hygiene and mouth wash ( containing Chlorhexidine ).

That's What I Call Flossing....

Interdental brushes are also very useful and i personally find them more easy to use than floss with better cleaning and removal of food. They’re especially useful if you have a crown placed with an open contact that frequently traps food…and i speak from very personal experience =) .

The Different Types Of Interdental (Interproximal) Brushes

Again, for any questions or comments feel free to give me a holler =D.

This Run Will Make me Famous!

Last Monday I decided to go for my weekly run which I missed doing over the weekend due to injuries. Little did I know this run was going to make me FAMOUS!

We started off on the wrong foot, for no sooner did Sports-Tracker hook onto the GPS signal and I took off that I realised my pockets felt extraordinarily lighter, given the fact that I was carrying my mobile/GPS tracker there.

As it turns out, in keeping up with me, my phone attempted to get moving as well, and jumped out of my pocket only to realise it has no legs, and fell apart on the cold, hard road. Luckily, no car ran over it, and I was able to recover it with little damage done to its external casing, save the few odd bumps and scratches here and there.

Returning home to fetch safety pins in order to ensure security, the run was delayed by 30 minutes.

The weather that day was cold! It leaves me wondering whether we burn more calories during winter exercise than summer, given that the body needs to warm itself up from a lower temperature, hence more energy is required, right?

I digress, it was a good run, but it got really fun when I went back on Beirut St from the Fourth Ring Road, the intersection of Qotaiba St.  & Beirut to be exact is where I became famous.

Why you ask?

It turns out, I was running so fast at the time that the camera at that traffic light snapped a picture of me! (granted, there was a car running a red light behind me, but I was the main focus of that picture!)

My kisser was right smack in the middle of the shot, as the camera snapped to life with the running of the red light!

I can only imagine the surprise of the poor employee who prints that picture out at the traffic department when they see my grinning face obscuring the licence plate number of that car in question.

Run hard, Run Smart!

Reaping the Reward – Kuwait Stock Exchange

Where there is a will, there is a way, definitely!

How often do we dig our hands deep into our pockets knowing that we have nothing in there, but desperately hoping to find something, anything?

I went through that phase, and was surprised where exactly I was able to find that extra bit of “loose change”.

The Stock Market.

image

A while ago I had shared a few posts on the rules of engagement for trading on the Kuwait Stock Exchange (here & here).

Now, with all the economic fears in the world, and everyone crying “recession!” at each and every single problem, its hard to approach the idea of investing in the stock market with a sound mind.

Not if you apply this golden rule: invest your excess, a bit of your savings.

The beauty of investment is that it highlights the correlation between risk and reward. The more you invest, the more the pay off will be, especially if you are buying into “Blue Chip” companies such as banks etc.

Personal story, I bought a few shares in ALAFCO (Aviation Leasing and Financing Co) when I started for around 100fils each, a year or so later, I sold them all for around 200fils each. That is a 100% return, something that NO BANK OFFERS. Banks offer you a risk free interest rate, as you are not at risk of losing your initial investment (which can happen with stocks if the value falls below what you initially paid), but they offer something like 4% per annum, and that is for an ENTIRE year. You can buy stock and sell it the very next month for more than you paid. Its the market, its volatile.

There are two ways to make money off the stock exchange: value appreciation (you buy stock at 100fils and it reaches 200fils, you sell – the classic buy low, sell high), and dividends, which are the cheques shown above.

I had gone to Burj Ahmed a year or so ago and requested that all my earnings be deposited in my bank account directly. After reading that one of the companies I have invested in had declared dividend, and having waited over a year for that dividend to be deposited in my account, to no avail, I thought it best to pay them a visit once more.

The company in question was NBK, and my bank account is with NBK, so imagine my surprise when I’m informed that:

1) NBK does not transfer earnings directly, you have to go pick up the cheque yourself (i.e. NBK will not deposit its OWN earnings in your account in THEIR bank)

2) There was more than one cheque waiting for me!

People are under the impression that you need huge amounts of money to enter into the stock market. That is FALSE. You can easily start building a portfolio with 100KD and less, you would be buying odd-lot shares, true, but they would be in your name, and the dividends would be yours.

Think about it, the recession is the best time to buy and hoard shares for the future.

I will be resurrecting my Financial Column in 2012 to give people more accurate insight on the process of investment in Kuwait, how to start off. I will not be offering tips on when to buy and sell because I am not a stock analyst.

Onward with 2012.

