Category Archives: Writings

The Greatest Race I ever Ran @TMFoundation

It seems fitting to get back into the habit with a regular post I would create, albeit this one is almost a year late.

Lots has happened over the past year, it took the rejection of an article by a magazine to send me in a downward spiral of self-doubt, however, the rut is finally over!

So, allow me to take you back a year, September 2016.

The location: New York City!

I had just recently taken part in my first ever ROC race (Ridiculous Obstacle Course). And on my first voyage across the Atlantic, what better way to mark arriving on a continent for the first time than by adding to my (growing) gaggle of Medals? I sealed the deal with two back-to-back races, the ROC race, and a 5K race called The Heroes Run.

Now, this post is about the latter, not the former, but the full story cannot be understood without a small visit to the first race.

Obviously, it wasn’t a “race” per se, it A LOT OF WATER, and sightings of Power Rangers, superheroes and team participants from the Legends of the Hidden Temple gameshow way-back-when.

Moral of the story, I got really wet, including my ONLY PAIR of running sneakers, but it was super fun!

Fortunately, our hotel stocked ad rags at the front desk, being the well read runner I am, I quickly placed rolled up papers inside the shoes, to aid the drying process.

Race day was quite eventful, it was the day before Eid-Al-Adha, where Abraham envisioned slaughtering his son, so I was fasting. I had checked out how to get to the race location via subway, however damn the New York transit system, I found myself lost. And with no internet whatsoever. Fortunately, I found myself on a road that showed promise of an open wifi connection, I quickly used it to call an Uber (which worked with my current cashless status).

I’d selected this race after countless emails back and forth, the first race I had booked turned out to not give “finisher medals” which was a huge no-no for me, as everyone knows, runners are bling whores, we need our metal baby. So I googled “heroes run medals” and saw a few, so I assumed they were finisher medals.

Boy was I wrong.

I’d also been trying in vain to pay online for the race, using every means at my disposal, 3 different mastercards including a US issued one, all to no avail.

I made it to the race, on an empty stomach, and much to my chagrin, was informed that the run would not have finisher medals, rather placement medals, for 1, 2 and 3, in each category (runners in Kuwait know that the categories are male and female only).

I kept praying to God to be in the top 3…

At the sound of the whistle (or gun, I honestly can’t remember from the adrenaline), I was off, for 1/5KM I was in the lead, I thought YAY! my prayers were answered. Little did I realize I celebrated too soon. No sooner had I thought (this is in the bag) was I disturbed by a surpassing runner. I agreed to secede for second place. No sooner had I thought that, runner #2 took over, all in all, 4 men passed me, and 2 women.

On the run back to the finish line, I was almost caught by two others, at this point I decided to throw down the gauntlet and run like I never ran before. So I did.

The finishers were being congratulated with water and refreshments, I was further downtrodden as I couldn’t even enjoy those (because of the fasting). Atleast the t-shirt looked amazing I thought.

The race distance and timing system were measured and timed by a true pro, who had Olympic events under his belt. Runners walked up to his tent and got a printed receipt with their exact time. I figured, why not. Might as well. No sooner had I received my paper did my eyes bulge out in excitement, for right there next to my name was the number 2!

I was Second in my age category!

Which resulted in this awesome piece of bling-age:

It also helped a lot that the medal had a Super Cool Design!

@SustainableYouthQ8 – Redefining the Running scene in Kuwait

Now I’m not just saying this because I organized it, but based on the comments on Instagram and our FB page, the sustainability of Sustainable Youth is indeed going forward!

We started with a 5K team run in February of 2016 unlike any 5K race seen before in Kuwait. Last Friday night we took our uniqueness a step further and introduced the Team Relay concept to Kuwait, at Mishref Running Track.

Granted, there were a few setbacks, which we will discuss in detail in a later post, however the culmination of it is this: People had fun. People had a lot of fun.

Check out the video below:

And don’t worry, as people have to expect, the review is coming soon 😉

Sniffing out my faults

To err is human, to blame it on others shows true management potential.

