31 October 2007

Can't Breathe This (gulf) Air

You gotta love Gulf Air. They're one of the few airlines that actually make me laugh (cry?) from offering a service so bad, it's a suprise they're still actually in business. Luckily for me, I haven't dealt with them for years, but yesterday I somehow made the mistake of booking a weekend flight to Dubai with them; bad idea.

Now, with all our technological advances, online booking, e-tickets and so on, it should be very, very straightforward to book a flight. I mean, for the past three years i've completely disregarded travel agencies and actually visiting any sort of travel office, and booked almost every single flight and hotel for all of my trips online. Not so with Gulf Air. First, the website wouldn't accept my online booking, since the departing and returning flights were less than 72 hours apart. UUUUUUHHHHH, hellloooooo, i'm going for the weekend? Ever heard of 1, 2 or even 3 day trips? Never mind.

So, the online booking had to turn into a phone call; not really a very bad one actually, as the reservation didn't take much longer than a few minutes. For some reason, their agent couldn't charge my credit card though, and asked me to pass by one of their branches instead to pay.

Bloody hell.

So the agent tells me I have a time limit till 11:00am the next morning (which was today), so I get the booking number, thank him, and hang up. Today, I gave Gulf Air a call to figure out what time their closest branch opens, which turns out to be Seef Mall branch, at 10:00am. Great. I'll just take a quick 15 mins off work, cross the road to Seef, finish paying, and run back to the office.

So there I am facing their branch at 9:55am; a few minutes early, just so I can be the first to get my payment done and get back. This should be quick:


Yup, it's closed. But hey, that's normal.. They open at 10, and i'm here 5 minutes early.


Ok, great it's 10! They should open their doors any minute now.


Eeeem... Anyyy minute now...


10 is technically the opening time for all stores in Seef, and yes, they were all open except Gulf Air. I called their hotline just to confirm, hey, I might have got the opening time wrong? But no, they confirmed, it was supposed to be open at 10:00am.


Getting a little silly now... I decided to go buy a donut with my credit card just to make sure it was working, and guess what, it worked fine. I wonder what the hell was wrong with GulfAir's system that wouldn't pass my payment.


Yup, still closed... And people are piling up...


Still closed...


AH! Can't believe it! A Gulf Air employee ACTUALLY bothered to come to work today! Yippeeee!!

So I guess it's not only the GulfAir flights that never leave on time; it's their branches that never open on time too. Anyhow; after waiting for almost half an hour, it turns out they cancelled my booking at midnight! DUH! But the phone agent said 11:00am? Well, that didn't matter. They had to make a new booking, and seems the guy I had the misfortune of being served with was either mentally retarted, or had no idea how the GulfAir computer system worked, because it took almost another half an hour and a lot of help from his supervisor to actually complete my booking.

And after all that, they charged me an extra fee for actually using the physical branch, instead of the phone or online service. I explained that it wasn't my problem, but hey, remember this is GulfAir, and they really don't give a damn about you. So instead of complaining and wasting my time, I decided to just pay the damn fee and get on with it. And this was just the booking. God knows what headaches will appear when checking in.

Seriously, next time i'm taking Emirates.

30 October 2007

That's one hell of an entrance

We have three large plasma TV's in the office. Don't let your mind wander; we actually use them for work, to keep updated with the latest news and happenings around the world, as part of keeping up with currency prices, interest rates, and so on.

Anyhow, here I am watching Saudi Arabia's King Abdulla visiting the Queen of England and other members of the British royal family, amongst an unbelievably lavish welcome. It brings up a few thoughts; stronger relations between England and Saudi, representing the Western and Arab world. After all, the last visit by a Saudi Monarch to the UK was almost 20 years ago.

Somehow, I feel happy to see King Abdulla meeting the Queen of England. I want to see more of this sort of warm, generous welcome to the ruler of a muslim country, and one of the most pronounced Arab states, at that.

A few things made this whole visit sort of unreal, funny, and a little sad, actually. If you thought the late King Fahad was the kind of person who knew how to live an extravagant life, get this: it took 6 planes to transport King Abdulla and his party from Saudi to the UK. The amount of belongings brought along was so large, that actually unloading the King's luggage (including his entourage) took a little over 3 hours. They also required 84 limousines to drive into London. Mind you, the party was composed of almost 400 aides; 400!

Now that, my friends, is making an entrance.

29 October 2007

Women talk too much & Men don't listen enough

Men don't listen.

To women, that is. I don't understand why, it's not like we do it on purpose; it's just something about the way we're made or so. I'm sure most of you appreciate the fact that, although part of the same general species (ie, human), men and women are different. All that talk of equality and being the same and so on is nonsense.

Think of it this way; all men (or almost all of them) love sports, love to play with electronics, gadgets and gizmos, get emotional about their cars and nothing else, usually have a tough exterior, and so on. All women, on the other hand (or almost all of them), are more in touch with their emotions, love clothes and colors and make up, go nuts over shopping, always talk about their feelings, etc.

Sure, the world is not all black and white so not every single man and woman fall under those stereotypes, but hey, you have to admit, many are pretty close. And some who don't fit the descriptions at all just might need a sex change.


Here's one thing about women. They talk too much.

