Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Too Many Books?

Ewooh! What's inside this Magrudy's Green Bag?

Ewooh! What's inside this Magrudy's Green Bag?

Just some books. Maybe too many or too little...

Just some books. Maybe too many or too little...

Or maybe there isn’t such a thing as having too many books. I purchased those books from those three stores in a six-day Dubai trip. Although, I’ve to say that I re-bought couple of books because I lent them to people who refuse to hand it back. Don’t worry; I’ll give them a piece of my mind once I see them again. And yes, there’s one Arabic-written novel in that pile.

The Three Earthly Heavens

Magrudy's Bookstore - BurJuman

Magrudy's Bookstore - BurJuman

Virgin Megastore - Mall of The Emirates

Virgin Megastore - Mall of The Emirates

Borders Store - Mall of The Emirates

Borders Store - Mall of The Emirates

Just take me there and let me be…

Post-Mortem: Dubai Trip

It’s been almost a week since I got back from Dubai, but the lazy bum that I am, I had to wait for like six days to talk about it. Every time, I tell myself that this would be the last time I abandon my blog for more than a week, I find myself abandoning it for too long, to the fact I started to lose readership (an unfortunate loss for a long time blogger).  So, I’ve asked myself: how would I repay the debit for all of that? Well, by writing a semi-comprehensive post that’s how. Allow me to share my insights regarding my trip to Dubai with my aunt and her “delightful” daughters.

Things I Loved In Dubai

  • Aside from the elevated, breathtaking skyscrapers that seem to stand high among the sky, it was the amount of construction that is going on that left a big impression. I’ve no idea when the constructions in Dubai will ever come to an end. It’s like a continuous cycle of death and rebirth; for every old constriction that goes down, a new one emerges out of nowhere in its place.
  • The diversity of people there never seizes to amaze me. I think Dubai is becoming the new London in terms of being a multi-cultural city. I found it very refreshing.
  • Another thing that I loved is that everyone seems to mind his/her own business. That is, you won’t find people starting at people, or horny men harassing/staking girls in malls. There is an apparent amount of respect among the residents and visitors of the city in spite how different they look or the choice of clothes they wear. Very distinctive indeed of what we have here in Kuwait.
  • The quantity of tourism and activities. If you think that Dubai is just a place where you just go and shop, then you are terribly wrong my friend. Unfortunately, you have to be loaded with dough to enjoy everything Dubai has to offer.
  • Mall of The Emirates! That place is like a shopping heaven. You are bound to find every single item in your shopping list there. Prepare to spend a whole day (or a two) there to enjoy every nook and cranny of this humongous mall.

Things I Hated In Dubai

  • The traffic, especially between 5PM to 9PM. No day goes by that I don’t get nuisance from the constant braking in the midst of the traffic. Having a full bottle of Perrier at the end of the day has totally become a daily ritual.
  • The taxi drivers! Half of them have developed quite an attitude, and some of them tend to develop a terrible body odor during rush hours. Keep a vomit bag handy whenever you ride a cab.
  • There are many conmen and people who wish to embezzle you, and cash in from your naïve knowledge. Make sure you equip yourself with basic familiarities regarding the cost of items and such. And be extra careful on whoever tries to befriend you out of nowhere. Even though I hate to endorse a stereotype, but some of the people living in Dubai has no humane conscious at all.
  • The customer service in some stores is really terrible, and yes, Zara is still one of them. Some of them really look down at you as if you are asking for their charity. My advice: become a total bitch whenever they act in a derogatory manner toward you. Show them who’s the boss.

Gallery

The Chinese ship in Ibn Battuta Mall is glaring at the visitors.

The Chinese ship in Ibn Battuta Mall is glaring at the visitors.

Is that the flight info screen? No, wait! That's the movie schedule screen. Enjoy almost censorship-free movies in any of Dubai’s big cinemas.

Is that the flight info screen? No, wait! That's the movie schedule screen. Enjoy almost censorship-free movies in any of Dubai’s big cinemas.

