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: February 2012

How Do You Prepare to Run 240KM?

Life is a series of daunting tasks that men and women face and overcome on a daily basis. Within each person there is a deep desire to excel, to achieve, to set limits and exceed them.

Know your Limits and then Exceed Them

Whether your goal is to complete your studies, lose weight, get a promotion or even something simpler, goals are what add drive to our lives.

You would have to have been living under a rock to not be aware of the monumental, first-of-its-kind extravaganza run right here in our very own K-Town.

6 runners will brave the elements and the climate, embarking upon a journey of 240KM from Kuwait’s northern border all the way down to the south. They carry with them a bag full of the dreams of all who wish them luck, a symbolic gesture towards mind over matter, and that anything is possible with the proper preparation and mental attitude.


I have had the pleasure to join these gentlemen, 3 of which I traveled to Ras Al Khaimah with for the Half Marathon; with their results on that day you can see the level of determination they each possess. They say if you really want to see the mettle of men, travel with them. Faisal, the Determined, Jaafar, the Swift and Mohammad, the Mentor. 

Run Kuwait

Faisal Al-Nakib (reformed trekker/mountain climber who saw the light at the end of the running track [link]), Cristian Craita (family man, talented designer), Mohammad Al-Matar (wise beyond his years, trained in discipline, represents Kuwait globally as an athlete), Jaafar Al-Ali (represents Kuwait on the international scale for track & field), Hanan Al Awadi (martial artist) and Yousef Al Qanai (participated last year in the Marathon Des Sables; a 6 day, 251Km Ultra-marathon); Each a champion in their own right, unified by one dream – to do that which others dismiss as impossible.

Just so people understand the gravity of running an ultra-marathon, watch this:

2 of the runners participating in Run Kuwait will be heading towards Morocco by April for MDS 2012.

A passing thought that frequents the mind of most runners is; why am I doing this? This hurts. I should just stop. I’ll stop here. No here. No here.

Look, I finished.

Stopping is not an option for these 6. There is no monetary reward for them (at least not that they have readily revealed!), it is the thrill of the challenge, of setting precedent, of doing something that, on any given day if you were to hear, one would instantly write off the feat as ludicrous, insane and impossible. These 6 are here to prove that no goal is ludicrous, no dream is insane and no challenge is impossible.

There is no force greater than the human spirit.

Good luck guys, and god speed.

When Police become Vindictive in Kuwait

Was I at fault here?

Hypocrisy and duality are a terrifying combination; when the very persons charged with keeping the peace and order are the ones responsible for the chaos. One can say that to err is human, and they are human, however they should be the ones exercising more caution and leading by example – it is not permissible for a tool of the law to be breaking it in any way, shape or form.

Who is watching the Watchers?

Yesterday whilst driving down the 4th Ring Road to meet a friend, upon nearing the exit from Jabriya, I spotted a white car to my right, indistinct and unmarked, attempting to force its way into my lane.

Most people would say, let them. However, the law clearly states “Right of way to cars approaching from the left” and at the very least, that car should have had its left turn indicator on, which it didn’t. So, I didn’t allow them to cut in front of me.

They became vindictive and again attempted to force the tip of their vehicle in front of mine to gain access to my lane. Again, I stopped them.

Believing the worst was behind me, as most drivers exiting Jabriya from that exit are heading towards Salmiya or the Fahaheel Express, I continued straight towards the signal to head on down Tunis St.

Again, I saw the car approaching from my right, and again I sped up so as not to let them cut in front of me. This time however, they came up to my left, and rolled their window down. And that is when I saw the blue light on his dashboard, some form of undercover cop.

His first question was “are you an idiot?” to which I responded no, he said why are you cornering me, I said why are you trying to cut in from the right? Then he goes, I’ll show you, pull over.

Fortunately for me, he still could not come in front of me, and instead moved two cars down and interjected his car in between theirs. After a moment of panic, a light shown through the gloom. As the signal turned green and I saw him flashing his indicators and heading down Tunis St. I merely took the U-Turn beneath the bridge and bid him farewell.

