I rant you risten

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Outtro of bahraini rants

I never liked reading blogs that ended without a conclusion, so I wont do the same to you. I always felt that having read so much of this persons’ jamblings (jumbled ramblings, use it I don’t mind) a sort of explanation was necessary, some sort of closure, flightless birds finally free, or some cryptic nonsense like that. But nonetheless, like relationships teetering on the verge of being finished, something needs to be said …

A chapter in my life has just shut and a new one is about to begin, if I may, with little writing and explanation: it’s gonna be intense and draining, and I am seriously looking forward to it. I think we can all fairly say that I’ve lost interest in this blog, but not because I don’t like writing my thoughts out anymore. I used to write with a purpose in mind, and to be honest, I’ve lost that purpose. Doesn’t mean I don’t think about you all the time, it just means that I can’t be bothered to write and write and rewrite and hope that you’ll catch the secret double entendres and so on and so forth.

So after these few and far between posts, emotional cries for help, and many years of reading: I hope I’ll be someone you’ll remember fondly.. Yeah him Bahraini Rants, he was good, I miss him.. I wonder what he’s up to now? Do you think I should search for him? Maybe I should go back and read some of his old posts, I wonder if they’re still funny, and then you’ll go back read over stuff, remember me as that loveable scamp you secretly dreamt of, maybe cry a little since I’m no longer in your life & then seriously spend some time contemplating what went wrong. As opposed to, Bahraini Rants? Whatever, that was just a point in my life when I needed some form of enjoyment to rebound from whatever I was rebounding from. Let me go back to my life and to be honest he was never that entertaining to begin with… in the words of red, sneef…

So what’s next for me? Well that’s part of the reason I have to stop, I’m leaving this place, making the whole ranting from Bahrain kinda silly. I’ll be gone only for year to start, but maybe longer (all contingent on getting my visa approved), so hiphiphooray for me, too bad for the three of you that read this blog. I’m sure we’re still close enough for you to be getting emails from me, so if you really really like hearing my silly words, I’ll only be a send/receive away..

I’m not retiring my blog because I want you all to come back and visit.. it’s really been a wonderful experience writing and I’m hoping one day, I’ll be convincing you folk to sell me your souls, but until then..

À bientôt

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

siestas con pimientos de padron

For weeks I sat there in front of the monitor reading the headlines hoping and praying. I analytically looked over historical data trying to come up with an intelligent conclusion, but alas, it was a house not meant to stand. Although my fastidious research on the dollar to euro and our incumbently painful peg led me to the brink of madness; as time came to board the plane, I brushed off any currency related worries and looked forward to the rioja and tapas.

Ibiza and the Balearics
Take away all the industrialized nightclubs and insane posters, the hippies, the clubbers, the djs, the bullshit and the hype, and you’re left with something incredible, a place with real magic, beautiful beaches, great food, lovely country side, and a laid back vibe that you just can’t beat. With the season wrapping itself up, I don’t think I would’ve enjoyed Ibiza if I had been during the shmack dab middle of hectic season, everyone was just so happy that things had calmed down and we enjoyed a nicer holiday because of it.

Pairing the refreshing waters with a gorgeous companion in a bikini, life just couldn’t get better. I’m not too sure what it is, but we both are much happier by the sea, and what better place to be happier than the beach on an island with fantastic views? However; in true European fashion, the nude sunbathing did catch us off guard. Walking along the beach searching for a spot, we were continuously surprised by the image of naked privates. Let’s setup there. Shit no, 7 naked Germans sunbathing and having a bbq on the beach, let’s just find another spot. I’m just curious, aren’t they worried about flying sparks? Crazy naked Germans and the burning bush. Although we couldn’t muster the nerve to skip the swimwear, I did start to get comfortable with the idea of a little skin on the beach, quite liberating to not give a toss about changing on the beach with no towel. It was good to feel the wind between my…

The sun and sand was lovely, but the chiringuitos came in all shapes and sizes: from the best seafood at es torrent, to the delectable choripans from a shack on aquas blancas. Wine was consumed with great laughter as we ate lunch on the beach appropriately taking our time. Short siestas that brought back the nonchalance and aioli that could make perfume stink. The no nonsense take on eating and culinary exploits brought back the basics of gourmandizing that we so appropriately crave. Having investigated and enquired, we found our relaxed and lavish meals with the right touch of sabor. The Paella was good, but I think I learned something quite important about myself this trip: I don’t like fighting too much with food.. Not a big fan of needing to stab, pierce, crackle and pop hard shells to get to a little bit of meat that you need to suck out. I don’t mind breaking a sweat trying to catch or cook my meal, just not while I’m trying to eat it.

Needing to introduce ourselves to an adorable almost two year old cherub, we packed up the car and took a short ferry ride over to the tiny island of Formentera, which for me was a haven for the soul looking to get lost. Much quieter than Ibiza, the laid back doctrine was lackadaisically stretched to the extreme. As the local economy, run by hippy juntas, everyone could do nothing but follow ensuite, a lovely experience for me since I was in that zone to begin with. The lovely unofficial motto that I have freely given them, “Formentera, do what you want, no one gives a toss.”

All roads lead to Madrid
Having done my research, I came to Madrid prepared with my list of cool hunting to investigate and neighborhoods to soak in. Needing the allure of a city to compliment our sun and sand, Madrid had everything we needed, enough art, enough politics and just the right amount of the sometin sometin we were looking for. Special occasions and reconnecting with old friends made the city just that more interesting and celebratory. As the standard operating procedure on our trips, neither wanted to waste time in a-typical sightseeing tourist traps.. Although we did efficiently hit up the “big three” (you can’t go to Madrid and not check out the triangular bastion of art). Luckily for me, my khormaloo is one of those people who can make you see things you would’ve never thought to see in a work of art and I learned to appreciate the masters. My one real flirtation was spent staring at an Egon Schiele that rightly demanded attention… if you’re wondering, Nouvel’s extension at the Reina Sofia is definitely worth your time, so’s the restaurant..

Spending time with the lads in Madrid was excellent; catching up over an Asado we all laughed and rejoiced in our reunion. Drinking in La Latina I cheered Kimi on as the Spanish Pride was just happy that Khamilton “la puta madre” didn’t win the Formula 1. Opting to ditch Serrano and the desperately hola’d out crowd, we armed ourselves with the Moleskine Madrid City guide for our hunting notes and city traipsing. Precisely cool in cheuca and fuencarral we found what we came for - random pieces here and there that Lagerfeld would be jealous of, yeah you heard me Karl…

One of the highlights of our contrasting city tour which included art, fine dining, sneaker hunts, cigalles, and Sunday tapas completed with a football match. With Athletico Madrid playing Zaragoza, we opted for the authentic fan crazed experience and headed over to the Vicente Calderon. Picking up a couple of beers we walked in for Khormaloo’s first game and were not disappointed. 4 goals (yes I saw Diego Forlan score), rabid fans, insults to the ref and later on discovering we were drinking non-alcoholic beer. Picking up an Athleti Scarf (cheers gin), I blended in with the crowd and even got a couple of Forzas from the fans (always feels good knowing that you can fit in with the rabid fans when you need to). Muchisimo gracias for the tickets alej..

All in all
Up and down the narrow streets of the enclosed dalt vila, we romanced in the moonlight. Breakfast in Porrig with a view to take your breath away. Early morning strolls on the beach and the newfound love for ibizenco hounds. Drunkenly negotiating a taxi driver to get off strike. Siestas in comforting arms with the sound of the med to lull you to sleep. Convertible driving and beach discovery. Thunderstorms and one star hotel displacements. Passable Spanish with a fairly good accent.. Spain was beautiful..

Thursday, September 06, 2007

ishrig and cleansing

Historically, the last Wednesday before Ramadan has always been a busy time in Bahraini homes… Bahraini’s, being the cool holistic cats that they are, cleansed and detoxed their systems to ring in the coming holy month properly. They used to drink a strange combination of leaves, roots and branches called “ishrig”, mixed up by the local Hawaj (apothecary) and brewed into a god awful drink to help cleanse your system. In other words, a diuretic with the devastating outcome reminiscent of a raging cyclone steriods, nice enough picture for you?