Yep, whether you like to admit it or not, you women talk too much. Some women reading this right now are going to throw a fit, get angry about what I wrote, and then go meet some of their friends to talk about it. Yes. Talk, talk, talk... Yadda, yadda, yadda.. It's not your fault though; it's been scientifically proven that as women, your heart beat is linked to the amount you talk. If you stop talking for a long enough time period, you just die; so talking ends up being a survival instinct, I guess. And women love to talk about their feelings, how their day went, about their feelings, how they feel guilty for (over)eating a WHOLE plate of salad, and again, yes, about their feelings.

Now us men, we have better things to do. We need to be able to focus on the game showing on TV right now. We need to be able to make sure our brand new HD-DVD player and full surround system is hooked up the right way to our Plasma. We need to make sure the oil in the car is topped up. We need to test out the drill again just to make sure it's still working. You know, 'manly' things. And unfortunately, us men don't have the capacity in our minds to do more than one thing at a time (unless we're driving, during which we can do almost 10 things at once; ie, eat, talk on the phone, change the CD in the deck, shift from 3rd to 4th gear while overtaking two trailers all at the same time).

Unfortunately for Woman, she actually get married to Man. And when they both get home, Woman feels the urge to talk (because her heart-beat is slowing down and she needs to get it up and running again). So there goes Woman, talking about her day, how it went, the multitude of emotions she managed to go through, what she thinks of her co-worker's new dress etc, etc, etc..




So Man, obviously needing to attend to the fact that the quality of his surround system doesn't sound quite right, decides to, yup, 'it's time to play around with the wires'. You see, Man is a big child. He wants to play around with things. He doesn't want to sit and listen to complex issues about feelings, intricate detail about how someone's day could go, what they ate, what bag they wore with what shoes, etc.

So what does Man do? He stops listening. He blanks out completely. He looks like he's listening to Woman, but infact, his mind is somewhere completely different. He say 'yes' and 'okay' and 'then?' everytime Woman pauses for a few seconds, just to give her the impression that he's paying complete attention, but in reality, his one track mind is completely occupied with which cable is supposed to connect the front left speaker to the corresponding output port on the DVD player.

Mind you, he doesn't do it on purpose. No matter how hard Man tries, he just can't hear Woman. He sees her talking, he sees her lips moving, and he can pretty much be sure that something is coming out of her mouth. But in his head he could be hearing anything from the Gypsy Kings greatest hits CD to the sound effects from the latest Transformers movie. The odd three or four words would make it into his mind, however, so just incase she asks, "Did you even hear what I said?!", he would reply by composing a sentence sprinkled with those words and prove that he way, infact, listening.

It happened again, today. My wife called me when I was coming home from work, and the conversation (well, the part I heard anyway) went something like this:

"Hi honey, can you ..... by the supermarket ... get .... ...... ......, some tomatoes....., .... ,..... ,...... ..... , ok dear? Thanks. Bye"

Now, being the simple minded man that I am, I figured that I had actually heard the full conversation. Mind you, if you are not aware of the superpower us men have (ie, drowning out female conversation) then it can be at your disadvantage. Harness this power, however, and it will bring you much joy and tranquility in your life.

Anyway, back to the story. So now i'm at the supermarket, buying what she wanted; I pick up the tomates and... Hmm.. I can be pretty sure she mentioned FIVE items. Why do I only seem to remember one? Umm..

Ok, time to call her again. Uhh, honey, what did you say you wanted?

"Get ..... fat-free white cheese,..... ..... ..... tomatoes, and ..... ...., with the .... .... next to the .... counter, ok? bye..."

So I go to the cheese section, but realize there's like 3 million different varieties of fat-free cheese. Dammit, another phone call. What was that cheese you wanted hon? And what else?

"Yeah, .... was the Kraft fat-free cheese, and by the way, ..... ..... ....., .... you find a pack of ...., and a family pack diet coke"

I swear to god, I must have called her 6 times today while I was in the supermarket.. To pick up 5 things!

We don't do it on purpose, women. We swear we don't.

28 October 2007

The Perfect Job

I woke up today to the noisy, annoying buzzing of my lovely alarm. Honestly, I really couldn't be bothered to wake myself up and go to work; I was too tired, and I needed another 3 hours of sleep at least if I wanted to wake up happy and bouncy. But this was my case; wake up now or risk going to the office late, again. Uh. I forced myself up, washed up, changed, and took off on my way to the office.

The traffic gives you another reason to want to kill yourself. Everybody's temper seems up, and no one actually wants to give you the courtesy of acknowledging that the road belongs to the public in general. No, everyone seems to think that they somehow own the road, which seems to be a contagious attitude, because sooner or later I find myself cutting off people and swerving here and there like the road is mine, all mine.

Anyway, reach the office; the mood isn't great here either. After all, the weekend is over, and we're all back to work; everyone seems gloomy, no one wants to talk to anyone else, and here's me waiting for my morning cup of tea to give me a little bit of a reason to continue my stay in the office today. I know i'm going to be here working hard, stressing myself out, staying till late, and leaving the office after the sun goes down.

So i'm thinking, this isn't the life for me, no. I don't want to be stuck wasting my life away and getting my soul drained in this kind of job; not getting enough sleep, frying my nerves in the morning traffic, and squandering my life in a cold office detatched from the rest of the world.

Of course, work is important. We need to work to feel useful, and to make a bit of money at the end of the day, right? So i've decided to put down a set of rules for the kind of job I want to work at:

Has to be from 11am, to give me enough time to sleep in and miss the morning traffic rush. I should stop working at around 1:30pm, to again, miss the afternoon rush and have enough time to use the rest of my life doing more useful things.

