Thursday, June 30, 2005
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
I left work at 8:30PM today so there wasn't much for me to do when I got back home. I did manage to go to Sultan Center and do some shopping. When I came back home I was gonna shoot something I found interesting when I accidently took this shot. This shot turned out to be more interesting then what I wanted to shoot in the first place. I like abstract photo's due to the fact when I was in university I used to use them a lot in my projects. Now I don't shoot as much abstract shots as I would like to but thats because people under-appreciate them. I should start archiving all my abstract shots together and then maybe creating a mosaic out of them.
Monday, June 27, 2005
I had to pass by the Kuwait University today. At first I thought we were going to the one located in the Adlieh area since I assumed that was the largest one but we ended up going to the Shuwaikh branch instead. I had a friend back in 1993 who's parents taught at KU so they were living on campus. I used to go over to his place all the time and we would hang around near the stadium with other kids who lived there and I knew the whole place inside out. Today was the first time I visited the campus since then and boy has it changed. The campus is now HUGE, its like driving around in a city, its really big and spread out with buildings everywhere. We parked the car and walked around campus and I was actually impressed with what I saw. I did get disappointed though when he told me that all the classes were segregated and that even in the cafeteria there is a large wall separating the guys from the girls. Its really sad that this was done. The shot I took is from one of the lounges. The 3 guys in the back were playing on the PS2.
Sunday, June 26, 2005
Me, Nibaq and Nat met up tonight and went and had dinner at Zaatar W Zeit at Marina Crescent. The weather was really nice and there were a lot of kids hanging out at the basketball court adjacent to the crescent. Dinner was OK, I would rather have Sajj House over ZwZ but Nat seems to prefer it for some reason. I personally think any place that charges KD1.200 for a Halloum Sajj is a rip off..
Saturday, June 25, 2005
Just got back from the movies, I went and watched Batman Begins. It was a really good movie, not only the best Batman movie but also the best movie I have watched in a while. It was a pretty long movie which is a good thing because I would have been really disappointed if it was any shorter. One things for sure, I can never watch the old Batman movies again, they would look so pathetic compared to this one. Christopher Nolan is a pretty cool director, I liked Memento which he directed but I was hoping he wouldn't apply the same style to Batman Begins, and luckily he didn't. The movie theater was also completely packed tonight, but because I signed up for the tickets from last week using KNCC.com I was able to get the best 2 seats in the house. Thats a nice ad for them.
Friday, June 24, 2005
Memorial Museum - Closed
During the week I was talking to a friend of mine and telling him about how I wanted to go see the tank graveyard. He told me if I was interested in stuff like that I should visit the Memorial Museum where they have on display land mines, tanks and pictures from the devastation left behind by Saddam. So I decided to pass by today but it turned out to be closed. I am not having any luck with this "Discover Kuwait" idea of mine, maybe I should change the date from a Friday to a Monday, didn't think touristic places would be closed on a weekend. Anyway, I will probably pass by it some time this week and hopefully shoot some pictures.
Thursday, June 23, 2005
Sweet & Sour
I just got back from dinner at Tang Chao at the Holiday Inn. It was terrible, the worst Chinese dinning experience I have had here in Kuwait (or anywhere else), it was worse then the Wildfire dinner. How can they mess up Sweet & Sour?? I never had Sweet & Sour and gotten disappointed, they somehow managed to mess up a simple cliche main course dinner, unbelievable! On the way back home we passed by the new Future Kid branch that opened near Marina Mall. One thing I found strange about the place is they have rainbow flags on the outside... Future Kid + Gay Flags = there will be more gay kids in the future..
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
Today I got the latest Tosca CD from Amazon. Tosca are one of my favorites artists and Nat was lucky enough to see them live when they came to Lebanon a few years ago. I have every one of their albums plus a couple of their singles. There latest album j.a.c. is incredible, I really love their style, its totally unmatched.
