Category Archives: story

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!

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…

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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.

Pay money to stop paying money… Just another Diatribe in Kuwait

Oftentimes we are presented with a series of events that leave us questioning our existence as a species – are we only here to scrape that last morsel of earning from one another?

A truly preposterous scenario recently unfolded before my eyes that cements that same exact sentiment, let us view it in chronological order in order to better highlight the humor in it:

1) 4 years ago I decided to buy a car. As we were taught in business school, never spend your own money. So despite having the ability to pay the full amount in cash, I opted to instead borrow money from the bank (my bank of choice: NBK) and have them finance it over 4 years. I am sorry, her. My car is a she. Her name is M’kia Spartan.

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Not really her but a distant cousin

2) So of course, the bank is in the business of making money. For those that do not know, a bank is merely a meeting place for people with money and people without money. The bank takes your savings and pays you a meager interest, and lend your savings to others at a cost. The former interest is significantly smaller than the latter, generating a neat profit for the bank.

Anyhoo, I digress.

3) So the bank takes interest on the loan, in addition to charges you for paperwork here and there.

4) Fast forward to the current day, where the loan is finally repaid and you breathe a sigh of relief.

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Hold that thought.

5) The vehicle’s registration still reads “Requested for Installments”. In a perfect scenario, you would walk up to the DMV with a copy of your online bank statement and show them that you have no more installments to pay. Right?

Right?

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The bank is losing a steady stream of cash they have gotten used to from your pocket for the past few years.

In Arabic we have a saying: هو دخول الحمام زي خروجه؟ or “Hoa dekhoul el hamam zay kherougoo”?

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Ask your Arabic friends to translate that for you.

So of course not! The bank must grab all it can from you.

6) So you are kindly requested to pay a fee of 5KD to print a paper which states that you were a good boy and paid off your loan in full (more on that adventure with NBK later).

7) You pay the fee, get the paper, renew your insurance and take your car to the DMV to get it renewed, and finally remove the “Requested for Installments” line from your registration.

Now, in a perfect society you would expect the ordeal to be over right? I paid the bank interest, I paid the bank processing fees, now please take these official signed documents and give me my renewed registration. Right?

Right?

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8) Exactly! Did you think the DMV would just let it slide like that? Firstly, they need a day or so to verify the authenticity of this document you allege is relieving you of installments.

9) Second, you expect the poor employee at the PC to just “DELETE” this line (which if you think of it, is costing them extra ink, so I am technically saving them money) which reads “Requested for Installments”, for free?

10) Pay another 5KD and wait.

So in the end, I had to pay money to prove that I am no longer paying money.

Told you it was comical.

Honor amongst Bloggers (thank you #KuwaitUp2Date)

bang bang

Back in Sept 2011, I wrote a post entitled “Original Content Blogging Initiative” (link), discontent with the lack of proper content in the blogosphere of Kuwait. Several bloggers (especially the ones posting advertisements) had begun simply posting one-liners and images as well as videos in order to remain relevant.

Once or twice bloggers in the past had gotten into heated arguments over “content stealing” whereby one blogger rips off the work of another blogger (i.e. plagiarism) without mentioning the original source of the information.

Now, that is wrong on every level; to copy-paste content verbatim and sell it off as your own.

Yesterday however, we received proof that there is still decency in Kuwait amongst bloggers.

Those of you that check “KuwaitUp2Date” will notice that they posted this article yesterday:

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Now, at first glance, everything appears fine. The article is rightfully linked to its author (myself) (link). However, not everything is as it appears.

You see, Mybloogle is not hosting ads, all clicks I get to view on Google Analytics are strictly for my own gratification as a blogger in Kuwait. It is nice to see the occasional comment ON THE BLOG (as opposed to a reply on Twitter or comment on Facebook). What happened yesterday was that my content was copied (without my permission) word-for-word to KuwaitUp2Date’s blog, meaning the reader would have no need to click the link to read the loquacious article posted on Kuwait’s growing traffic problem from the eyes of an expat. The “clicks” and reads would flow to KU2D, which has advertisements.

