I rant you risten

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.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

is it onze?

Yeah it’s been a while..

here are three words.. let them roll off your tongue.. feel them enrich your vocabulary.. let them percolate your thinking.. Stamp out your command of the interesting and slip them into your weekend conversation with friends. You don’t have to use them all at once, just a dollop here and a splotch there..




Way too much flummery from that phony maven was enough to make everyone vamoose out of the conversation.

A thought on today's overcast sky.. enjoy it while it lasts, cause when that brutal sun starts shining, you'll be longing for these grey days..