A couple of years back, right before the start of Ramadan, I jokingly mentioned to my father about wanting to cleanse my system before fasting. He replied with giving ishrig a try, and I said, why not. My why not was met with a very disdainful scoff and grave statement that will forever ring in my ears, “if you do take ishrig, you will not leave the house for a while, and you will feel pain, insurmountable pain”. He then regaled me with stories of his childhood on attempted escapes from the clutches of his house to avoid drinking the stuff. Let me tell you, the ol’man has a pretty high tolerance for weird herbal remedies, and if he’s adding a disclaimer to ishrig, then this stuff was pretty bad.

But of course me and my father have this very XY chromosome chest thumping dare double dare contest perpetually going on, and we agree to drink ishrig together and deal with consequences (a previous contest between us was betting the waiter at an Indian restaurant on how hot they could make their lamb vindaloo and then who was man enough to eat it all – end result, a very painful evening with no real winner). His claims of me not being able to handle it were met with my pointing out his old age and inability to re-hydrate fast enough.. In keeping with traditions and all gentlemanly rules, we set the date for the last Wednesday before Ramadan to cleanse our systems, and see who’s made of mettle and who’s a yellow belly baby..

The day of the test: the Ishrig arrives at our house in a sealed bag which looked as though someone walked through a forest, scooped up a bunch of leaves and branches and roots from the ground and placed them in a bag, dirt and all. The instructions were there and the ol’man and me decided to get ready. Brewed up for our pleasure, a massive jug of black water gets placed in front of me and I must’ve had this worrying look on my face because my dad let out a mocking snicker. A quick sniff of the jug and I pull my head back in disgust. It was as though someone fed a goat everything from spoiled fruits & vegetables, to meat that’s been left out in the sun, to tin cans that previously housed baked beans, to sewer style garbage; then cut the goat’s stomach open and that’s what you smelt, absolutely rancid. But this was no time to show that I was already considering chickening out, soldier on I must.

Two glasses poured in front of us and he turns to me, “listen, drink it all in one shot, the entire glass, if you don’t, you will not be able to keep it down…” Wrapping my fingers around the glass, the warmth of the recently brewed ishrig reminded me of how real this was. But after all this is a tradition of my country and I wasn’t going to live my life without having tried it once. Breathing from my mouth, I applied my lips to the rim of the glass and began to chug.. my dad, looking at me starts chugging too and his eyes widen with that frat boy look “oh yeah come on, lets see what you got frosh..” I cannot tell you how bad this stuff tasted because it was so traumatically horrible that it’s been blocked from my memory, but I did manage to knock a glass back. Wiping my mouth, remnants of some black stuff remained on my arm, the aftertaste was painful, but at least the hard part was over.

Then my father pours me another glass and the fires of fear get stoked once again. “what are you doing?” “there’s half a jug left, what do you think I’m doing, we have to finish this” “ you must be mad, I can’t do another glass, isn’t one enough?” “Come on, you want the experience don’t you? this is it, the experience is in the second glass”. And with that, I again feel the warmth of the glass on my fingers and again take a succession of deep breaths to psyche myself up. We start chugging again to see who can drink faster, but this time the aftertaste of the ishrig and the bottom of the jug sediment is starting to catch me off guard. Midway through my chug, I drop my head down and stop drinking.. He was right, the minute you stop drinking, the idea of throwing up becomes invitingly plausible… I don’t have to put up with this disgusting flavor, I could throw up, wash this all down with a cola and be fine.. But my pride got in the way and I had to be satisfied with one and a half glasses. I understood how traumatic this would be for a child having this forced down his throat back in the day.. so I gave up.

Victoriously forcing the final gulp of his second glass, my father wipes his mouth with his sleeve.. His bellowing laugh is enough to crush my hopes of triumph - yes he won the drinking ishrig contest, but I was still in this race, all was not lost, maybe I could rouse an upset with the final outcome, just maybe..

So we sat there waiting, in the living room, watching tv but not really focusing, both wondering when the turbulence was going to start. When the pain was going to come, and when it did, I traversed across the plains of detoxification cleansing with little ease.

I will spare you the details, because this is not an essay in scatology so to speak, but more about the experience. You will feel pain in your stomach as though someone was trying to squeeze your intestines into a ball and shoot some hoops. Your body will push out junk that has been in your system that has been there for ages and it will not smell good. Magazines, crossword puzzles, and lots of bathroom reading will help you through it all. Yes it was dehydrating, I was wiped out, the more water I drank the more water I lost.. But end of the day when everything was all said and done, and the sweat from my brow was wiped.. When I could actually sit down for a prolonged period of time without having to hear strange noises from my stomach, I looked over to my dad and gave him the winning thumbs up.. All his years of yoga and careful eating made his experience a lot easier than me.. He gave me a supportive nod and we vowed to take it easy with our male ego contests…

It was that day, that after many years of abuse, junk food, and other unspeakable acts that my tortured body was set free. I was lighter, I was happier and I was healthier. The journey was a tough one, but the end result was worth it all. Ramadan came and went, and I felt fantastic for quite some time.. Until the burgers and fries found their way back into my belly, and the processed sugars along with the preservatives and artificial flavorings...

Overall experience, I highly recommend this detoxification.. a little bit of history with a little bit of taking care of yourself.. I’m just wondering if I can relive the horrors and go through it again next week before Ramadan comes along..

Monday, August 27, 2007

Wooster Collective Baby!!

strolling to daiso i stopped by and took some pictures of the coolest wall art in Bahrain.. Sent the picture to the wooster collective, and guess what? they posted it.. so yes, Bahrain is now in the archives of the wooster collective.. go check it out..

for those who dont know, the wooster collective is a regularly updated street art website from cities all over the world...

if the artist will come forth, we need to talk..

i'm thrilled..

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Facehunted on Facebook

By now I’m sure you’ve all heard of the phenomenon that is facebook, if not, then wiki it then digg it then get all del.ic.ous with it, then do whatever else cause I’ve run out of web2.0 shenanigans to throw around... I remember my first social network invite a couple of years ago.. hi5, friendster, myspace, etc etc etc. I never joined these networks in fear of them stealing my identity and selling it on the internet in exchange for the visa of a little 7 year old Indonesian boy named kuluk who’ll now be a 27 year old occasional blogger..

And then facebook came along, which I also avoided at first but eventually caved when some friends convinced me to get on.. During the facebook honeymoon, it was nice getting reconnected with old friends, making new friends and keeping some of your friendships at a social networking distance. As we all started to sink into this addiction of checking to see who’s added who, what’s being said and what photo albums people have put up; the compulsive nature of people began rear its ugly head. Marriages were being tested as to who has a bigger friend list, people started wasting hours upon hours replying to unnecessary wall messages, some took to creating groups left right and center, and others were installing applications just for the hell of installing applications (I am at fault for installing the Chuck Norris one). The worst came in the form of facebook trawling, where people would connect to you and start stalking your wall, your photo albums, your hobbies and whatever other applications you installed on your profile. Heavy users were already experiencing social network fatigue getting tired of updating, tagging, uploading, and statusizing their life.. but the stalkers, the trawlers and the wanderers, they’re all still there – and still checking you out..

Taken from a conversation with a nonfacebookee friend this week that went a little like this:

(Exasperated on the phone) What is this facebook shit? why the hell does it exist? How can I take my picture off facebook?

What do you mean? What’s happened? You don’t even have facebook..

Exactly. Check this out, I come to work today and find out that my coworker saw a picture of me on facebook with my nuts hanging out. She just comes out and says my nuts are in a picture..

You’re kidding me.. nuts hanging out? Full view? (Contemplating email forwards with the red circle pointing out my buddie’s nuts and the mastercard priceless tagline “your nuts exposed on the beach picked out by your coworker, priceless”)

Yeah, I guess someone took pictures from some beach party and there’s a picture of me in my shorts with my nuts exposed..

This is exactly why I don’t wear board shorts, there’s rarely any mesh to keep everything in place..

You’re not helping right now, I need to get these pictures off this fucking facebook..

And your coworker, seriously,,,, searching pictures for your nuts.. Is this a bad thing that could be construed as a good thing? Or is it an embarrassing very embarrassing bad thing where you’re wondering if everyone in the office has now seen your nuts..

You’re missing the point, but thanks for making me wonder if the office manager’s seen my ‘ticles or not. I’m not on this damn site, my picture gets taken and all of a sudden I’m on it, my nuts are on it.. and I haven’t even seen this picture, it’s coming from a coworker who’s already seen my nuts.. my permission wasn’t granted, how the hell am I supposed to react?

A couple of phone calls and we’ll have everything sorted out.. don’t worry too much.. at least you’re not on facebook and weren’t tagged in the picture.. then whenever they’d click on your name the picture of your nuts would be in the database of your photos..

