Wow, what a year...
I can sit and bore you with paragraph upon paragraph of what's gone down through the year, but let me try and summarize it in one line:
Tons of traveling, HalaBahrain got crazy popular, New Tahoe and pimped it out, launched a whole company and ran it (UrFilez Bahrain), riding a camel infront of the Pyramids, villa on the water at the Maldives, put together a bunch of large shows, brought musicians in Bahrain to popularity, launched an album for DJ Outlaw, and a ton more stuff that I can't even remember any more...
2010 is gonna be crazier.. Keep watching this space; HalaBahrain is up for a huge re-make, BahrainTalent is going to be completely re-done and pushed out, get ready for ammaro Productions (audio & video), and get ready for Arabia Underground... That's just the beginning...
(On a separate thought, imagine if you wake up tomorrow and it's the first of January 2011? Where did 2010 go? Imagine losing a whole year. Whoa, trippy. Ok ignore me i'm being silly).
Happy New Year everyone! See you in Oh Ten!
31 December 2009
Wow, what a year...
11 December 2009
Wow, it seems like logo fever is taking over the country! So after last week's new BTV logo (which we came to the conclusion represented nothing, really), Batelco have come to the scene with their own brand new identity!
Come to think of it, didn't Batelco change their logo just a few years back, when Zain (back then MTC Vodafone) came onto the scene? So why are they changing it again? Here are some quotes from Batelco Chief Executive:
Combining the English "B" with its Arabic equivalent, the aim is to make the company identifiable with all cultures
Aha, all cultures? I don't see the Indian and Chinese culture in there. And in fact, I don't even see Arabic culture; sure there's an Arabic letter ب in there somewhere but mixing it in with the B makes it look like this:
Don't see it? Okay look closer:
Hmm. New spelling needed then, Batelcow? No seriously, what's up with all the logo changes? Changing a logo doesn't mean your company moves up in the World. Batelco's service isn't necessarily bad, it's not great though, and it's the internal issues that need to be fixed, not the external view of the company. Anyway, here are the older logos:
Prior to 2003:
Funnily enough, the oldest one still seems the most relevant to a telecom. Hmm. Anyway, this means we've had 3 logos over the span of less than a decade. What we should be doing is look at the big global companies around the world and follow their examples! So, have those big companies been changing their logos as often? Let's see some examples:
Hmm. So essentially Coca-Cola has had the same logo for over 100 years, only changing the font a teeny tiny bit to make it look fresh and more modern. Hmm. Doesn't look like we're following that example. Let's look at another:
Hmm. Guess we got it all wrong then...
5 December 2009
I've got a pretty good idea on viewership statistics for Bahrain TV; they're probably around 7 people (4 of who are the channel operators and producers who have to check the channel for errors etc).
I don't know why the station is still alive really; it was considered pretty advanced back in the 80's, in comparison to the other countries in the region (ie, Kuwait, UAE, etc)... Yup, and it managed to stay in the 80's and on the same level, while all the countries around us moved forward. Not good.
Now we've got advanced programming from Kuwait, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Saudi, MBC, etc etc, but Bahrain TV is still... Well comic to say the least. Whether the quality of the TV shows (which look like they've been filmed with a mobile phone camera), to the bad scripts and fake acting, or the website that's been "under construction" for the past two years.
Anyway; so a few days ago I heard that BTV decided to change their logo. Yup, their logo! How about you guys change your frickin' employees who have been running the station for the past 40 years? As if changing the logo is going to push up views - Random scenario: Hey Ahmed, can you change the channel to BTV? I heard they have a new logo, let's sit and watch that for a few hours.
But seriously, Ministry of Info (the guys who run Bahrain TV and Radio), get your act together! We're supposed to be displaying world-class productions through our various media; TV is one obvious portal to the world. I can cite specific examples of why our TV channel is so bad, but I would rather not spread that sort of embarrassment to our country online.
Maybe you (Bahrain) should make me the next head of TV & Radio. No seriously, come on, i'll turn this whole thing around. But anyway, for your enjoyment, the old and new logos:
Nice and simple, obvious and to the point. Nice portrayal of red and white symbolizing the colors of our flag, with the B looking like some sort of butterfly or whatever, possibly symbolizing how we've let the opportunity of creating a top-notch TV channel fly away :?
No idea in the hell what this is. Sources claim this is supposed to be some sort of calligraphy saying "Bahrain" in Arabic but i've been staring at the thing for the past 20 minutes and I still can't see where half the Arabic letters are. It looks more like a hurricane symbolizing the total destruction we've managed to let the Ministry of Information do to our media channels.
Way to go BTV. Love the new logo. I'm soooo gonna keep the channel on all the time just so I can catch this beautiful graphical piece of art wherever I go.
2 December 2009
To the country thats built miracles out of the emptiness of the desert, thats caught the eyes of the world, the country that has achieved what they said was impossible, a country that makes us proud to stand up & say I'M ARAB. Happy National Day UAE!
Just a few short words to mark the 38th national day of the United Arab Emirates. Given I've lived a good 5 years there, went to college, took my first job, setting up an office there now, and much more.. It's still one amazing place.
Whether its the astounding world class developments of Dubai, or the serenity of a walk across the Buhairah in Sharjah, the magnificent achievements of Abu Dhabi, or any of the other states. You are truly an inspiration.
Some may try to stain the name, especially with the financial problems of last week; but again, that is the state of the whole world. Sooner rather than later will the UAE be back and bringing glory once again to its people and to all Arabs.
Happy 38th, UAE.
Sent via BlackBerry® from Batelco
21 November 2009
I drive on Sitra Bridge almost every day; it's old, always overcrowded, and definitely falling apart. It wasn't that unbelievable to get a broadcast Blackberry message saying the bridge actually collapsed, although I usually wait to confirm news before I spread it.
Apparently the news wasn't true since I was zooming down the bridge 30 minutes after I got that message, but still, the news (rumor) was all over Blackberry messages, Facebook, and even my not-so-connected-to-technology-aunt heard about it, and it literally spread within the day.
So how fast does it take to spread a rumor? Let's find out. Talking to my cousin who asked me whether the Sitra Bridge collapsing thing was true, we decided to set up another rumor and see how long it takes to spread. The rumor is pretty silly, actually, but it's fun to see how viral it gets. Here's what I came up with (Since we're spreading it through blackberry, it might as well be a blackberry news item) ;
Guys, BB Messenger will become subscription only! "Nov 18, 2009; John Adams, president of RIM, the company that provides the Blackberry, has noted regret about closing some of the companies services at the end of the year: "The global crunch has been harsh on our company especially past the second quarter, and unfortunately we will be dropping some of the more expensive services we currently offer for free." The first service to be dropped at the beginning of 2010 is the popular Blackberry Messenger service, which will be restricted to paying subscribers. Packages are targeted towards business subscribers with corporate packages beginning at $200 per month for every 10 units. (CNN.com)
Pushed out and sent to about 50 people on my list, and I asked my cousin to let me know when he gets the message forwarded to him from other people; that was at exactly 11:02pm. Within 1 minute two people had replied complaining about RIM and their service, and one person asking me if it was true or not. Within 5 minutes I got 3 broadcast messages, 2 other people asking me about whether it was true, one person who told me they had googled it and found nothing, and one person warning me to not send stupid forward messages again. I told the people who replied that I actually made it up as a test and to keep track and let me know if they receive any broadcast messages or replies.