Whether or not he took my license plate number is unknown.

However the question remains; Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Who is watching the watchers? Had this matter gone down differently, would I be faulted for not allowing someone to cut in from the right, an act that is technically illegal by road standards here? There was no emergency, he had no lights/ sirens on. Also, I never make it a habit to look into the cars of people attempting to cut me off, lest they think it an act of defiance.

I guess we wait and see.

Just another day of driving in Kuwait ladies and gentlemen.

5 Hours & 2 Cranes Later – Roads are still Deadlocked in Kuwait

image

It is difficult to reach the capsized truck due to its positioning beneath the bridge making an air evac impossible

Earlier today a huge truck capsized beneath the Jahra bridge intersection with the airport road (here); this was roughly around 7am, at this moment the scene is as shown in the picture(s) above (and below).

The problem is there is no way to maneuver the giant truck on its side due to its size, and the presence of the bridge above it.

What shall ensue?

I guess we wait and see.

image

Thanking the Artistically Talented

They say that the greatest gift in life is to be able to give gifts to others in life; these gifts can come in various shapes and forms – they need not be tangible for the greatest effect a gift has is the feelings it inspires within you.

Hence, MyBloogle would like to take the opportunity to thank one Cristian Craita (@Ccraitza), a fellow runner and dear friend, for his redesign of the MyBloogle logo; and we apologize in advance for any butchering of your artwork as a result of refitting, transparency inducing etc! I admit, I am in no way, shape or form an artiste of Photoshop; my skills reside in online research and writing alone unfortunately.

We also would like to wish you the best of luck for your journey this Thursday; for those of you that did not know not only is Cristian a runner, he is one of the elite chosen to participate in the Run Kuwait event; a test of determination and fortitude, 240KM Ultra Marathon over a span of 3 days, from Kuwait’s Northern border to the South.

Good luck and God speed Cristian.

When Giant Trucks Overturn on the Streets of Kuwait

Beneath the bridge at the intersection between Jahra Road (80) and the Airport Road (55) the following scene took place earlier this morning:

Early morning Accident in Kuwait

Investigative Bloggerism at its FINEST.

A tad closer

Given my previous run-in with cops and accidents, I thought it best not to show myself as a photographer all clad in suit and tie; however, it is such incidents that make one feel more of a reporter/journalist vibe as opposed to a writer/blogger.

Drive safely out there, you never know what lurks around the nearest bend, imagine had there been a small car trying to overtake said downed giant; they would be the definition of street pizza right now.

Your life is precious, keep it safe.

Part 2: RAK Marathon Review – The Run that Broke the Camels Back!

Having survived a delay of 6 hours, as well as further delay in the airport, in addition to even more delay at the hotel, it would appear that we had hit our lowest rung and, as the saying goes, everything will look up from here.

The beauty of travelling with professional runners is the presence of enough sprays, gels and ointments to tranquilize an entire army of feet. Feeling a tad woozy from the extended travel time and minimum rest I set about numbing my ligaments to the point of feeling as though I was running on air (many thanks to my room-mate for speeding up the recovery afterward)

Stretching out the tired limbs early morning

A last minute check of the items; I had my trusty n97 to clock the distance for myself via my favorite running program; Sports Tracker (Which surprisingly was EXTREMELY accurate compared to the actual race timers), my bandana (a gift from my lovely fiance that keeps her on my mind as well as in my heart), the armband to carry the n97 courtesy of a friendly neighborhood Runner (@elberk el7oot this one’s for you!), my iPod (checked to ensure it was NOT on shuffle) and a pin to keep my pocket shut to avoid any incidents where the iPod decides its “gonna fly now”.

 A minibus was waiting downstairs to chart us off to our final destination.

The first we noticed was despite the hour being early, there were plenty of early risers buzzing about the grounds, collecting their race packets, pinning their bibs onto their chests, performing all kinds of stretches and pre-run warm ups. Everyone was friendly now, ready to turn to enemy later as soon as the race started.