That was a quote FB reminded me I had shared a few years ago, that possibly holds true in the following anecdotal scenario with a twist and a lesson to be learnt. So, let us commence with the story telling!

Yesterday, I found myself in a rare euphoric state of knowing my own mistake and laughing hilariously at the fallacy of my assumptions. You know what they say, when you assume, you make an ass out of you and me, me being myself. I mean, it is possible to mistake bad BO with the smell of rotting flesh right? Right?!

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It started off like any other day really, but to know the full extent of the story, we must go back a few days, just a few mind you, I will not bore you with the story of my birth.

(Trust me, everything is interrelated, and will come full circle at the end).

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My house electricity had been acting up, switching off completely at the most inopportune times. At first I dismissed this as the governments way of reducing the electricity bill, however later events would prove I was the only one being affected. (Story #1)

Earlier last year, having only lived in my apartment for a few short months, I came to discover a shocking revelation; the guest bathroom ceiling was leaking. Water leaking onto plaster makes for a vile combination of rot and decay.

illustrative purposes (not my actual ceiling)

illustrative purposes (not my actual ceiling)

The ceiling was completely demolished and left barren for the better part of 9 months, where I had to endure frightening sounds from above whilst attending the call of nature. Several visits from the plumber later, and our only option was to wait it out, for apparently my upstairs neighbor was renovating his bathroom which caused leakage through my ceiling. Fast forward to 2016, and a new aluminum ceiling was installed. With a light bulb in the middle. (Story #2)

Last week I had gone on a short trip to the motherland, the house was completely empty as my wife also traveled. Luckily (for her) I returned first, and was greeted with a smell most grotesque. Having gone through a ritual of watching horror movies with my visiting brother and his wife, the telltale signs of a haunting is the smell of rotting flesh. Which is what my house smelled like upon my return!

Fortunately for me, it was neigh a matter of demonic manifestation, but a simple power outage, that resulted in a power failure in the entire household, causing the fridge to thaw out. Word to the wise, never, ever, ever, EVER buy and keep chicken liver! My wife was fascinated by a recipe she learnt from a friend, and I would later learn that the blood content of liver is quite high.

Feeling nauseous, I set about the task of throwing out pounds and pounds of thawed out meats of all kinds, from bovine to poultry and aquatic. That left the simple matter of cleaning up the freezer, which I set to with Dittol in one hand and a handkerchief in the other. I thought my gruesome task was complete. I thought wrong.

Simultaneously, and quite unrelated (or so I thought), the bathroom had begun to leak again. Remember how I said the ceiling was aluminized? Well, the water flowed down to the middle, where it found a light bulb, and began dripping down said light bulb. Electricity, water…

electricity_water

So I called the hares, and he showed up with his assistant. Now upon entry into my casa, I registered BO. Naturally. There are acceptable levels of BO, and then there is the Seinfeld BO:

Now in my house, the kitchen (where my fridge is) is directly opposite the bathroom (where the leaky ceiling is). So the hares and his assistant were standing in the middle. Upon deliberation, they noted that there was nothing to be done in my apartment, and went upstairs and never returned.

I was left to my own devices, now every time I walked in the hallway between the kitchen and the bathroom, my nasal passage was assaulted an odor so ripe it can only be likened to the odor above. Beyond that, it resembled a rotting corpse. I went into a soliloquy about how one can be so unaware of ones odor, and even complained to my wife a few times. The smell seemed to center right between the kitchen and the bathroom. A brain-dead zombie-like spectre haunted the hallways, spewing its vile stench into any nostril that dare cross the threshold.

I kept looking around for any telltale signs that might have been left behind, a ragged cloth, a wet footprint, anything. To no avail.

At that point, my inner blood hound took over and I began furiously sniffing around the area, to detect the source of the malicious odor. I found myself sniffing behind the fridge. A faint scent! I sniffed down lower, lower, and lo and behold, I found the source of the discomfort!

