Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Kuwait - in the 80s!

Having spent a considerable amount of my childhood (1984 -90) in Kuwait, one can surely understand why I loved the eighties. Although my love for the era and the place was not evident back then (I always wanted to grow up and start shaving) looking at things presently, one can only turn to nostalgia of the yesteryears and remember the great times.

I remember the TV shows they used to show us. Mainly KTV and I have to admit compared to some of the other regional channels back then KTV was a hit. Bringing us hit shows like Silver Spoons, Macgyver, The A Team, Magnum PI, Knight Rider and the likes. I won't get into these since I've already posted on 80s shows earlier this month. Do you guys remember Chart Attack? Compared to channels like Dubai One and MBC, KTV is crap now!

I remember the old Salmiya shopping area even though I wasn't much of a Salmiya guy. We as kids loved going there and hanging out. The Gulf Road was barely ready (at least during the early eighties) and there weren't as many traffic lights.

My mom used to work at Safeway across from the Crowne Plaza (the Holiday inn back then). The sixth ring road was fairly new and less traveled and I remember waiting at least 5 minutes before I could cross it and go to Kids R us and Safeway!

Safeway and The Sultan Center were the only 2 supermarkets in the country that were open 24 hours. The co-ops were just crappy!

I don't quite remember if Pizza Hut was around but Pizza Italia was the best and they always had some kind of promos running. Of course Kentucky Fried Chicken and Hardees were some of the other few international fast-food joints and Hungry Bunny was THE place for burgers. I think there was an Arby's too but I didn’t go there that often. I remember Wimpy's too!

As an Indian the only live local band I knew of then was "Next of Kin" who I think are still in action (the old dinosaurs). DJing wasn't DJing, it was just playing a tape recorder connected to an amplifier. Walkmans were THE thing for us kids back then and so were Archie comics!

As an Indian I remember the rivalry between the Indian School Salmiya and New Indian School Jabriya. We used o get into a lot of fights with all the spray painting and stoning!

I remember Atari & Nintendo. Atari was more popular and I had about 3 sets that I eventually broke (due to overuse)

I also remember Like Cola and RC Cola. Vimto and Shaani were very popular and so was Sunkist!

The Holiday Inn had the first bowling alley (which I am told was a discotheque earlier) and was quite the hangout for young adults. And whatever happened to that boat they had turned into a hotel (was it the Marriott?)

I remember Muthanna Complex in Kuwait City being the only "cool" place to hang out with the clothing stores and the gaming arcades!

I remember the Rubick's cube being a major source of entertainment along with game-in-watches and those other Casio watched with calculators!

I remember Farwaniya and Hawalli being Palestinian ghettos and the Palestinians themselves were quite the kingpins driving Trans-Ams that were a tad bit noisy.

I don't remember the roads being as congested as they are today and people drove a lot better and with a lot more consideration & road sense.

I remember Kuwait – it was certainly a better place to live in. Maybe it's just because we were kids then and didn't have a care in the world except homework and collecting skittles for prizes! Things have definitely changed now.

All in all they were great times. Ah nostalgia – makes us grow old sometimes! Do you guys remember anything from the eighties in Kuwait?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Independence Day Blues!!!

Indians all over the world have attained a great amount of notoriety! Some people have been hailed as enigmatic leaders, some are talented musicians, (a few) are gifted athletes, many are intelligent educators and even a few visionary gurus. India is one of the strongest and fastest growing economies of today and is making a huge impact on fashion and entertainment in addition to international commerce and industry. Needless to say this was not always the case and by and large, the media is to be thanked for this. The Indian media has played en enormous role in the transformation of India from a perceived nation of elephant riders, hungry kids, old beggars and snake charmers to showcasing it as a country with rich traditions and human diversity. It's a country where people are strong willed and determined to make a difference in today's world. And no matter how crappy they dress or how thick their accent is, they will make it if they want to!

About 3 years ago, before I discovered the wonderful world of blogging I had sent out an email to all my Indian friends. It was an email on India's Independence Day and the various ways Indians celebrate it all over the world. In essence it was sent not to deride the larger Indian populace outside the country but to educate people on the true meaning of Independence. I received a lot of feedback – mostly positive, some negative and even got into a verbose diatribe with a few of my close friends on how independence needs to be perceived.

And here I am again – trying to make my point to the few people that have yet to get the message. We do not celebrate Independence because we have extra cash to buy fire-crackers or silly colorful stickers to stick on our cars and bikes. We celebrate it because we are proud of belonging to a country that has so much to offer!