By the tenth minute I had feedback from my trackers of over 20 broadcast messages sent back to them from various people, comments like "RIM should sort out their server before asking for more money", "Great i'll get back control of my life again" Hey guys you wanna get together and put the money for a subscription" and more. By half an hour judging from the people I know who had forwarded it, I estimated approx 600 people had received the message (and that's not including people I know only, who knows how many people I don't know forwarded it on).
I'm trying to keep track but it's starting to get hectic so i'll just quit. It's pretty funny how people decide to spread rumors without checking them for any credibility. Tons of rubbish out there, from the "please forward as hotmail is tracking active accounts and will delete if you don't forward", to "dunnowho will pay $1 for every person you forward this to" to everything else. Some fall close to home, obviously; I just got another message about Bershka in Kuwait having spy cameras hidden in the changing rooms and you should watch out.
People are sheep. Funky.
17 November 2009
I get tons of random SMS's every day from people. This by far is the most random (especially considering we live on a country where the temperature hits a good 50 degrees at times):
"Do you have ice skating shoes I can borrow?"
I don't even know how to start replying to that..
15 November 2009
Ever heard of the term cash cow? It's a business term about a company that's grown big over the years, and is a generator of a steady flow of income, yet has little or no chance of innovation of it's services. ie, it just sits there and grabs the money without having to do much about it.
That my friends, is Jawad. Yup, supergroup Jawad, which we all once adored and loved for bringing us everything from yummy Chili's to our old time favorite DQ, has gone down the dark path.
Apparently when you get as big as they have, you start getting greedy; well either that, or their management has changed and been replaced by the 'lecha squad'. When you start really pushing the limits of your customers tolerance to save a few hundred fils, then you know the company is starting to go down the drain.
So I walk into Grill & Chill (previously Dairy Queen) the other day and order a salad meal. Salad meal; ie, i'm not going for any of the fat stuff. Naturally, if you're trying to eat something light, you get a drink that is also light, but with Dairy Queen being who they are, all they over is over carbonated soft drinks, and those extra-sugary slushy things. One choice left; water. But noooo... Their salad meal doesn't come with water. It comes with a soft drink. "But I want water" I said. "No sir we don't offer that any more, you'll have to buy the water."
Ok, that's understandable to an extent, as pouring me a cup of sugared crap costs them less than giving me a bottle of water, but still, cheap shot. After a bit of arguing, I gave up: "Ok, can you replace the soft drink with the water and i'll pay the extra to change", to which the dude replies, "No sir you have to buy the water separate".
So let me get this straight. You won't let me replace the soft drink with water. You won't let me pay to replace the soft drink with water. You do however want me to buy the salad with the soft drink, and then go ahead and buy an extra bottle of water?
Granted it's only 300 fils extra (or whatever) for a bottle of water isn't really that much, hell, I can even buy a bottle outside for 100 fils if I really had to. The concept here is that Jawad has decided every last fils counts, and they'd rather give their customers a hassle rather than bear a little expense. Yes sure sure, financial crisis, global meltdown, inflation, bla bla. How about we start buying our food at Raju's burger and salad for 300 fils instead, and that my friends, is INCLUSIVE of water.
Anyway, this isn't the big issue. The big issue is, the other day I made the mistake of actually going back to DQ, and ordered a chicken strip basket. Now for those of you who don't know what a chicken strip basket is, it's 4 pieces of chicken, 2 pieces of toast, and some fries + sauce. One of the tastiest parts of the meal is the actual toast, slightly browned and left to crisp with a touch of melted butter spread over the texture. Mouthwatering. So I order it and:
Wait a second, where's my toast?! Where???
Oh wait, look, there it is, hiding behind the sauce.
Are you guys frickin' serious? What is this? The two pieces of toast are literally smaller than that french fry. And see that top piece of toast? What is that? You call that a piece of bread?
Are you guys for real?! Just to give you a relative example, i've put a ketchup packet next to it to show you how tiny that thing is. That's not a goddamn piece of bread, that's just plain embarrassing. You know what, my anger towards Jawad has just turned into feeling sorry for them. If you have to resort to cutting up a piece of bread into smaller pieces to serve 5 customers instead of 1, then there's just something wrong with you.
Don't believe it's the whole Jawad group? Here's an example of how they destroyed Chili's too. Enjoy!
28 September 2009
Arabian Business is a magazine that's been running for quite a while, and one thing they're good at is picking out and identifying whose who. They've brought us the top 50 richest Arabs a few months ago, and are now down to tackle our own little island with their top 50 most influential people.
This list confuses me a little. It's not the 50 richest, nor is it the 50 in the top positions of power. I guess it's a little bit of everything, fame, fortune, etc. Royal family members are not included apparently because that skews the list, so here you have it.
It's a pretty interesting list. Talal Al Zain tops out at number 1, being CEO of Mumtalakat (which is essentially the holding company for the governments assets, namely Gulf Air, Bahrain International Circuit, major shares in Batelco, National Bank of Bahrain, etc). CEO of that? That's a lotta frickin' power.
Esam Janahi holds the second spot, mainly for his role as Chairman of Gulf Finance House, as well as being on the board of a bunch of other companies. A regular employee just over a decade ago, Esam pushed forward with GFH to create one of the biggest Islamic investment banks in the region back in '99; we're talking about initiative such as energy cities in countries all over the world, economic development zones, and those two emerald green towers you see from almost any spot in Bahrain. And that's hardly scratching the surface; GFH has done a LOT, with many investment banks in the country and region opening to try and follow course.
The Kanoo's make an obvious appearance in the top 10. So do the Moayyed's, although not the one you would expect; Mona Almoayyed, President of Bahrain's Businesswomen Society, MD of Y K Almoayyed, and achievement spanning being the first woman to be elected to the board of the Bahraini Chamber & Commerce. Lovely.
Number 5 gives me a bit of a shiver when I read his history; Menir Kirdar, who originally escaped from Iraq as a child hiding in a rolled up carpet, is founder of Investcorp, one of the earlier investment banks in the region holding over $13 billion dollars worth of assets, with regional office in London and New York. A bit of a step-up from that rolled up carpet, huh.
The list goes on to cover CEO's, Chairman's, and other people holding up major positions. A few names hold special interest, however. Milan Macala, Coach for the Bahrain football team makes #10, and with good cause. Bringing Saudi to their knees and bringing us that one step closer to the World Cup, Milan is revered as one of the best coaches in West Asia. Will that hold true against New Zealand? Let's wait and see.
Artists also manage to make the list, as we see both Qassim Haddad, probably Bahrain's most famous poet, Al Shaikh, one of our most influential composers, Balqees Fakhro, artist, and Haifa Hussein, actress whose gone on to be featured in TV shows all around the region make the list. I don't necessarily agree with all of these, as I do believe we have more deserving and influential artists, but it's always good to see that this list is not just about business.