This is a really big mess this facebook.. people can get into a lot of trouble you know..

What do you mean?

Well what if a picture gets taken of me and I’m with a girl and it’s totally innocent, but the picture reveals a completely different story.. I could get into a lot of trouble with my girlfriend. All because someone put me on an album..

Well if you have nothing to hide, than you have nothing to hide.. but what were you doing having someone taking almost revealing pictures of you with a girl. I do see your point though..

And with that, we had the case of exposed nuts sorted out.. some people were relieved, some were upset and others didn’t even raise an eyebrow. But this got me to thinking, how much time do random strangers sit and search through your pictures? The eerie thought of people trawling through your photo albums learning of your misfits, your adventures and your life.. But then the counter thought to that, is that people put up their photo albums to get seen by their friends, meaning that they indirectly don’t mind you searching through their pictures.. So where do I stand on this? I’m not too sure…

Sunday, June 17, 2007

cold beverages for a flippin' hot summer

Know when you pull out a nice cold can of soda / pop / cola from the fridge and there’s this cool layer of condensation forming on the can? Now imagine the condensation, covering the entire can, getting pretty wet, cool to the touch, and slippery, so slippery.. This is what summertime is like in the Middle East, except it’s so hot that there’s no coolness to the condensation forming on your skin. Instead, it’s hot humid sweat that forces your clothes to stick to your body, that makes you want to peel your skin off and release the steam that’s making your blood bubble and boil. It’s this unbearable heat that you don’t just think about cooking an egg on the road, no you think about making an omelet, frying up some bacon, and even some toast.. Nothing is as futile as wiping the sweat off your brow in our climate this time of year, because just as soon as you wipe, there’s more sweat dripping down. You’ll start to discover new things about your body, like, “wow! I didn’t know I could sweat from my ear lobes, wow, summertime really teaches you new things about your body…”

Yes, summer is here: there are no more flirtations with semi cool days, there are no more clouds in the sky to protect us, and there is certainly no more room for anything long sleeve. But the sea is still pleasant, it’s not cool, or chilly, it’s perfect room temperature water, which I don’t have to tell you is a lot better than swimming in soup (if you’ve ever gone swimming in July/august you know what I mean).

In this heat, there are only a couple of things that actually keep us cool in this weather. You can either live the next few months in linen (always a good idea) or you can rehydrate/dehydrate yourself with some nice cold refreshing beverages. When it’s really khot outside, this is what I like to drink…

1. Gin and Tonic – The history of this drink dates back to the east India tea company, which introduced the glass of something to its troops stationed in the heat of Asia. Tonic contains quinine (a crystalline alkaloid that acts as an anti-inflammatory, pain reliever and anti-malarial). Because tonic was so bitter at the time, the troops could only knock it back if gin was added to it. the magic mix: In a tumbler filled with ice, mix, three parts tonic to one part gin, add a squeeze of lime and toss the wedge in, stir and enjoy. I know a lot of people that don’t really like g&t, but I find people just don’t drink it in the right environment, try it this summer and you’ll see what I mean. The combination of the ice, the refreshing tonic, and a healthy dose of gin makes the whole concoction flow down your throat so easily. I like to keep the lime wedges in my glass, helps me keep track of how many drinks I’ve had... G&T, I love thee..

2. Mojito – (pronounced moheeto if you didn’t already know) now I admit, I do not appreciate Bacardi taking advantage of a resurrected drink and beating it senseless with advertisements. But if a place makes a good mojito, well then there’s nothing better than that. Drafted in from Cuba, the Mojito is essentially made from: rum, mint, limes, sugar, and soda water. The trick is to muddle (with a pestle) the mint leaves sugar and limes in a glass, add the rum and then top off with the soda water and some mint or lime garnish. #1 you must use decent rum, #2 the muddling releases the flavors and reaffirms your expert mixology whether you have it or not, #3 The sugar you use is also very important, cane sugar works best. Hemingway and Hunter S. Thompson drank Mojitos (separately, although I’m sure they would have been the best of friends) until the sun came up and then set again.. we even came up with a song, “Mo. Mo. Mo. MoMo… MOJITO”

3. Sangria – coming from the Spanish word (derived from latin), sangre or blood, is a refreshing summer drink that is easily enjoyed by everyone. I learned to make from uncle hamad who learned it from his friend, an Argie dip living in Madrid – so the recipe does have a little history, which is always cool. Although the recipe was passed down in confidence, I think it’s time to share this wealth of information; sangria is for communal enjoyment, you can’t all enjoy it if someone’s hiding the recipe. So here we go: regular table wine, cointreau (orange liquer), either vodka/brandy/cognac (depending on what you have), sliced fruit (apples, oranges, pears), juice (apple or orange), sprite, and sugar. Slice up the fruit, and pour the wine, then add a good measure or two of cointreau and then the other liquor you’ve got. Pour some juice into the mix, add a spoon of sugar, and then add the sprite. Now people will tell you to save the sprite till the end because of the carbonation, I say hogwash, add it and make sure the taste all works together. Let it chill in the fridge and then serve it over some ice. Through many pitchers, I’ve learned that no one really enjoys a lethal and strong sangria; but a subtle easy to drink sangria – that’s what gets people in the mood.

4. Cerveza – end of the day, there’s very little that can come between you and a cold cerveza on a hot day. There is nothing more refreshing than shoving your hand in a bucket of ice or cooler to pull out a cold can of brew. And then when you fish out the beer, you shake off the excess cold water and crack it open. I think the most beautiful image is the beach, a bucket with ice, and a couple of beers resting in that bucket, blissfully blissful..

Yeah so it is an alcohol related post. Just helping you decide what you should consider drinking this cruel summer. Kampai..

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

mtv smut: and the men rejoice..

Not that I’m complaining or anything.. but has anyone noticed how much smut has now made its way to dance music videos on MTV?

This recent music video smut phenomenon kicked off with that catchy 2004 “tearing up the dance floor fist pump” commersh anthem Call on Me by Swedish flash, Eric Prydz. If you haven’t seen the video well then let me sum it up for you.. A sexually suggestive video reminiscent of Physical with Olivia Netwon John, but instead of all those fat guys, it’s an aerobics dance class of the choiciest of ladies dressed in 1980s aerobics gear. As the class goes through its “sexafied” workout, the girls spend a lot of quality time rubbing their breasts and slapping their respective buttocks, attracting the alluring eyes of its male viewership. The video was so popular in Australia that it was downloaded 35,000 times onto people’s mobiles. Needless to say, if Bahrain had a functioning 3G network at the time, we’d all be watching and rewatching the video ourselves, instead, we had to settle for leaving MTV in the background until it came up. Luckily for us, MTV has nothing good to offer and relooped the same video a couple of times in one sitting.. Rrraaadiicall.

It seems that the formula of catchy dance tune + pretty girls + sexually suggestive dance moves = popular music video. With a winning formula like that, people remain glued to their TV sets watching and then when they’re walking around the office, they continually hum the tune while mentally recalling the brazen booty of a particular dance sequence… aaah, good times..

The other day, I was at a friends place and in the interest of background noise, MTV was thrown on the telly.. Luckily, it was the dance video segment and I must say, the formula is back and badder than ever. Out of the 10 videos that appeared during the segment, 6 had the formula. I watched two friends fastened to their seats in front of the TV with no desire to even contemplate moving or offer a helping hand while the rest cooked.

Averting my eyes to the screen briefly, my brain quickly registered what was going on in the video, blocked out all the noise and surroundings, and sent neural messages to my body to stop everything and just watch. I remained a catatonic mass disinterested in anything except the girls in skimpy cotton underwear playing football. The booms and beats in the background were of little consequence except for the fact that while that music was on the girls were still running around. We watched the whole video, a football match between the blondes and the brunettes, and neither of us new who won, who scored a goal or what was going on. Yes it did feel slightly Pavlovian, completely sucked into the formula of watching girls move around, but I didn’t care. The close-ups, ohh the close-ups.. After the video I realized the formula and how effective it was… now I feel programmed to definitely watch the next time I see this video come on and I will demand to watch it if possible, and eventually, hum the tune at work. Yes, sex sells and has been taken to a new level.

After the girls playing football I saw the girls in cleaning lady outfits (not French maid outfits, cleaning lady outfits) with cleavage exposed and round heinies bumping and bobbing. The concept of taking a cleaning lady, making her super sexy and just having her move around and clean while dance music is pumped through the speakers, sounds pathetic as I write this, but during the airing, made as much perfect sense as breathing.