When the fridge had thawed, all that blood and muck had to go somewhere. I was under the impression it remained stagnant on the bottom shelf. However, I discovered that the fridge had a drainage system, and a tiny, removable receptacle in the back that fills up with whatever enters that drainage. Now mostly it should be water. However in this rare occasion, it was in fact, blood.

I removed the receptacle and washed it profusely with Dittol, and even poured some down where I believe the drainage system to be to flush out any remnants in the pipeline.

And that is the story of how I falsely accused a haris and his assistant of smelling like rotten corpses, and discovered that fridges have a drainage system.

Now you know too.

Flipping the Bird in Kuwait

More often than not, we’ll find ourselves on the receiving end of a one finger salute, a flipping of the bird, a middle finger…

TJ-Lane-finger-censored_20130319123712_640_480

When driving back home, I make sure to let any offender know exactly what I think of them (especially on crowded streets) should they have the misfortune of transgressing upon me.

Here however, I keep my windows rolled up and my fingers inside the car, so as to avoid landing on the wrong side of the law should the insultee take offence and attempt to press charges.

Believe it or not, insulting someone whilst driving is a punishable offence. It happened to me today (I refuse to call it Karma) and I did what any warm blooded person would do, I noted the car licence plate number and decided to attempt to press charges.

Went to the closest police station (walking distance) and recounted my terrible ordeal to the police officer, who asked me to wait for the Station Officer, who was not there. So I waited a little while then left, and returned later, adamant to see justice run its course.

The shift had changed and a friendly officer was seated at reception. I recounted my ordeal to him. His first reaction was to find out exactly where it occurred, so as to slide me off to a different police station (jurisdiction) but when I insisted he had it wrong, he told me that I could press charges, then a case would be filed, and I would have to go back and recount what happened, and they’d call the transgressor in for questioning, at which point he could say that it was in fact I who had done that to him!

I asked what he would do if he were in my place, he said if he were not in his uniform, he’d just ignore it and move on.

So I took a page out of his playbook and decided to let this matter go.

A word of warning though the owner of the vehicle with the registration 10-79134

الحياة خيارة، يوم في يدك، ويوم،،،،

cumber682_1129835a

(Do not attempt translation with Google – instead, ask you nearest Arabic speaking friend to explain)

How to be in the (k)Now in Kuwait – follow GT

Let’s face it, Kuwait is a small country. To some that is a bonus, to others a curse. It seems pertinent that it would be much simpler to be “in the know” when it comes to what to do for fun around here.

Not the case.

For example, yesterday there was a great event going on at the American University of Kuwait, the comedic antics of the talented George Tarabay (@georgetarabay) were put on display as the opening act for the Famous Angelo Tsaroukas (@bigangcomic), however people were asking, where when how (ok one person asked), when I posted about it on social media. Which got me thinking, is there one go-to place for info on events in Kuwait?

The problem is, we’ve grown so accustomed to being in the 21st century that we’ve neglected the basic form of media; aural.

Yessir, the dynamic duo of comedy were not advertised on the blog scene, 248am and KU2D, it started off on the radio.

And in order to get “in” with the radio crowd, you need to follow @Georgetarabay right now.

And keep it on the down-low.

(Yes the title of this post can be read several ways)

@alqabas and the Arab Media Censorship

We (my wife and I) signed up to Al Qabas newspaper to avail a lucrative discount on other things, despite my love for online media and aversion to printed.

It is that same aversion that assisted in this article. After reading about the horrifying occurrences in Brussels, the following article came out in today’s paper :

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Now, does anything look out of place? Irregular? Edited? To the untrained eye, no, even trained, but my memory reminded me that I’d seen this picture before, but different.

Here is the unedited pic:

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Now, the question becomes why go through the trouble of covering up this old lady’s mid section by filling it in like a tshirt on MS paint, why not simply put it behind squares?

Unnecessary censorship, irrelevant even. I’m positive there are many other pictures depicting this tragedy.

So why?

Review of the #NorthFaceChallenge 2016 @q8sportsevents @thenorthface @thenorthfacekwt

This past Saturday witnessed the 4th version of The North Face Challenge in Kuwait, organized by Pro-Vision.