What do you think of the list? I personally have a bunch of names I would take out and a few more I would put in there (I would also rank myself at either 27 or 28 somewhere on this list), but generally this gives a good idea of whose who on our little island. Check out the actual list and let me know what you think!
1 Talal Al Zain
2 Esam Janahi
3 Abdulla Ali Kanoo
4 Mona Almoayyed
5 Nemir Kirdar
6 Anwar Abdulrahman
7 Khalid Abdulla Janahi
8 Abdul Rahman Jawahery
9 Steve Harrison
10 Milan Macala
11 Dr Jawaher Al Mudhaki
12 Ahmed Al Noaimi
13 Dr Mohamed Nedal Alchaar
14 Jawad Habib Jawad
15 Khalid Rashid Al Zayani
16 Alan Horne
17 Hassan Ali Al Majed
18 Samer Majali
19 Dr Osama Al Ali
20 Rashid Mohammed Al Maraj
21 Qassim Hadad
22 Khamis Al Muqla
23 Jamil A Wafa
24 Farouk Y K Almoayyed
25 Jassim Al Jowder
26 Akram Miknas
27 Mohammed Dadabhai
28 Peter Kaliaropoulos
29 Mohamed Al Qaed
30 Fouad Rashid
31 Martin Whitaker
32 Fahad Al Rajaan
33 Stephen Rothel
34 Hassan Ali Juma
35 Adel Hassan Bin Ali Al A'Ali
36 Bob Vincent
37 Abdulla Ahmed Nass
38 Khaled Al Sheikh
39 Murad Ali Murad
40 Fathi Al Mohamed
41 Ahmed Al Ameer
42 Faisal Jawad
43 Haifa Hussein
44 Khalid Abdulla Al Bassam
45 Nooruddin A Nooruddin
46 Balqees Fakhro
47 Atif A Abdulmalik
48 Ammar Ali
49 Majid Al Sayed Bader Al Refai
50 Yousof Saad Kamel
ArabianBusiness.com - Bahrain Power List
26 September 2009
Ramadan's over, and I must say, the amount of crap on TV this year was beyond me. We get a whole lot of crap every year, true, but this year just blew the Guinness record off this thing... Everything from drama shows which have no relevance to reality, supposedly funny prank shows that end up repeating the same prank every day to different people and get boring after the second viewing, to to to... It keeps going..
One very special memorable show was from our neighboring Kuwait. We love you guys, but you didn't have to throw this on us. Yup, Shejoon Al Hajiri, otherwise known as Shoojy with her own competition quiz show, unbelievably fake tan, ridiculous laugh, and overall annoying everything. Here's a very short clip so you have an idea of what i'm talking about (don't want to give you anything longer as it might result in brain damage)
And now that Ramadan is over, everything is back to normal, except that ringing in the back of my head every time I try to do anything; fayyyezzz entaaa fayyyeezzz walla faayyyeeezzz AAAARRRRGGGHHHH SHUUUTTTT UPPPPP!! Luckily for me, Thee Project, a heavy metal/rock/alternative band had the cure. They had a concert about 2 days ago at BIC, and performed a little suprise tribute to Shoojy as part of their show. Enjoy.
I was rolling on the floor in laughter! Amazing stuff, and hey, the ringing in the back of my head is gone! Lovely :D
Spread this to anyone whose having trouble sleeping or still faces Shoojy nightmares. For more info on Thee Project and the Reflux concert they performed at, check out Bahrain Talent
19 September 2009
Eid mubarak everyone! And although its supposed to be a very happy
occassion, we all need to be very careful this Eid.
Swine flu never scared me that much, but the way our Ministry of
Health is taking care of it (ie, badly), it starts to become a real
problem. Now, with eid tomorrow, the regular way to greet family and
friends is with a lot of hugging and kissing.
The person you're hugging and kissing might have come in contact with
someone who came in contact with someone who came in contact with
someone who has the flu. And then you go around hugging and kissing
your whole family, eventually meaning a bunch of you are going to fall
sick. And yes, that is going to happen if you don't watch it.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to ruin your Eid. Just use common
sense, and avoid very close physical contact. Its less depressing not
hugging and kissing family members than having to say byebye to them
at the hospital.
Spread the word. No hugging and kissing this eid; let's keep it a
happy, disease-free occassion.
Spread the word.
16 September 2009
Swine flu doesn't scare me much. It's nothing more than a pretty bad flu with more severe symptoms. The chance of death isn't as big as the media makes it out to be, and with the right precautions and action taken, along with some common sense, it should come and go with no issues.
What scares me isn't Swine Flu; it's how we're dealing with it here. We're putting our health and lives in the hands of the Ministry of Health, who keep saying they have everything under control. Do they? Do they, really?
I haven't experienced anything first hand, so i'm copying a letter from a dear friend whose had that experience, hoping it might increase awareness for what's going on.
SWINE FLU OR NOT, A NECESSARY ORDEAL?
One cannot appreciate the severity of the situation until faced with the reality of it in the emergency room. For the past few months we have been watching the news on TV from the comfort and luxury of our homes and taking it for granted that the Health Officials have got it under control. Little we knew that the situation was far beyond control!
5 days ago, Ali, our baby boy of 12 months suddenly got high fever, we immediately took him in to a private hospital’s emergency section where they performed some test and confirmed “viral infection”, prescribed some medicine including Tami Flu and sent us home.
The symptoms only got worse the next day and we again went rushing to the same hospital. This time, they examined our baby and prescribed anti-biotic and sent us home again.
Things did not get any better that evening, when our baby’s fever did not come down and this time, he was starting to vomit. We decided enough was enough, and rushed him to the emergency at the Salmaniya Hospital where he was examined and put on IV fluids, and transferred by ambulance to Kanoo Medical Center as a “suspect” case of swine flu.
In the span of a few hours of us being there at Salmaniya, there must have been dozens and dozens of walk-in cases of children with exactly the same symptoms as our baby. It was indeed an outbreak; there was no doubt about it. Whether confirmed cases or not, no one could tell because the Ministry had earlier issued instructions to all to stop testing for H1N1 and immediately start the Tami Flu treatment.
Now here’s where our cry-out for concern comes in.
Upon arriving at Kanoo Center, we noticed that there was no senior in-charge of the whole facility and were told that doctors were not available as they were all too busy at Salmaniya. The facilities may have been new, but the services and support to maintain an acceptable level of competence and hygiene was nowhere to be seen.
Apart from the fact that we did not see the General Consultant assigned to our boy show his face through-out our stay there, he never showed up even after repeated requests by us to see him, which is legally our right.
The cleaning staff was not available when required; it took them 2 days to even replace the bed sheets which were soiled from vomiting. The nurses were helpless without up to date directives from seniors who were nowhere to be found.
The only time a pediatrician showed up was on the 3rd day where we shortly discovered was an intern junior with no senior guidance or shadow. She kept asking the nurses about our boy’s case and could not even give us a straight forward answer when we asked her important questions about our boy’s condition. She was quick to make an exit after feeling a little under the spotlight and never showed up again.