Now I took offence to this and messaged the author at 11PM requesting them to either post only an excerpt of the article and say the rest can be found on Mybloogle (so I can see how many readers actually read it) or to remove the post. They agreed to the latter.

Besides Mybloogle & Q8FootSoldiers (link to like the FB page if you have not already), I exercise my creative writing hobby as a freelancer for Bazaar Magazine, having written several articles for them over the past few years (link to most of my published works there). You will notice none of the articles I ever wrote for Bazaar Magazine ended up on my blog – not that they told me not to (or maybe they did and I was not paying attention) however it seems to right thing to do as a matter of exclusivity.

Many thanks to KU2D for being so understanding and quick to action in removing the post.

Going forward, Mybloogle has disabled the copy-paste function in order to maintain the exclusivity of its author’s content.

We stick to our resolve to always provide people with a good, interesting read to break the monotony of the internet, provided you read it at Mybloogle.com! 🙂

The Great Travel Curse of 2014 @KuwaitAirways

“At the baggage carousel, I waited patiently for my bag. little did I realize, the wait would be long and arduous.”

Yet again, the universe continues to throw signs my way that 2014 is definitely not my favorite traveling year.

I blame it all on Wordweb, the free dictionary program I have installed since my university days. It always asked, “how many times have you traveled this year?” and I always lied, for anything more than once instantly closes the app and asks you to pay for it.

WordWeb_1

It all started with the plane taking off as scheduled from Cairo and the captain informing us that we would be landing 40 minutes earlier than expected. Ofcourse you never arrive early when going TO your vacation, only when coming back. No matte, I digress.

As it was foretold, so did it unfold. We landed ahead of schedule and I was sure thankful for it. Little did I realize I should not count my chicken before they hatch.

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side thought: I have been flying for decades, and I can honestly say that the following NEVER happened to me before. However, that statement has grown to encompass much fewer things this year than ever before, as I have crossed off 5 “NEVER happened before”s from my list.

At the baggage carousel, I waited patiently for my bag. little did I realize, the wait would be long and arduous.

What appeared to be my bag came around, however, as frequent flyers usually do, I checked for the name on the tags, after failing to find my own, I put the bag back on the carousel, amused at how on the first trip I chose to use that specific new piece of luggage I got as a replacement for my previous bag that was destroyed by an airline earlier this year (Thank you Gulf Air…), I happen to be on a flight with a passenger bearing the exact same one.

The minutes dredged on, and I silently lamented my terrible luck at losing the precious gift of the plane landing ahead of schedule as I waited for my luggage. It was then that an airline worked called the last piece of luggage delivery. Sure enough, my bag’s doppelganger stared blankly at me from the unclaimed luggage area. I instantly knew what had transpired; the hapless nitwit owner of the doppelganger had absent-mindedly grabbed my bag and left with it thinking it was his. I found this strangely amusing as I had just been silently ridiculing the folks that kept looking frantically at their luggage tags in hand and the ones on the actual pieces of luggage, wondering how on earth can you forget what your bag looks like?

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I left the impostor bag and went straight for the Kuwait Airways counter on the far right side of the airport, where I was given a chance to shine in my chosen profession, the only silver lining to this cloud over my 2014 travel.

As always is the case, we are elated to be presented with situations where we get a chance to put our professions to practical use in real-life situations, much like a doctor thrills at hearing the line “is there a doctor in the house?!”, I pounced forth with my knowledge of policy and procedure in audit to assess the situation, make my observation and deliver a recommendation.

2011-11-28-doctorate

I told the employee that someone had taken my luggage by mistake, and that their bag looked exactly like mine. Please run the tags on the bag in your system, determine the passenger name, pull up their contact details and call them. And much like an auditee usually responds when being told what to do, their initial reaction was to protest and say “they sometimes put the number of the travel agent”. I insisted he do as I said. He asked me to bring the bag in question, which I was more than happy to do.