(I have postponed writing this review as I have been very heavily involved in organizing my very own first community project, a 5KM team run this saturday morning, so apologies for the delay).

Initially, I was not slated to compete at TNFC, frankly because I feel it is overpriced, and based on the statements of people that took part in the earlier versions, quality has been steadily deteriorating, with give-away’s becoming virtually non-existent.

Map

The trail began as follows; short run uphill (soft sand), small rock climb, run on flat surface for a good distance, DANGEROUS run downhill (rocks), flat lands run till base-camp, run uphill (softer sand), run downhill, run uphill (SOFTEST SAND EVER), climb ladder, run to the side, run downhill (soft sand), back at starting point. Repeat X5.

Here are the pro’s and con’s of the race, as we saw and as we heard from several racers:

1- No medals

It is no secret that runners sole drive for participating in races is bling. The organizer claimed that it is a “challenge”, and the challenge was to complete 5-laps in a desert terrain, equaling around 17KM within a cut-off time of 2hrs30mins.

Now I do not know on which basis they decided to select this cut off time, maybe the organizer had an important breakfast meeting he had to run off to, but the fact remains that after checking the official North Face Challenges website (link), I concluded that the cut off time was too short. Here is how I arrived at that conclusion:

For their Marathons (trail) the cut-off time was 8hrs.

Half-Marathon (trail) cut-off time was 4hrs.

10KM (trail) cut off time was 2hrs.

The average runner would complete those distances in half that time, 4, 2, 1 hour respectively. They allotted double the time. Why? Because TRAILS.

Now the cut-off time given by pro-vision was 2hrs30mins, which even if the race were FLAT GROUND, would require 1hr37minutes to complete, meaning they only gave an extra hour, which still does not take into account that this race was a TRAIL, with several climbs.

2- No recognition

Most people refused to give up, even after they were counted out unceremoniously by the organizer, and pushed and persevered to complete the distance, however, upon arriving at the finish line, the timer had already stopped, and all their efforts were for naught. Not only that, the organizers had begun packing up to leave already, removing their signage etc. A sincere low-blow to people that made the effort to drive out 40 or so KM to the base camp. You were the reason they drove there, you better ensure they all leave intact.

3- Dangerous cliffs

As always, the organizer made a habit of yelling at everyone to keep quiet and to explain the terrain of the race. Not once did he bother to give any tips on running up sand dunes or more importantly, running down cliffs. When I was navigating the first downhill stretch, I was going on instinct, and felt more mountain goat than man:

mountain goat

There was only one volunteer at the top, and a camera man that moved towards the cliff as the race progressed, however there was no medical personnel in the area or any other volunteers that could assist should anyone be unfortunate enough to land incorrectly. What’s more there was a downhill jump that had a piece of metallic wiring for the first lap, obviously knocked over by a runner, which could have caused serious injury.

4- No food

Despite the organizers promising meals to the participants, there was not enough to go around, as by the time some finished, the food was already out. So no medal, and no food. Hey, atleast you could get your fill of water.

5- No Gatorade

In addition, the number one thing you need once you’re done with a TRAIL race in the DESERT is electrolyte replenishment.

Was there adequate gatorade? No. What the organizer was doing however was watering it down and giving each participant the equivalent of a few sips. And by the time the race was done the Gatorade was out.

What did they choose to pack in the “meals”? Gatorade you say? WRONG! Juice – Mango, Cocktail and Apple.

6- Faulty toilets

One of the bathroom stalls in the male bathroom had a door that does not close/lock. ’nuff said. How much does a lock cost? How difficult is it to inspect a door prior to driving out that giant porta-cabin to the desert?

7- Trash left behind

A friend that went out to enjoy the trails yesterday was shocked to discover the mess left behind by the organizers, who did not even have the courtesy to clean up after themselves. Just because it is the middle of nowhere does not alleviate the obligation of environmental awareness.