What if Israel Occupies London?

A short film entitled “No Way Through“, highlighting the deplorable state of medical aid for Palestinians in the West Bank.

Ask yourself this;

What if?

And an answer to the overly silly comments on the video on Youtube, one person asked, why not make a video if Hamas occupies London. Hamas is not viewed as a sovereignty or country, Israel is.

CAPS on Carnival at GUST 14/15th December

Are you tired of your daily routine? Feeling uninspired? Is your wallet burning a whole in your pocket, and you just have to spend your money on something artsy and different?

Well the CAPS on carnival is for you.

GUST University is hosting its first and only CAPS on carnival on the 14th & 15th of December and it would delight us that you attend. Come show your support for new and old talents alike.

Help them believe in themselves by showing your appreciation. Who knows you just might feel inspired to be in their place.

Farewell to the Family Bookshop II – A Death in The Family

A continuation of my previous post on the Family Bookshop (link), here is the digest of my conversation with the elderly proprietor, Mr. J. Sahni, in short story form.

Enjoy.

~~~~

A Death in The Family

“Nobody remembers anyone, nobody will remember”, said the elderly bookstore keeper, J. Sahni,  a lifetime of melancholy evident in his tired voice, as his tired eyes surveyed the dwindling contents of the shelves within his bookstore.

 “I remember”, I told him as I turned around to converse with him, bargain books in hand, “I will make them remember”.

“I can recall how right in front of you there was a music shop, with a saxophone in the display, how down the street there used to be a another bookstore around the corner, across from where Chicken Tikka used to be…”.

A smile made its way across his bearded face, his eyes warming up as he said, “yes, many a time I ate at Chicken Tikka, and took my children to Hardees”.

We reminisced together for a while, remembering how things were, and sadly, how they turned out to be in the end.

In our conversation, we both had agreed that the area where the Family Bookshop stands now should have been preserved as a cultural heritage, for it is truly symbolic of the beauty of simplicity. However, people are not driven by sentimentality, the major driving factor now is greed, and capitalistic, profitable tendencies overshadow sentimentalities.

“30 or 40 years of my life I spent here, what do I have to show for it?” he asked aloud, his question diffusing into the room, absorbed into the surrounding books as it was more rhetoric than quizzical.

“What do you have to show for your stay in the Gulf? You walk in the streets and police ask you for your Civil ID, there is no difference between you as a legal and any illegal”, he confessed, the strain of years of hardship having taken their toll on him.

I wanted to tell him different, however, I could find no answer, nothing I could say could possibly placate him, for in my heart I knew it was true as well. Kuwait is where we have lived our entire lives, but it is not home. Realization started to set in, thoughts I had pushed to the back of my mind came to the forefront.

The atmosphere inside the bookshop was growing as cold as the howling winds outside. The pregnant silence was broken when he asked me about my work, what I do. Given that my profession is not readily known, I described it as close to accountancy. After all, why would this old shop keeper know of a profession such as audit?

He asked if I was bettering myself in terms of education, as a fallow mind is a grave danger in this age of continuous improvement.

Much to my surprise, he explained to me that he was a Chartered Accountant, class of 1975. The Chartered Accountancy exam is a grueling test of knowledge that only the elite are able to overcome, out of thousands that apply, less than 10 will attain it in any given year. To my utter amazement, not only was he a CA, he also held positions in every major bank in Kuwait at one point in time, a senior position in my profession.

Pressure, stress and burnout had been the contributing factors that made Mr. J. Sanhi decide that it was time to pursue a less hectic life, away from the financial statements and audit reports. However, life in the book business also had its difficulties, time away from home and the family.

“I was robbed of my youth”, he quietly lamented; working in the bookstore, at times for the entire night, only going home in the morning to shower and rest.

He stressed upon me the importance of not staying in one place for too long. When I told him that I was merely establishing my beginning here, as it is a good place to start and make a nest-egg for the future, he angrily yelled out, “No! Greed will take over you. No one stays for a short period, if you make 1,000KD you will want 2, if you make 2 you will want 4. This discussion is over. It is different from one person to the other”.

He inquired whether I was satisfied, if I have any plans to leave Kuwait, and asked if I had a business card. I presented him with it.

I informed him that it was indeed my desire to one day make my way out of Kuwait, and start a life elsewhere.

“You should do it now when you are young. You should not depend on anyone, not your parents. You should live your life, for yourself, away from here. Go out, take chances, explore”, his advice raining down upon me like a monsoon, his experience in life displayed in the forefront of his words.