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Sure enough, there was not only one but two mobile numbers entered for the passenger. Unfortunately, both were switched off. I made a mental note of one of them and quickly dialed it on my phone so that I can call them myself should the need arise.

After several attempts and no answer, I was asked to file a claim and wait for them to get back to me.

Fortunately, the employee decided to call one last time, and sure enough, the last time was the charm, as the phone was finally switched on! It took several minutes for them to try to explain to the passenger what had happened, at which point I jumped in and requested the phone, knowing that a language barrier was preventing the full understanding.

Luckily, he had yet to leave the airport, and I was told to meet him outside and exchange luggages. Of course I refused to walk out with his bag, not knowing what was in it. KA sent a porter with me.

I was delayed for over an hour, however it was good the story ended happily.

The thing I hate the most is that I was returning with my wedding album, and I had it placed on top of my luggage as I am always selected for “random testing” and wished to try out the theory of “I’m a newly wed, I am not threatening!”.

Maybe next time.

Suffice to say, I will not travel anymore in 2014. This year is cursed.

How I tore my pants on the way to my new Job

Adding a touch of humor to your lives; read up on the following TRUE story of a most harrowing first day on a new job!

As with all new beginnings, a sharp image is always desired in order to make the proper first impression. As I was starting a new job (yesterday), it seemed imperative to get the image right.

The day started off normally enough, hopes of doing early morning exercise dashed upon the ground of reality and of finding comfort in the deep, warm trenches of the blanket in bed.

When it came time to “Suit up!” (as Barney likes to say) I was surprised that my first choice of suit was not a good fit. At first I believed I had mistakenly taken my father’s suit, but as it turns out, it was mine from a whole ago (and is now in need of  a slimming).

The second suit fit perfectly (a little too perfectly as you shall soon find out). After the wife took the glorious first day of new job pics, I headed on down to the car. Upon entering and placing my derriere on the leather seat, I was greeted with a strange noise which at first was attributed to sitting on a flyer from the many ads placed in newspapers etc. It seemed strangely peculiar as I do not currently subscribe to any printed newspapers, nor do I have any in my car! It was a welcomed distraction from the truth.

I had torn through the seat of my pants.

An obvious wardrobe malfunction had occurred which necessitated another change, lest the change be to my career for showing up in such a distasteful state.

As the saying goes, things can only go up from here! And indeed they did.

I had a tremendous first day at work, where I learned that the employees have access to a gym after office hours (which ends at 4)!

How GI Joe saved me from an accident in Kuwait

This morning I bore witness to an accident on the 4th ring road that sent tires squealing and bumpers colliding.

Had it not been for GI Joe, I would most probably have been the victim of the crash, as opposed to lucky #4 that stopped in the nick of time and avoided a rear-end collision with lucky #3 who also avoided a rear end collision, #2 however was not so lucky.

This story started a long time ago; Having wanted to watch what really happened to Serpentor and how Cobra Commander was reinstated, I finally decided to watch the aftermath of the GI Joe movie (the animated one that came out in 1987) – the dragon fire episodes. Fortunately I had the series on my hard-drive, and decided to spend 20 minutes finding out what happened (I had initially started watching these episodes on KTV2 after coming back home from school in 1994).

Knowing I would be late for work, I still drove carefully, speeding up only when there was plenty of space available to do so. It was before the Surra bridge that something not so out of the ordinary happened; I was cut off by a white Lexus speeding on my right and barely fitting itself between me and the car ahead. I took offence to this action and started blurting out expletives in the confines of my vehicle with no gesticulation (which I believe is still legal). It was then that things took a turn for the worst, as we ascended the bridge after Surra, I spotted 2 cars ahead of me a navy blue crown Victoria suddenly thrust to the right, then immediately thrust back to the left lane; the driver lost control of the vehicle and it ended up turning a full 90* and horizontally taking up the left and middle lanes, colliding with a Honda from the front right side of the fender. Having not heard the grisly sound of metal on metal, I assumed that the damage was minimal. The car before me swerved to the right, braking hard, and I did the opposite, taking the left side and coming to a halt, fortunately there were no speeders catching up to me which kept me safe from a rear-end collision.