What concerned us the most was how patients were being brought in to the center as “suspect” cases but not being given the serious consideration that comes with the “title”?
Adult “suspect case” patients were brought in with obvious respiratory problems, and put in the same room within only a meter from our boy... only to be tested a day later to confirm their diseases. How could that be justified in a situation where a serious out-break is present which is considered to be more dangerous to children below the age of 5 than adults?
Baby cribs were not even available so mother and baby had to share a bed the whole time while being on IV drip lines throughout.
While on medication, our boy developed other symptoms such as rashes, dipping of the body temperature and yellowish skin tone, and when we put our concerns forward to the nurses, they could not diagnose and no doctor was available to address these concerns.
Can you imagine the state we were in the whole time? NOT KNOWING anything, not being able to speak to a doctor who can answer the simplest questions we had such as “what is wrong with our boy?” or “is this normal?”
When a doctor came to visit on the 4th day, and decided baby Ali needed to have a swab test done for H1N1, knowing very well that the results may take up to 24 hours to come out, Ali was ordered to be discharged the nest morning and no instructions were given to anyone of us as to what to do next! We are yet to get the results, and have not been put on any preventative medication!
My question to the Ministry of Health is:
If the Ministry are under-staffed as we have witnessed “beyond any reasonable doubt” and cannot handle such situations. Then why quickly step up and take complete charge of this situation leaving the general public in limbo as to what to do, where to go and how to go about it?
There are so many private hospitals and clinics in Bahrain that are at this moment in time not authorized to admit or even diagnose suspect cases. What are those hospitals with their luxurious facilities and staff doing right now? Why are they being sidelined when there are obvious shortages at the Ministry facilities?
It is easy to mimic other countries at times of urgency, but do we have the resources, competence and experience to deal with it?
From first-hand experience, I can now say NO! We are far from being able to handle, manage and control a pandemic of any kind. And this should concern every resident of Bahrain that has the right to ask “why?”
9 September 2009
Car breakdowns.. Traffic jams.. Trying to find a parking spot.. Running out of gas.. Crawling through the traffic.. Car accident blocking the road.. Not being able to drive until you get your license.. Road rage.. Flat tires.. Traffic fines.. No parking zones.. Headache of annual car registration.. Scratching your car.. Getting lost.. Overheating engine.. Road construction.. Potholes.. Expensive repairs.. Running to the parking meter every two hours to put some more coins in.. Annoying drivers.. Blocked roads.. Dead battery.. Getting locked out.. Losing your keys.. Car theft.. The list goes on..
Almost 70 years ago, we discovered oil in the region. There has been milestone after milestone in development.
Today, a new one has been set. Dubai Metro, opening 09/09/09. It's been a long time coming, a little (ahem) over budget, and while talks all over the GCC have mentioned trains, metro's, etc, nothing material has emerged. Dubai has taken action, and has made all the above an obsolete choice for those who wish to use it. May this set the pace for the rest of the region.
Well done Dubai, even with the current situation of the World, you continue to astound.
Sent via BlackBerry® from Batelco
7 September 2009
2 September 2009
We were all excited when Bahrain City Center was finally opened to the public. Yup, a big new mall, new shops, restaurants, and new outlets full of fun, woohoow!
A little under a year after the mall has opened, it's most striking feature (I think), is actually none of the above. It's one of the traffic warden dudes who works there.
If you've been to City Center on more than one occasion, you must have an idea of what i'm talking about. Always there, on the far exit of the parking lot, slowly guiding the cars out with a smooth, slick motion? Always smiling? And looks pretty damn cool while doing it?
Yup, it's 'that guy' from City Center! If you don't already know him, he's always standing there and smiling. What he's smiling about, we can't really tell, but he alwaaaays manages to make our day, no matter what's been getting on our nerves or stressing us out.
Now this is a guy whose happy; if you can't take that as an example in your life, I don't know what else to tell you. Maybe he escaped from a brutal warzone where everyone was fighting and killing each other, and this job is a perfect heaven in comparison. Or perhaps he's on some sort of Opium or Marijuana or something. I dunno. Either way, he's happy, and that's something to look up to. Check out the video, and enjoy!
24 August 2009
Ah yes, another Ramadan is upon us. Another month of fasting, religiousness and giving. Equally also known as the month of laziness, gluttony and TV.
I've been gone for a while; its been a hectic 6 weeks, running show after show at Seef (we set up a big stage, and had everything from latin bands, breakdancers, talent shows, to much more). If you haven't seen it yet, check out the video below (just a short quick compliation to give you an idea of what we've been doing). More on UrFilez.
It really has been a bit of a rollercoaster with no breaks (brakes?), and it's finally over straight into Ramadan. Yup, a definite month of laziness for me.
And that's what the month ends up being. I'm really not feeling Ramadan at all this year; it usually has some sort of sparkle to it but apparently that's lost and all that's left is grumpiness, laziness, and a bunch of silly TV shows.
What's sad to note is Bahrain TV. Really, really sad. Back in the 80's we were so far ahead of the rest of the Gulf countries in terms of media it seemed like they would never catch up. Unfortunately we stayed at that same level while everyone else evolved; our actors and TV hosts are still the same ones that have been on TV for the past 20 years, the acting fake, stories repeated, and the special effects, well, they're just lame. Seriously, I've seen so much talent and creativity when it comes to audio-visual production (and even actors and script-writers) in Bahrain, but they prefer to either keep their stuff on YouTube, or fly out to countries like Qatar and Kuwait that actually appreciate those sort of skills, and compensate them accordingly. I swear, I watch the productions of Qatar, UAE, Kuwait, etc with pleasure; they're great. But us? Hmm.
So when is the Bahrain Ministry of Information considering hiring young blood with some actual skill/knowledge in the field to produce something of value? I swear its embarrasing to actually switch on Bahrain TV. Example; one of the shows is a Punk'd type thing with a new celebrity each day; wow, exciting! The only problem is that every episode is recorded in exactly the same location, (a worn out school classroom), with the same prank every day (kids make fun of the celebrity). Yup. It's basically repetitive right after the second episode. Not to mention the microphones used are actually mounted on the camera and so half of the audio isn't exactly clear. Oh, and the intro song talks about this show being a "brand new concept 100%" while the cheesy graphic special effects shine in the background. So much for Bahraini creativity.
Another show is in the form of local competitions, where the host goes around to different people in public and asks them questions for prizes (wow, that's original). Whose the host? None other than Abdulla Malek, the same guy whose been hosting these shows for like, the past 20 years. The dude's old and gray, falling apart and really not the best candidate for a young and fun TV show, but hey, who else are you gonna bring, right? (Well, besides some new young fun performers?).
Oh and lets not forget the 'graphic special effects' put in place by Windows Movie Maker.
Anyway, I feel sorry for the state of Bahrain TV and really wish I could do something to help out. Obviously I wouldn't be allowed to since I have no certificate or background in TV (which honestly is the last thing you need to put on a good show). You need young and fresh people with new ideas and concepts, rather than these old and gray jokers who have taken over the channel. Maybe then, we would actually feel like watching Btv for something other than comical amusement.
