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Monthly Archives: April 2012

Entertainment City – 18 years Later, Un-entertained

Disappointment would be an understatement.

18 years ago, as a treat for our relative visiting from Qatar, we took them to Entertainment City for a day of reckless abandon, merriment and fun.

Not much has changed in 18 years at Entertainment City. Yes, there are one or two new rides (The Lightning Roller Coaster – 2KD a pop).

I find it moronic that one has to buy a card for 250fils in order to charge it with money to pay for the rides that cost money. And that was the case as now it was not a mere fact of paying 2KD for the roller coaster or 1KD for the Go-Carts, you needed a plastic swipe card as well.

Regardless, Entertainment City NEED to advertise WHEN their games are scheduled for maintenance and WHICH games have been taken out of service. I was disappointed to find that the Australian Log Ride and the “normal” Roller Coaster were under maintenance (wondering if the putrid water of the log ride was ever changed during that 18 year hiatus), the only worthwhile rides they had were the Condor, the Lightning and the Tornado.

the “house of horrors” aka Sindbad’s Journey has yet to see any fresh coat of paint or new additions.

Tragically, it was a very sad visit to a spot where, as a child, I had immense enjoyment and fun.

Given its vast expanse of land and grass areas, they need to revise their ticketing System at the gate so as to allow people who do not wish to partake in any rides to still enter and enjoy the scenery. Entertainment City should be turned into a park.

Entertainment City is in need of an overhaul, the sooner the better.

Deductive Reasoning – The Case of the Missing Toilet Seats

In an almost Sherlock Holmes-esque moment, clarity was observed whilst pondering a strange conundrum.

The Case of the Missing Toilet Seats

The Premise: we arrived at our hotel apartment in Jeddah to find the state of the toilet to appear as follows:

The absence of the toilet seat was "peculiar"

On its own, this would not have been cause for alarm, however, coupled with the strange coincidence of the toilet seat also having mysteriously vanished from the guest restroom as well, a pattern emerged.

Racking my brain as to why this situation bore a slight resemblance to an earlier encounter I had had, I was determined to get to the bottom (pardon the pun) of this situation.

What sort of diabolical, cold-bottomed villain was at hand here, to rob a hapless furnished apartment of not one, but two toilet seats? Surely, there was no depth to this fiend’s conniving evil ingenuity.

And then, just when it seemed all hope was lost, a dim bulb brightened,

and the answer was right before my very eyes.

Elementary my dear WatsonReaders, for in an earlier trip, whilst boarding a plane from East to West, Dammam to Jeddah, I was in need of relief and so happened upon my merry way to stumble into the public lavatories of Dammam International Airport, where I spied with my cunning eyes the following disclaimer nestled above the evacuation device:

Our little illustrated friend was trying to give us a clue

Further, the follow sign was placed immediately before the entrance, to leave no room for misinterpretation or excuse for incorrect toilet etiquette (or toiletiquette if you will):

the most obvious clue

For there, in plain black and white, lay the most important clue that helped unravel this mystery; Don’t Squat on Toilet Bowl.

Apparently, we had rented a room after a pair (or group) of squatters had temporarily leased the abode and went about customizing it to their own squat-like needs and requirements. With what intentions, we shall never know.

And that, as they say, wraps up the mystery.

Elementary, I say

Expat Travel – Are Expat Women Safe in Kuwait?

The plethora of expats looking to arrive and start their lives on Kuwaiti Soil have one specific question in mind; is it safe for single expat ladies to live alone in Kuwait?

(Another one of their worries is driving in Kuwait, as the majority tend to describe it as NASCAR meets Demolition Derby, but that is another tale for another time.)

In any given year, a large number of expats (men and women) choose to make Kuwait their domicile, for varying periods of time. With everything we read in the papers regarding abductions and rapes etc. it is understandable that a few would be hesitant/reluctant upon arrival to the locale.

This post specifies expats specifically, although it can also relate to women in general; the only difference is awareness of the laws and/or having someone to be there for you, which most expats, upon arrival, are thoroughly lacking.