There were a couple of more videos that I causally glanced over, and tried to pull myself away from. The one thing that stayed true is that they all kept to the formula: dance music, half naked women, and lots of provocative dancing.

I don’t know if Arabic music videos took a lesson from Eric Prydz or if they knew the formula all along, but the music channels like “Mazzika” can get pretty soft core. I always chuckle when I see the older gentleman on the treadmill at the gym salivating over Nancy or Maria or Alyssa (running out of names) in her latest music video. You hear the claps and cheers, the “aaakkhhhh” s and so on and so forth.

Eventually I had to remove myself from the viewing angle of the screen, I was just becoming antisocial and was getting annoyed with myself because I was slobbering over TV women, and that’s not very becoming. Living in the middle east, we spend a considerable amount of time watching fashion tv. At first, it’s all fun and games watching wave after wave of beautiful models in swimwear or lingerie. But then the reality of the fact sets in, that all you’re doing is frustrating yourself cause hell will definitely freeze over before zainab, khatoon and moza get fit and strut their stuff..

Saturday, June 02, 2007

In my mind, I'm goin to Sri Lanka

Revolutionario Anxiety
Thee days before we’re scheduled to leave and the aerial unit of the Tamil Tigers attempt to bomb the military fuel complex at the international airport. News breaks out that flights have been cancelled and I fret for about an hour. A brief moment of apprehension was the catalyst in a series of phone calls. This is the gist of those phone calls:

The tigers tried to bomb the airport, Colombo’s shut down..

Really? Is it still safe?

Yeah, relatively. It’s just that Emirates cancelled their flights there.

I guess it’s good we’re flying Sri Lankan Air then..

Yea.. I just hope they don’t cancel our flight..

We’re still going right?

Of course, I’m not worried.

Me neither..

But we’re taking a car.. I don’t want wait around the airport for a seaplane to take us...

Fine, you sissy..

And with that, our plans steamrolled ahead.. Something magical about Sri Lanka has been calling me for years now, and this was my time to find that voice. Braving the possibility of harm, we took the red eye from Dubai. Landing in Colombo early morning and I was amazed at how everything worked out so smoothly and efficiently, placating my anxiety about our safety. A sleepy 3.5hour drive later, we arrived in Koggala village right outside of Galle, on the south west coast, ready to chill out for the next 6 days and get an initial feel for the country.

Again with the mosquitoes..
Maybe we were asking for it by visiting Sri Lanka at the start of Monsoon season, but those bastards were ferocious. Having armed myself with jungle strength mosquito lotion, and jungle mosquito pads, I thought we were safe, but I paid dearly for that error. My first two mornings there were spent inspecting the new bites all over my face and hands. It got so bad that the hotel staff, fearing a lawsuit or something worse, burned citronella and mosquito coils twice daily in our room. I became “bumpy crater face from room 5”.

There is something to be said about the satisfaction of squashing a mosquito with your bare hands and seeing the blood that was just recently sucked from your skin splattered between your palms. Mosquito killing spree mornings were a lovely tradition of revenge on the trip. The nice thing about this was after being jacked on antihistamines, lotions and various remedies, I went to see an Ayurvedic doctor who rubbed some homebrew of oils and leaves on my arms to stop the swelling – in the karmic scheme of things, it felt nice getting holistic treatment meant to be cheap, but expensive because it’s in a hotel, for free.. Did that even make sense?

I'm on vacation, sure i'll have another...
Because of my anxiety and constant complaining about looking grotesque for my vacation pictures (over 15 swollen bites all over my face).. I was fed two bottles of wine a day with a number of drinks spaced out to keep my buzz and forget about my appearance. Let me tell you, there’s nothing that numbs the urge to itch, than inebriation.. It just keeps you jovial and merry, well except for the fact that I might have spurred alcoholism, but that’s all ok now.. Hiccup.

When in Ceylon, drink Ceylon
Not that I could tell the difference, but I was hoping to drink some good tea while in Sri Lanka. Every morning, we drank tea, and although pishi was able to tell the difference, I just tasted tea. Still unable to tell a difference, we drove through the jungle for a visit to one of the world’s “best” natural tea plantations. I didn’t know this, but green tea, black tea, and white tea all come from the same plant, the variations all depend on how many leaves and how much of the stem you clip. So,,, we tasted, dabbled and bought the purveyed goods to take home as gifts; but end of the day, my lipton tea taste buds were pathetic.

Walking on a 200-acre tea plantation inspecting the various types of teas and pesticide free produce, we came across a lot of sound. Apparently the workers on the tea plantation are really into their hi-fi sets, spending all their salaries and using credit to buy sound systems. And that’s not all, these workers pit their hi-fi sets against each other and jack up the music, dancing after a long day at the plantation. Although I was taken back by the 100 year old machines used to process the tea leaves to the stuff we drink every morning, I couldn’t help but wonder how crazy the ear blasting dancehall parties got on a tea plantation in south west Sri Lanka.

Tourism, Tsunami and the Tamil Tigers
Galle was affected by the Tsunami, but unlike the other destinations like Thailand and the Maldives, tourism has suffered because of the safety concerns with the Tamil Tigers. And because of these troubles, Sri Lanka has been neglected as a popular tourist destination. A lot of people promised to help and restore the country, but those were empty promises like the ones of Shane Warne (silly twit of an Australian bowler), who pledged to restore the Galle cricket ground to its pre-tsunami charm. Well, to this very day, only 20% of that money promised has made its way, and the people have given up on him, tsk tsk Shane, you just can’t seem to get a break can you?

The locals are super friendly and really appreciate visitors, so no worries about people ripping you off or wanting to rip you off – maybe a little, but nothing too bad. And yes, there are troubles with the Tamil Tigers, but that shouldn’t deter you from going, the situation is between them with the government and not tourists.. Obviously, stay away from crowds, try not to get stuck in the thick of a busy location, keep your head down and no one will bother you at all. Some of the architecture was absolutely beautiful there with Geoffrey Bawa (Sri Lanka’s favorite architect) putting up some gorgeous buildings (I hear Kandalama on the lake is supposed to be stunning).

Goin back? mosdef
All in all, good food, beautiful scenery, nice people, and laid back life made Galle perfect for me. Being islanders, the Lankans are the coolest of the subcontinent with a definite hippie hakuna matata outlook on life. The Galle Fort, is a beautiful UNESCO world heritage site, and is also the hangout littered with young lovers courting each other. The beaches and their fishermen catching sear fish and other varieties were a beautiful sight to see. Apart from the romance, one of the better memories for me, is going for a swim in a protected bay with pishi and watching a Sri Lankan father take his toddler into the water to teach him how to swim. Having a beautiful traveling companion also helps, she makes the pictures look good..

Not for nothing but...
I don’t want to gloat, but,,, there is a certain cool factor when you’re flipping through this month’s wallpaper and find them talking about your hotel. Tres hip. And yes it was dedoned out, we enjoyed the leaf.

Monday, March 12, 2007

vocabulario IV

The time to crunch is upon us and I will be taking a break from you folk indefinitely.. So,,, the kids, the dog and me are all taking off for a little need to sort out my real life breather, the real life where I’m not explaining myself to a computer screen.. yeah that real life.. Here is this, the last vocabulario for a while.. enjoy it,, stretch them out.. if you can use gadzooks this week - I’ll be impressed..




Gadzooks!! What method of skullduggery is this? Bahraini rants flapdoodling about and disappearing on me again? I don’t trust him or his vocabularizing filler posts..

Take care folks.. be good and see you soon.. leave a comment if you like, I promise to write back.. And if you just can’t get enough, well then, go listen to Gohan yell it through your speakers.. huraaaahh..

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Kuwait and its Kiwis

Random tripping with D..

A couple of hours were spent in the Mubarakiya souk where D and I traversed through the various streets and dusty alleys trying to find something interesting to buy or take pictures of.... We left with a tetris puzzle, some shape shifting toys, an oversized foam puck that hovers (battery operated), and some interesting shots.. Killing off some time till lunch, I then ended up taking a picture of a gun shop and got yelled at by the owner, who thought I was a journalist. He eventually laughed off my slightly tense Bahraini accent and let me go my way (you would be tense if you saw all the rifles and scary looking employees). Mental note to self, the customer is always right, except in a gun store.

Booze and Big Squeeze..

