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Yearly Archives: 2012

Karachi Security Alert

The following e-mail made its way to my inbox @ work today:

Alas, No New Year’s Celebrations.

I was also told to listen for the gun-shots marking the turn of the New Year, they say it is to be a spectacle much like a war zone.

Pakistan First Impression: Off on the Wrong Foot

Being on business travel has many advantages. It gives one the opportunity to visit different countries, experience different cultures, and not necessarily areas where one would have planned to visit.

The trip to Pakistan was courtesy of Emirates Airlines, and as such, we would like to extend a warm welcome and thank you to the Emirates Crew of flight EK 602, especially Laura (from Liverpool where they DO NOT sound like anyone else!), who went out of her way to make a stranger on a plane full of strangers travelling to a strange land feel at home (possibly due to my sticking out as a non-local).

Upon touching down at Karachi International Airport, the proceedings for customs and immigration were by far the fastest I had ever experienced, taking a total of a whopping 15 minutes from touch-down to exit.

(not my own photo)

Upon exiting the airport, my eyes quickly scanned the sea of people and signs before me, and as always, my name was butchered beyond recognition to a mere morsel of what it should be, honestly Sheraton, how difficult is it to copy-paste a name from an email?

Mr. Ayam Naseer is thoroughly unimpressed

(Kindly pardon the lack of clarity of the above photo as I appear to have forgotten the cam-cable back at the hotel and had to rely on capturing an image via my mobile of the display on the cam, low-tech but quite ingenious wouldn’t you say?)

It is here where I committed my first faux-pas, for the driver of the shuttle had placed me in the back seat, and not wanting to seem rude, I requested mid-trip to move to the seat beside him (also to get a better vantage point for photo-taking). As he ushered me forward I was surprised that no sooner had I moved into the seat that we were stopped by a burly, angry looking police-man.

The driver was fined and his licence was taken.

All my fault.

I told the man I would gladly pay the fine for him, as it was my fault. It was the least I could do and I pray the procedure of reclaiming his licence does not be too tedious.

Check in at the hotel went smoothly, the bell-boy was nice and offered to break some of my larger denomination currencies down for me, the room had all amenities available from a boiler to a bathrobe, a fruit basket and several bottles of water.

Taking a quick dip in the pool was the finale for my first night in Karachi.

Stay tuned for more adventures, hopefully ones with out gun violence.

Sheraton Karachi Hotel

view from the Hotel Room – nifty little note on the balcony door saying it is to remain closed at all times, and you have to make a special request to open it

All Packed & Ready for Pakistan

MyBloogle shall be spending the New Year’s in Pakistan.

Duration: 2 weeks.

Location: Karachi

Halfway in between anxiety and excitement, Karachi is not an easy place to be.

@6alabat Makeover

A New Domain is Rising! It’s victory is at hand! (Sourman – The Two Tables: Lord of the Orders)

The problem of living in a multilingual society is that at times, the mainstream jargon of one group is often complete gobbledygook to another.

Changing

Franco Arabic, the bane of Foreigners in Kuwait. To them, 6alabat stood for 6 overturns (alabat), or some unpronounceable word that baffled the mind of non-native Arabic Speakers.

So subtle you’ll hardly tell the difference

 

Franco Arabic is much like numeric English, one of the drawbacks of the Lazy Generation, as th3y tnd to 4bbr3v1at3 l1k3 th1s. Or maybe its just an attempt to be cool.

Bottom line is, starting January 1st, 2013, 6alabat.com will be reachable via both 6alabat as well as Talabat domains.

By the way, non-Arabic speakers, Talabat stands for orders.

The mystery is now solved.

The Day I was Pulled Over by the Police in Kuwait

In what is the first of its kind, a guy get’s the upper hand and walks away scotch free from a cop! Read on!

Let’s face it, we all do things we are not supposed to do, and the beauty of it is getting away with what you’ve done. Whether it is a cheat-meal on an intensive diet or something more drastic, such as breaking the law.

It all started with a drive, an absent minded drive. To say I was lost would be an understatement, both figuratively and literally (metaphorically too?) as is always the case when one find themselves at a cross-roads (both in real life and mentally in my mind!).

choices

I found myself at a stop light, in an area that bore familiar traits, for it was the exact area where I used to work! Lo and behold, there standing tall was the building that I worked in for almost 4 years ago. Everything else had changed though, the entire geography of the area had changed, as I had changed.

*zen moment*

What happened was that I found myself at the extreme left at a signal with a free right turn. Luckily, I was first in line, so I checked for cars oncoming from the left and proceeded to take a “free right”.

Little did I know that despite my best efforts to ensure there were no cops in my vicinity, I failed miserably.

No sooner did I make the turn and go 10 meters down the road, a patrol car pulled up behind me.

A ticket would have been the icing on the cake of my demise.

I checked my rear view and attempted to look as law abiding as possible, which is very difficult as I have a tendency to turn a scarlet shade of embarrassed when caught with my hand in the cookie jar.

The office fumbled around his car, further plucking at the strings of my anxiety.

Then it happened.