Henceforth I shall be known as 1952

As the sun started to slowly etch its way up the horizon, the competition began to arrive by the busloads. Runners from every corner of the globe congregated at this spot to participate in the 6th edition of the RAK Half Marathon from as far away as Kenya and Ethiopia, all with different goals in mind that focused on the same concept: health.

my red&black running pumps - ready to slap the pavement

A really big shoe...

It was exhilarating to be amidst such a diverse a group of runners; there were veiled runners, elderly runners, young runners and toddlers. To have the chance to rub shoulders with running elite and literally follow in their footsteps was awe inspiring. Here you had people that would finish the race in 1hr40seconds.

Race packs collected - ready to go!

The Ultra Marathoners - Running Royalty and most importantly, mes ami's

Some runners had a game plan (my 3 partners did), others had goals, and the rest, like myself, were just out there to have a good time (after failing to beat my goal, this was my consolation prize)

me along side the Aymstrong team bound to Run Kuwait next weekend

Professional running experience dictated that we head for the start line relatively early to secure a good position. There was a lane down the middle reserved only for serious runners who were there to break a record. Choosing to cut into that lane from the side proved to be extremely beneficial as it allowed us to edge closer to the starting point as opposed to having to navigate through a throng of excited runners.

An introduction from the presenter had us all on our last nerve; the race was about to start! I bid my friends goodbye knowing that I would not see them until the end of the race.

3, 2, 1.. off we went!

My iPod tried to pull a fast one on me again but I managed to fix it up just in time. Whipping my head sideways at every step to take in the scenery, the sites and the other runners. The race was an ad-fest, with every individual wearing some form of corporate logo on their back, whether for financial gain or simply as a favor to a friend I do not know, but runners have strange fashion senses!

The level of sophistication present was also mind-boggling; runners had flasks of water-filled vials in a belt around their waist, others had straps on their thighs, their calves, their shoulders etc. The more hardcore runners had celotape marks all of their bodies, meant to keep the earphone wires from causing any form of disturbance.

Some runners smelled like a batch of roses, others had me reeling in drunken, disoriented stupor. Word to the wise joggers, an early morning shower does wonders to wake you up and help others running around you as well!

Whilst looking ahead, I spotted a t-shirt reading “Joe 99” who appeared to be travelling at the same pace as me. Unknowing to him, he became my mile-marker and newly appointed arch nemesis, all my thoughts revolved around maintaining the pace behind him. As we got to the 5K mark, I made it a point to pass ahead of him. The competition was getting interesting with the ebb and flow of him passing me, after which I would surpass him.

The race towards the 6K mark was devious in that the path suddenly narrowed, (the streets previous were spacious and clean) and extremely wet as inconsiderate runners were dumping their water bottles directly on the streets causing them to become wet and worse, slippery.

A strange incident took place after 6K; a man I never met in my life ran up to me and was apparently talking to me! I merely smiled and nodded, then he grabbed my hand, running with me! At this point I began to wonder, who is pulling who? Is he making me expend more energy to drag him behind me? I kept thinking, let go, let go, let go, let go!

I finally managed to break free of his grip and sprinted ahead, bidding him farewell.

I noticed one runner beside me was not wearing shoes; the ultimate in minimalist running. However, ladies, please, minimalist shoes is one thing, minimalist running shorts are entirely different! You may as well be running naked!

Joe 99 was creeping up fast; he managed to overtake me at 6K and then disappeared ahead of me. I decided it was not worth the effort to catch up, as the real race started at 15K, I needed to leave energy in the tank.

The supporters were awesome, egging everyone one enthusiastically and giving all a thumbs up oblivious to who they were. Both my attempts at sipping water failed miserably as they left me choking and gasping for breath.