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
Monday, June 20, 2005
Finally, its over. 5 days of non-stop shooting came to an end today. Starting tomorrow things will be back to normal. Its been an exhausting 5 days where I had to wake up at 7AM and spend practically the whole day out in this summer heat directing photography shoots from one scenario to another. It was really fun though and I will miss it but, at-least now I can get back to my daily routine. Hopefully next time we would have enough time to actually go shoot outside Kuwait, that would be even more fun. The picture of the day is of the photographer who I think did an excellent job through out the 5 days of shooting.
Sunday, June 19, 2005
Today was Day 4 of the commercial shoot. The weather was a lot better today plus we were surrounded by greenery and water sprinklers so they were both helping in keeping us cool. Tomorrow is the last day of the shoot, I really don't feel like going back to the office once this is all over. I hate being stuck behind a desk..
Saturday, June 18, 2005
Today I went out back into the desert, except this time it was work related. We had a photography shoot which required a desert spot so we went out to the end of the 7th ring road where there was a tent in the middle of the desert setup for our shoot. It was extremely hot again today, and at the spot we were in, it was extremely windy. By the time the shoot was finished I had sand in every part of my body! Two more days of shooting left and then things will be back to normal, I don't know if thats a good thing or a bad thing...
Friday, June 17, 2005
The Tank Graveyard
Last Friday me and Nataly decided that every Friday we would go on an "adventure" and try to discover Kuwait. With that in mind today we decided to visit the Tank Graveyard. I first heard about the Tank Graveyard from Kiwi Nomad's Flickr picture. Right after the Gulf War in 1991, the Iraqi's left behind a lot of tanks and vehicles, for a while they had them on display at the Michrif Fair Ground but later on they were moved somewhere else. Turns out they were moved into the desert so I asked Kiwi Nomad for directions and he emailed them to me. These are the instructions I was sent:
Head out on the 6th ring road until you see turnoff for Ali Al Salem airbase. You peel off to the right but then the road takes you under the 6th to head more south west (I think this is the road to Riyadh). Continue until you see another turn to your right to Ali al Salem airbase. Not far from this turn is a security checkpoint. Just wave & smile to the guard (I guess it helps if you're western looking). Continue on this road and past the airbase and another checkpoint and then you'll start seeing fields of Iraqi transporters/equipment on your left and field guns on your right. Continue on past and around a bend, then you will need to go offroad to your right and the tanks are in an area that is hidden by a berm/dirt bank… so you can't see them until you drive up to the dirt bank and walk over it.
So at 1PM we left Salmiya and headed to the Ali Al Salem air base. Before we left I had did some research and was able to find a map of Kuwait with the location of the airbase on it and a site filled with Satellite photos of the base. It was a long fucking drive, I didn't know the 6th ring road went that far. We got to the first check point maybe 40 minutes later and it was unmanned so we continued driving, a few hundred meters later there was a sign for the air base that pointed right and I could see a checkpoint, I figured that can't be the second checkpoint Kiwi wrote about since that would take me into the base and the directions said drive past the base. So we drove off west, and we drove, and we drove. Around 40 minutes later we had reached far out into the desert, the furthest I have been anywhere in Kuwait. We had reach Salemy (which I later found out is right beside the Iraqi and Saudi border, we had past 2 other military camps, the 35th US Brigade (something like that) and the Kuwaiti Land Force base. Thats when I realized I took the wrong road and we started heading back.
On the way back Nat spotted some camels in the desert, she asked if we could drive up to them and I told her no because if the sand was soft we would get stuck. Then I looked at the side of the road and the sand didn't look soft at all, so I was like lets go see the camels and I dorve off the road. Big mistake! 5 meters after driving off the road suddenly the wrangler is stuck in the sand. I was like shit this is NOT happening. I get out of the car and my foot sinks into the sand, it was soft and I fucked up. So I needed to plan my escape. I checked the road in front of the car and the sand was all soft, the only way out would be from the road I came in from. I looked around for something to stick under the jeep wheels and for some odd unknown reasons, I found a bunch of 30x30cm flat sidewalk blocks half burried in the sand. I took two and shoved them under the back 2 wheels, got into the jeep and slowly started reversing, finally the car started moving and a few seconds later we had reversed our selves out of my stupidity. Thats the last time I drive off road.