The siren came on, and I was signaled to pull over. Poetically, I was pulled over at another free right turn.

The irony.

He came up to my window, I did not know whether I had to exit the vehicle and place my hands firmly on the hood of the car, spread my legs (don’t) and pray for a miracle.

I put on my most innocent, law abiding face, which came out something like this:

non threatening?

The cop seemed pleasant enough, I took that as a good sign.

He launched into a humorous tirade about how ever since the Arab Spring started “my kind” thought that the laws did not apply to them, and that we were out to break all laws in Kuwait and attempt to topple the government here.

I nodded, and smiled, and said no.

I kept trying to get a word in edge wise and he wouldn’t let me. He kept on going about how the streets have rules, and we have to abide by those rules, and I informed him that I am infact a law abiding citizen, contrary to current predicament, and that I was really, very, extremely, apologetically sorry.

He waved me off, I shook his hand, reading the name on his side pocket. He asked me to pray for him. I most definitely will.

And there you have it.

I do not have neither a pretty face nor spectacular b_____, background ( 😛 ), but I talked my way out of a ticket.

Perfect start to the weekend!

Ole!

Was this incident a sign from the PTB that make mistakes and you will still find the correct path? Follow your heart’s desire and you shall be rewarded? Let no evil stop you? All mistakes can be corrected?

 I guess we shall find out.

MyBloogle on @BBC5live – Time to Talk

Egyptians are in a state of tension, anxiously awaiting the results of the referendum on the Constitution.

Some wait quietly, whilst others (such as myself) who are more vocal, seek to make their opinion heard. And what better venue to do so than via the BBC?

It all started this morning at 7am as I sat down at my desk at work and began with my usual daily ritual of checking BBC  for the latest news (simply refreshing the page and checking the Most Popular Read items on the right hand side).

When it came to reading articles about Egypt and the current referendum, the following thoughts came to my mind, and as is the deal with writers, found their way down to my finger tips and onto my computer. It also happened to find its way to this very post (here):

I voted no in the referendum.

What has happened in Egypt is an irony of Shakespearean proportion: the jailers are now the prisoners, and the prisoners are now the jailers.

Whereas the old era of the Mubarak regime used to blatantly fake election results, the new regime is preying on the illiterate and uneducated. You have only to watch the news to understand their ploy.

They have made it a war against Islam, as opposed to a socio-political scheme. Forty percent of Egypt is uneducated – they cannot read or write. One does not say they are oblivious; however, their opinion is easily swayed, whether it be by the preacher at their mosque, or the one distributing foodstuffs to them.

Will the “yes” win by a majority? Yes. Will it be true? Yes, to an extent. The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) have preyed on the fears of the uneducated, leading them to believe it is their religious duty to vote yes. If you watch the TV channels, the majority of those citing yes are saying yes to Islam, not to the constitution.

The MB (Freedom & Justice Party) are using the same “scare tactics” previously employed by the previous regime to influence voter emotion. Their persistent and recurring argument against any that seek to deny MB rule is: why are you against Sharia if you are Muslim? Why are you against Islam? This haymaker of a rebuttal to a legitimate inquiry by those that have read and disagree with the constitution means many stop with an awkward pause.

Arabic is such a language that the simple addition of a mere letter to a word can completely change the entire meaning of it.

And therein lies the problem: those reading the constitution are not familiar with “legalese”, or terminology used in legal proceedings. Hence, anyone short of a lawyer or judge reading the constitution will not be fully versed in all its meanings.

The majority claiming to support the constitution on TV are illiterate and claim they support “Islam”, further proving the point that they have no idea what machinations exist within the apparently subtle texts of the constitution.

I am not a lawyer. I am not a judge. I read the constitution, understood what I could, and listened to panelists discuss the Red Flags of the constitution.

No draft is perfect from the get-go, however, it is what is written between the lines that causes alarm.

And so, the BBC got in touch with me, and long story short, I’m a panelist on their show today!

Stay tuned.

We do not need an Apocalypse – The World Ends every Day

The tragedy of senseless loss is an all too frequent specter in this world, regardless of geographic location.

What does when say when words fail?

Linguistics are a beautiful thing. For those well versed in the use of languages, they can find numerous ways to convey the same meaning, depending upon the situation they are using it in. However, what do you say when words fail, when there are no words that can be used to convey what you feel?

December 21st, 2012 did represent the end of the world for some. For the neighbor in our building, just one door over.

What words can you use to comfort a grieving mother that lost her child at 7 years old?

What strength can you give in the form of words to a broken father who watched his 7 year old son get hit by a car as he was crossing the street to hand him something?

How can you take the pain away from that poor child’s brother, at 10 years of age?

What admonishment can you pass upon the reckless motorist speeding in a residential area?

Life is so precious; it takes 9 months to deliver and a lifetime to nurture and yet in the blink of an eye that light can be extinguished.

What can you say to the mother of the 26 year old dentist, brutally and savagely stabbed in The Avenues at the hands of a man 4 years his junior? What spat could have possibly occurred between them so as to give cause to such a heinous act?