“Did you go to NES?” He inquired. I was speechless, how did this old man deduce that I had gone to that school? It had been almost a decade since I graduated from there. Amazing.

Then I realized. I was, for the first time since buying them, wearing the sports sweats with the school emblem emblazoned on them.

He asked me where I wanted to go, stating that the USA, UK and Canada are slowly, but surely closing their doors. How there was no real future in the Gulf or Middle East. We talked about the emerging powers, I told him of my trip to India. Of how China is the place to be right now, as it is solely responsible for over 50% of global container trade.

“I always wanted to go to Russia and work there, but I do not know the language, and I think it is essential to learn beforehand”, I replied, “also, it is one of the BRIC nations, soon to be an economic power house along with Brazil, India and China.”

“Why don’t you learn Russian?” he inquired thoughtfully. I thought about this and said, well yes, I should.

“What about Mandarin?” he asked again. He called his assistant to check on whether they had linguistics books downstairs. They did, he brought me two packages, with cassette tapes, a nostalgic technology in its own right.

“Learn, and leave.”

Whilst waiting for the linguistics books to arrive, I spotted a Bridal Book behind him, and thought what a great gift that would make for my Fiancée. We talked about her for a while, and the plans I had for the both of us.

I ended up paying more than I had initially expected, but it was worthwhile, if I were being charged for the worth of the knowledge I picked up, both aurally and reading, then the transaction was heavily skewed in my favor.

a gift for my lovely wife-to-be, reading material for me, and the future

a gift for my lovely wife-to-be, reading material for me, and the future

Eventually, the land where the Family Bookshop once stood shall be razed, a megamall or complex bound to replace it. 2, 5, 10 years down the line, people might stand at that street corner and remember, here once stood The Family Bookshop, inserting their own anecdote, their own special memories, and remembering that it was the brain child of Mr. J. Sahni, and he shall be remembered as well.

I ask anyone who values the treasures buried within the pages of books to pay a visit to the Family Book Shop now, before it is too late, if you have stories to share from your past of your experiences there, do share them with this kind, elderly proprietor, who gave me so much in so little time.

Mr. Sahni, we thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for those memories, memories that will never die, even after the shop is gone.

What is the Single Best Thing You can do for Your Health?

I do not make it a habit to share videos through my blog, however, once in a blue moon, or in this case, a lunar eclipse, you come across that one video that can be beneficial to the populace, and so, here it is, a very innovative answer to an extremely important question:

What is the single best thing we can do for our health?

There is a “Magical” component that, if enacted, supplemented into our daily lives, will benefit us in numerous ways.

Enjoy.

Farewell to the Family Bookshop – Part I We Will Remember

The Family Bookshop is having a clearance sale, everything must go, and indeed, everyone must go to visit, to pay homage to this once great pillar of expat life in Kuwait.

Before there was a Virgin Megastore, before there was a Jarir Bookstore, there was the Family Bookshop.

The Family Book Shop, the little shop that could, has finally, after many years in business and after painting smiles on many faces, children and adult alike, is closing its doors for the last time. I heard this information from a friend, and immediately put out an APB to all my friends, it is time to pay one final visit to the place we called home, the little shop that could. The Family Bookshop stood tall for the past decade, despite the surrounding area becoming dilapidated, and many other stores closing shop and packing up, they stood strong, longer than anyone could have thought possible.

I remember so many years ago, as a mere child in elementary school, at the annual school bazaar one day I purchased a raffle ticket, and won a discount card at the family bookshop. The first book I ever purchased was Garfield’s “Does Pooky Need You?”, with a brown cover.

Countless times over the coming years, my family would pay visits to the Family bookshop, both for our reading pleasure, as well as academics.

The atmosphere and ambience inside the family bookshop was truly reminiscent of its namesake, you felt at home.

The legacy of the family bookshop shall NEVER be forgetten.

In honor of J. Sanhi’s commitment and dedication, and to ensure that his legacy is never forgotten, I have turned our conversation yesterday into a form of short story, my first such endeavor. It will be a bit long, but hopefully worth it.

Will post it tomorrow.

I urge anyone who has a fond memory of The Family Bookshop to stand by them in their final hour, inform the kind proprietor of the happy days of yesterday, and wish him luck.

For indeed, a kind word goes a long way.

August 2011 ( View complete archive page )

September 2011 ( View complete archive page )

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