Kuwait is no more, or less, dangerous than any other country in the world as far as Female Safety is concerned. Harassment is, unfortunately, a worldwide epidemic amongst the socially depraved. Police have made strong efforts to counter this by imposing heavy fines on any offenders that are reported (1,000KD + jail-time + hair shaved in cases of juveniles).

The downside here is crimes against women in general are broken down into categories, separated by ethnicity.

– Expat women of Asian descent are molested, abducted, raped and abused (depending on their job, abuse is centered around maids in general).

The Sad Truth of the World we Live in

– Expat women of Western/ European origin are regarded as loaded and more often than not are victims to extortion in taxis and any retail shop without a fixed price tag. They are followed in malls by desperate, lonely men who are looking for a “one-night-stand“, and in few cases, are molested by pesky low lives.

There is no clear profile for sick individuals, what is mentioned above is merely what occurs in the news.

Another major cause for concern is “dress code“, and make no mistake, it does not matter what you wear, whether it is revealing, tight or loose fitting, the socially depraved only search for a hint of femininity to pounce on (pardon the pun), as I have seen women covered from head to toe in abayas that were being pestered on the road.

In part, it is a matter of personal discretion; by avoiding certain areas and crowds, expat ladies can keep themselves safe from harm.

Kuwait is neither as stringent as Saudi Arabia nor as lax as Dubai, it is a bit of both. Behind closed doors (i.e. parties, functions etc) you are free to dress as you please, whilst in the public eye, it is best to be moderate in clothing. The best advice that can be given is to visit the local malls upon arrival and study the peoples dressing habits (Without drawing too much attention to yourself), and emulate the style you find most appealing.

PDA (Public Display of Affection) you say? Again, given the laws of the land, excessive PDA is an offence that could land you in jail (you have only to read up on the many couples caught canoodling in their cars by vigilant passersby whose first reaction upon seeing such affection is to call the police.

Hand holding, pecks on the cheek, hugging etc. are NOT considered offences, although it might draw the ire of a few more stringent passersby.

Despite the fact that single women are given the same treatment as families (i.e. in terms of cinema seating, restaurants, park days etc) the same is not true for rent rules, as some landlords have been known to shun single women in search of an apartment to rent by themselves (for fear of immorality) which makes non-company sponsored housing difficult, but not impossible.

Caution should be exercised at all times, for it is our greatest defense.

Public Service Announcement for Driving in Kuwait

The following has no affiliation to any law, rule or decree passed in the State of Kuwait.

It is however imperative to label the perpetrators of the following atrocity as is mentioned in the following visual display:

Not only is it extremely selfish, it is heavily disruptive of traffic and can cause a deadlock that will not be resolved except after several hours and excruciatingly LOUD and painful honks.

This also occurs at traffic signals, where you have one smart alec use a different lane and cut in front of another to get into their proper lane.

Please, pay people a common courtesy and drive POLITELY. Nothing is worth overtaking and risking grievous or potentially fatal injury to either yourself or others.

Remember this post; the Road is cold and heartless, it does not care for you.

Care about your own safety.

Makkah Visit April 2012 (In Pictures)

To the spiritually inclined, a trip to Makkah (aka Mecca) is a time of pondering and self contemplation.

The real City that Never Sleeps, Makkah is temporary home to thousands upon thousands of visitors on a daily basis, round-the-clock, from business men to paupers, all walks and creeds of life unite around the Ka’aba every hour of the day for Umra.

Sadly though, the area surrounding the Harram has been heavily and severely commercialized into a high-end hotel sector, with a shopping mall and two perceivable Starbucks in the vicinity.

The road leading up towards the Harram is site to several street vendors hawking their wares, religious and other, to the plethora of visitors from different countries. I witnessed a radical change in demeanor as all of the sudden, the women scooped their wares into their sheets, slung them over their shoulders and, like a thief in the night, took flight down the road at rapid pace. We later heard the police sirens as their car pulled up into the road to drive the paupers away.

The Gift of Health – 26 years, 26K Run

No preparation. No dietary requirement. Minimal rest and stretching.