The number one conversation of my weekend in Kuwait centered on an article in the local papers that mentioned an imminent alcohol ban in Bahrain. After going into a detailed analysis and providing my personal opinion over 10 ten times, I got tired and began truncating my reply with a “don’t worry about it”. I still haven’t figured out if the people I spoke to were happy alcohol might be banned or whether they were worried about their own weekend excursions. The thought of having to find a dealer for booze is a little funny, not trying to rub it in, it’s just funny, I laugh at the Doobyians about this one too..

Drinking in restaurants james bondishly was an interesting experience, bringing out a level of sneakiness I haven’t felt since I was in high school or at a party my parents were throwing. I did end up forgetting where I was a couple of times and ordered a vodka from the uninterested waitress. My no no was quickly laughed off as a joke and I continued to drink my friends’ stash and merrily talked the night away. In house boozing was fun as hell and the convos and chilled out atmo is what really makes it, or maybe I was just happy to be in Kuwait doing the dirty.. The party scene is pretty happening and i was impressed with everyone's fun vibe. You gotta be on the list otherwise Bu'Francois wont let you through the private villa velvet ropes..

With Great Friends:

Nothing changes... 7 years ago, we were 5 or so lads hanging about an apartment on a Friday afternoon pondering our plans for the evening and discussing matters of no relevance.. Some on the computer downloading something crass, some playing video games, some ordering food and one particular person hanging out in his undershirt.. 7 years later, the same 5 guys, a little older, but back to hanging out, our discussions of hot Colombians and super models were replaced with more adult talk. Some grey hairs, some gained weight, but for the most part we still played video games and that same guy was still in his undershirt.. It’s nice to pick up exactly where you all left off. Also, leave it to my old amigo to discover a great hole in the wall Thai restaurant for a nice masaman curry.. Pataya Beach Restaurant – good, cheap, and dangerous - typical..

This post to you was brought by:

The location in Hawali might be a little bothersome, but GO NUTS DONUTS has to be one of the best donuts I’ve tried in a really long time.. Although I do like the brand that we do not speak of but begins with K and ends with a rispy Kreme, Go Nuts Donuts does stand as a delicious donut. I got to sample quite a few of their products and I must say, it was the first time I have a chocolate donut that had real Belgian chocolate drizzled on it - unreal.. If you’re looking for fresh Donuts from a brand that really puts an emphasis on quality, look them up, you wont be sorry.. This might seem as barefaced endorsement, it is important to note that I personally don’t eat donuts, but loved these.. Call and order some delivered to your office..


KDD gold ice cream (vanilla ice cream cone with chocolate and nuts) is the holy grail of gold ice creams, Danish dairy wide -BDD you’ve lost your appeal. I was amazed really.. Lorenzo’s pies are overrated, come to Bahrain and try Luigi’s and then decide – ummhmm.. Sandstorms there are pretty nasty, and when I mean nasty all that was left was me exhaling dust rings.. They take caffeine to another level – if you think your coffee consumption is bad, head to Kuwait and you’ll see real caffeine consumption.. Kuwait Airways have the most inept staff I’ve ever seen, why have a self-check in machine if there’s no one to show you how to use it? And you guys need to work on your attitude… Villa Moda is a seriously beautiful department store, hats off..

It’s always fantastic seeing your old posse, and when your conversations involve talking shop, music, future directions, ex-girlfriends, media, and robot genatilia, you can be sure it’s a good time..

A ginormous thanks for the great time to my old friends and a nice to meet you to my new friends in Kuwait.. except you wehbee, I still hate you..

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

food related randomatica

What kind of fast food person are you?
When it comes to “fast food” I believe there are two types of people: pizza people and burger people.. You can like both, in fact many people do, including yours truly. But if they put a slice of pizza and a burger in front of you and you had to choose just one, what would it be? Lets assume taste is not a factor here, either of them will be the delicious meal you crave. See, I’m a big fan of both, but when the line is drawn and I have to pick, it will be burger over the pizza all the time… I’m still not sure what the answers from this question will generate in terms of someone’s personality, but I’m still working on finding the correlation. Which one will you choose anonymous reader that never comments? I’m talking to you Reston, Virginia…

Microwaves at work
An important topic since we all hate the permeating smells that waft through our hallways mid morning.. Fish, reheated in the microwave at work, what’s your take? I am on the side of the fence that feels it’s wrong, very wrong, and it indubitably stinks up the entire floor – there should be a law prohibiting the use of fish and microwaves.. grill, bake, poach, fry, anything else is fine, but microwave? fish? That’s disgusting - reheat in the oven if you must, but don't nuke nemo. Raise of hands, who’s on my side with this? What kind of person has those brilliant ideas to begin with? I just couldn’t possibly finish off the last fillet of salmon, I know, I’ll just reheat this at work tomorrow for my lunch in the microwave, oh i'm not worried something's going to happen to day old fish that's nuked, my stomach can handle it.. I’m of the belief that there should be a law prohibiting the use of fish and microwaves. Lets take a stand on this together.. no nuked fish..

what else stinks up the room or floor reheated in the microwave, hmm Reston, Virginia?

Redbull argument with the supervisor at the canteen.
Hello, are you the supervisor?

Yes sir how can I help you

I’m happy you asked. I have a problem with how much you charge for Redbull here.. You charge 600 fils per can, where everywhere else in Bahrain charges 500 fils. Now I understand that 100 fils extra isn’t that big of price hike, but if you do the math, you’re charging a 20% increase compared to any other store or supermarket. Considering that you charge regular market rates for all your other drinks and food stuffs, I’m wondering why you charge 600 fils per Redbull instead of 500 fils.

Sir we have 8 locations and for the past year we’ve charged 600 fils, no one complains..

Yes that’s all fine and dandy, but I know you get your Redbull at wholesale, and if the rest of the market is happy with the profit they’re making by charging 500 fils, that’s a little greedy and on your part to charge 600 fils. With regards to your 8 locations, have you conducted any studies as to how many Redbulls are sold? And if you lowered the cost to the market rate, how many more cans would you sell.. have you researched this?

I’ll look into it.

I’m just saying that I would end up saving 1 dinar a week if not more if you just adjusted your price to the market price. That’s 52 dinars a year, insignificant week in week out, but it adds up. All you’re doing is deterring me from buying Redbull from you.. that and creating a negative image of your brand as a whole in my mind.

Ok sir I’ll look into it..

And other people know this too, they wont buy Redbull from here because you charge 20% more. It’s only 100 fils, but we play with numbers all day and a 20% increase is a rip off all things considered.. you’re trying to sell a product at an over inflated price to people who make a living out of skimming.. do you understand what I mean?

Ok sir I’ll look into it.. but across 8 locations..

..What’s to stop me from buying everything at retail price and selling it 550 fils, or 500 fils just to spite you.. wouldn’t you feel pretty upset that someone else is selling to market and you’re losing out on all that business? Cause I would definitely go and get a letter of no objection from the company to open up a side business and sell redbull outside your canteen..

ok sir, i'll check..

Realizing the futility of my words and the exasperation from my needed caffeine fix, I gave up, paid for my 20% inflated Redbull and made my way back to my floor. Are you happy now Reston, Virginia?

Sunday, March 04, 2007


Well it’s Sunday, the beginning of the week for us in this part of the world that get Fridays and Saturdays off.. I don’t know about you lot, but the vocabularios of recent have been a little heavy on the prudent scale of fascinating words.. I thought this week we could try to use words that were a little more interesting to pronounce. So here are my three words, look at yourself in the mirror and say them out loud, drop one of them across your dinner conversation, or maybe even have a meltdown and yell one out loud.. I especially like them…




I hope you don’t think I’m taking a didactic approach with these vocabularios, my intentions truly rest in the desire to help relay the quiddity of this exercise week in and week out. It is my hope to eventually organize the higgledy-piggledy collection into a fully functioning index of odd words that we can all learn to love.

On a completely unrelated note..
I’ve started the Bahrain Monocle club.. 4 people have already purchased the magazine’s first issue as per my recommendation, and I’m sure there are a couple of people in Kuwait that will buy the magazine just to shut me up.. Tyler Brûlé, you can now sleep safe at night knowing that your Middle East sales are doing just fine thanks to the crafty and selfless promoting of a certain bahraini rants.

