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Monthly Archives: October 2015

The Lazy life of Kuwait – Bicycle Ordering

For those that have spent a wee bit of time in the desert state of Kuwait, you will find that most of the creature comforts we enjoy are brought upon as a result of the external environment in which we reside.

For example, the infamous baqala-drive-by, whereby we park our cars outside the baqala, honk twice or thrice, give our order to the shopkeeper, receive the items, pay, wait, receive change, then drive off into the (hopeful) sunset.

This phenomena is also replicated outside restaurants, with the same conditions.

Earlier this week however, I decided to upset the established order and do things differently.

I rode up to my preferred restaurant to cure my cravings for fatayer, initially I was ignored by the people taking orders, because as I said earlier, I rode up to them, not drove; as in on my bicycle, not in my car. The following conversation took place:

Me: I want to make an order.

Restaurant Dude: go inside.

Me: But I am on a bicycle.

Restaurant Dude: its ok, don’t worry.

Me: Excuse me, can you please treat me as if I am a car?! (verbatim translation of what I said in Arabic)

Restaurant Dude: *laughs* *takes order*

~~~~~~~~~~~

I took to the streets whilst waiting for the food to be made, upon my return, Restaurant Dude goes, “here you go, Mr. Car”.

I’d like to think I am about to set a trend for bicycle ordering.

Of course, I have nothing on these guys:

drive-thru-car

Shenanigans

More Residency Woes in Kuwait

This one however is not borne by the resident, unless their company makes them pay for their residency.

According to MOSAL (Ministry of Social Affairs & Labor), your residency renewal period cannot exceed the company’s commercial licence validity.

The company’s commercial licence is strategically placed near all entrances to the company and looks something like this:

tamkeen

Now if you look at the 2nd pink box from the left on the top, you’ll find an expiry date (in this case its 28/08/2014).

What this means is, if a person’s residency expires 28/12/13, it can only be renewed upto 28/08/2014.

Add to that woe, the company’s commercial registration can only be renewed 2 months before it expires. So going by the same example above, suppose a person’s residency expires 28/05/2014; it would only be renewed up to 28/08/2014 (i.e. 3 months) after which said employee would need another residency stamp.

If your company charges you for your residency (and yes, some companies DO do that), you’ll be doubly screwed.

Technically it makes sense; a company’s employee cannot have residency that exceeds the company’s commercial licence. However there is nothing which states that the company is responsible for any legal charges that arise against the employee should its licence expire close to their residency expiry.

We’ll have to wait and see what happens with this.

What to do in Kuwait this weekend? Fright Night @Sirdab_lab!

IMG-20151027-WA0001Stuck on what to do on the night before Halloween? Join the good folk over at Sirdab for their first ever “Fright Night”!

Behold a night of standup comedy, live music, ghost storytelling, games, and a screening of some of the freakiest short films guaranteed to scare the heebie-geebies out of you 👻

Dinner will be sponsored by @chinagardenkw

When: 7:30 PM Friday, October 30
Where: Sirdab Lab

Free entry, prior registration required. Register at: sirdab-lab.com/frightnight

(and yes, I will be performing standup that night – hence the term “FRIGHT”!)

For directions:

Review of the McDonald’s Flyingstart Triathlon @q8sportevents

The McDonald’s Flyingstart triathlon took place last Friday. For those that do not know, a triathlon is a succession of sporting events done in sequence to completion – Swim, Bike, Run. The event had teams as well as solo performers, competing in Sprint (750M swim, 20KM cycle, 5KM run) and Olympic distances (1,500M swim, 40KM cycle, 10KM run).

We arrived at Marina at 6AM and proceeded to stick all the stickers and tattoos where they need to go. Shortly after instructions were given, and once everyone knew where they should be, we all proceeded to the beach to watch the first leg of the triathlon commence.

Being short of a road bike I took my mountain bike to the race. We waited in the participants pen whilst our team mates rushed to hand over the tracker, strapped it to our ankles and were off. You could not mount your bike from the get-go, you had to run alongside the bike from the parking lot near Marina Hotel all the way to the parking lot near Starbucks, there you could hop on to your bike and go all the way down the Gulf road to Green island, and come back, the go again, and return for a supposed distance of 20KM for sprint and double that for Olympic.

As I was the bike-man for the team, my story will revolve around that, everything else is hearsay, hearsee and educated speculation.

cycling down the Gulf road was a pleasant affair; the organizer had asked those riding slow to stay on the right side of the road, and that is where I spent the majority of my time. I watched several athletes whisk past me on their road bikes, while I just focused on keeping a steady pace of 2mins40secs or less per KM (thank you Garmin Watch!)

Whenever possible, I would try to overtake from the left side, just to know the feeling, and in my head I formed various rivalries with other participants, just to push myself forward. The one that stands out was 466, another fellow mountain biker, who would eventually go on to pass me but not after I gave him a run for his money. Another mountain biker who’s number I cannot recall helped me out, as after a constant struggle for dominance I decided to ride behind him in his slipstream, and was successful in knocking down the time for that KM from 2mins40secs to 2mins21secs.

In the end, the atmosphere was generally nice.

Here is the list of faults I found with the event though:

  1. Under no circumstance is the organizer ever allowed to YELL at the participants. Granted, he was on a megaphone and trying to give people the Cliff notes regarding “how to Tri”, but you cannot take it upon yourself to lose your cool and yell at the participants, who paid to be there, and who’s ages ranged from those young enough to be your children to those old enough to be your grandparents. It happened twice.