30 minutes later we arrived outside the Ali Al Salem Airbase. We drove up to the checkpoint expecting to see Americans but turned out to be mounted by Kuwaities. I started talking in english to the checkpoint guy but he didn't understand anything I said, then he asked me for our civil id cards. I figured he would realize we spoke Arabic since Nats civil ID card says Lebanese, so I ask the guy in Arabic how I could get to the tank graveyard. He told me it was 15 minutes further up the road but I wouldn't be able to go to it unless I had special permission to be able to pass this check point. He asked me why I wanted to go there and if I wanted to take pictures. I told him yeah I wanted to take pictures, he told me if the US military saw me taking pictures they would pull me in for questioning. He then started asking me more about Lebanon and stuff, and then he kept saying he really couldn't let me pass, but I felt if I pushed a bit harder he would have let me. I was tired and exhausted though from the long trip, it was 4PM by now and I hadn't had lunch. So I thanked the guy for being helpful and we drove off back to the real world. It was a great trip, the military bases looked really cool from the outside, like Area 51 style so I wasn't all that disappointed. Now I just need to think of a way of getting past the checkpoint to the grave yard...
Thursday, June 16, 2005
Today I had another shoot, today we went to Aqua Park. It was unbelievably hot, today the temperature hit over 50 degrees (122 Fahrenheit) and I spent most of it under the sun. I didn't have any sun block with me so by the time the shooting had finished I turned into a big walking tomato. I guess once my burns cool down I will be stuck with some kind of tan so thats a good thing but at the moment my face is just burning. Aqua Park is pretty cool. It was my first time there and I was expecting the place to be smaller. Entrance I believe is KD2.5 and there are lots of water related activities to enjoy. I feel really exhausted now as if I spent the whole day at the beach, I guess in a way I did.
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Today I had a photo shoot on a boat. I hate boats, I hate the sea and I have a major motion sickness issue. But, it was work and I had to go on this photo shoot. I didn't take any pills or anything just the idea that I would be ok. Last time I was on a boat was pre 1990 and I got really sick but I was just a kid. So, with that in mind I woke up today morning convinced that I would be ok. We get to the Souk Sharq marina at 8:30AM, the boat we were going to take was a huge 70 foot yacht. I got on it and right away opened a conversation with the captain. I asked him if the weather was good and if the ride was going to be bumpy. He told me the weather is perfect, the sea is very calm and the ride should be very smooth. I was like cool, where is the best place to sit on this boat if you have motion sickness? He pointed up towards the second floor and that I should stand near the controls up there. At 9AM we started our departure. I went up to the second floor and stood near the captain and we slowly headed out towards the sea. I was expecting to get sea sick by now but I was doing fine. Once we get out of the marina into the open sea the boat started jumping over waves, still I was doing fine surprisingly. Maybe a minor sign of motion sickness but nothing major at all, I was like cool, I can finally ride boats without being afraid of getting sick. 15 minutes later we get to our destination near the Kuwait Towers and we throw down the anchor. As soon as we stopped things started going downhill. The boat started to move up and down, left and right with the current. I was advised to stand, loosen up and keep my eye on the horizon. This was supposed to help me feel less sick, it didn't work. The shooting was about to start so I had to go down to the first floor and monitor the shoot when suddenly I felt like puking. I couldn't take it, I drank some water, then some orange juice but I was still feeling sick. So I went back up to the roof and hung out there while thinking about how close we were to the port and how the shoot wasn't going to take long. At one point I even considered swimming to shore. Finally at around 11AM the shoot finished and we started heading back to shore. I told the captain to step on it since I was really sick. A few minutes later we pulled up back into the marina and I jumped off the boat. I then got into my car and drove back home where I spent 2 hours just lying on my couch trying to get over the motion sickness. Its 10PM now and I still have a headache.