What is interesting is that I immediately saw a police officer on the scene. I thought this was strange since I did not hear or see sirens. It was only after joining the moving crowd that I realized there was a car parked in front of the navy blue crown Victoria.

Care to hazard a guess what it was?

Come on, think harder.

Yes. It was the white lexus that cut me off.

Apparently they pulled the same stunt, speeding up on the right and overtaking to the left suddenly, without warning or indication. This move caused the driver of the navy blue crown Victoria to suddenly swerve right to avoid being collided into, at which point they found a slower moving vehicle, so to avoid a rear-end collision with them, they swerved back to the left side erratically, losing control of the vehicle and having it fishtail in the middle of the road.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

The Write up: Transcending the Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal Trip - Lord Aymz (1)Getting to Delhi is one thing, getting to Agra where the Taj Mahal is located is a completely different ball game all together!

Upon arriving in Delhi I was anxious to get started on planning my trip to Agra, little did I realize it would take more than I had anticipated, not even knowing what I anticipated!

I touched ground at the hotel by 7:15, the railway station was said to close at 8PM sharp. I ran to the station as it was a mere few meters from the hotel, stood in the wrong line (wasting precious time) and by the time I made it to the foreigners booking area, time was not on my side. The only other option available was a private cab.

Taj Mahal Trip - Lord Aymz (2)

Fortunately, the hotel agreed to send a driver out with me for Rs. 5,500 (I’ll keep the numbers bold so anyone wishing to do the same will know the average cost). We were to start our journey at 6AM. However, as a result of delayed breakfast in the form of Pasta (I was going to Agra to run!) we started our journey at 6:30AM.

Our first stop was for fuel, the sun was just beginning to rise, I spotted what I thought to be a cat in the distance, climbing a walk, then hanging on with its arms… wait… arms? OMG it was monkeys! Wild monkeys in the streets as clear as we have cats in Kuwait!

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The second unusual sight was an elephant walking down the road, laden with goods. Till now the most I’d seen roads was oxen, horses and donkeys.

After a perilous journey whereby I was unable to tell whether the fellow was asleep or awake, we finally arrived at our destination at roughly 9:30AM.

First thing that happened was that my taxi driver introduced me to a tour guide hired by the hotel for me; which was amazing as after looking back on what happened, I doubt I would have succeeded on my own, plus all the extra tidbits of general knowledge on the Taj Mahal!

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A ticket for a foreigner to go into the Taj Mahal is Rs. 750, it is expedited, meaning you do not have to wait in a long line to get to the Taj Mahal, unless of course there are several foreigners visiting at that time, in which case you are sh*t out of luck. The local ticket costs Rs. 20.

Upon passing the gate, where the security checkup involves a pat down and nothing else, you will be jumped by several “professional” photographers, advertising their work to you and requesting a simple payment of Rs. 100 per large photo and Rs. 80 per medium. Be cautious as they will insist on a minimum number of photographs. They know all the hotspots for photography, however quite honestly they are not worth the hassle. I ended up paying Rs. 500 for 9 medium sized photographs.

As soon as we entered I informed my guide of my plan to run there, he cautioned against it saying I would draw attention to myself, which I ended up doing, so instead of running 10K I only ran 1.5K, however it was directly around the Taj Mahal (which I never intended on doing) as well as in the courtyard below it.

The Taj Mahal is a magnificent structure of symmetry and asymmetry, the pillars surrounding the Taj Mahal although appearing to be straight are actually at an angle. The intricate handiwork on the outside of the Taj Mahal shows carvings into solid marble embedded with semi-precious stones from all over the world. The Arabic writing (scripts from the Quran as I was told) is also a wonder to behold as according to the guide, the font is not the same all around, it only appears as such due to an illusion of making the higher up font larger for unity.

After the tour was over and we had paid the cameraman, we headed back towards the taxi and off towards the next logical destination: souvenirs.