  2. There was a lack of enforcement of policy in the transition area; for example, take the following road bike that was propped up against a pole as opposed to being hung on the bike rack like everyone else. I overheard the organizers state that this was a violation, but as the race commenced, the bike remained in its incorrect place:

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This is how bikes should have been kept in the transition area:

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3. Participants were expected to run beside their bikes (as stated above) however, the following obstruction was only cleared after the first two or so cyclists had to squeeze by it:

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4. The volunteers who were supposed to be helping out on race day, despite their good intentions, were not aware of the full list of rules – we had asked one near the bike mounting area where the transition from bike to run was, to which he replied, “I don’t really know”, later we found out that the pen that kept the cyclists was later refilled with the runners. Still, volunteers should know.

5. Despite the race being billed as 20KM cycling, the actual distance fell short, as tracked thru 2 separate GPS trackers – Garmin (watch) and SportsTracker (app – Android) as follows:

Capture

(this included the run from the transition area to the bike mount area).

6. The transition area was pure bedlam with people walking everywhere and runners trying to navigate around them.

7. The running part of the triathlon was by far the most poorly planned. Lets begin with the fact that it was in the most densely crowded area – the Marina walkway, all the way to the scientific center. Runners were recollecting how they had to dodge around people to finish their distance. A quick fix for this would have been to close off the road from Scientific center to Marina (the Gulf road was closed from Marina to Green island) and have the runners do laps there, where they would not be bothering those out for their early morning strolls.

8. The volunteers at the turn around areas were causing confusion for cyclists and runners. At the beginning of the race, the organizer stressed that each person is responsible to keep track of their distance themselves. What makes it confusing however is when you are going toward a turnaround area and see a volunteer pointing left and right. Left to go back and do another lap, right to go onto the transition area. I fell for this, as did several runners I saw when I was done with the cycling part.

9. Inadequate supply of bins at such a large event.

10. Joke of a takeaway from the race in the form of a t-shirt (good quality), a small (branded) bag and a water bottle. Here are some ideas for things you can include in the bag next time – vouchers from sponsors – anything to justify the exorbitant cost of the event – KD 35.

11. Very small area near the finish line, extremely crowded to be around sponsor booths and stand in line for t-shirts or tracker refunds.

The pro’s of the race:

1. Sweet, never-before-run finish line:

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right atop the fountain!

This event is growing in popularity and attracting participants from all over the region. As somebody who is now seriously considering getting into triathlete training, I hope the organizers take the points above into consideration, because if the next event is to be performed with the same caliber as this one, attendance might suffer.

Happy Marty McFly Day! #BTTF

Today is the day! Any wishing to feel “forever young” might want to look elsewhere on the interwebs, as this post is bound to stroke the age strings from as far back as 26 years ago!

We are talking about the greatest trilogy (in this writers humble opinion) of all TIME, that inspired a cartoon series as well as rose to become a pop culture – Back to the Future!

logo

It all started when Doc. Emmett Brown invented a time machine. It was powered by a nuclear device he built after acquiring “plutonium” from a bunch of Libyan Terrorists (first prediction!) under the guise of creating a bomb for them. They find out they were duped, go back and kill him, Marty jumps in the “car” (aka time machine) and travels to the first time destination set by the Doc (after his wanting to visit “the birth of Christ” – yes my memory is that good) – the day he fell on his head in the bathroom and came up with the design for the Flux Capacitor, which makes time travel possible.

Fast forward to the end of Part 1, and we are left with a cliff hanger – McFly is going to the future, Back to the Future with Doc, who tells him, “something’s gotta be done about your kids!”

That date, set way back in 1989 when the film came out and set as 1985 in the movies timeline, is TODAY – October 21, 2015 – 30 years in the future!

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We owned the trilogy on VHS back then; despite our chronological order, part III was mine, II belonged to my elder brother and the young one got part I. My favorite part was II because I always enjoyed seeing what the future would look like; I was under the impression that all of the sudden, in the blink of an eye, cars would fly, buildings would turn to metal, aliens would appear etc. Year by year I was disappointed, especially at the turn of the 21st century, the year 2000, I was expecting an end to all confrontations and the ushering in of peace and harmony, how naive I was, so, back to back to the future 😛

Now, why is everyone creating such a huge buzz around this? Simply put, this is one of the earliest pulp fiction fantasy time travel movies where we actually get to see the date they predicted back when! All other futuristic movies derive their plots from dates that are in the high millenniums such as 2300, 2600 etc.

This excitement is a mimicry of anyone that read George Orwell’s novel 1984, which was the authors prediction of life in 1984, written in 1949 (of course something great did happen in 1984 – my elder brother was born <3 )!

Another reason why everyone is going gaga over BTTF is that the writers, sharp as they were, ended up predicting some actual trends in 2015 – fancy that!