Should be three days instead of two. This is because 2 weekends as a ratio to 5 workdays isn't fair. 3-4 is closer than 2-5.

Has to be three times what i'm getting now, because I really want to save up for that beach house in Santa Monica.

Work responsibilities:
Should not be too stressful. Job description should include reading the headlines in the newspaper, browsing the internet a little, updating my blog, and maybe a good 20 or 30 minutes of hard work.

Business Trips:
The occassional business trip to major conferences in places like Bali, Jamaica, and so on is not a big drawback.

Annual holiday leave of around 90 days. Please note that this does not include weekends or public holidays.

Perks of the job:
Paying for my new luxury penthouse, company car (value of which should exceed $80,000 at least), my own Blackberry phone (just because it makes you look more important), and the obvious company credit card for my general expenses. Other perks also appreciated.

I guess with something like that, I wouldn't have a problem going to work every day! Great, time to start handing out my CV!

25 October 2007

A new hope for life

Sometime last year:

As ammaro was walking down a busy street in Manhattan, New York, marvelling at the exceptional high-rise buildings that defined this city, he glanced something with the corner of his eye. Completely detatched from the glory at the height of these structures, inhabited by rich bankers, lawyers and millionaires, was a homeless man lying down in an alley, wrapped in rags to keep warm. Through his heavy, overgrown beard, weary eyes and dirty clothes, he was shivering; it wasn't from the cold, though. He was hungry, and didn't have a single cent to afford anything to eat.

A well-dressed young man, a successful stock-broker, probably, strolled by quickly. A clean-shaved white male, probably in his late-twenties, dressed in an expensive italian suit, carrying an elegant leather suitcase and talking on his cellphone, concluding another million-dollar deal. The homeless man reached out to him, extending his empty cup, hoping for some spare change. "Why don't you get a job you bum?" said the stock-broker angrily as he passed, not even stopping to acknowledge the homeless man's existence.

Sad, but somewhat true, thought ammaro. There is always the possibility of doing something to make money; getting the odd job helping out pick up things, delivering newspapers, and so on. Is the chance readily available though? I assume that in a city such as New York, money exists around every street corner, and the chances and opportunities are there. Numerous breaks abound to make a little bit of money, and some people who have started off with nothing have even managed to turn themselves into millionaires; although some may not be the most attractive opportunities (ie, scrub clean a dirty apartment, help clear out someone's garbage), the chance to turn nothing into something does exist.

So is the opportunity readily available? Yes, it is. However, they would need the initiative, the will, and the creativity to consider such an idea, and unfortunately, not everyone has that. Thus ammaro shrugged the idea off as one that cannot possibly be within every poor man's reach, and gave the homeless man a few dollars as he went on his way.

But lets look at things from another angle. What if they had the will to do something? What if they had the initiative? What if they had the ideas? What if they had all that, but had no opportunity? Think away from New York. Think to poorer, third-world countries, where getting your hands on a few dollars is comparatively an impossible task. So many hopes and dreams, so much initiatve, so many ideas, but no chance to turn them into reality. And with the value of world currencies and exchange rates, all it would take is a few dollars to bring their dreams to life.

So again, ammaro contemplated; what if there was an easy way to help these people? Not necessarily give them a little bit of money for food and water, clothes and shelter, to be given over and over again. No. What if there was a way to give them a little bit of money to help themselves? Give them chance for a new life, instead of having to rely on donations time after time?

After all, a donation can feed you for a day. Tommorow you need another donation, and the day after, and the day after that. But a donation a little bigger, if used in the right way, can help you help yourself. As the saying goes; "Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime".

Modern Day:

So as ammaro went through life, he discovered something amazing. He discovered an easy way to help those in need. And it didn't even need to be a donation. It was a loan. A loan to people who wanted to start small businesses in developing countries. The underprivileged who had hopes, dreams, and had the initiative, but had no chance.


He discovered the opportunity to loan money to those who needed it. You could loan anything from $25 and up, hardly an amount affecting most of our daily lifestyles, but for some, that is all the money they need to turn their lives around. Some people need $25. Some people need $100. Some people need $500. You can view the people, view their ideas and the businesses they want to start, and lend them the money (or part of the money) they need to get their small businesses underway. You can also get in touch with them, and follow up on how they do in their businesses. And one other thing; this is not a donation. This is a loan, and they will pay you back over a set period. The beautiful thing here is that once you are paid back, you can use the money to finance someone else.

It's amazing. Amazing what you can do and how you can help people with such a small idea, such a small donation. All it takes is the initiative. I want to thank the creators of Kiva for helping make this world a better place.

Join it and help someone. ammaro has.

24 October 2007

Quran sold for $2.3 million

Wow; this could actually be the oldest Quran in existence, written in 1203.


Mashalah, that's 803 years ago. Way before we were born. Way before our parents and their parents were born. Way before America was discovered. Way before even electricty was discovered! Way before even dinosaurs existed on this earth (ok, maybe not that old). Anyway, not much to say here, just read the article:

Record price for 13th-century Quran
October 24, 2007

LONDON - A Quran written in 1203, believed to be the oldest known complete copy, has sold for more than $2.3 million at an auction.

The holy book, which had been estimated to sell for up to $715,000, fetched $2,327,300 at Tuesday's auction in London, Christie's said.

That was a record auction price for a Quran or any type of Islamic manuscript, the auctioneer Christie's said.