Those were the components of a run that spanned 26K, in celebration of turning 26.

Back in the days of youthful folly and ignorance, I would indulge in a lone, single, celebratory birthday cigar. Later I realized the error of my ways, celebrating one passing year of life with a cancer stick? Hence, I needed to find a more healthy, productive way to celebrate my birthday. And an idea was born. For every year on this earth, I’d run one kilometer (by the time I’m 42 I should be ready for a full length Marathon!).

I stayed up late on the night of my birthday. I had not eaten anything that day since the afternoon (save a few slices of delicious cheesecake), I contemplated delaying, postponing, changing venues etc. In the end I gritted my teeth and went for it.

The beauty of life lies in spontaneity, preparation is all good and well, but it is the randomness that gives life taste.

We run not because we have to, we run because we want to. Health should not be a chore, it should be a choice.

Destitute and still Dreaming – a Tale of Beggars in The Kingdom

As human beings, we are capable of great acts of kindness yet we deliberately hold ourselves back for fear of not being able to contribute to the greater picture.

Marianne Williamson said it best, as adapted in Coach Carter, Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

How often have we crossed to the other side of the street to avoid passing by a beggar, or group of them? How often do we walk past them, oblivious to their existence, as we travel to our next destination to either dine, purchase or a mixture of both? Are you not guilty of telling a beggar to “get a job” or that “god will provide you with what you need”?

I write this as I am in The Kingdom; Saudi Arabia. In the heart of Jeddah, and I have not seen as many beggars before lining the streets. Strangers from all walks of life, boys and girls of young ages, men and women of various nationalities and creeds, all huddled in areas near restaurants or shopping centers, some selling meswak’s, others selling t-shirts or sweets or fixing shoes.

As I walked to the nearest hypermarket to stock my fridge with edibles, I counted 14 such destitute souls, in a distance of 10 or 15 blocks. Yet one specifically touched my heart in the most profound of ways.

Truth be told, it is not the first time I had set eyes upon them. October 2010 was a great month for me. It was the time I got selected to go on my first audit. Location: Saudi Arabia. It was where the work was toughest and the operations largest, so I welcomed the challenge with open arms. Whilst staying in Jeddah for the first time, at the very same hotel, I came across the following figures. A  Father and his young son, sitting close together to the right side of a restaurant, the father with his tools for fixing shoes, his son sitting diligently by his side. Fast forward to April 2012, and it is as if a portal was opened between the two times. I took notice of the boy because of his smile and his eyes. He had something wrong with his right eye, but still he smiled at passersby.

Coming home late from work and walking to the hypermarket, it was an all too familiar sight to see the boy fast asleep on his father’s lap. It was heart warming. It made me weep. In a span of two years I had accomplished, to me, what seemed so much, in retrospect, this man, this father, was in the same exact position. Does he have a wife at home, whom he returns to with whatever meager amount he was able to collect? Is he a single father, trying to ensure a nest-egg for his growing son? I do not know, for as is the human condition, we remain oblivious to the trials of others, focusing instead on our own.

On this day, I sought to things differently. I had been walking past this man for too long, afraid to look him in the eyes for fear of what I might see. Despair, sorrow, sadness, spite, are all what I had imagined this man to be keeping inside. If life were different, he would not be here for the past two years. He must blame someone. I was so mistaken.

At the hypermarket I had a list of things to buy; milk, bread and juice. Whilst at the juice stand, I picked myself up a small bottle for the journey back home. Whilst passing by these two, I looked at the son. And what I saw made me smile from ear to ear.

He was looking at me, pointing at me and smiling. He was either pointing at the pink bags in my hand (I blame Danube for their choice of color) or the design on my t-shirt. Either way, I found myself smiling back at him. And that is where I finally understood. I stopped and pulled out my wallet and gave something to the father. As I was walking away, I remembered the small juice I was carrying, and I took it out to give to the little boy. Again, he looked at me and smiled, and his father did too, giving me a thumbs up as well.