What I do not understand however is why the stickless segways are being billed as hover boards inspired by BTTF! I call BS…

That is  a tale, for another time, for now, we leave you with some of the greatest hits of BTTF:

And yes, the songs are in chronological order from part 1!

PS this post is issued 2 hours after the arrival of Doc & Marty from 1985!

Male Molestation in Kuwait

I’ve been debating writing this over and over in my head since its occurrence last night, so here goes:

Yesterday I was out walking with my wife and her sisters. My first and foremost thought was I need to police dog them and keep circling them to keep em safe. Little did I realize I would be the one in need of protection.

A trip intended for Sports Direct on Tunis St. took an unexpected detour across the street. The ladies were getting their shopping on, and as I was in the market for a new pair of running shoes, I left them behind, crossed the street to Sports Direct, looked around, left and sat outside on their pavement waiting for the ladies to finish.

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As I was flipping through my phone to keep myself entertained, I noted a pair of feet walking in front of me, they stopped, and turned towards me. I looked up and there was a portly man, balding, glasses, 5 O’clock shadow, green shirt, black jeans. He asked me where Al Bahar Center was.

Being the helpful person I am, I stood up and pointed to the big blue letters reading “AL BAHAR CENTER” down the street, clear as day, and said “see those blue lights? That is Al Bahar Center”. What happened next was, discomforting.

You know that hand gesture where you pull at your imaginary goatee? Arabic sign language for “I will show you later”, or “patience, I will pay you back soon”? Imagine that, but instead of pulling down you’re pulling outward, and instead of your chin its your chest area.

He then walked away and I spent a good 20-30 seconds wondering what the heck just happened. This stranger came up to me, asked for directions, when I pointed him the right way, he responds by groping my chest? As a man, I kept trying to figure out if I misread it, or why on earth it would happen.

I eyed the queer fellow down the street and saw him stop yet another stranger, and again ask for directions! I saw the hapless man also turn to the side and point toward Al Bahar Center, and this time, the creep just rubbed his arm up and down.

I walked up to the second person he asked for directions and asked him, did that guy ask you for Al Bahar Center? He said yes. I asked did he also touch you? He said yes, the guy seemed confused and out of his mind.

My greatest concern was what if he happens upon a group of children on the street? Scanning down towards him I noted that, given the lateness of the hour on a school nights, the streets were devoid of children. I discussed the matter further with the second direction giver and decided the direction seeker must be troubled. With nothing left to do, I turned around and left.

Now at this point, you are either having a jolly laugh at this predicament, or wondering what is with the exaggeration. Few might actually see my concern here.

What was I supposed to do?

 

Who to call if your windshield cracks in Kuwait

Lets face it; one of the worst things on the road are flying pebbles (and speeding morons but that is a tale for another time).

Yesterday as the wife came over with the car (joint custody) I noticed this rather elongated crack in the windshield.

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Of course I do not blame her, if it were me though I would have attempted to dodge that oncoming pebble like the matrix. Joking, one of the worst feelings is being in the driver seat as a pebble makes its way towards you, there really is nothing to be done, and the audible “CRACK” as it connects with the windshield might as well be slamming into your very soul.

I digress. I immediately took to Google to search for “Windshield repair in Kuwait” and to my amazement, there was a solution! Initially I was aware that it was possible to fix spiderweb cracks in the windshield, however when the crack resembles a line, I thought I would have to buy a new one. Not today.

The company is called Fast Fix (instagram), they can be reached through the following number (whatsapp – English & Arabic) 66566908.

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I called them up around 5:30PM, the dude that answered asked when the crack occurred, I told him it was just fresh so he checked for the first open spot, which happened to be at 6:30PM. I gave him my home address and he said someone would contact me for further directions.

By 6:00PM I received a whatsapp message from a number asking for directions. Completely unlike Kuwait, at 6:20PM the driver was downstairs and asked me to join him.

The process took around 30 minutes. First a hole is drilled at the end of the crack to ensure it does not get bigger, then a material, epoxy I believe, is carefully inserted into the crack, covered with celotape and then finally subjected to blue light for about 15 minutes.

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The result was extraordinary. The crack became a hairline fracture barely showing unless you look for it. Sikandar (pictured above) was polite, pleasant, on-point and on-time.

Final bill was KD 7.

Here is hoping to never see them again (for the foreseeable future), but it is good to know they are available should one be in need of their assistance!

Traffic Cam Maintenance in Kuwait

Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed the increased frequency with which the majority of traffic cameras are undergoing inspection/ maintenance?

Traffic Cam

Some may contribute this to weather changes and the adverse affects on circuitry. Others might view it as increased film capture so as to process fines faster.

Whatever the case may be, it leaves me wondering if there is an opening within the MOI for “Certified Traffic Cam Examiner” whose sole raison d’être is to test these cameras with little care for financial consequence.

Sidenote: anyone else getting confused with sudden bursts of traffic cam flashes when not doing anything illegal?

August 2011 ( View complete archive page )

September 2011 ( View complete archive page )

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