8- Bottlenecks

The ladder was a terrible idea, a bottleneck that would cause  a pile up as people stopped to catch their breath whilst climbing. There should have been alternatives.

editors note: 9- cut-off time for registration

a dear reader (#4 on the podium – Greg Ziembinski) brought it to our attention that one of the problems he saw with the race was that a lot of people that deserved a chance to run the race were denied because they’d reached capacity. Now, this makes us think, for next time, why don’t the organizers specify a minimum requirement for the challenge, seeing as how they officially came on record and said it is not for everyone, but instead of taking people’s money and not giving them a medal because they did not complete the race, set a condition for people participating, like they must have completed a half-marathon in under two hours etc. Something that people can see, compare to themselves, and then leave registration spots open for those that have earned them.

Just a thought.

Thanks Greg!

Pro’s

1- Super difficult trail

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The race took me 2hrs6mins to complete, of which 1hr44mins were moving time. I set my watch to autopause, therefore the race required almost 20 minutes of walking time in the sand.

2- Supportive crowd

Everyone was super supportive of their fellow runners, showing the true bonds of this fraternity.

3- Not as sandy as people made you believe

Everyone was going on and on about how the biggest problem was sand in your shoes. Instagram is littered with pictures of people with their shoes over their shoulders, and several people on race-day sat on the sidelines to get sand out of their shoes. Some had fashioned their own anti-sand covers, whilst others went for store-brought. I did neither, and had very little sand in my shoes.

The key is: thick socks.

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As you can see we were not shy about getting our feet ankle deep in dunes

If we had to do this run all over again, we would urge the organizers to plot a course that does not have ALL THE UP/DOWN hills in one area, back-to-back.

Stay tuned as I review my own race next.

Once upon a run – a tale of Sustainable Youth

You may have noticed that our blog writing activities had decreased significantly over the past month; the reason being we were involved with a new endeavor – planning our first running event!

You can find out more about the event through our instagram post @sustainableyouthq8, as well as our Facebook page (link).

And now, we even have a promotional video:

As far as first attempts go, we’re quite satisfied with the final product. It is worth mentioning however that the final product that came out was not originally what we had intended, here is what happened along the way:

a. The approval to go ahead with the project came later than expected; a project of this magnitude (140+ runners) requires plenty of planning and follow-up, we were given around 3 weeks to put this thing together.

b. The event is called Sustainable Youth, it is meant to be “how to achieve sustainable youth”, not to empower the youth in Kuwait, not an effort by the youth of Kuwait, but an endeavor to bring sustainable youth to everyone in Kuwait.

The original script of the video called for the character to be walking, reminiscing. All of the sudden, he would see runners coming at him, he is supposed to lean forward as if to fall over, followed by a black screen and the sound of gasps, to signify that he might have been trampled by the runners.

However, the running team, although being requested to appear in two different locations, misunderstood and kept going. We were waiting at the midway point, we would then go to the finishing point to shoot the finale.

Once that happened the original idea was out of the window.

c. We had only one day of shooting, as the running group convenes on a saturday, so we made the most of what we had.

d. The video was being shot in Kuwait and edited abroad, put together, then sent back to Kuwait for review. This was not the first we viewed, we had to work on it again.

The new story is that the old man is telling the world that despite appearing as old, there is still gas left in the tank.

We thank you for your viewing and hope to see you at the event, on February 13th, 8:30AM at the Scientific Center.

How the internet helped preserve my Man-Card

Let’s face it, “man-card” is much more author pleasing than “manhood”, so here is the harrowing tale on how technology helped me save my dignity at the time of chivalry.

It all started one lazy afternoon, I was driving home from work where all of the sudden, I was met with a huge traffic jam. Frequent in Kuwait, so as always, whilst passing by the culprit, a rather bulky Hyundai SUV, I noticed two things:

a) there was a woman driving it

b) she had a flat tire, shredded was more like it.

Noticing her distress, and the fact that no one else was stopping to help her, and that she was alone. I parked a few feet away, removed my suit jacket, rolled up my sleeves and walked towards her, palms out to signal I meant no harm.

She rolls down her window, smiling. I ask if she has a spare tire (trick question) to which she replies, I don’t know.