Kuwait fails to realize that the security offered in its malls is severely ill-equipped.

Roads are not safe. Malls are not safe.

We do not need an apocalypse to signal the end of the world, for the world ends every day, to someone, as a result of our inability to co-exist and protect that which is most precious to all – life.

Running like a Ninja Turtle!

Yes its true, TV influences our actions. And that influence is not linked to age or education.

TV has always been a great pass time, and by TV we refer to the act of watching any form of media, whether it be on a physical TV set, or a stream online.

Now, the Ninja Turtles have been a huge influence on Pop culture since their inception in the 80’s. The awesome foursome pleased us with their antics for quite some time, even making it to the big screen with a trilogy.

Heroes in a Half Shell…

The TMNT, as they are known amongst the newer generation, were given a reboot in 2003:

Turtles Count it off!

And finally in 2012, they were reintroduced via Nickelodeon:

Turtle Power!

It is this final incarnation that is most interesting. Here is a small preview:

As you can see, the Turtles assume a rather strange position whilst running across rooftops, with their arms extended out behind them, slightly bent forward, their green bald heads reflecting the moonlight as they look up.

As a runner, this was strange and hence fascinating. Therefore, whilst on my usual running route I decided to try out this Ninja Turtle Method to see whether it helped in its aerodynamics etc. to propel one faster in a forward motion.

Two Words: Crazy Legs.

Also, crazy look. Most people walking around the area at the time were strangely fascinated by the running maniac with his arms behind him as if a kid pretending to be an airplane taking off.

I did learn though that you should not fear public scrutiny whilst doing something that keeps you young at heart.

4 levels of Idiocy

The English language is a beautiful thing, is it not? Spoken by billions around the world and understood in pidgin form amongst a million others, it really serves as a wonderful tool to bridge the language barrier between different people.

Further, the English language is available in myriads of ways that offer fool proof error checking to ensure the user gets their point across properly, such as spell check on Microsoft Word for example.

Turns out it is not as fool proof as one would like to think- the element of error checking.

Take the example below:

image

Not to mention the translation is literally incorrect – Happy Nights (Arabic)

This nice gem of a shop banner succeeded in slipping under the radars of the following persons:

1- the one responsible for making the design on their software & possibly printing as well.

2- the one responsible for  the final product before delivery to customer (a manager maybe?)

3- the one responsible for receiving the final product

4- the owner of the shop where the final product is hanging

And of course let us not forget the countless customers that avail the services of said shop and have yet to convince the owner to change it.

Do not make the same mistake.

Hire auditors to ensure your brand image remains sharp (such as myself).

There should be a law against such errors, they should be punishable by having the perpetrator serve time in English class.

Dismissed.

Yoga Review: Not Just for The Ladies!

Yoga: A system of exercises practiced as part of the Hindu discipline to promote control of the body and mind.

Being open minded and willing to try new things, I made my way to Qabiliya school at 6 for my first yoga session (ever!) with The Lotus Club.

Not knowing what to expect, I wore my running clothes and mentally prepared myself to be twisted and contorted in various positions that man was just not made to be bent in. The class was being run by Dareen, a guru in her own right (as I was to find out later!).

The first impression which dawned on me upon entering the class and standing before the mirror was how out-of-place I looked with my (relatively) larger arms and (relatively) wider upper body compared to Yoga practitioners. I was a lumbering rhinoceros attending a class amidst slender unicorns.

Dareen started off with a sitting pose whereby one would attempt to clear their mind, listening to the music or simply shutting everything out, listening to your own breathing. We then started to inhale through one nostril, exhale through the other. This exercise helped me notice that my deviated nasal septum made my right nostril more constricted than my left. Also, how loud it was to swallow your saliva to clear your throat.

Dareen expressed great understanding by naming each pose she was demonstrating, unfortunately my forte is photographic memory, and not audible! The names flew over my head, however the poses are etched in my memory.

The most important aspect of yoga is breathing– inhaling and exhaling, as well as focusing on your body, tuning in to its needs, listening to the strains and pains, attempting to find your balance.

We started off nice and easy, with sun salutations, arms wide, inhale, touch your toes, exhale, hold the pose, focus on your breathing, jump back into cobra (or was it upward dog? The only reason I remember those is because of P90X), then jump back, slowly reach up, reach back, arms up, down in front of you, done.

The movements varied in difficulty from here on out, with the tree pose:

and made more difficult by attempting to lean forward.

The most difficult and physically demanding position being the head stand, where your entire body is literally shaking, pouring out buckets of sweat.

It was after this that I realized how physically demanding Yoga can be, as well as rewarding!

Any idea I had of Yoga being whimsical and feminine were obliterated upon completing the class. Dareen’s sound knowledge of which poses target what along with their names is an ability to be envied, and that makes attending her class a rewarding experience.

Classes are held every Monday & Thursday, 6:30 – 7:30 at the Qibiliya School (directly opposite Boubyan Bank in Kuwait City).

For more information, head on over to their Facebook page (link).

August 2011 ( View complete archive page )

September 2011 ( View complete archive page )

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