It is not a matter of money. These people live their lives day by day, a kind gesture, a smile, a sandwich, a drink, anything offered to them is a sign of recognition. It is what they long for, human contact. To be looked at as individuals, not overlooked as vermin.

I am no angel, I am as guilty of walking past beggars and pretending they are invisible as the next person. We have been taught to doubt their sincerity. One school of thought teaches us that they beg for drug money, others that they are well off and just lazy. But pretending to be a cobbler in the same position for two years? I find that hard to imagine.

We are all capable of doing more to aid these unfortunate individuals. For in their toils we can find pearls of wisdom. A potential groom worries about placing a roof over his lovers head, a father worries about the future of the daughter he is about to give away, an unemployed person worries about next month’s rent, a spoiled child worries about the next big party and how much their outfit will cost. In retrospect, we should be thankful for what we have, for if these people were to worry about tomorrow, they would never live today.

As cliché as I sounds, the past is the past because you cannot change it, the future is undecided because you do not know it, all you can do is live in the present, the gift you receive today.

A gift given to anyone can be a simple smile, and it has the power to change the world.

Giving alms to the poor is one of the Pillars of Islam, and in Islam, smiling is considered a charity.

So smile.

3D Street Art – Saudi Style

We have all seen the 3D street art promoted via email messages and Facebook posts.

It truly is art, deceptively life-like and yet borne on a flat surface. The likes of which include this:

It starts like this...

and ends up looking like this!

Hence, you can guess my surprise upon seeing the following in the streets of Jeddah, painted on the pillars beneath an ordinary bridge:

I ACTUALLY thought the turtle was sticking out of the wall, as a trick to make people doubt their senses, I was surprised upon finding out it was in fact, just a painting.

Jeddah truly is the largest outdoor museum, you have only to pass by Bicycle Square for further testament to that fact!

Way to go Saudi!

Congratulations To Kuwait’s Mohammed Al-Matar- 46th Place in 250Km MDS 2012!

Capt. Mohammed Al-Matar, representing Kuwait in this year’s Marathon Des Sables in Morocco, did everyone proud and came in at 46th place, completing the toughest foot race on earth, a grueling stretch of 250KM over desert terrain in 29hrs and 25 mins.

Congratulations Mohammed!

Do not forget to congratulate him on Twitter @Makaveli566

“We Procreate” – An Advertising Slogan Fail

The greatest atrocity any company can commit is not paying attention to their slogan, their calling card, the phrase that can make or break them, put them on the map or obliterate them from existence.

Nonsensical, erroneous and even grammatical errors really make a difference in highlighting the professionalism of a company when advertising.

A while ago (specifically November 2011), I was attending my uncles pre-marriage bash. Long story short, it was in part hosted by the gym where he is a member, hence they had the following ad placed right smack in the middle of the celebrations:

We Don't Procrastinate, We Procreate

"We Don't Procrastinate, We Procreate", excuse me what?

“We do not procrastinate, we procreate”.. What on earth does that even MEAN? It would seem the mastermind behind this slogan simply chose it it just the fact that the two words rhyme and start with the letter “P”.

Being an astute follower of grammatical correctness, and unable to look away from the obvious disastrous message behind the erroneous slogan, I sought any who would listen as to why the phrase is nonsensical. I was lead to a monster of a human being who calls himself “Batista”, and rightfully so, over 6 feet in height, with biceps the size of my head. I had to tread carefully lest I be caught in a head lock.

I explained, in a non-hostile manner, the many ways in which the phrase was nonsensical. Procreate I informed them, was a biblical word meaning to bear children, and procrastinate was putting off today’s work. The first half of the sentence was correct, the latter part would make those linguistically savvy believe that the gym is hatching an army of muscle-bound babies from the wombs of their female clientele.

I even attempted to give them more proper slogans, the simplest being: “We Don’t Procrastinate, we Innervate” (Patent pending!)

Alas, it would seem their marketing campaign is still using that phrase.

Procreating the next generation of genetic freaks.

August 2011 ( View complete archive page )

September 2011 ( View complete archive page )

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