A Meydon project in BurJuman shopping center.

A Meydon future project in BurJuman shopping center.

Behold! Mall of the Emirates...and Modhish!

Behold! Mall of the Emirates...and Modhish!

On the road, heading back home after a full day of shopping.

On the road, heading back home after a full day of shopping.

An Upcoming Dubai Trip

I shall be leaving Kuwait and heading to the lovely land (but radically hot and hopefully dust-free) of Dubai this upcoming Saturday with my aunt and her delightful daughters. Apparently, they designated me as their “big man” for the trip but I’m pretty sure that will change as soon as we land in Dubai. You see, my female cousins are complete control freaks and I doubt any of them will lend me an ear once we get there, despite their attempt in convincing they’d hear all what I’ve got to say. And my aunt isn’t an angel as well. She was like “Yes Angelo, we would love to have you with us as someone who speaks fluent English and competent such as yourself”, but I know behind those glistering eyes and this forged smile, there is a woman praising her well-schemed accomplishment in recruiting a slave to carry all the luggage and the countless shopping bags (don’t worry, I love my aunt to pieces and I wasn’t making a fun of her. Well, maybe a little). But hey, considering I’m a shopaholic myself, and the fact I’m getting a free ticket, free food and a free room, I’m really getting a nice bargain by the end of the day.

Now, I shall resort my aunt’s tactics on you and abuse your wisdom as well. The fact is, I haven’t been to Dubai since 2003 (i.e. the year that I went to the US for college), and I’m pretty sure my outdated knowledge won’t help me at all in 2008 Dubai. So, I turn to you to recommend me nice tourist places (from malls to restaurants) that are new, hip, and somewhat family-friendly. Sure, I can google for all the nice places and restaurants, but I found that information from a first hand traveler is more reliable and safe.

The comment section is all yours…

Book Review: A Year In The Merde

I picked up this book while browsing at Borders in Heathrow International Airport as I was exchanging flight to return back home. The fact that I spotted it after publishing “The French Way of Life” post was a clear sign that I have to dive in its pages. And thank God I did. Stephen Clarke has intricately crafted a novel that is half guidebook and half fictitious autobiography that bursts with witty humor, rich language, and simple execution.

A Year In The Merde recounts the fictional adventures and misadventures of Paul West, an English businessman sent to Paris to create and open an English tearoom as he encounters the language and culture of Paris. Throughout the book, Paul gets to experience French charm, French inefficiency, sublime French food, slimy French corruption and political intrigue, a seemingly endless series of strikes, and more sex than he can shake his weakened British stick at. It’s informative, humorous, and outrageous, all in the same time.

It’s pretty important to mention that the author himself is a British expat residing in Paris, so we can definitely assert that those affairs that Paul goes through aren’t necessarily fabricated. However, it is also important to note that those incidents are exaggerated a bit, especially when it deals with sex and public strikes. Also, I wasn’t real interested in Paul; he is shallow and lacking any qualities to make me root for him to succeed, but it was the supporting characters that was genuinely satiated with life and realism. Furthermore, the most interesting thing to observe is the interaction between the French and the English and just laugh out at the stereotypes and misconceptions that have with one another. In the end, I can candidly conclude that Merde one of the most enjoyable books I have read recently. The story is well told, with just the right balance between understatement and outright hilarity. A definite pick-up for those of us who love and hate France. If you loved this book, make sure to grab the following two books that are part of Paul West hilarious trilogy.

~Rating~

Dusty Morning @ Souk Sharq

Today, I went to Souk Sharq roughly at eleven o’clock in the morning. It a little bit dusty than usual, and that kind of ruined my morning walk at the pier. I didn’t do much shopping like last time but it was nice strolling around and just observes the people there, which was a good thing since I finally got to monitor the stylish Dishdasha wearing “gentlemen” that Sushi told me about. They usually hang out in a fancy coffee shop while reading the New York Times even though most of them aren’t exactly that sophisticated, if you know what I mean. I’ve to say though, some of them really looked good in a Dishdasha, which kinda sucked for me because I don’t look good wearing one at all.