I decided today I am never going on a boat again. A perfect sea, a large ass boat and still I got sea sick. Imagine a smaller boat and rougher sea... just thinking about it now makes me sick.
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
The past few days the air condition at home had been acting up so I called up the landlord and he sent a guy over to fix things. When the guy came over he had to turn off the AC to fix it and it stayed off for 2 hours until he was done. By the time he had finished the house had turned into a sauna. How did people live in Kuwait before AC? Once the guy had finished he turned on the AC and the house cooled down again. Now its nice and chilly plus the guy is still coming back tomorrow to do a super cleaning.
Monday, June 13, 2005
SuperSize Me Please
Recently I decided I am gonna cut down on Burger King and Hardees and focus more on McDonalds. The reason I decided to do this is because McDonalds is the only one between them that has never disappointed me. Lets start with the customer service, Burger King and Hardees are not half as professional and friendly as McDonalds employees. McDonalds employee's seem smarter and better trained. I noticed a recent trend at Burger King also, they upsize your meal without asking you. I have gotten into many fights with them because of this. I would order a kids meal and they automatically assume I want a larger coke and fries, I order the XXL mushroom burger combo and they assume I want my coke and fries upsized. I DON'T! McDonalds on the other hand never upsized a meal without asking me first. Hardees has a consistency issue. There are many times I have eaten from Hardees and was disappointed with the food. Recently I also had the same problem with Burger King and now I will never have another Big Fish at Burger King again. McDonalds on the other hand are always consistent with me, I will always only find 2 pickles in my quarter pounder to remove and the burger will always taste the same. According to the calories charts on the Hardees, McDonalds and Burger King websites, McDonalds meals have LESS calories and fat in them. For example the regular whopper with cheese has 800 calories and 49 grams of total fat while the quarter pounder with cheese is 510 calories and contains 25 grams of fat. The SuperStar has 790 calories and 47 grams of fat while the big mac is 560 calories and contains 30 grams of fat. The fillet-o-fish is also only 400 calories and 18 grams of fat. So in conclusion, McDonalds is the healthy and better choice for me.
Sunday, June 12, 2005
Kuwait Stock Exchange
Today I went to the Kuwait Stock Exchange. It was my first time there and it was incredible. First to get in we had to pass through security which was rubbish. The metal detector machine you walk through wasn't working, in fact it was turned off, I saw the switch it said OFF. On their way in, people also placed their keys and phones in a basket before passing, I don't know why maybe out of habit since the security guard didn't seem to care. Also, if you had a bag, like I did, the security guard checked it with a handheld metal detector which I am sure was off because it had no lights and it made no sounds, although I had my camera, pda, iPod and PSP in it. Anyway when we went in, the place looked like an airport lounge. There was a restaurant, a Starbucks and a lot of people just sitting in chairs exactly like the ones you would find at airports. There was also a huge Times Square like electronic screen on the wall, they told me it was a new addition and that people can now watch the news and the stocks all from that "lounge". We then went to the stock exchange floor, now that place was huge and just totally packed with people. The shot I took only shows a third of the floor, since I am using a fixed 50mm lens I couldn't zoom out to show you more. This floor is where all the action takes place according to our guide, he told us this is where you can find people dancing or people fainting. He told us last week there were ambulances lined up outside the stock exchange building because when the stocks went down badly so did a lot of people. Today wasn't a good day either, when we got to the place all the stocks were down, turned out there was some kind of court case between the owners of Sultan Center and another party, people were waiting for the results of the case, then once word reached them that the Sultan Center owners won the case, stocks starting going back up. One thing that was totally strange about the KSE was that people actually wanted to be photographed. When I pulled out my camera old people started asking me if I was from CNN or Time magazine and they wanted me to take pictures of them. Its a very strange place..