Closing in on 10K I spotted the familiar green running shorts and white t-shirt of my nemesis, he had started walking! Feeling rejuvenated I caught up and made the mistake of patting him on the back. That confirmed to him that the runner in black and red was aware of him, and increased his drive to catch up. I would always look over my shoulder to find him a few paces away. Despite crossing the 10K mark first, he soon caught up, and again, I was eating his dust.

Deciding that it was childish to keep up, I ended my little one-upmanship with Joe99 and stuck to my own devices.

As we rounded the 14K mark, he appeared once more on the horizon, walking again! Once again rejuvenated, I caught up and took the lead in the worst conditions imaginable, as the 14-17K was near the stables of RAK rank with horse manure. Also, the roads were perilous in that the roundabout where the runners head back was badly incomplete with pebbles and stones that could easily lodge themselves in the soles of your shoes and cause grievous injuries.

Carefully I pushed forward, aware of Joe99’s ever looming presence, my attempts at sprinting were met with complaining ligaments as my legs were starting to give out, the numbing sensation slowly ebbing.

Sadly, Joe99 caught up to me at the 17K marker, and that was the last I saw of him; his much longer legs propelling him forward as I fell into obscurity.

It seemed as though I was a marker, as it appeared to me that more people were crossing me than I was crossing other people. The worst feeling is when you are overtaken by a gang of runners together in one group.

By the 19K marker, everyone was running past me as I trotted along like a lazy cow, choosing to become oblivious of those running ahead of me and focusing only on my music.

Further disappointment ensued when I realized that the finish line was banner-less, hence my hopes of displaying a last minute ignition of speed and agility were shattered.

I crossed the finish line at 1hr56, one minute above my previous 21K record in Kuwait, and 6 minutes more than a solo run I did earlier this year.

I met up with my friends (After great difficulty and 3 gatorades that served to make me beyond queasy) who had been prancing about the Finish line for 20 minutes before I decided to grace them with my presence.

Champions

Whilst posing for a photograph, who should appear behind me, in a final effort to add insult to injury, completely and utterly coincidentally?

That's him - Joe 99 (-.-)

Talk about being kicked whilst down.

The RAK Crowd

The group decided to split in two; alongside The Rainmaker we journeyed on foot to our hotel, a mere 2Km away, just in time to enjoy a hearty breakfast.

breakfast of champions

Our misfortune would not end however, as during the taxi ride to Dubai, the taxi sign actually FLEW off the roof of the car!

Overall, it was a successful, eventful, funfilled journey – strengthening bonds of friendship that are sure to last for a long time, and for many a race to come.

In the end, it is not a matter of who finished in what time, the very act of participating speaks volumes of peoples drives, the second act of carrying yourself over the finish line says the rest.

Everyone was a winner in one form or another that day.

Part 1: RAK Marathon Review – Getting there; Weekend from HELL

The Chaos theory states that an any point in time, there happens to be a rare occurrence whereby everything that can go wrong will go wrong.

This past weekend proved that point, as it denoted a milestone in the life of this soon-to-be semi-pro runner – the first professional Half Marathon, complete with its own trials and tribulations!

First off, I wish to thank my running mates who made this journey all the more spectacular. Wish them all well as they shall be the elites running next weekend from The Northern Border of Kuwait to the South, a distance of 240K! These heroes are Mohammad Al Matar, Jaafar Al Ali, Faisal Al Nakib, Cristian Craita, Hanan Al Awadi & The Youef Al Qanai.

The Run Kuwait Team - Mohammad, Jaafar & Faisal were @RAK

Here is part 1 of the review – getting there!

Our flight to RAK aboard its “national” carrier was a tumultuous affair – not only was the flight delayed from 12:55pm take off to 6:30pm, it was even FURTHER delayed till 8! Although not the airline’s fault, it seriously put a damper on our psyche as it severely affected our rest before the race.

Upon arrival at RAK Airport, I was surprised to find no staff at the Visa Counter, further delaying us for 30 mins until I was processed for entry.