7 July 2009
I remember staring at a street poster in New York sometime last year; $436 million jackpot (or something along those lines, I don't remember the exact figure). Even assuming you get a discounted present value of the money over a certain number of years, or get a lump sum, that amount is a little bit ridiculous.
Still, it's probably one of the easiest ways to get rich; gambling. Drop in an affordable 'investment' and win a huge amount of money. No effort required, what could be better?
Well, considering the Gulf countries base their laws on 'islam', gambling is actually haram and therefore illegal. No public casinos, no betting on races etc, no lotteries.
I'm walking around Dubai Airport, staring at grand prizes to be won, for a BD20, BD50 or BD100 per ticket. That prize ranges from a Porsche to a Bentley, and in one case, a pure million dollars of liquid cash.
This is obviously not a new discovery but isn't this technically gambling? Gambling is haram because you're throwing away your money to an uncertain, undefined risk. Is the fact that you 'know' how many other tickets are being sold make it legible? ie you know your exact chance of winning?
It's sort of like Islamic Banking, the fastest growing banking sector in the world. Everything is re-defined to not include "interest". But of course you do have "profit". Hmmm. I've also found it funny how they justify things like cash loans (which technically aren't allowed in islam) by coming up with this whole story that your loan actually includes buying diamonds in South Africa which are then exchanged for cash and you end up paying for the diamonds in installments etc.. I've taken that loan a while ago, I never saw any diamonds..
So how is this lottery gambling thing justified? And if it is, then why won't they give me a permit to start up a casino? I know it'll make a lot of money. Investors interested in the idea please call me.
We'll make it a halal casino, don't worry. I'm sure there's a huge growth market out there for it.
13 June 2009
The results of Iran's elections are out. It's Ahmedinejad again. By a landslide.
Whatever your thoughts of him are, this is a worrying situation. Not because of him actually staying in power and what decisions he will be making over the coming 4 years, but because of what the reaction to him coming to power will be.
In the few days/weeks leading up to the elections, i've seen the youth of Iran take to the streets and show their support for Mir-Hossein Mousavi, and hold up and chant slogans backing him.
Ahmadi hasn't really done much against the youth, but his mis-handling of the economical situation in Iran has managed to push up inflation, and cause hell for a large majority of families who live on an average monthly income of about $600.
More than two thirds of Iran's population are under 30. Many of them were set to be rooting for Mousavi. This election, more than any other, was expected to have a huge turnout of youth.
But now the results are out; Ahmadi has won by 62%, and Mousavi with a total vote of 33%. Now pardon my intelligence for a minute but with what's been going on over the past few weeks, that figure looks off. Totally off. So off, infact, that i'm getting flashbacks of when Saddam Hussein ran for elections and got 100%.
My worry is not that Ahmadi is president again. My worry is that in the coming few days/weeks, Iran is going to be on FIRE. Rigged or not, the elections still look rigged, and that's more than enough reason for people to retaliate; updated as I type, just read news on serious unrest starting out in a number of areas around Tehran.
This can't be good.
12 June 2009
Sometimes, the ideas that come up in movies are pretty freaky. Whether were looking at alien invasions, horror stories about the supernatural, religious happenings with disastrous epic results, these sort of things are too twisted to actually resemble any sort of truth.
Or are they?
Imagine if the ideas coming out of a directors mind actually came to reality? Or maybe if they actually were based on some sort of reality, but unbelievable enough that the movie is categorized under 'fiction'?
Final Destination came out a bunch of years ago, with a basic premise as the theme; if you're meant to die at a specific moment in time, and then you somehow manage to escape death at that moment (due to some sort of unnatural interference), death will hunt you down and kill you, probably very violently.
Sounds like a load of crap right? Well, apparently a woman who was lucky enough to miss Air France Flight 447 (if you haven't kept up with the news, it's a plane that took off and disappeared off the radar.. They later figured it crashed and killed everyone on it.), had death on her tail. A week later, a freak car accident where her car swerved off the road into the path of an incoming truck ended up killing her, and badly injuring her husband.
Totally freaky. Now let's keep an eye out on the rest of the people who ended up missing that flight.
Link to Article
(Disclaimer; ammaro has a pretty large imagination and has nothing else to write about. Deal with it)
27 May 2009
He looked at the outside temperature gauge, looked away, then looked back at it again. Was this for real? No, no, something must be wrong. He hit it a few times just to check if it was correct.
53 degrees, it read.
"That can't be normal", he thought to himself, "we're still just in May". The traffic infront of him moved another meter, so he let his car crawl a little further down the highway.
It had started off as a regular day; the alarm clock rang at 6:30am with it's annoying metallic buzz, waking up Ahmed from his deep slumber. "Dammit," he said, "another routine crappy work day", as the rays of the sun shined through the window onto his face. As he got up, changed, and left for work, he felt a little hotter than usual, but thought nothing of it.
At the office, all telecommunication systems were down, cutting down all possibilities of doing anything useful. No phone landlines, no internet, and difficulty getting a mobile phone signal (and even then, there was too much static on the line to actually be able to communicate). Something was definitely going on today; even the office AC which was on full blast seemed like it wasn't able to keep up with the massive heat surge coming in through the office windows.
He looked outside his window to the Bahrain World Trade Center; the fans weren't spinning at all. An initiative by the authorities to help cool down Bahrain whenever the temperature rises above 40 degrees, the fans would automatically start, and spin faster relative to the air temperature. "That's weird", he thought to himself, "it feels quite a bit hotter than 40 degrees.."
His boss asked him to pay a visit to their telecom operator, who they couldn't get a hold of because all systems were down, so off Ahmed went to his car and drove away. The roads were packed; people had their windows down, blasting their horns waiting for others to move, screaming out of their windows at each other. It seems their car air conditioning just wasn't keeping them cool.
He looked at the outside temperature gauge, looked away, then looked back at it again. Was this for real? No, no, something must be wrong. He hit it a few times just to check if it was correct.
53 degrees, it read.
By now the traffic jam and heat was starting to get to people; the guy in the car infront of him, a middle-aged man who was shouting to the driver in the next car to move out of the way, lost it all of a sudden and got out to pick a fight. The two drivers shouted and argued, as other drivers left their vehicles to see what was going on. The scene got physical, as the heat wave caused everyone's blood to boil, and what started off as two angry drivers started to turn into a mini-mob, running around from car to car opening the doors and beating up the drivers.
Ahmed was shocked; as they came closer to his car, he decided the best option was to get out and run, and he did. As the size of the mob increased, they jumped on his car and broke the windows, but he didn't look back to see what was going on. He ran through the traffic-filled streets, and in every group of vehicles he could see similar zombie-like mobs starting to grow. Weirdly enough each of these zombie like creatures was starting to develop a pink glow to their skin.
This was disturbing. Something was definitely not normal ("No shi#!" - A reader), and as Ahmed ran from the chaos that was starting to form, he could feel the sweat dripping down his forehead like an open tap. The heat was getting to him, and he looked up at the sky to see the sun shining in a scary orange yellow glow. The sky didn't look normal, more like it was burning, and Ahmed figured the temperature was rising even further.
He wondered if there was anyone who could do anything about this, and he remembered the only people who were wise enough to solve any problem; the MP's ('How the hell are the MP's supposed to solve anything!? - Another Reader). He stopped a fake-London-taxi and asked the driver to take him over to the MP meeting hall. He got there, and waited as the 40 MP's made their entrance.
He stood in the middle of the hall, and pleaded to them;
"Oh great MP's, we have a situation on our hands. The temperature of Bahrain is rising. Just an hour ago, I noticed the temperature at 53 degrees in my car, and it only seems to have gone up since then. This heat is causing damage to our infrastructure, causing problems to our telecom systems that cannot handle these temperatures, and affecting our people, turning them into zombie-like mobs who cannot think. I plea with you to solve this problem"
One of the MP's stood up and said; "We already know the reason for the problem. It is because of the 1, 2 and 3 star hotels serving alcohol."
"What!?" Ahmed said, "How the hell does that contribute to temperature change?!"
"Oh unwise one," the MP continued, "God does not like these petty hotels serving the forbidden drink, therefore he has condemned us to a sample of hell"
Ahmed: "Umm, and what about the 4 and 5 star hotels then?"
MP: "You ask too many questions! Don't question the wisdom of the mighty MP's! We also need to make sure the pork is banned, otherwise our land will be cursed for ever! And we need to make sure that cinemas and parties should be closed down, as well as the internet, because it is all evil"
Ahmed felt a bit of frustration and decided he should leave before his nerves give and he ends up attacking the MP's violently. He walked out into the streets only to see the situation escalated; people blasting their horns, others giving into road rage and crashing into each other, the burning heat rays scorching trees and plants everywhere, people screaming and shouting, mobs destroying cars and setting fire to anything they can...
It was getting to an extreme, and the temperatures were getting hot enough to cause anyone to black out, so Ahmed decided it was time to take matters into his own hands. He needed immunity against this heat, and so ran off to Aloo Basheer and ordered 200 fils worth of Aloo and 100 fils nikhi (and a red Crush) with a ton of filfil. After quickly devouring the hot spices, the temperatures (now hitting 60 degrees) were no match for him.
He ran through the streets, mobs and fires to look for a solution, and he finally found the cause of the problem:
Apparently, one of the large truck carrying tons of pigs had crashed and threw the pigs all over the highway, right infront of the World Trade Center. All the people who came in contract with the same highway managed to get Swine Flu, turned into pig-zombies and went nuts, destroying and burning everything, including the power supply to the fans of the World Trade Center (explaining the rising temperatures). He obviously didn't get the flu because of his supernatural immunity, developed through years and years of eating Aloo Basheer.
Ahmed thought quickly, and since the big fans of the World Trade Center weren't working, he decided the only way this the weather could be brought back to normal is through using lots of other, smaller fans. He called his good friends, Ali Bahar and El Ekhwa, and asked them to perform a small concert infront of the corniche immediately, which they did. All of a sudden, all of their fans from Isa Town came out and that slowly caused the temperatures in Bahrain to cool down to normal levels, bringing back the telecommunication network, giving the police a chance to remove the pigs from the highway and dispose of them into the sea, and turning all the pink-zombie-mobs back into normal people.
Phew. Ahmed had actually saved the day, and maintenance worked on the World Trade Center fans to make sure they wouldn't break down in such a drastic situation again. With no one to thank him for his great deed, he went back to the office, and was shouted at by his boss: "Where the hell were you, it doesn't take 3 hours to go to the telecom and back. And go get yourself washed up, you're sweating like a pig!"
22 May 2009
The authorities in Bahrain have a bit of a problem with road planning; one plain example of their utter failure to be able to complete a project with any form of efficiency is the Sitra Causeway. If you don't know Bahrain, Sitra is a little island just off the mainland (also an island), and they are both connected via Sitra Causeway. Two lanes forward, two lanes back.
Increases in the volume of traffic over the past 10 years have made Sitra Causway about as useful as smelly used underwear (which really isn't very useful unless you're pretty creative about what you do with it). A strip of road a little over 3km long takes a good 30 minutes to cross; that's the equivalent of driving at approximately 4.5km an hour. Average human walking speed is closer to 6km/hr, so if you drove across and I walked across, I would literally get there before you.
This was before the Ministry of Road Destruction decided to do anything about it; they put a plan where they figured, 2 lanes is obviously not enough, so let's have 3 (with a department that supposedly plans things you would have expected them to increase it to 4 or 5 so that they wouldn't need to do another expansion over the next few years, but hey that's them for you). This meant completely redoing the causeway, and digging up half of the land on the Manama side of things to make for (supposedly) better flowing traffic as you exit. Supposedly a job that in my point of view should take a good 6-12 months at a maximum, it has been ongoing since mid-2007, and from the speed at which they're doing things is nowhere near completion anytime within the next 2 years. The total mess they've made has managed to slow traffic down even more, and now it sometimes takes up to an hour to cross the causeway (which now means that if you get in your car and drive across, and I set a tiny puppy to cross with 3 broken legs, he would probably get to the end before you).
I've vented a bit and sort of steered off the topic of this post; God does not hit with a stick is the literal translation of the Arabic saying الله ما يطق بعصى which means that if you do something bad, God won't come back and beat you with a stick, but you will be punished somehow. Sort of like karma.
Thursday night, me and Nibz were driving back to Manama from Riffa and made the stupid mistake of deciding to take the Sitra Causeway route. Now there are two lanes going back, but there is a third emergency lane where anyone who has broken down can stop. People who don't enjoy the long wait sometimes think it is their right to use this as an actual driving lane and bypass everyone else waiting. Jerkoffs.
As we got halfway through the causeway (about half an hour later), we heard shouting from about two cars behind; a quick look in the rear view mirror told the story. Some young dude, being the jerkoff that he is, decided he wants to overtake everyone else via emergency lane, and apparently an old guy in a beat-up pickup felt this was a little disrespectful and swerved a little to block his path. Mr. Jerkoff got a little annoyed at this, and started shouting at the old man from his window, who didn't really care to listen. The dude stepped out of the car and went all the way around to the old man's door, opened it and started screaming about how the old guy had no right to do that and how he was going to "show him who he was". After a minute of fuming and screaming and almost punching the old guy, jerkoff went back to his car and burnt rubber as he overtook the old man (scratching his side mirror along the way).
We had a bit of a laugh about this as we drove along, sort of annoyed that a jackoff like that was allowed to do whatever he wanted. Drove along the causeway for another half hour, and we could see the old man 2 cars behind us, driving along following all the rules.
Almost at the end of the bridge, there was a bit of a bottle-neck. Seems a car had broken down, and funnily enough it was our old friend Mr. Jerkoff; this gave us a huge laugh and we just hoped the old man would come by and see this. Jerkoff managed to start his car, however, and drove a few meters then stopped as his engine failed one more time. As we overtook him we could see the look of frustration in his eye as he tried to start his car again, checking his rear-view every few seconds just to make sure the old dude doesn't pass him.