The first shop made textiles, I was informed a single piece costs Rs. 500 however I was able to get two for Rs. 750 (neither too firm or too lax). At this point my money reserves were running thin as I had not brought that much cash on me. To add to my woes, the tour guide whom I was informed was complimentary by the hotel, wanted payment as well. As though squeezing water from a rock, I managed to offer him a small amount that although was totally not worth his time or value of information, ensured that he did not leave empty handed.

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The taxi driver, who seemed to have misunderstood that I had no cash left on me, took me to yet another shop which I was actually thankful for; a marble workshop. You learn to appreciate the fine details on the Taj Mahal after seeing how it is done in real life. The workers fingers were cut and blistered from numerous hours spent hard at work on very minute, fine details. The result however is breathtaking. Suffice to say, marble is expensive, and as I flipped the items over I had a mini-heart attack over the price. I could not simply walk out without buying anything, that would be rude, plus how many more times will I ever be in this moment at this place? As he regaled me with his many devices to take cash and credit, and even FOREX, I quickly pointed out that I had Kuwaiti Dinars on me. For a sum of 5KD (which I had calculated as being Rs. 1,000 although it was actually 1,031 as per the Kuwait Exchange Rate) I walked out with a miniature replica of the Taj Mahal with space beneath to fit a light bulb that would illuminate the piece of art.

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The drive back to Delhi seemed to take longer, given the fact that the driver maintained playing the same 3 songs over and over again until my ears bled; something about the last love, akher something or other, not only that but as it was his favorite song he blasted it at the highest volume.

We were back safely in the hotel by 6:20PM, a journey of 12 hours.

The costs? Minimal. The gains? A lifetimes worth of memories.

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How to Celebrate your Birthday

Birthdays are a strange occurrence. They represent a bittersweet moment, a joyous celebration despite the ominous connotations they bring forth with them such as the passing of age and loss of youthfulness.

As of 2002, I celebrated my birthday by smoking a lone cigar; an activity I knew would definitely shorten my life expectancy; however it seemed a good way to celebrate. Starting 2012 however, I decided to do the exact opposite. They say smoke shortens your life expectancy whereas exercise increases it. I chose to exercise.

Last year I turned 26, in celebration I ran 26KM. It was an arduous experiment, my greatest distance to date, 3hrs18mins of constant movement. I decided to add a KM for every year on every birthday.

April 21st I turned 27, this time however, I decided to go all out and run a full marathon of 42.2KM.

My resolve was strengthened by the encouragement of my running group, the Q8FootSoldiers. One member in particular, Adam Ayesh, would remind me every morning of how many days I had left to “The Great 42”.

On D-Day, I was aroused from sleep by the ringing of my lazy alarm, oblivious to the task I had set at hand; persistently filling my ears with annoyance to the point that I was required to make the conscious physical effort to silence it, removing me from the land of dreams completely.

I lay in bed for the next 15 minutes, my body desperately attempting to convince my mind to drift back to sleep, to not put it through the arduous torture of a 42KM that it had never experienced. My body begged and pleaded, and had it not been for my heart stepping in and saying, it shall be done, I would have most likely fallen back to sleep. I forsook the usual morning pick-me-up of coffee as it does terrible things to long distance runners.

Arriving at the starting point, the intersection of the Fahaheel Expressway (Road 30) with the 6th Ring Road in good timing, as the sun was just about rising; I set about finding a parking spot and synchronizing my equipment.

For the journey I had packed 30 dates in packs of 3, placed inside a weight belt that was devoid of any weights, and a lone 330ml water bottle. The dates would provide energy during the run, and as I was not used to drinking water for running 25KM, I rationalized I would only need a small amount by the end. How wrong I was.

At 5:40am, I set out to conquer my quest.

The first few KMs were relaxing. I ran into Adam somewhere in Salwa and he selflessly followed me on his bicycle, making sure to keep the traffic away from me, as well as document the journey on film. Had it not been for Adam, I would not have lasted the distance, as he also replenished my meager water supply which I had severely underestimated given the weather conditions that set in.