Saturday, June 11, 2005
Today was exhausting. I had to work on a campaign with 3 different directions and 12 layouts each thats a total of 36 layouts! I finished work at 7:30PM went home and then had to go meet a friend of mine whom I hadn't seen since my high school days. We were supposed to meet up over the weekend but work got in the way and I wasn't going to let the same thing happen today. We ended up going to Starbucks where I had the usual overpriced Chocolate Frappucino with no whip cream. We sat and talked about the good old days and all the usual crap. Then I came back home, its 11:30PM now so there really isn't much time to watch TV, I might be able to squeeze and episode of The Simpsons if Tivo has one recorded for me, if not I will settle for a CSI rerun..
Friday, June 10, 2005
After a lackluster week of pictures, today I decided to actually go out and "Discover Kuwait". First me and Nat decided to have lunch at McDonalds in the Mishref Fairground. Its an interesting McDonalds built to look like a old Kuwaiti house. The most surprising thing about this branch is they had 3 shotgun rifles on display!! After lunch we decided to go check out the Quarter Mile race track which is located off the side of the sixth ring road. It wasn't too hard finding the highway exit since there were a lot of signs pointing in the direction of the race track, the funny thing though is when you exit the highway the signs stop. So while trying to find the race track I fell upon something a lot cooler.. baseball fields! Sitting off to the side of the road opposite the Kuwait Internal Security Forces complex are 4 small baseball fields. It was such a strange site seeing these very green baseball fields in the middle of summer out in the middle of nowhere. I parked my car and went down for a closer look. No one was around so I am guessing anyone can go play anytime. The baseball fields are called "Florence Alnasrallah Baseball Fields" and I think they are mostly used by the American military and American companies. The reason I am saying that is because I saw a KBR banner on one of the fields and I also saw an event program that mentioned the US military team. So, if you are a baseball fan and are interested in these baseball fields, to find them just get on the sixth ring road heading inland, then follow the racetrack signs on the highway and when you exit the road, take a right and head straight. It should be at the end after the Internal Security Forces complex. I also posted more pictures of the place on 2:48AM.com. The race track was closed by the way so that will be a post for another day.
Thursday, June 09, 2005
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
The Alien Encounter
Tonight me and Nat went for a ride looking for a place to have dinner. We left salmiya and headed towards Kuwait City to have shawerma at a favorite place of mine. Once we got there we decided we were going to have KFC at the Bayan branch. So we left the city and headed towards Bayan. On our way out I saw these lights in the sky and because of the terrible weather they gave a very Alien Encounter feel. So I took a picture and then we continued on our way to KFC. It was my first time at this KFC branch, and its really crap. I should have had McDonalds instead, or Pizza Italia, both of which are right next to it. Anyway we live and we learn.
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
No Blood, Just Ketchup
OK, this is the second night I get stuck with a home picture. It was my sisters birthday and I was expecting to go over her place and shoot the cake or something but turned out she had a university exam from like 7:30pm till 10 or something so no cake, no party, no nothing. So, I was at home now thinking of what I could shoot when luckily I remembered I wanted to share this cool thing with the Heinz bottles. A while back I was at Sultan Center and I needed to get ketchup. I pick up a bottle of Heinz ketchup and I am about to put it in the shopping cart when I notice the message "will work for food" written on it. I was like huh? WTF is this you know.. so I take a look at the shelf and turns out every bottle had a different message! It was the coolest thing ever, I ended up getting the one in the picture with the message "Has restaurant experience" but there were other ones like "hides grill marks" and "Helps hot dogs with their problems". Its very cool of Heinz to do this and I wanted to get the whole series but sadly when I went to Sultan earlier this week they didn't have anymore of those cool bottles...