(Now ladies, all new cards come with spare tires. It is not an option you can select or ignore, it is standard).

So I asked if I could check in the back, I go to the trunk and notice the first thing, the hydraulic system that keeps it up is broken. Crapfest.

Then I see that she does indeed have the tools for fixing a flat, so I rush to tell her that. The back area was bedecked with children’s bicycles (X2), school books and the cover for the back area, which I thought would work well to sit on whilst changing the tire.

So after clearing out the trunk, I lift it up to notice that, it’s an extra seat, and not in fact, a cover for the spare tire. I began to feel distressed, how would I tell this lady that I was wrong, and that there was in fact no spare tire in the car?

For some reason, I decided to inspect the undercarriage, and sure enough, there it was, all bedecked in dust and grime, the spare tire, hanging beneath the car. Of all the STUPID places to put a SPARE tire, the underbelly of the car has to be THE STUPIDEST! It is completely at the mercy of the elements! It can get punctured, torn, violated etc. and you would never know until it was too late.

Now came the conundrum however; how to REMOVE the spare tire.

This was NOT my first spare tire rodeo, I have changed countless tires, mostly for myself, but never was I presented with one beneath the car. I went about my neanderthal-like ways of trying to pull at it, to no avail. Then I consulted the oracle, the oracle known as Google.

Sure enough, there was a very smart way to remove the tire, which knowing now, makes me 10% less mad at the idea of a spare tire on the undercarriage. 5%. 2%. It still sucks.

I went about changing the tire, which was very difficult to do bedecked in shirt and tie, but I did it anyway. All the while the lady was on her phone, smiling.

As I suspected, the spare tire was deflated quite a bit. Not only that, it was MUCH SMALLER THAN THE REGULAR TIRE. The car would definitely drive lopsided. So after it was changed, I told the lady she needs to drive slow, no more than 50KMH, to the nearest tire place. She even helped hold up the back of the car as I started piling her stuff back into the back.

Going the extra mile, I noticed the suspension on which the spare tire was was now dangling like a pair of… from the back. So I tightened the screw to bring them back up, away from the road.

And that is the story of how the internet helped me save my man-card amidst a chivalrous act.

PS If you see a lady with a flat tire, help out. She may not have someone else she can depend on.

PSS If you’re a dude that cannot change a flat tire, hand in your man-card NOW.

Where the dead don’t know they’re dead yet – Kuwait City

The crisp morning breeze billows across the street. People go about their daily affairs, some grabbing breakfast, others anxiously awaiting their bus for their daily commute to work. An array of smells invade your nostrils as you walk amongst the tombstones, between the living and the dead, where the dead don’t know they’re dead yet.

Derelict buildings stand the test of time and trial, whereby some have given up and moved to greener pastures, leaving behind the remnants of their former selves, a shop sign, fixtures within the store, some even contain merchandise left behind in the flurry of relocation.

a dead fashion,,,

a dead fashion,,,

City of Ghosts (10)

Structural skeleton

Decrepit, with some deserted, others brazenly remain steadfast in their resolve to not relocate. Given the condition of the building, I shudder to think how the amenities operate. In their stead, I would knock down walls to my left and right, expanding my reach to grab other land, as it seems the building is almost completely forgotten by the owner.

City of Ghosts (7)

City of Ghosts (6)

Back in the day, when open space was a right to everyone and not a privilege. When parking spots were open and not designated.

City of Ghosts (5)

A conflicting tapestry of travesty, with the modern, the new, the living, rising high towards the clouds, interspersed amongst the decaying and dying.

City of Ghosts (2)

These hallowed streets, once paved with memories, now lie in ruin.

The Panasonic shop where we bought our first Sega Mega Drive II in the 90's

The Panasonic shop where we bought our first Sega Mega Drive II in the 90’s

From the distance, the towering giants stare down, eagerly anticipating the day of their demise, for from their ashes, their brothers and sisters shall rise.

It is only a matter of time,,,

It is only a matter of time,,,

August 2011 ( View complete archive page )

September 2011 ( View complete archive page )

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