Anyway, here are some shots I took using my Sony Ericsson K810i. Not too shabby for a cellphone camera.

Musing: Shopping In Kuwait

Despite the herds of Muhajababes that seem to stare deep into my soul while buying the most provocative outfits…

Despite the Kuwaiti retailers that look insulted when you ask them for a bigger size of pants…

Despite the Lebanese sellers that seem to know French more than English, and have the slightest clue on who Ewan McGregor is…

Despite the gay bodybuilders who cannot wait to screw each other and have an orgy in the middle of the mall…

Despite the Mulla-looking dudes that are lurking in a place where they consider a “devil’s haven”…

Despite the flocks of youth that didn’t’ hit puberty but have a knack on hitting on girls who are 10 years older…

Despite the Indian car drivers that have no problem on running you over in the parking lot…

Despite the Westerns that got BBQed from the heat…

Despite being a racist while writing this post…

Shopping in Kuwait still has its charm and splendor.

The 5 Annoying People You Meet In Starbucks

We all love Starbucks, and that’s a fact. However, once in every damn second there, you always have to encounter an annoying person that set you ballistic, even though they might not interact with you directly. They are the people they make you cringe with detest, commit suicide in the spot, or simply, give you the urge to beat the crap out of them. I summarize my ranting as follow:

  • The Writer Who Wants You to Know He’s a Writer

Yes, we all know that writing is a fascinating occupation, but unfortunately, unlike hookers and crack dealers, you cannot simply point them out by looking at them. However, when a person has to tell you that he’s a writer (intentionally), then writing suddenly becomes less impressive. Those kind of people usually go to the busiest Starbucks in town and pop open their Macs, making sure that the shining Apple logo is on display for everyone to see. Then they pretend to write, sigh, and brainstorm their thoughts. However, the most annoying behavior they exhibit that makes you want to go GTA on their asses is when they sit in a table that is usually reserved for four people.

  • The Guy Who Hates Starbucks But Goes There Anyway

The world is packed with shitheads and nobody can deny that, but there are those who realize they are complete shitheads, and yet, brag about it. I’m taking about that certain someone who won’t shut up about how crappy Starbucks is, and forget the fact he is ranting while waiting in line inside Starbucks. Then, they become more annoying when they super customized their coffee and inquire combination that doesn’t even exist at the menu, and then ask for Splenda instead of regular sugar. Those people deserve to be vanished from the face of the Earth, clear and simple.

  • Study Groups

Why go to a proper school library that is filled with textbooks, resources, and free computers when you have the most crowded Starbucks in the area. It definitely makes more sense to go to a place where noise is a popular demanding song, has tables that barely support an encyclopedia, and a crowd that’s yelling for a proper frappuccino. It’s like Turkish prison, except less gay sex and slightly better coffee.

  • Manager Who Refuses to Recognize the Words Small, Medium, and Large

Dear Starbucks Manager,

I understand, you’re a corporate guy and thus must abide by company policies by calling the different sizes by their Starbucks Christian names of Venti, Grande, et. But if I ask you for a small, don’t act like I’m speaking to you in that Native American language as if we were in war where coded messages were delivered. You’re familiar with the sizes small, medium and large, and if you’re not, then you might want to change underwear because there’s a good chance that you are wearing a Venti size boxer that isn’t big enough for your shit that you failed to wipe/wash from defecating at your customers.

Sincerely,

A bitter consumer

  • The Person Who Peruses the DVD/Music Section As If He Might Purchase Something

It’s really great when you’re waiting in line behind somebody only to realize that they’re not in line, but instead deciding whether or not they want to purchase “Akeelah and the Bee” DVD, which I am positively sure that no one ever bought. Yes, we know that you want to shed the stereotypes that white people don’t watch Black movies, but if that particular Black movie sucks, then we understand the reason that you didn’t see it in theaters. Now, would you please stop reading the back cover of the DVD case and order freaking coffee before I kick the crap out of you? Thanks.