Friday, March 02, 2007

rex the barbary falcon

Sometimes i get blue.. when that happens, i find this guy hanging around on the ledge outside my window at work... he comes over, pauses and gives me a look "khey man, everything cool? you look a little down, you look like you could use some cheering up".

he's a Barbary falcon (a subspecies of the Peregrine), flies through Bahrain when the weather's nice, and is missing a talon - i call him rex. if you haven't noticed, rex is a total camera whore..

this is him peering through my window trying to get my attention, but still acting cool about it.. it's around this time that i drop everything i'm doing to snap a couple of shots on my cameraphone (the little 2 megapixel that could)...

this is his, "lets get the prerequisite symbols of Arabia photoshoot out of the way first and then we'll talk".. notice the serious look on his face, the prestige, the piercing glaze in his eyes, the determination.. i think we all know who'd win the staring you down contest..

you talkin to me bitch? huh? i said, you talkin to me? i don't see no other bird on this ledge but me so you must be talkin to me.. do not get my feathers ruffled man, you're biting off more than your molars can chew. i will claw out your eyeballs and nest my eggs in your bleeding warm sockets.. do not get my feathers ruffled man..

this is rex right before he's off to kill a pigeon or some innocent animal. scoping out the scene, he turns for one last photo. lets wrap this up, i feel my right side is my best side, what do you think? total camera whore i tell you..

so that's rex, the falcon that just comes and hangs out.

always does wonders for my mood..

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

serious sandwich talk

the beginning
In my humble opinion, the greatest invention in the world has to be the sandwich. Due to the common sense of housing meat inside bread, everyone claims to have invented this wondrous meal, but the truth is, no one really cares but if you really really want the truth, we invented it. The actual name sandwich is attributed to the 4rth earl of sandwich, who in order to not get his fingers messy had meat stuffed between bread. There are two stories behind the earl’s request, #1 he was constantly working and wanted to eat something at his desk with minimal mess #2 he frequently gambled and wanted something to eat while he played cards.

Here’s how it panned out in 1762 (read in a very English Stewie Griffin voice):

Percy: john, these snacks are absolutely delicious, who would’ve thought to put cold cuts between bread, wouldn’t you say so cecil?

Cecil: oh absolutely smashing your earlness.. absolutely smashing.

John, the 4th earl of sandwich: pretty good ayh gents? now lets call. I’ve got three jacks.

Cecil: I fold, like a tartan kilt.. ahahaaahahaahhaa.. (the room goes quiet) ahhahha?

Percy: sorry john but I win with four queens, dreadful luck ol chap. That takes my winnings to…

John: yes, well you still need to cover the expenses of the sandwich.

Percy: the what?

John: the sandwich you Poncy bastard. You owe me for the sandwich you’re eating. Now pay up before I have Reginald shove a Cornish hen up your rectal cavity.

Incidentally, that marked the first sandwich sale, and gave birth to the short-lived but still famous 4rth round sandwich or Cornish game hen up the butt game at gambling tables worldwide.

yanks take the cakewich
The level of sandwiches offered here in the Middle East, depending on where you eat, are a little disappointing. Let me come out and say that we have no problems in the shawarma and falafel categories – nor do we have any issues with the cafeteria sandwiches (there’s nothing like a samboosa and sliced processed cheese with Tabasco in a white bun). However, the “other” sandwiches tend to cater to a more anglo-palette, carrying a much more angular taste than you’d like. Although sandwiches from all over the world are delicious, I’m just going to again come out and say something else: in the field of creation and reengineering, no one can compete with the Americans. In fact, if there were a sandwich Olympics, I’d just give gold to the Americans in every category and not bother competing. Allow me to elaborate: because of the hodgepodge of ethnicities in the US, a number of immigrants intermingled their national foods and then had to repackage it to suit the average American consumer (think how real Chinese food was altered to suit the American palette) – hence the extra fillings, the pressing, the meals converted into sandwiches, etc. In defining a sandwich, I’m inclined to say almost anything housed between bread is considered to fall within the sandwich grouping, so if a = b, then the Americans (with their multi-ethnicities) have excelled at hotdogs, burgers, cold cut sandwiches, burritos, chacareros, PB&Js, chicken parms, lobster rolls, cheese steaks, and others.

skimping out
When ordering a sandwich here, the person behind the counter usually layers on a slice or two of the actual meat into the sandwich, cheapishly known as the skimping out method. It’s as though they rub the sliced turkey on the bread for you to get the basic gist, but then leave you with two slices and enough lettuce to think you’re a vegetarian. The American method involves layering so much meat you actually have to ask for less pastrami on your sandwich because it’s a little overkill. I like it when I have to ask for less of an ingredient, especially if it’s the meat filling.

mustard misfortune
I am a huge fan of mustard, and although I do like English mustard, that’s the only mustard that is regularly stocked in restaurants and sandwich shops here in the Middle East. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of sinus opening condiments, I do like them, but not as the only option of condiment I can put on my sandwich. I would pick any other mustard over English any day, hands down; whole grain, deli, honey, brown, Dijon, even regular ol’ yellow, there are so many other options. But this goes back to my anglo-palette statement, leaving you to wonder, what kind of culinary contributions have the English given the world that we must cling to their English Mustard to go with our meals?

do your thing
Making due with what we have, I’ve learned to hover in front of the counter as they prepare my sandwich.. If you don’t have what I like on the menu, I will pay you more to let me create my sandwich as I like… a simple substitution of cheese, the choice of bread, the wonders of pressing the sandwich, extra meat, there’s a lot there going on, and if you have the same problem as me, then don’t be afraid to speak up. I’ve trained the cafeteria cooks at work to prepare my sandwiches the way I like them, and have slowly begun reengineering their prepackaged sandwiches to suit your taste.

Some of my Ultimate sandwiches:

Italian: cold cuts with lettuce, tomato, green peppers, pickles, olives, a little bit of onion, salt, pepper and olive oil, toasted.

Hangover: egg with onions and a little green chili, melted cheese, tomatoes, in a white sesame bun pressed.

Union square: prosciutto, brie & cherry tomatoes, all in a buttered plain bagel in a toaster oven.

Work: turkey, cheese, lettuce, tomato, mustard in a submarine sandwich, pressed to death.

PBnN: Creamy Peanut Butter and Nutella on white bread.

OyVey: Hot Pastrami with swiss cheese and brown mustard on rye.

Paahhm: chicken cutlet, marinara sauce with tomato chunks, and melted cheese - all in a nice hoagie bun..

Primrose hill: plain bagel, egg salad, tomato and cucumber slices.. salt and pepper..

Dang. I could write a whole post listing my favorite sandwiches and I haven’t even broached the burger topic... What are some of your favorites?

Monday, February 26, 2007


So here we are again, a vocabulario for today’s sentiment.. I would explain and talk and say something obtuse like I normally do, but I just can’t seem to find it in me this week.. so you'll have to make due with a unimpressive tahdah.. tahdah..




The amalgam of dithering thoughts and foolhardiness has plummeted me down a path of distress to say the least.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have the reggae version of Karma Police to attend to.. New cd shipment is in and I’m listening to drown out my thoughts.. Permanent ear damage here I come..

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

improving images

This falls more under the guise of constructive criticism, so whomever comes out feeling offended, take note that this is because I want to see you do well and I want you to have my business, rather than ignore you and write you off. The dated philosophy of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” still floats freely around in Bahrain and that just does not sit well with me. Establishments that we once held as beacons of development and tourism around the island are now decrepit cesspits of rancor and filth. The 80s were filled with various enterprises with hotels, restaurants and social clubs where you could spend your money and enjoy yourself.. Today, those same enterprises still exist, however they have remained in the exact same condition and level of service as when they were christened.

Bahrain is a natural regional tourism hub. We have a bridge connecting us with Saudi Arabia, and every weekend we get visitors from Kuwait, Saudi, and other GCC neighbors that come and spend their money. We also get visitors from all over the world that decide to come over for a quick stop en route to another destination out east. So all in all, we’re not doing too badly with the amount of tourists we can draw to our sunny archipelago of islands. Now unfortunately, some of these tourists are alcohol and women obsessed fiends that I do not care to comment on because it will just enrage you. You see, people come to visit Bahrain and say it attracts all the scum that look to have fun and run amuck, a statement that is not entire untrue because we have establishments that actually promote this kind of clientele. To the establishment, this clientele brings money in on a weekly basis so why should they care? It’s not a big deal that a guest might end up inebriated beyond any point of cohesion and walk around the hotel completely naked. Nor does it bother the hotel management that the guests get so drunk that they could very well end up assaulting a member of the staff, maybe even another guest.

