Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Happy Liberation & National Day to my Kuwaiti friends!

I must admit, I feel for the Kuwaiti population during the Liberation and National day holidays. I am not saying this just because of the traffic during this time, I say this because I really feel for them.

Ok, I don't really love the country to pieces but I do have a certain connection to the place. I was born here and have spent half my life here. I have had many memorable childhood memories growing up watching Knight Rider & Chart Attack on KTV2, collecting Galactica cards and hanging out at Arby's, Pizza Italia and Hungry Bunny in the old Salmiya Souq area as a kid!
But what saddens me is that while the country celebrates the National & Liberation day holidays (in more ghastly ways that one can imagine) the people seem to lack a proper sense of belonging to a nation. For a country that is extremely young, there doesnt seem to be anything to look forward to. Apart for the old-timers who used to be proud citizens, apart from a few people we read about in local magazines, the younger generation does not seem to understand the true meaning of being liberated. For them it is about going to the "west" getting an American or British education and coming back to flaunt their degrees to get better paying jobs as opposed to giving back to the country. Physically it may tbe the liberation of Kuwait from Iraq in 1991 that we celebrate but metaphorically to me, it's being liberated from the shackles of complacency and looking forward o a bright future.

It's not about spraying cars with foam or not about dancing on the streets of Kuwait with face paint and colorful flags. And it's certainly not about checking out the women through a smokescreen of red, white and green tassles and waterguns. If only these people understood the true meaning of being liberated, there wouldn't be 11 deaths in 65 road accidents in a span of 4 days as reported in the newspapers. Perhaps the country should work towards giving these people what they deserve to realize the meaning of liberation and the true meaning of belonging to a country.

Taming the beast on the Kuwait roads

I just got back from a crazy day driving on the streets of Kuwait City. I must admit, while Kuwait has a decent set of roads; the people on them don't seem to be half as decent. In my 15 minute drive from Kuwait City to the Airport, I got cut off by 4 fancy sports cars (2 Porsches, a Massarati and a Nissan Z350).

Of course, other people driving other cars also cut of me off but my bitch for the day is the people with the fancy roadsters specifically the Porches, Ferraris, the Lambos and the Masseratis. Albeit the fact that over 90% of the people that own these cars in Kuwait buy them because of upholding their status is true. What pisses me off is that most of the people that drive these machines don't have the slightest idea how to drive them.

My friend Q8 Apothecary (whose blog seems to have gone into hibernation) has summed it best on one of his posts a few years ago. It's not about how many horsepower your car has, it's about the guy or girl behind the wheel (in our case, the moron) behind the wheel that matters. Super cars specifically the Ferraris and Porches need to be driven specifically. They are not your every day commuter vehicles, they are not drag racing cars and most of all, they are to be driven with skill and precision. This is one of the main reasons we see rash and negligent driving on the streets that results in injuries and death. And we wonder why Kuwait has one of the highest accident rates in this part of the world?

Who might I ask is to be blamed for this? Is it the dealers who do not bother to offer basic drivers training to new buyers? Is it the parents who indulge their kids with luxuries for fear of being called insufficient providers? Or is it the fault of the drivers themselves who neglect all road sense and sensibility for want of fame and an adrenalin rush?

Now I'm not saying that you shouldn't buy a Porchse. In fact, if you can afford it, go ahead and buy one right away. But before you take to the wheel, try and understand how the machine responds to your touch. A super car is like a beast that needs taming. And until you understand how to be one with your machine, please don't take to crazy antics on the streets or think for one minute that you are licensed to thrill by performing meaningless stunts on the streets and endangering the lives of the other commuters that use them.

PS – I love the Mercedes McLaren SLR but the day I hopefully buy one, I’m going to sign up for a crash course in performance driving.