Kuwait, Here I Come

Yup, I’ll be leaving the United States and going back to Kuwait for the summer. I haven’t been to Kuwait for more than 18 months. I would have missed the faces of my mother and father if I didn’t have their pictures with me, but still, I miss them so much and cannot wait to be with them again. Even though I love the life of independency, I cannot wait to return to the life of simple luxury I had in Kuwait; you know, like you don’t have to worry about your dinner, laundry, and cleaning the bathroom and stuff.

My flight is tomorrow’s night and I should arrive to Heathrow International Airport around noon. Now, the biggest dilemma is that I have to wait a freaking fucking 10 hours before my next flight to K-Town. Seriously, what’s the deal British Airways? I’ll probably spend my time sleeping in the Quite Room they have in the airport. According to the itinerary, my total flight duration is 25 hours and 15 minutes. That means I’ll be spending a whole day just traveling around. Aghh, you would think since we live in 21st Century, we would have invented teleport pods by now. I’ll be arriving to Kuwait on Wednesday in the early morning.

Finally, I’d like to mention that I’d be able to continue blogging this time around since my big brother has installed Internet wireless service around the house (remember, I live in South Surra), so you will not be missing a thing. Right now, let’s just hope everything goes smoothly and that my flights would be delays-free.

The French Way Of Life

I have expressed several times in my blog about my fascination regarding France and the French people. As a matter of fact, when I come across the Travel section in any bookstore I visit, I always scan the bookshelves for France’s travel guides. Sometimes however, I think I’m more fascinated with the French than France in general. Throughout my readings regarding the French, and watching the countless French movies, they are certain charms and habits that you cannot help but to notice. Not to be positively or negativity stereotypical, I condense my thoughts as follow:

  • The People of Paradoxes

Ask mostly anyone which country they consider the most “European,” and they’ll probably answer France. Thomas Jefferson knew France well, dubbing it “every man’s second fatherland.” Why, in view of these tributes, does one hear unflattering things about the French: that they’re rude, unfriendly, impatient, and even promiscuous? Every visitor shares this bewilderment, and I shall reserve my judgment until I go there and meet them myself.

  • L’esprit Critique

You’ll spot the characteristic shrug of the shoulders, which is the Frenchman’s reaction to all startling news. Some might call it cynicism, but a better phrase is the one the French use themselves: l’esprit critique. It’s not something negative; it’s simply the way the French use their common sense. A Frenchman can’t describe something without adding his own judgment of value, that is, he wants to know if it’s good or bad for him.

  • The Cold Treatment

French indifference and coldness to outsiders is really another virtue seen from the wrong end. If a Frenchman seems cold to outsiders, it’s because he reserves his affections for his family and close friends. Family life in France is one of the closest in Europe: it affords the French the small pleasures (like the evening meal), which they value above all else. Apparently, The French consider instant friendliness a sign of insincerity. Thus, a sign of banjour might be a rare expression (among the French and the outsiders) than you might think.

  • In Unity We Trust

For all their individualism and eccentricity, the French still have bonds, which keep them together as a nation. One is pride in their nation and its language. France is, after all, the oldest unified country in Europe of any size. For centuries, the French language dominated European diplomacy and royal courts. Another bond that unifies them is the Frenchman’s respect for intellectual distinction in general. The French probably read more than any other people. The leading intellectual figures of the day receive the same media coverage that movie stars, politicians, or sports heroes do in the U.S. However, this also means that sometimes the French lose sight of a problem in the endless analysis of its details, especially when the experts disagree.

Conclusion?

If you were seeking a conclusive statement after reading all of that, then I’m sorry to tell you that I don’t have one. I cannot deduce something that I didn’t have the chance to essentially investigate and observe. However, I can firmly assert that I have at least scratched the surface of the French way of life. In the end, I invite you to watch this movie and experience a little taste of my all time favorite city, Paris. It might lighten up your weekend.