The first 10KM was knocked out in 50mins; previously my fastest 10KM was in 45mins, so the law of energy consumption was being followed. At 21.1KM, the halfway point, I was at 1hr42mins, previous record being 1hr35min.

At exactly Souk Sharq, I had to rely on Adam to replenish my water supply. Before reaching the Palace I noticed that the sprinklers were turned on for the sidewalk gardens, and the effect they drew with a myriad of rainbows was intoxicating, mesmerizing me like a siren song, and I ran through the sprinklers, getting a much needed cooling factor.

Past the point of 25KM, my knees began to protest and my shins began to tire. As the music steadily flowed into my aural canals, I persisted to push forward. Adam’s constant motivation was a breath of fresh air as well. As we reached Kuwait city, the KPC building came into view, and the final leg of the journey began.

My legs were screaming at me to stop. The Nike+Running App lady on my iPod urged me to continue.

We reached a traffic light where Adam pointed to a sign and asked me to read it, in English it read “Detour Up Ahead”, but Adam corrected me saying it read “Greatness Up Ahead”.

We arrived at KPC with 7KM to go to complete the 42. The sun was blazing down upon us, sapping our strength through the pores of our skin, relentlessly beating down upon our tired minds but unable to faze our determined spirits. We ran around the garden near KPC, Adam discarding his bike and joining me on foot. When I would falter, he would urge me on.

At long last, the final 200M was joyously received with a sprint after 42KM crossed; there was a little left in the tank for one last hurrah, a dash toward determination, a proclamation that any obstacle no matter how demanding can be overcome with the proper mindset. The final verdict was I had maintained a steady speed of 5mins per KM, 165 strides per minute; Total time: 3hrs30mins.

It was then that another savior from the Q8FootSoldiers came to our rescue; Cristian Craita, one of the first few to run from the northern border of Kuwait to the South, and the coach that guides me. He arrived bearing refreshments, replenishment for lost sugar and fluids, besides the ones that Adam had been carrying on his back for the entire distance.

Our personal goals can be accomplished with the help of friends. Had it not been for both of them, this goal would never have been accomplished.

Afterward, upon receiving a shower of congratulatory comments from the FootSoldiers, and on the day of my birthday, I came to realize just how amazing this group of individuals was, as they bamboozled me into a surprise birthday party with the following centerpiece grabbing the group’s attention:

Q8FootSoldiers Birthday Cake

 

The Q8FootSoldiers are not just a group of friends, they are family.

The Runner’s Tragedy – A Short Narrative

When it comes to the most important item in your running arsenal, the act of running is a love-hate relationship.

That apparel is… The Running Shoe.

The Running Shoe (my NEW running shoe!)

The way it works is as follows; you buy a pair of shoes you find to be awesome, your first run with them is appalling, they’re still too hard and rigid. Mile by mile, you start growing more accustomed to your shoe as your feet begin to imprint in them. After a while the melding is complete, and your foot and shoe have become one, you literally soar to new heights at greater speeds and all seems right with the world.

Sadly however, this union is the beginning of the end, for the more you use said shoe to attain perfection, the faster you accelerate its wear-&-tear, until slowly, but surely, the shoe loses its elasticity, and the downward spiral kicks in, until the shoe is no longer fit for running consumption.

Given the pride of the running shoe amongst other foot apparel, one cannot simply turn it into an every day shoe, and hence it must be discarded, never to be worn again, never to strike the pavement at awesome speeds.

It is  a sad conundrum.

What’s more, a seasoned runner is a seasoned cheater, for in the strange relationship that exists between runner and shoe, the fact that the above happens would drive the runner to seek a union with another shoe whilst using their current shoe, so as to avoid any downtime between the sad demise of the former, and the triumphant succession of the latter. In essence, this podiatric  infidelity exists in all runners, and all older models must watch shamefully as a new shoe is bought into their midst, their successor, the mistress in their marital relationship with the runners feet.

Tis a sad life, that of the running shoe.

August 2011 ( View complete archive page )

September 2011 ( View complete archive page )

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