I am proud of being an Indian not because of some silly email that is making rounds once again reminding us of Sabir Bhatia's contribution to email by inventing hotmail or the fact that India has not invaded a single country in a zillion years!

I'm proud of being Indian because it has instilled in me the virtues of patience.

For if I hadn't stood in long lines waiting to pay my electricity bill ten years ago, I would not have enjoyed the quicker service now.

If I hadn't to walk through doors and doors of bureaucracy and red tape in India a decade ago, I would never have realized how much worse it is here in Kuwait.

If it hadn’t been for the grit and determination of a handful of somewhat noble (or should I say visionary) politicians in the nineties, India would still be in the slums.

I'm proud of being Indian because it has made me street-smart and I can finally tell when someone's trying to con me.

I'm proud of being Indian because it's made my immune system stronger and my intestines can digest almost any kind of edible food after my bhel puri escapades on chowpatty beach, Mumbai India!

I'm proud of being Indian because back home 10 AM tomorrow means 10 AM tomorrow (no matter how many people in Kuwait say Indian Standard Time thinking it to be a mockery of sorts) and not Inshallah 10 AM tomorrow which could mean anytime between 10 AM tomorrow and the next 3 weeks!

What most of us here in Kuwait do is criticize. That's because we're just lame-brains and that includes me. We're quick to find faults in the way people think and react when incidents happen in India little realizing that we'd probably do the same thing if we were a part of that society. We think we're more successful because we drive better cars on better roads. And that India really needs our money! Truth be told people – she doesn’t!

I will not end this with a corny greeting like "Happy Independence Day" but with a hope that readers will try and understand the true meaning of Independence. Peace!!!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Designer Babies!

The media have over the past few years thrown about issues of stem cell research, assisted reproduction and cloning. The making of designer babies as some people like to term them has been in the news for quite a while now. And while countries like the US have initiated and set of boards and committees like its Bioethics council to discuss and proliferate issues related to biomedical technologies.

Some of you may know I write for the popular magazine bazaar in Kuwait and my feature for the coming month is intended to shed some more light on biomedical technology and its pros & cons. As such some of your comments may be used in the article if you don’t mind me publishing your names or we could just use your nicknames in blog-land (don’t know how readers will react to a "flaming carrot")

I personally am not a proponent of designer babies. The fact that we're messing around to create the perfect human being is just plain "wrong" to me. For me biotechnology is more about finding ways to cure some of the most common ailments and diseases in the world today. Some of you may argue that stem cell research has the potential to substantially change the way people are treated for diseases like cancer, Parkinson's and leukemia and while that is true, some scientists have been trying to use the findings of embryonic stem cell research to go to the next level; selling the concept to wealthy families in the guise of designer babies.

A reproductive technology like in-vitro-fertilization is to a certain extent acceptable if the recipients of the artificially fertilized babies are couples that can not conceive a child but there have been reported cases of couples resorting to in-vitro fertilization to just get better children. This is like challenging God to a contest saying we can make better and flawless human beings.

Any views people?

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Are you working late these days? Perhaps you shoudn't!

How many of you guys work late? I don;t mean an extra 30 minutes or anything, I mean a few hours. Get home just in time for dinner or sometimes even have dinner in the office?

I have worked late or the past 5 years of my life. Maybe not evey day but at least once a week. For some reason this kind of culture is slowly but steadily creeping into most companies in Kuwait! I recicved this forward from a friendtelling readers how employees in large corporations in bangalore work late just for the free internet and coffe! As cheap as this may sound it is atually the truth. Kuwait is not far behind! In my previous jobs the entire Finance department used to be in until about 8 or 9 pm! Senior managment thought the guys were real hard workers. Nobody realized that they'd only walk into the office at around 11 am pretty much making up for working late thus erasing any extra hours they'd put in.

Bosses too have become acustomed to a certain employee that puts in extra hours while most of the time he or she is just downloading songs or surfing the internet for books, movie reviews or ordering that accessory for their car! And what happens inadvertently is that the boss gets acustomed to the "late" hours and once there is a change in lifestyle (like the employee in question gets married for example) he or she may not be able to put in those extra hours. Then the once diligent and enthusiastic worker gets another label - "a work shirker".

Isn't that a bit cruel? Aren't we entitled to have a life of our own? I sincerely believe that your employer pays you for your services for the 8 hours (or however many hours your company sees fit!!!) you put in on a daily basis. How you manage your work and your time is entirely up to you. If there's something that needs to be done, you've got to get it done. Unless there's something that needs urgent attention or unless you're an ER surgeon you have the right to enjoy your evenings and your weekends. So for those of you who intentionally work late: cultivate some interest or find a hobby. Or just plain and simple - get a life!