But he did! We had the biggest laugh and totally cracked up watching the old man cross, give jerkoff a quick nonchalant look and drive across with the biggest grin on his face. That was lovely. Just lovely.
Moral of the story? If you're going to be screaming at old people you try to overtake on the highway, make sure you get your engine serviced first.
Or at least be nice to people.
20 May 2009
I really think dying is a good concept. When you have idiots on the planet, they usually end up meeting other idiots and getting married, giving birth to more idiots, and sooner or later taking over the planet. It's a good thing death exists, which helps clear up the gene pool from dumasses who I believe my planet is better off without. We have too many idiots already and they get in the way of smart people like us.
Phoenix man killed in gun-safety demo
Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 05.18.2009
A 26-year-old Phoenix man accidentally killed himself early Sunday while explaining gun safety to two Sierra Vista residents.
Doh! Hahahaha, gun safety and he manages to kill himself, beautiful! But what's even funnier to note is the way in which it happened;
Samuel Benally Jr. was at an apartment on West Tacoma Street when he said guns should be kept unloaded because people could point them at their heads, said Sierra Vista police Sgt. Brett Mitchell.
Wahahahahahahhahaa, do you see where this is going??? Seriously...
Benally then demonstrated by putting his own 9mm Ruger, which he believed to be unloaded, to his head and firing it, Mitchell said.
I know it's sad to note that Mr. Dumass died here and it's a bit cynical of me to be laughing at it, but i've had a really bad week and in this situation it's always fun to laugh at other people's misfortune. If I was stupid enough to do something like this, I deserve, no actually I would welcome you to laugh and make fun of me, if I could get past that large bullet hole in my head.
Original Article Here
15 May 2009
Food is a problem. Running around every day from morning to night finishing work, tasks, going to events, etc, makes the fact that you have to 'eat' a little bit of a nuisance, rather than an activity you end up enjoying. Food consists of lots of fast food and take out, and some fancy restaurants every now and then. Nothing wrong with that, except that all food seems to lose it's taste after a while.
What to eat today? Burgers? Nah, sick of it. Steak? Nope, sick of that too. Pizza? Pasta? Grills? Salads? No no no, sick of it all. All food is boring, I lost my appetite.
Sometimes you just want a little bit of an old fashioned meal to fix your system; you know, stuff that you were grew up with, home cooked food, that sort of thing.So Thursday night, after a long rushed week of non-stop action and work, we decided to go out for breakfast the next day to a gahwa (restaurant/coffee shop) we used to go to. It's been a while since we've been down there, but they serve good, traditional early morning food:
Walkin' down Manama Souq on a Friday morning heading over to Al Maseela (if you're looking for it, it's in an alleyway right opposite Standard Chartered Bank, near Bab Al Bahrain)
It's nice and sunny (well, hot), so a little bit of shade goes a long way. It's not a huge place, but the food is pretty damn good.
We give the waiter our (long) order and he gives us a big OKAY. Yup, it shouldn't be long till our food gets here... Yummy...
It was taking a while so we decided to take a few photos to distract from our hunger. Here's how we make traditional bread in Bahrain; a big fire furnace, stick the dough to the side. Yum... Now where is that damn food..
Yes! It's here... Let's see, balaleet, daal, eggs & tomatoes, nashef, a bit of jam on the side etc.. Now where's our bread?
"Yeah, so what are you eating? That looks good.."
Chai haleeb, right on time!
Total destruction. Mission Accomplished.. Uhh.. That was good..
And our waiter, happy that we're all full and satisfied, decides to go back to sleep... Perfect, not to worry, my appetite is back! Next, home cooked lunch at home!
1 May 2009
What have we come to? Seriously, what has happened to our little island?
I've witnessed hotels get put out of business due to some stupid rules placed overnight by total blockheads at one of our ministries. I've seen the ridiculousness from our MP's over everything from plastic models in store windows, to trying to ban pork sales. I've even laughed at the concept of the authorities trying to block the internet (which can't be blocked).
I've seen a lot of rubbish come out of idiots in high places, who are so out of touch with reality that it's ridiculous. But what happened last night, was just.. Wow...
Preparations for the past month were ongoing for the biggest rock concert to ever hit Bahrain; Rage to the Extreme. Bands from all over the country, as well as bands from Saudi, UAE and Egypt would all come down for a full day of rock and metal music, and a competition to choose the top regional band. A full 10 hours of rock music, from 4pm-2am; definitely going to be a great one. The venue was booked, the bands arrived, the crowd arrived and everything was going PERFECTLY..
Until a few hours into the event, the CID decide to walk in and stop everything. Why?
Wait for it...
Over a t-shirt.
Yep. The police decided to come in and arrest a member of a band that just got up on stage, because he was wearing a t-shirt with a cartoon picture of the devil on it, and a quote saying "God's Busy, Can I Help You?"
And of course, during the course of arresting him, since everyone else was wearing black, the police assume the concert is a satanic ritual and decide to close it down, and tell everyone to wear their t-shirts inside out (to cover all 'satanic' images).
A t-shirt guys? You closed down a whole rock concert, one that brought people from all over the gulf to one place, to do something that hasn't been done before in this region, over a t-shirt? And I mean i'd be more inclined to consider this if it was actually offensive; this t-shirt was supposed to be funny, but I don't get how a bunch of uneducated idiot CID/Policemen who can't even speak English properly are supposed to understand this or how to even begin explaining it to them: "Helloooo, make funny joke, god busy, me can help you? No Broblem only making funny. Haha? NO? NO BITCHES DON'T YOU F**ING GET IT!?"
And then the authorities keep trying to portray Bahrain as 'the destination' for business, innovation, etc. Yeah, that's not happening. Not until we wipe out half of the people in charge and replace them with people who know the difference between the letter P and letter B.
My head hurts. I apologize to anyone and everyone who came to enjoy a day of music and was turned away. I especially apologize to those who came all the way from UAE, Saudi and Egypt. I apologize on behalf of Bahrain; this country is sooo going down the drain guys. Time to abandon ship.
22 April 2009
I remember a while ago, someone read my palm and told me I would be leaving Bahrain for a long long time. I sort of figured out why over the past few days.
It's getting really crappy here. Yes, we have F1 weekend coming up, woohaa. But that's about it. A few days before the beautiful event that brings millions of eyes upon Bahrain, and brings in tourist to have a good time and their dollars in to spend, the Ministry of Information & Culture decides to ban one and two star hotels from serving alcohol, and bringing in musicians.
Oh, and with a one day notice, ie; "Hellowwww, we just came up with this rule yesterday, so shut up and deal with it", thus basically screwing up half the hotels around here. I'm guessing the concept is supposedly done to get rid of the sleaze, but then we still have sleaze in the 3, 4 and 5 star hotels. Oh trust me, i've seen it. It's just classier sleaze. So all we've ended up doing is screwing up a bunch of hotels in the middle of a recession. Lovely.