Monday, June 06, 2005
Today was an uneventful day. I finished work around 7pm and I just came home right away. I didn't even have time to go out to lunch because I was so busy. its 10:45pm now and Nat is still at work. I got this frozen Sadia pizza the other day which is defrosting at the moment so I can microwave it when Nat comes. Since it was an uneventful day and I didn't go anywhere, I was forced to find something around the house to shoot. I decided (after over an hour of shooting random things) to shoot my WIRED magazine collection since today there was a post on Boing Boing about this one guy selling his collection of WIRED magazines from issue 1.1 (1993). My oldest issue is number 3.12 so I would love to get a hold of the earlier issues. Anyway hopefully tomorrow will be more eventful.
Sunday, June 05, 2005
During my lunch break today I went to the ice skating ring with a friend from work. I hadn't been ice skating for ages and I really felt like ice skating today for some reason. We got to the ring at around 1:10pm, the guy at the door told us we could ice skate till 2PM. We told him that would be more then enough and we each paid KD1.5 which is the entrance fee and you get free skates. If you want pro-like skates they cost an extra 750fils. Once I stepped on the ice I realized that although I had taken ice skating lessons as a kid, and although I used to ice skate while in high school, suddenly it was as if I had never ice skated in my life. I totally forgot how to ice skate, i spent the first 15 minutes skating while holding the side walls. Luckily for me, there was no one at the skating ring except for me and my friend or else I am sure people would have laughed at me. After I gained some courage I started skating towards the middle, it was really great and fun. The idea of skating during my lunch break is ingenious. I was able to skate for 30 minutes, have lunch at McDonalds and get back to the office all within a hour. And, when I got back to the office I was totally fresh and ready to work. I think I will do this more often.
Saturday, June 04, 2005
On my way back from lunch today with Fadibou, we spotted a car accident on the road. At first I thought it was an old accident or something, so I slowed down next to the car and took my camera out to take a picture, then we noticed people running towards the car. Turns out the accident had just happened a few seconds earlier and there were people still trapped inside the car. So I started taking pictures. Afterwards I got a flashback from one of the last episodes of Seinfeld where they witness a mugging take place and they film it without helping the victim. But I don't think I did anything wrong since it wasn't like I was sitting there taking pictures while someone bled to death, there were other people on the scene who were helping out you know. I like being a bystander and taking pictures without interfering with what's going on, like a photojournalist. Speaking of which, someone suggested I should have sold the pictures to a newspaper. Anyone know how this would work and how much I should charge?
Friday, June 03, 2005
Today we passed by the Animal Market (next to Friday Market). Nat wants to get a pet so we went to see what was available. We found dogs, cats, birds, monkeys, ostriches, chickens, ducks, turkeys, you name it they had it. In the end we decided we would get a hamster. Before we do though we need to order the hamster a decent playground. I hate putting animals in cages. I would never buy birds for example because I can't stand the site of them being locked up. So, I told Nat if we are going to get a hamster we should get him the coolest playground we can get. Something huge with lots of things for the hamster to do. I checked Amazon.com and found a couple of cool products but we will probably go with the Park Avenue Duplex since its the biggest playground we could find and I could expand it more with accessories if I wanted to. Once I place the order and get the product, then we will go back to the animal market and get hamster. I still need to read online though if it would be better to get 2 hamsters that way they could entertain themselves. Off the subject now, remember the microwave oven macaroni and cheese product I purchased the other day. Well it turned out to be amazing, I have had it twice now and I really enjoyed it both times. Its very easy to make and costs only 950 fils for a pack of 6 dinners. I definitely recommend it.
Thursday, June 02, 2005
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
I Know You!
Today I was at the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce & Industry for work related stuff. While I was there a guy came up to me and asked me if I used to be in Kuwait English School. I told him yeah back in 1991. Turns out the guy was in my class and he recognized me! The strange thing is he is the third person from my class in 1991 who has come up to me and recognized me this year. I don't know its its supposed to be a compliment that people who I hardly spoke to in my class recognize me after not seeing me over a decade. Its very strange. Anyway, I took this shot on my way out from the Kuwat Chamber of Commerce, I stood inside near the entrance, looked up and took this shot. Today is Day 200 of the project, I am more then half way through!!