We have our 5 star hotels and they have their own rules and management practices handed down to them by their corporate office, so they end up doing a decent job of running an acceptable establishment. But the way I see it, we have enough families, expats, and regular folk living outside that would love to come to Bahrain and spend their weekends someplace else. In fact, if we offered them something other than the traditional 5 star hotels (that already have their dedicated clientele), more people will come. So I started thinking (a problem I know), what can we do to make Bahrain a better tourist destination? And the first step was quite simple, better establishments.

Not to say we missed the gravy train, but boutique hotels came en vogue and have now become a standard in many cities all over the world. A facelift, some renovations, improved training for your staff, some real involvement and there you have it – charge more money, get some decent exposure and watch your occupancy rates swell up. I cannot begin to explain how some hotels quickly turned around their image and their star rating with a little fixing up. A quality establishment worth frequenting, a place with a committed management, an innovative perspective – that will draw the crowds in. I know this sounds a lot easier than it actually is, but just read on and hear me out.

Driving by the Mansoori Mansions, a 4 star hotel located in Adliya that hasn’t done much to improve their image since the heyday of the 80s – I started thinking more about what can be done. The location is perfectly situated in Adlilya, a busy neighborhood in Bahrain, lots of restaurants in the vicinity, and central in terms of location in the capital. The problem the hotel is currently facing, although I don’t know if the management and owners know is: Their atmosphere is weighing on the stale than fresh (I will not comment on the rooms since I’ve never seen), their restaurant sizzlers that hasn’t changed their menu since it opened with a price tag that doesn’t justify their quality which has plummeted over the years (you’ll pay the same price at other restaurants with a better ambience and menu), a ridiculously discriminatory door policy at their ancient glory days English bar henrys (two friends in suits were fed the members and couples only excuse when they swung by for a quick lunch - even the English have switched to gastropubs while henrys is still serving club sandwiches on regular white bread), a fenced plot of bare land near the hotel that is just there serving no purpose, and another irish bar across the street with what I’m told hasn’t much to offer. . I called the hotel and found their prices to be: BD20, BD45, and BD55 for their studio, 2 bedroom and 3 bedroom suites. That’s pretty bargain basement priced if you ask me for a 4 star hotel, but given the outside appearance of the hotel and the more than possible inside appearance of the rooms, maybe that’s all you can get.

Fret not Mr. Mansoori, who probably thinks the worst of me right now, here’s where the constructive criticism comes in: you have a perfect location, remember who your neighbors are (or aren’t), you can really turn your hotel around and make it something fantastic. First off, the name of the hotel is dated and does not give off anything but a less than 21st century image (“mansions” more like hovel). Off the top of my head, I can give you a couple of names. You’re a hotel in Adliya, you can operate a nightclub, you can operate a very good lounge and you can operate a restaurant all with liquor licenses with the utmost ease.. I don’t see why you can’t team up with some people, bring a nice restaurant to the hotel (it could be a luxury chain or your own concept, look at how well the other restaurants are doing in that area), you can have a nice bar/lounge and I guarantee you it will make people looking to visit Bahrain think twice about where they will book their rooms. If you’re stuck for options, then team up with an excellent spa and turn your boutique hotel into a full stop locale and see how well you do. You have a swimming pool? Well fix up that pool up and make it the hotel swimming pool to hang out at, an infinity pool, nice wood, and couple of objects d’art and you’re on a roll. Get yourself a good interior designer, keep it simple, have them redesign the rooms, or even spend a hefty amount of money, we’re not short on very cool hotels.. A young positive look on the place is much better than keeping it stagnant.. please innovate. I guarantee you, that if you pull this off, you will get more publicity from foreign publications and the press than you could have imagined, a spread in wallpaper magazine is just around the corner. I would even hit up the various megacompounds on the eastern province in Saudi Arabia and submit your hotel as an option for their residents when they come to Bahrain for the weekend. I’ve focused a lot of Mansoori Mansions because I really believe in the potential of their establishment with their location and everything they have going for them. Don’t misunderstand me as picking a fight, in fact this is more of a please be aware that you’ve lost a lot of customers, including my two friends that were turned down at lunchtime (and they used to be regulars). They can really pull off a coup and attract a returning clientele that will enjoy staying and dining there. Plus, you cannot deny the certain cool factor of a family hotel business that has existed for over 20 years and is now repositioning themselves as a viable alternative to the other 5 star hotels, they would definitely get my money. I think hotelier sounds pretty cool, don’t you? Adliya is a goldmine; don’t forget that, the more you delay the longer it will take for you to catch up.

I could talk about the Marina club (maybe another post), but I’m running out of steam. Or how about the delmon hotel and the city centre hotel in Manama, two of my favorite establishments in the souk with serious amounts of potential but also lacking in care. With the upcoming upgrades to the souk, do your research and create a specialized souk shopping expertise on what to find and where to find it in the alleys of central Manama. You hook up with a couple of the traders in the souk and you’re giving back to the community and providing your customers with a service. Think about the potential, I would definitely use their service when I had visitors from out of town and they wanted to wander around the souk looking for gifts. Enough with these bland brochures and the excuse that there’s not really much to show you.. There’s plenty to show you in Bahrain, you just need to dig it out, wrap it up nicely and the people will come, in droves.

Maybe I’m wrong, maybe there's a bigger story that we don't know about, but it’s on my mind and I thought I’d share.. Speak up if you’ve got something constructive to say… or if you’re looking for a LBO in Bahrain, then here it is…

Monday, February 19, 2007


I promised two posts in one day and I shall deliver two posts in one day..

Feeling a little invigorated from my lack of sleep and overindulging in caffeine, I’ve been tapping my feet to the continuous beats of death from above 1979, playing in my head.. So, I’ve picked the three words for this week: they are a little screwy to say the least, but hey, have you had a large coffee, a red bull and some matam tea in the last three hours? I didn’t think so...

Just to remind the three of you that read this site (thanks for keeping the statcounter going mom), the whole purpose of these vocabulario sessions is to merely suggest that you salt and pepper your conversations with words that you would never have used otherwise. I’m not saying you should include all three words in one sentence, but I’m willing to bet you can fit at least one of this week’s words in your exchanges this week (I’m loving dragoon by the way).




Dragooned into a discussion I did not want to have, I was forced to jugulate the conversation with an ungentlemanly reverberated bout of flatulence.

So there you have it, my second post in one day, I feel like mahmood.. Well except that his verbal flatulence isn’t nearly as good as mine.. HEY-O! I'm on a roll..



i tried posting this yesterday, but something went wrong, so you'll be graced with two posts today..

my borat moment


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

I friggin heart you

This begins with a boilk.. my liver says help..

The heavy weight of valentines is always a difficult day to get through. Love is in the air, breakups are in the air, people are lonely, deliveries are being made, people are even nosier than they normally would be, singles band together – there’s a lot going on because of a made up holiday that honestly does nothing except propagate the giving out of cards that you didn’t print, flowers that will die, and chocolates that will make you fat.

Be weary of the old “Oh I don’t care about flowers, you should send me flowers everyday, in fact February 14 should be anti-valentines day” shtick. Pay attention now cause this is a valuable golden rule: Every girl loves receiving flowers at her place of employment. Whatever she tells you, no matter what she says, if you have a significant other and she works, send flowers to her office. It’s true that some girls don’t care about flowers, but it’s also true that all girls like to show off (directly or indirectly) that they got flowers on Valentines Day and rub in their valentine around the office. Don’t let her be that person without the flowers on her desk, you will never hear the end of it. She can toss the flowers at the end of the work day if they’re too much of a hassle to carry, it doesn’t really matter, but make sure she gets them on her desk sometime in the morning or you will unleash fury that you really shouldn’t be messing with.

This golden rule flower talk fits nicely with the next point.. A towering flower arrangement, a la overkill Bahrain style (also known as overkill Khaleeji style) wobbles its way to the building. Scoffing at the poor delivery guy trying his bestest to not topple the thing over into the elevator I’m thinking, you really didn’t have to overdo it pal, I’m sure she would’ve been happy with a regular bouquet of roses. The flowers get off on the same floor as me and make their way to the table of a male coworker. And here is my golden rule for the ladies.. No matter how much you love him, do not ever, under any circumstances send flowers to his place of employment.. if he likes flowers so much, have them waiting for him at home. I impart this wisdom to you because since the morning, the remarks and abuse have been hurled from all directions, and it doesn’t look like it’s gonna stop anytime soon. The poor sod’s manhood has taken a serious beating, quit it with the flowers or we will taunt him some more..

One thing that ruffles my imaginary feathers on Valentines is the over the top worry regarding dinner plans. You’re already succumbing to the demands of this made up day for lovers, but now you have to give in to the “creativity” of the chef for that special valentines meal? Unless it’s a meal prepared by Adria I don’t want a romanticly themed meal.. I want to eat what I came to eat, if it’s steak then steak, not a heart shaped meal. And the valentines inspired drink and the valentines inspired theme, give me a fucking break.. you want to make it romantic? Don’t interrupt and let me have my meal I came to eat with my lover in peace.

Some see today as the ideal time to pop the wedding proposal, at a nice fancy dinner, with the ring hidden in the soufle or floated down on a bubble or something. I must say one thing about proposing on Valentines day, go find a better cliché you romantically challenged cliché. Oh, and if you happen to have gotten married in Westminster town hall today 9 years ago.. you two are cheesy too, happy anniversary though, I love you guys..

What have we learned on this day of love and spite, where happiness is purchased via credit card and there’s no such thing as over the top? This is about that special someone, forget your friends and go find your lover. Close your eyes and have a dirty thought.

Monday, February 12, 2007

v for victorious vocabulario

Before I begin, I’d like to point out that the GDN actually participated in last week’s vocabulario, with “razzmatazz”. I claim this victory in the name of vocabulario and look forward to seeing more use of our words..

Lets get on with it shall we? Here are your words for the week.. enjoy them and use them..




After clearing the albatross of immixed emotions hanging around my head these past couple of days, I am left with the chocolate-box image of a grand time.

All the best

Friday, February 09, 2007

The Breakup Mix

your ex-lover is dead : Stars
who is he (and what is he to you?) : Bill Withers
float on : Modest Mouse
every rose has its thorn : Poison
this year : The Mountain Goats
Paper Tiger : Spoon
don't dream it's over : Crowded House
way down in the hole : The Blind Boys of Alabama
the thrill is gone : BB King
moving on : Hard-Fi
makin whoopee : Ray Charles

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

el blog es muerto

This post is completely up for discussion.. I encourage you, nay, I implore you to voice your opinion and help formulate a consensus on the current state of blogging in the Middle East.

Once khip and khappening, there was a time when everyone decided to shun their shy awkwardness and arm their opinion with a blog. A dynamic community that quickly rose in prominence, demanded respect and got it, with bloggers shooting down corporations, campaigns and whatever crap you could shake a stick at.

With regards to the Middle East, our restricted societies made the anonymity of blogs a haven for our voices. We chose to speak up about politics, news, strikes, and self-pleasuring devices from japan; we aerated our skeleton closets, and discussed the random stupidity that floats around our brains on a daily basis. For the most part, everyone was happy and times were good, interesting content relayed over a new medium of information exchange. I was happy…

What’s the situation like now? I don’t really know how many blogs have died and gone defunct, lets just say it’s a lot. It seems people don’t have much to say these days. Fret not occasional reader who never leaves comments, this worldwide plummet in blog popularity was felt when Emmanuel Lewis deemed blogging was no longer cool. That cute little Webster, what will he burn down next?

Being a trawler of the web and anything interesting to read, I’ve found a little bit of amusement by mainly being an observer to clashes of identities and opinions. From squabbles going on with who has the right invite to the right blogger meetup in Kuwait, lasses in Dubai divulging their adventures and then retaliating with their faithful chorus against any contrary opinion, and the comment wars, I loved monitoring the cat fights..

By the same token, bloggers have been thrown in jail, blogsites blocked by the authorities and the determination continues to build on what has already been achieved.
With very few things happening to make you scratch you head, very little content to go “heh” at, I am left with this question, is blogging dead?

Monday, February 05, 2007

you got the vocab? i got the vocab

We’re moving the vocabulario shtick earlier in the week so you have ample time to think about it and inject the words in your lingo. Reflect over these three words, let them settle with you and roll them off or around your tongue.. tuck them under your arms, let them get warm in your pits and then think about them some more. The goal should be for you to try and bring in at least one of these words in your conversation this week. Without any further ruckus, your three words for this week:




With all the nascent property developments in the region and the razzmatazz they promote, a certain amount of sang-froid is required in making a sound investment decision.

go forth and make daddy proud..

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Sawadee Siam

Back to Asia we ventured into Siam for encounters and adventures with the Phuketians and Bangkokers. Looking for some sun, sand, sea and the sound of sweet love – we characterized laissez faire on Phuket. While we found the dining, metro, one off shopping, hustle and bustle you’ll need from a big city in Bankgkok. Another page from our book of adventures..

Capping off “Island Tour 2006”, Phuket was all about relaxation, a just right new years celebration, great fun with Joony and fun with friends. There is nothing finer than the lackadaisical routine of island nonchalance, and when you slip right into it, you really slip right into it. We woke up, shuffled in for breakfast, flipflopped back to the room, hit the beach, took a dip in the Andaman sea, read, drank rose in the sunshine, hung out under the parasols snickering at the baking French and Swedes, ate lunch barefoot, ogled the sex tourists and wondered with grief, lounged with afternoon rays at the pool, napped, watched fake dvds, dinner, and slept in amongst other things. lather rinse repeat – marvelous.

Unable to wheedle our way into an illegal fight with buckets of broken glass to cover your fists, we settled for ringside tickets at the Ratchadamnern boxing stadium for a big night of Muy Thai. Our fashionably late arrival into the 3rd fight was timed perfectly as the punters and touts walked in with us setting the stage for an electrifying evening. The first round would start off easy, a couple of jabs with some kicks here and there. With the sound of the bell signaling the end of the round, the grumble began to rumble from the crowds as they located the bookies to start placing bets. As the fight roared up in intensity, every break pushed the gambling up a notch with hands waving and money floating its way down to the floor. It’s so easy to start getting carried away with the crowd with their taunts and cheers as they have a sound for every different strike, lots of fun.. After a couple of Singhas, a TKO, some hunger pangs, a couple of really good fights and much involvement from the crowd, we decide to head back home but not before being mildly threatened by a cabdriver over a “fare haggle”, meter my ass..

A craving for big city public transportation was put to the test as we followed a magazine clipping to the Wang Lang market – think a much smaller Camden market but much less touristy and with much more strange food stalls. We decided to find something a little more off the beaten path than the famous markets, and we really did find "off the beaten path". Making a habit out of this sore thumb sticking out policy, we took the BTS sky train (which is unbelievably easy to use) to the last stop, got on the pier, boarded a longboat river taxi and traversed across the muddy waters to the other side for some very hardcore local yokel market strolling. The two of us, aimlessly wandering around a place where no one speaks English, the only foreigners in sight, and following ambiguous directions off a magazine clipping searching for unbelievably cool vintage sneakers, all in all, interesting excursion. Picking up some cool t-shirts, Joony comes out the winner, I fared well with the architect turned t-shirter, so we chalked up the experience and made our trek back.

You’ll never go hungry in Bangkok. A major aspect of the Thai culture that really kept the hustle and bustle going is how well and active their retail economy operates, and I’m not talking about the tourists. I have never been to a city where the local community is so keen on shopping and eating out that you see shops and food stalls everywhere you look. Everyone shops, and they do it till they drop - we couldn’t keep up and applauded their constitution. The other interesting observation about street food in thailand, it's stick oriented. you have your chicken, meat, or pork sates on a stick; you then have your fruit on a stick, your sausages on a stick; candy on a stick, the list just goes on and on..

What i learned: the disco tuktuks with the light and sound systems are very very cool - too bad we didn't get to ride one, it just never rolled by. chin pet medai (spelled phonetically) "hot and spicy makes me cry"- useful in someplaces but i have come to the conclusions that Thai cooks are as guarded over their chilis as French cooks are with butter. Muslim tourists in a hot beach climate: him, dressed in shorts & tank top; her, covered from head to toe looking uncomfortable in the humidity - there's something wrong there right? or is just me? After a while, i got tired of eating the local food, thank god Italians travel all over the world setting up restaurants and pizzerias everywhere, bless them..

An ode to companionship: breakfast orders always complimenting mine, damsel in distress when it came to opening jars, the end all be all of image consulting, hater of Chablis, getting the nod from random strollers, extra basil on her margarita, indirect sunlight worshipping, hopeless haggler, wandering photographer, much admired and appreciated patience, beautiful beautiful hair, polka dotted, enchanting and loving woman.