The taxi ride to the hotel was uneventful, at that point of time, having arrived at RAK much later than expected, our bodies were mentally and physically fatigued, all we could hope for was a quick check-in in order to get to bed early and rise early to pick up our registration packets prior to the race.

No such luck.

Upon arriving at the hotel, we were greeted with another shocker- our booking agent had not printed our confirmed booking, and the hotel had no record of us in their system. They were kind enough to provide us with cookies (which I saved for breakfast) and orange juice (which the super-runners complained would cause them to not sleep, and yet drank it anyway!)

The time was 11pm and it took a lot of phone calls and co-ordinations with our agent back home, as well as consideration from the receptionist, to allow us to have the last two rooms in the hotel. The time was 1am.

We were set to wake up by 4:30 to prepare for the race.

Runners are runners, and they (the 3 pro’s, not I) required sustenance and nourishment; a phone call to room service saw 3 platters of pasta delivered to our room, with conversation centering around the spring in certain running shoes a long with the proper running t-shirts etc.

By the time the conversation died out, and the last of the spicy pasta was devoured by the runners, the clock read 2am, lights out.

Two and a half hours later, we were up and getting ready to run the RAK Half Marathon.

More to follow in Part 2 – The Run that broke the Camels Back!

Not All Israeli’s celebrate the Death of Palestinian Children

Reaction to the Deaths of Palestinian Children by a FEW Israeli's

 

The tragic events that occurred after an Israeli truck carrying a fuel tank crashed into a school bus transporting kindergarten children near the Qalandia checkpoint in Ramallah, 10 children lost their lives. (link)

Adding insult to injury, the capture above off Facebook has made its round in the media:

What is important right now is to remember the teachings of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and how despite his neighbors tossing their trash at him and mocking him, he still visited them when they became ill.

The above may be the sick thoughts of a few sick individuals, but in no way is that representative of the entire community, there are plenty of Israeli’s that despise the occupation just as much as Muslims do.

This need not turn into a war of words where we sink to the level of these few sick persons and retaliate in a way to make us appear barbaric.

In the end, it is a matter of perception. Let not the actions of the few incite our responses to the point where we are no better than they are.

Be Heard Through Social Media – RAK Airways got it Loud and Clear

What was first created as a means to idly kill time and communicate with friends has turned into an effective way for businesses to communicate with their customers, both existing and potential. Social Media pages, whether on Facebook or Twitter, are not meant to simply inform you of new deals, discounts, offers etc. They serve as a portal through which information flows both ways: from them to you and vice versa.

Today has been tumultuous from the get go; functioning on a mere 3 hours of sleep and participating in a 21K marathon tomorrow is in itself exhausting, but the events that transpired further add to the tribulations.

RAK Airways is a new, fledgling carrier in the UAE. To date their prices are very reasonable and their destinations are steadily increasing. Today we will be flying with RAK Airways for the RAK Half Marathon tomorrow.

RAK Airways - Small Fares, Big Deals

However, as with any fledgling, there are bound to be certain hiccups in the road of dealing with them, suffice to say RAK Airways handled these hiccups very professionally and immediately.

In the airline industry, it is not uncommon for flights to be delayed. Once I was in Dubai and was informed by the airline in Kuwait that my flight was delayed. Another time I was in the airport awaiting my flight and it got delayed for about 3 hours.

Yesterday I received a call from the RAK Office requesting a copy of my passport and my credit card which I used to purchase the tickets for my friends and I. I found it strange as it is a security measure adopted for when the credit card holder is not on the flight, although I was. I made that apparent to them.

This morning I received an email from RAK Reservations informing me that the flight was delayed. I was upset at the fact that they informed me via email as opposed to phone, which is preferable. Suppose I did not check my email this morning? I was agitated further when my friends informed me that the airport page did not update the flight as delayed. I called up the Kuwait office and again was informed that there was no delay. Time was of the essence and I asked them to check once more. They called a while later and told me that the flight was in fact delayed.