Anyway, besides destroying about 40% of the hotel industry here and forcing them out of business (because we all know it's not the super-expensive room rates that are getting them their money) and screwing visitors over, they decide to screw over the local population too. Remember our little friendly internet ban? Well now we've moved from banning porn sites, political garbage and rubbish like that, to actually banning big bank websites, and other government websites. Duh. No seriously, the expensive auto-blocking system they bought to basically search for and block banned content ended up blocking the biggest e-banking website in Bahrain, and the e-gov website. Of course people complained and these have been re-opened, but that just tells you that not only are the people responsible for the blocking trying to restrict freedom of speech, they're actually doing a bad job at it.
Anyway, besides that we have the millions of other things going on, such as traffic jams that keep getting worse, mosquitos that end up biting more, and desert that so beautifully seems to get more dusty by the year. Plus newspapers that publish rubbish and can't seem to tell a word of fact, MP's that can't solve a real case if their beard depended on it, and car agents that won't admit that sales are crap and keep increasing their prices.
Ah yes, from the looks of it, that palm reading might just turn out to be true.
19 April 2009
The past year has been a rush; 31st of March 2008, I made the decision to quit 'work'. Not to quit working per se, but to quit the regular 'desk-job' type work that is. It was getting to me; i've worked in a bunch of different companies, moving up from one position to the next and getting more responsibility with each switch, and more money along with each. Shifted from Relationship Manager for a global bank, to a Branch Manager for a large bank here in Bahrain, to a Department Head for a telecom company, and a few more positions in between.
Money was great. Wasn't happy.
I guess over the 6 years or so since graduating from college, i've managed to achieve what most people take about twice as long to do. And I could see the career path; it was on it's way up, but I just wasn't enjoying it. I finally made the decision to quit, because I really wasn't getting much out of this whole 'job' thing (besides a big bank balance, which isn't bad but there was still something missing).
The next step was vague; I had no clue what I was about to do next, but to the outsider it seemed like a bit of a joke; the timing of me quitting seemed to coincide with the wifey flying to the UK for studies, and me buying an Xbox with a bunch of games.
Yes, my wife was out of the country, I bought an Xbox, and I quit working. I was a 17 year old bachelor kid again. Woohoow.
The next few steps are a bit of a blur now; it's been a little over a year, in which I decided to follow what I like best to see where that goes; my photography, which I started putting into online galleries, and soon got contacted by companies who wanted to buy images for their company websites, magazines, etc. I also started a little online magazine to cover things to do and places to go in Bahrain. I've always loved music, so I started BahrainTalent to promote all the local musicians in the country (who didn't have any sort of support otherwise), and through that got in touch with a big music company opening up in the region.
The magazine caught on very quickly, with readership increasing by the month, and with that came coverage of events, parties, advertising, sponsorships, and more. BahrainTalent caught on pretty quickly too, with lots of people applying to get featured on the site, and even more visiting just to check out who these musicians are and where they popped out from. Photography increased as I started getting invited to more events and social gatherings, and working with the music company to launch things in the country and region took a bigger role, and the Middle East sort of became my playground. Add into that everything from getting connections for big events (setting up Elham with AlDar for their island trip), to helping put together events (Axis of Evil and other shows), finding talent for events (DJ's for parties, live performers for clubs), to random other things here and there such as writing articles for some of the big publications here, filming and editing short videos, and setting up BIC with local talent for F1 themed songs, etc.
That's not even the half of it; a million other things in between meant that I was buuuhuuussssyyyy. Every day was a rush with one thing after another, never stopping to breathe.
It was great, but it was exhausting. I'm so far away from that desk job business now.
The whole thing started on April 1st 2008 with me sitting at home with that Xbox. Sometimes I wonder if this whole thing is just a big April's fool joke; it's been successful so far. But it got overwhelming, meetings, events, planning things, deadlines, last-minute flights, people calling all the time, millions of emails and messages back and forth, etc etc etc. Staying focused was near impossible.
A year after it all started, well, a year and 2 days to be exact (3rd Apr '09), I took off. Got on a plane and flew thousands of miles away to the UK, and for 2 weeks let the pressure subside. Forgot about everything for a while.
Green parks, beaches, new people and new places, good food, ice cream by the pool. It was great. Total disconnect.
I'm back now, and somehow even though though there are a million things to do, my mind feels clearer and a lot sharper. I've always figured I was focused, but now after this, I know I wasn't. Totally needed break. Guess sometimes you just need to hit that reset button.
12 April 2009
London has changed. It's been a while since i've last been there, 12 years to be exact.
I've lived in London for quite a part of my life, first sometime between 83-85, and then again from 1991-1996, visiting numerous times in between; last time I actually went there was in '97. I've managed to pass by a lot of places over the past few years, but London always seemed to be just a transit point. Never really got the chance to drop by even though I really wanted to.
But finally, i'm back! I'm here for a week, and all I wanted to do was check out the old spots I remembered. It's funny how memory gets blurred over the years, adding things and twisting others; the place looks a lot smaller, with a quick walk down Oxford Street proving that point. The shops have definitely changed though, with most of the smaller joints closing down and being replaced with international franchises such as River Island and H&M. Only real survivors here seem to be the Underground stations (duh) and McDonalds. It's sort of sad to see my old favorite shops disappeared, but I guess 12 years is a long time..
Edgware Road; didn't really think much of the place back then besides it being the best place to get "Arab" groceries, but the place has changed quite a bit too. It's filled with Shisha coffee shops now, and mobile phone stores, lol (back when I lived here, mobile phones were 'just' starting to take off. They weren't really an Arabo thing just yet). Stayed at the Hilton Metropole on Edgware, which again feels like staying at any hotel in some random Arab country; Arabs every here.. Checked out Covent Garden, where I used to hang out quite a lot. Still a nice place to hang out, and still the same old jokers performing their regular antics (such as wearing pink underpants in the cold and juggling swords on a unicycle).
Got some time to go over and see my old apartment, the old streets I used to walk down, and funnily enough none of those had changed (besides a new McDonalds opening nearby). Big Ben and the House of Parliament are obviously still the same.
The people seem to be different though. The ratio of actual English people to every other nationality seems to have been reduced; more foreigners from everywhere, most notably Indian and North African. There also seems to be a change in general attitude; everything moves faster, people are less considerate of each other, and even when surrounded by hounds of people, you couldn't feel more lonely. Weird. People don't pick up their trays after them in restaurants any more, and the perfect queues the British were once famous for seem to have dissolved; everyone trying to cut in and so on. Oh, and the Underground seems to be much more crowded; I guess with the influx of people into the country, that's had to happen. There are electric cars, and electric car refill points.
So yes, London has changed. For the worse maybe, for the better maybe, yet I find myself not loving it as much as I used to. It still retains some of it's old charm though, but you need to look a little deeper below the surface. Walked by a busy pub with newspaper wrapped fish and chips soaked in vinegar and salt, under the cold rain, as a big red London bus passed by. Might not be everyone's cup of tea, but it sure did feel like the true heart of London.