A nearly complete, 10th-century Kufic Quran, thought to be from North Africa or the near East, sold $1,870,000. Both were offered for sale by the Hispanic Society of America, and were purchased by trade buyers in London, Christie's said.

The record-setting Quran was signed by Yahya bin Muhammad ibn 'Umar, dated 17 Ramadan 599 (June 1203).

It was acquired in Cairo in 1905 by Archer Milton Huntington, who founded the Hispanic Society in New York City in 1904. Huntington, the adopted son of railroad and ship-building magnate Collis P. Huntington, died in 1955.

The calligraphy in the manuscript was done in gold outlined in thin black lines, and the marginal notes are in silver outlined in red. The kufic Quran bridges a gap between the earlier style, copied on parchment of horizontal format, and the later style of vertical composition, often on paper, Christie's catalog said.

The kufic script takes its name from Kufah in Iraq, an early center of Islamic scholarship, according to the British Library. Because the script's vertical strokes were very short but the horizontal strokes elongated, it was written on papers in a landscape format.

23 October 2007

5 reasons I wish I was 6

Thanks (or no thanks) to i*maginate for giving me some homework. I'm not one for this tagging thing but this topic actually seems pretty interesting, so let's see (the original tag was 5 reasons I wish I was 3, but I think 6 years old is a lot more fun, so I took the liberty of changing that) :

1) It was 1987, and Transformers, G I Joe, etc were on TV ALL the time. Not forgetting other classic cartoons like as Adnan wa Lina, Sansheiro, Speed Racer, The Smurfs, Thundercats, Sindbad, etc...

2) You felt absurdly rich if you had 500 fils in your pocket (equivalent of about US$1.5)

3) There was more than one super-power in the world (remember USSR?) and the power balance wasn't in the hand of one country (not that it occupied my mind much when I was 6. All I wanted was another bar of Ulker chocolate, another pack of Sun Top juice, and a few hours infront of the TV watching Sesame Street)

4) Atari video games (the black console with the jostick with a red button) packed a helluva lot more fun than the PS3's and the Nintendo Wii's of today do (although the graphics looked like crap and each pixel was the size of a sugar cube)

5) And even back in the day, I was still gangsta!


If this stuff brings back fond memories, go to the top of the page and click 80's & 90's for a lot more memories of back in the day!

Anyway; i've actually been tagged before by June and Mrs Dynamite, and it was a while back but somehow I got pretty busy and never got it done, so since i'm on the subject, here we go! Favorite smells:

1) Burning leaves in a big field out in the open (ie, in a مزرعة). Just a smell I used to remember from when I was a kid and we used to go to a swimming pool or a big field, back in the days when Bahrain was green all over.

2) Cinabbon. I just can't resist it.

3) CK one. It's been out for over 10 years, but hands down this is still the best perfume EVAR.

4) The smell of a garden on a cold humid morning. Pretty.

5) And here's something different for you. I do NOT like the smell of fish in Geant hypermarket (the fresh fish section).

So there you go!

22 October 2007


So what's the point of this whole life thing? I mean, i've been contemplating it; no, not contemplating, seriously doing some deep thinking. Is it all about going to work everyday and slaving your life away in order to make a bit of money, then spending that money on whatever time you have left of your day to eat, buy a car (to mostly drive to and from work every day), and then buy a house? How does that fulfil anything, really. I mean, in the end, everyone is doing the same thing, but what's the really deep meaning of it all? Life's a bit bland that way, don't you think?

So is it about enjoying life? Lets say you're out in a club every night, enjoying yourself, chilling out on the beach every afternoon, buying the cars you love, clothes you want, eating the best foods, whatever it is. Just enjoying your life all over. How does that really make a difference? I mean, isn't life somehow empty? Is it just about enjoying the journey until the day you die?

Or maybe it's about religion? Living through life to be the best person you can according to your religion, and doing all to prove your alleigance/loyalty/belief for your god/gods, whoever they are, and end up in whatever heaven you're meant to end up in? But then, what if you're following the wrong religion? I mean, there are hundreds of religions around the world; they can't ALL be right? What if you spend your whole life worshipping what ends up to be the wrong god?

Is it about making yourself rich? Ok great, so you collected a bit of money, and managed to splurge out on the finer things in life. How is that doing anything for anyone but your selfish self? Even if you gave out some money, there's still something missing there.

Think about it. If you died right now, would you be happy with how you lived your life, and what you achieved? Maybe life, and this is what I think, is about achieving something. If you had to die right now, what have you achieved? If it's getting A's in class, then you haven't done much; you've essentially done something only you are going to remember a year from now. If it's doing amazingly well at your job, you still haven't done anything; you've benefited a company/organization where your achievments will prbably be overlooked next quarter. Provide for your family? So what, any working person could/should be able to provide for his/her family.

No, i'm talking big things. Think of The Beatles. Four guys, made music, and changed the world; their music affected so many people in so many different ways. Their music made some people happy, their music helped some people through hard times, and their music made a number of producers pretty rich, too. They definately made a change.

I saw a documentary about Ghandi the other day. Now that dude did things. If he wasn't around, things would be a LOT different today, and I mean for the world, not just the immediate people around him, his town or even his country. Anyone wonder if that dude is self-fulfilled? Hell yeah, that guy changed the world.

Not only him, I mean, even take a look at those guys who made Google. A completely different example, but thing is, they changed the whole bloody world, for the better, and became billionaires in the process. Now that's definately self-fulfilled!

Just think, what kind of difference have you made? Do you want to be somebody? Somebody that made a change to this world? If you never existed, would the world still be the same?

I leave you with this song. It's fun. I wonder if the singer is self-fulfilled. He changed my life, and I feel happy; well, for today anyhow.

The Turning Point

You know those periods when you're down, depressed, and it seems like everything is going wrong?

It starts when life seems good, and everything is fine. Then one small thing thing goes wrong. You ignore it; no big deal, just a regular obstacle, like the ones life seems to regularly throw at you. But then another thing goes wrong; still not too much too worry about, so no real concern there. Then another, and another, and you start to realize that things are getting dark. It's been days now. You wonder if it's something you're doing wrong, or if it's just life deciding to excrete all over you, and you start to worry. Then another bad thing happens, and somehow the bad events seem to pile up one after the other, pushing you down lower and lower into a pit of gloom, so now it's taking a toll on you. It's been weeks now. You're getting depressed, you're not feeling so great anymore. It's been a long, unlucky streak, and it's lasted long enough for you to figure, hey, it can't get any worse. But then it does, and it keeps going, and you sit and doubt if there ever is going to be a period when things actually improve. It's been months now. You start to lose hope. You don't care about what's around you anymore. You lose interest in your hobbies. Food loses all taste. Nothing matters. You stop hanging out with your friends, your family. You stop taking care of yourself. Nothing matters. Depression supreme. Nothing matters.

So you just live life. A plain, empty life. You don't live for joy, or even the occassional happiness. You just live because dying isn't an option, or not an attractive one at least. You live, but it's a tasteless life. Empty, black. You accept your numb existence, for the sake of existence. It's the nature of humans to exist, rather than give in to death, and you endure it all.

But one day, something happens. Something happens that signals something good might occur sometime soon; it gives a little hope, but not enough to last. You tell yourself that this is the exception to the rule; your life is void of good things, after all. But then, you get another signal, for perhaps another good thing. Your hope gains a little more strength, not enough to compensate for the decay it faced, but at least it's there. All this happens in a short span of time, a couple of days, in fact. And you hear a happy song on your way to work; it stays in your mind for the day, it makes you feel good. You get a phone call with something else that builds optimism. You're filling up on hope, and you feel that this might finally be your break, after you lost all faith in yourself, in your abilities, in life. This might finally be it.

This is the turning point.

21 October 2007

Bahrain finally gets some!

I always figured nothing exciting ever happens in Bahrain. I mean, you have to admit it; our people are nice, friendly and all, we're a close knit community, so on and so forth. But nothing really exciting ever happens here. Bahrain is just dead. I mean, even when there was a cyclone (ie. Gonu) which hit Oman and a part of the UAE, there were predictions of it possibly hitting Bahrain. I told one of my friends that there is a chance, just a possibility that it would hit us, to which he replied "No, it won't"

Me: "There's that chance, how do you know"

Him: "I just know, there is no possible way it will hit us"

Me: "Come on, there's always a small chance of it happening, and what do you know, you don't work in the forecast"

Him: "No, you don't understand. We wont get hit because Bahrain is just THAT boring. We'll never get anything as exciting as that happening here!"

So you see, Bahrain is just utterly dead. Nothing. Nada. Nope. Zilch. Not that I wish a disaster would hit us, but i'm just saying, it's so damn quiet here!

So anyway, finally, we have something exciting going on! A full fledged twister!

Yippeee! Finally something exciting! Next? Who knows?!!?! Godzilla attacking the Bahrain Financial Harbor?!!?!

Shots taken by Adool Zainal's Dad @ Salmabad around midday (20th Oct 2007)

Boiling Pot

If you haven't yet noticed, projects in the region are booming. Thriving, in fact. Whether it's the colossal number of developments in Dubai, those blowing up in the rest of the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain or the rest of the GCC, the area is witnessing a surreal growth stage. Estimates put the value of developments in the GCC at over the $1 trillion.

What's a trillion? Imagine a million dollars? Now imagine a million of that. That's a trillion (for those who don't know).

Besides the ridiculous amount of development in real estate, theme parks, hotels and so on, there's a huge surge in the financial markets. The currency and equity markets are doing unbelievably well, right now, with investors from all over putting their money into what was a comparatively dead sector a decade ago. Oil prices hit $90 last week. Land prices are boiling. Stock markets are swelling up. Developments are on the rise.

Yup, the GCC never had it so good. 6 countries, growing like never before. Stuck right in the middle of what could be the most volatile region in the world at the moment.

Tehran today announced, no, Tehran warned that it would fire 11,000 rockets at enemy bases within a minute if the US launched military action against them. The nuclear stand-off between the US and Iran is reaching a critical stage. Besides that, the situation in the Iraq pot is bubbling, on the verge of boiling. Israeli airstrike against Syria last month. Political riots and bombings in Pakistan with the whole Bhutto/Musharraf ordeal. The list goes on.

Where does that leave us? Who knows. All it takes is the situation in one country to get too big to handle, and you can sure as hell bet that the pressure will reverberate to the surrounding area, one Domino piece toppling after another.

So how well protected are we against the shockwave that's about to hit soon? Are we protected at all, actually? The outlook doesn't look too good from where i'm sitting.

20 October 2007

What's up Croc?

A few years ago, there was news of a number of people 'smuggling' animals into Bahrain illegaly. These included baby crocodiles, turtles, among other exotic animals, brought into the country to make a quick buck.

Now, back when these animals were all cute and young, there wasn't a problem; forward a few years later to today, and some of them have grown up and aren't as cute any more. And it seems their owners aren't as happy to keep them as pets when they're all big and ferocious, so they decide to throw them out to the nearest possible swamp/river/sea:

AN environment group has pledged to investigate reports that a crocodile could be swimming around Tubli Bay.

The Environment Friends Society (EFS) will send officials to the scene after a Bahraini women and her Filipina housemaid claimed to have spotted the reptile lurking near the shoreline. EFS president Khawla Al Muhannadi said she was not surprised by the report and said there had been several sightings across the country in recent years.

She told the GDN many endangered species such as crocodiles, turtles, birds and exotic animals were brought into Bahrain from Asian countries as pets. However, she said they are often abandoned when they outgrow their surroundings.

The mother-of-two who spotted the crocodile says she saw the creature as she looked out of her bedroom window, which overlooks the bay, with her domestic helper on Saturday morning.

But, isn't that an area full of houses? Where the little kids play on the shore all the time?

Be prepared for some bad news very soon.

18 October 2007

When you're an idiot...

When you're an idiot, you end up doing things like this:

Man arrested for possessing drugs
18 Oct 2007

A BAHRAINI man was arrested when he accidentally pulled a piece of hashish from his wallet after being asked to produce his driving licence by a police patrol.

The 25-year-old defendant was on his way home when he was asked to pull over by police in a routine check, Public Prosecutor Fahad Buainain said yesterday. "When they asked him to show his driving licence, he accidentally took out a piece of hashish which was stuck to his licence."

The man was arrested and later transferred to the Public Prosecution, where he admitted possessing hashish, but said he had forgotten it was in his wallet. He has been released on BD500 bail until his case goes to court.

Now i'm no expert, but i'm assuming here that a driving license and a piece of hashish do NOT look the same. I'm not supporting illegal activities here, but if faced with a similar situation, when stopped by an official figure (ie, police man and so on), you should try to avoid things such as producing illegal substancs infront of them. If people can't grasp simple concepts like this, it's no wonder we have so many problems in this country.

* (Hashish is a drug substance; ie, similar to weed, just incase you didn't know)

17 October 2007

Not Good

As the region starts to gear up for yet another war (or so it seems like it), our friendly US army folks down at Qatar decide to slip up and blow up some sheep:

US fires missile in Gulf 'by accident'
17 October 2007

DOHA: A Patriot missile was launched accidentally from a US military base in Qatar, landing in a farm but causing no casualties. "A Patriot missile landed on a farm belonging to a Qatari national after being fired by accident from the As-Sailiyah camp," Al Jazeera television said.

The US military said it was looking into the apparent misfire, but declined to give any further details. "We're investigating the incident, which happened last night," said As-Sailiyah camp spokeswoman Holley Silkman.

Qatar hosts the US army's Central Command which directed the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

Doesn't sound too good if you ask me. The (new) war hasn't started and already missiles are falling in the wrong places.

15 October 2007

The McDonalds Employee

Waves of people had taken over the food court section of the shopping mall; children running around, parents chattering, youth strolling through, and the odd individual walking by. The joy on the peoples faces stood out on this night, probably one of the busiest nights of the year.

At the queue piling up infront of McDonalds though, the peoples' faces said something else. Impatient to get their Big Macs and Chicken Nuggets, Quarter Pounders and Happy Meals, the avid McDonalds customers waited, some fussing, some complaining, some trying to cut the line, but all just angry at having to wait for their 'fast food'.

I stood in line with them, and watched the employee do his job as my turn got closer. Ernie, his name tag said (not to be confused with Bert's counterpart, of Sesame Street fame), an Asian male in his late twenties or early thirties, probably. He wasn't really smiling; between the multitude of orders he had to fulfil, the long lines of angry customers he had to serve, and the noise from a mall so busy on its peak night of the year, the customer standing at the front of the line was literally shouting at him for delaying his order. After all, this customer was standing here for over 30 seconds, and that surely is too much time to wait for food, right?

Finally served and on his way, next in line were three children, probably around 8 years old, dressed in their shiny Eid clothes, smiling and laughing, waving their money at Ernie and giggling out their incoherent order. Between the noise of the mall, the sizzling of the french fries in the background and the childrens giggles, I couldn't make out what they wanted to order. Ernie, on the other hand, seemed to understand perfectly; quick to react, take the money and give them their change, maneuver himself in a way to fill their drinks, call out their order, and start packing their happy meals all at the same time. I was impressed, actually. Within a few seconds their order was almost ready, pending the cheeseburgers from the kitchen, so he took the next order, which was mine.

I gave my order and watched him do his magic, create a meal with agility not gained through plain training or even routine. No, Ernie must have really thought this process through. Probably a product of going home every night, lying down in bed before he slept, thinking of how he did his job during the day, and perfecting the process in his mind. You see, Ernie here was an efficiency expert. He moved the line as quickly and smoothly as humanly possible, and if left to the average person, the line would probably be at the very least twice as long as it was now. He did this to make his job easier. He did this to satisfy his customers better and serve them faster. But most of all, he did this because it was his job, and he had a loyalty towards his job and wanted it to give it the best he could.

Think of yourself in his place, would you push yourself to do your best? Or would you sit back, relax and do what it takes to just get by and get your salary at month end? Think of yourself at your job now, do you really try to do your best for your entity, or do you just want to finish your time and go home?

I had just finished giving my order when the customer in line behind me started to snap; 'Hey, I want to order'. I turned around and looked at him with an eyebrow raised. 'Is there a problem? The guy's working as fast as he can, and the least you can do is appreciate that it's a busy night, and just wait. He's under enough pressure already.'

He put his head down, obviously thinking of what I had said, and felt a little ashamed for being unnecessarily selfish. Perhaps in a faster moving world none of us have the patience to wait in line, whether it's for fast food, at a queue in a bank, or anywhere else. Maybe we can stop letting out our frustrations on those same people who are helping serve us, and are doing their best to give us what we need to let us be on our way.

My order was ready, and it didn't take long at all. I gave him a sincere thank you; he didn't have the time to smile, but I knew he appreciated it, and took and fulfilled another order as I went on my way.
For more post on slave labour, maids etc, click here

13 October 2007

Left Behind?

Just a shot I took in Manama today; the shining towers of the Bahrain World Trade Center, signalling the unrivalled growth of "New Bahrain", taken from the center of "Old Manama".

Has more hidden meanings than seems at first. Think about it.

11 October 2007


Yep, Ramadan has come to an end! Pretty quickly this year, may I add.

Highlights this year included; eating like there's no tommorow, short-fuses during the daytime, ridiculously busy traffic, 321 Action (and the embarrasment it caused to Bahrain TV), the other ridiculous-plot Ramadan TV shows, the regular gahwa and tent hopping, cruising around, the weather finally improving, staying out late, shopping (mostly women) and of course, a reasonable amount of increased religious activity.

Yes, another Ramadan has come and went, and Eid is very nearly upon us. Everywhere seems to be busy; the shops are full at night with people rushing the last few minutes to buy their new Eid clothes. Today the bank has been buzzing with people coming and going trying to get the "new notes" to give out to the children for eid. Lights are springing up all over the buildings, in diplomatic area, near Seef, in the neighborhoods and so on (just pass by during night and see the place glow), and yes, i'm sure most of us are looking forward to that huge Eid lunch (Oh man, lunch at my Grandma's place for eid. That roast lamb. Oh.. Drool..)

I wish you a happy eid, and every year and you are ok :) (كل عام و انتو بخير)

9 October 2007


It starting to become more and more accessible every day. Think back to 1994/1995, when the internet just started booming; finding a computer actually connected to a phone line, to dial-up to that thing called the internet was relatively rare. Soon after, more people started signing up, and the buzzing sound (think twisted fax machine dial tone) associated with dialing-up to the internet became more popular.

And then you started getting internet not only in your home, but in your workplace, internet coffee shops, at libraries and so on. And then broadband was introduced, and more people surfed, better, faster.

And then the cell-phone revolution which started web-browsing from your own phone, so that you had it wherever you went. Not to mention wi-fi connections, meaning hotspots everywhere; just take your laptop to the odd location (next to a bunch of houses, airport, coffee shop) and you're bound to find a wi-fi link ready to connect to.

Slowly, we're being flooded with the internet. Slowly, it's surrounding us everywhere. Seems the only place you can't connect to is when you're thousands of miles up in the sky, travelling from one place to another. The only entertainment you'll be able to get on an airplane is movies you don't really want to watch (but watch anyway), bad food you don't want to eat (but eat anyway), and a small bag of peanuts (which really cheers us up for some reason). If you were really rich and had the dosh to spare, you could always make a call from the phone on the plane to someone down on the ground. But then again, its a little overpriced for most peoples' taste.

Well, all that's about to change. Pretty soon, you'll start seeing wi-fi on your local plane. Yup. Thousands of miles up in the sky, and still connected to everyone down on earth, chatting on MSN, looking up info on your coming location, or even calling someone on Skype. Is there anywhere the internet isn't set to reach?

Cool. Or scary? Technology is moving faster each day.

Can you feel the revolution?

Original Yahoo News Article

8 October 2007

Still here...

I've been here (in the office) for approximately four hours now. Somehow it feels like i've been here for days. The time just isn't passing.

Ramadan work hours are considerably shorter than on normal days, so right now I only have two hours left. But they're not passing! I processed a few deals, I made a few thousand dollars profit for the bank, I went through a bunch of blogs, browsed some forums, gathered information on the new camera i'm thinking of buying, walked around a little, played with my phone, yet time seems to be standing still! Help! I need to go home!

7 October 2007

Finally got it!

Yes! I finally figured out how to get through the Ramadan traffic!

Check this out:
If I take the route in BLUE (mostly main roads and highways), it takes me ONE HOUR AND 20 MINUTES to get from work till home

If I take the route in RED (mostly driving in neighbourhoods and small roads), it takes TWENTY FIVE MINUTES ONLY!

Seems so simple huh? Thing is, Ramadan is almost over! Next week, i'm going to have to figure out a new route to bypass the regular day traffic!

6 October 2007

The Mother of Forty-Four

So i'm slumped infront of the couch watching TV late last night, when I hear a terrifying scream coming from the kitchen; I get up to see what was going on, and it turns out my wife had spotted an insect that managed to help her scream her lungs out.

Now i'll have to say, my wife is pretty brave in general, but when it comes to little bugs and creepy-crawlies (and mice), nothing can make her forget everything she's doing and run screaming.

So what was this little bug? It was a worm-like creature we traditionally call ام اربعة و اربعين, literally translating into "the mother of forty-four" (as in relation to the number of legs it has). Now me being the man of the house, went ahead to kill it as I do all bugs that manage to appear out of nowhere, when my wife started screaming again "DOOONNNNTTT! THAT THING CAN KILL YOUUUUU!"

I stopped. Dammit. I do remember being told as a child that these "mothers of forty-four" are actually pretty poisonous, and to be careful of them, but as I grew older I sort of dismissed that as some sort of urban legend. Were they poisonous, though?

So here I am, a little under a meter away from the killer mother; I stare at her, she stares me back. Well, she doesn't actually, she just sits there, wiggles once every few seconds, and I wonder if the next few minutes will be the last moments of my life, in combat with the little beast.

I think quickly, and notice a huge glass in the cupboard right behind killer momma. I make a quick move for it; in the background, the chilling screams coming from my wife fill the room. As I jump towards the glass, the mother wriggles more and prepares to stand, while suddely everything seems to run in slow motion; the colors fade into black and white as I grab the glass, and balance myself to avoid being poisoned by the venomous monster. Enter background music; heavy metal. She doesn't just sit there, though, she lifts herself up on half of her legs, stands up, about to attack; we were in full combat mode now, it was just me and her, looking each other eye to eye, waiting for the first person to make a move. With a quick move of dexterity and skill I slide forward and land the glass on top of her, turn it upside down, scooping her up as she squirms trying to escape the glass prison while spewing her toxic venom everywhere. I grab the nearest tissue box and cover the top of the glass.

Phew. She's trapped now. Everything turns from black and white into color again as I realize its finally safe, and the heavy metal background music fades away. Little did I realize this whole process took a little under 5 seconds; felt like an hour. How time freezes when you're so close to losing your life.

Anyhow, I manage to take the offender out to the garden, and Pif-Paf the hell out of her. She squirms and wriggles, as if trying to resist, clinging on to her soul, but alas, she finally stopped moving.

Mission Over. Finally.

Anyway, doing a little research afterwards leads me to the conclusion that the little monster was, infact, a centipede. Only one case of death has ever been recorded, and that was by a large centipede biting a young child; otherwise, their bites can result in a reasonably painful rash.

Dammit. So much for my near-death experience.

5 October 2007

Unlimited Resources

So the water to our house got cut the other day. It wasn't a big deal, really; in Bahrain, you get used to random water or electricity cuts every now and then, especially during the summer periods. However, this wasn't your average "few hours" disconnection. No. The problem actually lasted a few days; besides just disconnecting the water, turns out the main pipe coming in from the Ministry of Works had some sort of huge leak, and it took them a good 4 days to fix it.

So here we are without water. No big deal, the ministry said the problem would be solved quickly. We could handle it; the first day, we bought a few extra water bottles for the small requirements (washing your face, brushing your teeth etc), and the next day when we realised it still wasn't fixed, we called in a water company to bring in a big load to fill in our water tank/container (enough to last a day or so).

Third day, still no progress, more water bottles. Same situation on the fourth day.

Finally we got the water back, but something had changed. Most of us usually take the water supply coming in for granted, and use it like there's no tommorow. However, when you're using a very limited resource, your usage habits change. When you know theres hardly any water left in the water tank above your house, you really try to save every last drop. When you have a water bottle to wash your hands with, you can suprise yourself with how little water you actually need. Little things like leaving the tap on while you actually brush your teeth while the water just spills into the sink start to seem devastating.

Its amazing really, the way we misuse our resources, and the planet is already under pressure to keep pumping out clean water for our use. You see signs and posters everywhere; use water wisely, use electricity wisely, and so on. But do we care? It might seem like such a small issue if you switched off the tap while you brushed your teeth, and hardly something that could make a difference. But if you did it, your neighbor did it, your neighbourhood did it, your whole country did it, then yes, it does make a difference.

Well, problem is over now, and the water supply is back at full strength. I'm not using it the same way though, i'm not taking it for granted any more.

UPDATE; 8 Oct 2007

I have been contacted by Kim Bridges, a member of Water; Use it Wisely, a website dedicated to helping people learn not only why they should save water, but how they could save water. Its an excellent resource, I urge you all to visit:

4 October 2007

2 October 2007

Discussion; Happy with Life?

The last one went well, so we'll do another. I would appreciate everyone pitching in a little, giving some feedback, comments, and discussing the issue. It's pretty open ended so feel free to say whatever you like.

Discussion 2:

How happy are you with the life you are living right now? Are you content where you are, with the people around you? Job? Money? Relationships? Do you feel your life is fulfilling or do you feel some sort of emptiness? If you could, what would you change? Or would you change it completely, be somewhere else doing something totally different?

(Click on "comments" below to read what others wrote or to add your point of view)

1 October 2007

80's & 90's

If you haven't already seen it, there's a 80's & 90's section at the top of the page. I've taken and put together a bunch of old memories, whether random thoughts, cartoons and TV shows, toys, etc.

Just decided to post something about it; take a look, it might bring back a few memories. I'm updating it all the time, so if there are any photos or videos you have and want to share, please send them over! Here's one of the videos just to bring a few memories back, see if you can remember it; this is from a Japanese game show that was called الحصن:

Check out the section at the top of the page for more memories :)