I wrote a strong worded paragraph on their Facebook Page for both of the above accounts, and the Airline responded. They called me several times from their head office in RAK to understand my agitation. They noted everything down, apologized profusely and went above and beyond to turn a once dissatisfied customer in a satisfied one.

I further received a call from the Kuwait Office, also apologizing for the occurrences and thanking me for reporting it to them.

As far as customer service, RAK Airways deserve a standing ovation for their monitoring of the situation and co-ordination of efforts.

As customers it is our responsibility to use social media responsibly. It is your window to communicating with the company directly. They take these matters seriously; if you have any grievance or complaint simply inform the company, any company for that matter, via their social media handles and they will see to it that the mistake is rectified. Who knows, they could even end up rewarding you.

In the end, it is up to us to shape how companies operate to our liking, so let your voices be heard!

The Road to RAK is a Turbulent One

Expectations are the lead cause of most arguments; when one expects a certain action and does not receive it, it sets off a series of unfortunate events that end up exaggerated and leave the initial party discombobulated.

Indeed, expectations are rarely as expected

A group of friends and I decided to venture upon a 21K race taking place in Ras Al Khaimah tomorrow. We had begun the initial planning for hotels, flights etc at the beginning of February, seeing as how we had delayed, there was plenty of turbulence to go through; the main one being hotel booking.

The hotels close to the race were all fully booked (online), the only hotel with an available room was 30Km away. I used www.booking.com to reserve 2 rooms at Acaci Hotel in RAK.

Seeing as how I do not have a credit card and instead opt to use my prepaid internet shopping card for online purchases, the hotel refused my booking after it was made. The reason being there was no “balance” in the card. At the time of booking I had left an amount to cover the cost of the rooms, immediately after it was ok’d I removed it. So they (booking.com) sent me the following e-mail:

We have been contacted by Acacia Hotel. It seems that the credit card details you supplied are invalid.

What to do:

Log in to My Booking to amend booking details. You can find your log-in details in your confirmation email.

You can also contact Acacia Hotel for further assistance.

Important: Please do this within 24 hours to ensure the hotel does not attempt to charge your card or cancel your reservation.

You still have a reservation at this hotel unless you receive a cancellation email.

Pay close attention to that last line; meaning unless otherwise informed, your booking is confirmed.

I sent the hotel an email requesting my booking to be confirmed, but they never replied.

Later, a friend of mine was able to find lodging at a hotel closer to the race (2K from the race, a very brisk distance indeed!) so we went with that, and I forgot all about my booking with Acacia.

Yesterday I had a shock when I was checking my email and booking.com was sending me a reminder, I went to the website to cancel the booking only to find out I was too late, cancellation now would entail a fee of half a night per room, two rooms meaning one full night. What a waste I thought, then I went into a tirade against myself of not checking in time, and this being a lesson learnt, and how I was irresponsible etc.

The first clear thought that came to mind was to pass the blame. I attempted to recontact the hotel and inform them that they had never replied, and that I was under the impression the booking was automatically cancelled.

I sent them two emails and received not a single reply.

I then emailed booking.com and their response was my breath of fresh air:

Thank you for choosing Booking.com.

Please note your booking has now been cancelled without charge. The hotel agreed to do this because the credit card you provided had not been accepted by them.

You will receive a cancellation email shortly. The hotel will not attempt to charge your card.

We apologise for any confusion caused.

Till now I have yet to hear from the hotel.

The problem was expectations; I was expecting them to send me a cancellation, they were expecting me to update my credit card details, in the end, neither one of us did anything the other expected!

Booking.com have earned my highest respect; their response was prompt, within 15 minutes of my query.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this story which is still ongoing; now that we have fixed the hotel, the problem arises with the airline itself!

August 2011 ( View complete archive page )

September 2011 ( View complete archive page )

  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
  • Jul
  • Aug
  • Sep
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec
error: Sorry, Ctrl+C/V disabled; if you wish to use this content please contact us :)
%d bloggers like this: