Gritty Manchester United

5 pm kick off Kuwait time is not ideal to watch a match, as it coincided with my shift.

I left my phone on streaming the game while I tended to work. Before I realized it was 15 minutes through into the game and we had already scored. In one of the injury breaks, I managed to watch the highlight.

What a delicate pick up from Pogba, and an even sharper touch from Rashford to cushion the ball before killing deep past a prolific keeper.

The pace and impetus was evident throughout as Alexis seamlessly sewed into the lineup. Dogged determined Leicester tried it all to break down but we stood firm.

I did not watch much of the second half thanks to work, but nevertheless as I type this I watch another blockbuster match ongoing between Man City and Arsenal. Arsenal losing would help our cause but city doesn’t really look that potent today. Misfiring quite a bit.

I spent some more time today at IKEA mesmerized with the options available. Still awaiting for my first pay check to bring in more furniture into my flat.

6th Shito Ryu Karate Tournament Kuwait

I spent this weekend at my Uncle’s place in Salmiya. In 1995 with a bunch of friends, we started out on a journey of learning the art form of Karate under him. I stepped out of the realm of Karate in 2000 once I entered 10th standard and more time was spent with the books.

But what it did do was inculcate a routine of fitness apart from the games we play as kids. Warm up and warm down exercise routines that remain forever etched in my memory. I still resort to the same stretches I learnt in my 5th standard before and after my cardio workouts be it cycling or hitting the mill at the gym.

Yesterday I spent attending the 6th Shito Ryu art form of Karate Tournament conducted by my uncle who is an esteemed member of Kuwait Karate Federation and a licensed International Karate Referee.

325 students with an attendance of 1200, the event was conducted for the 6th time and each time the number of participants keep rising. It spanned over 6 hours with three simultaneous fight bouts manned by 11 referees of the Kuwait Karate Federation.

As I sat alongside two senior orthopaedic colleagues in the medical dugout, I enjoyed watching the youthful exuberance, the shy timid ones, the outright offensive ones as kids of different age, height, weight and belt status fought to win the accolades.

Proud parents posed for selfies with their kids, while some parents were seen reprimanding and offering advice to kids on how to come back stronger.

What was worth savoring was the energy and enthusiasm and the will to put yourself forward to fight for your space. This will indeed hold in good stead for all these kids as they shape their personality.

My shack

Life is all about taking up new challenges, breaking the monotony and putting yourself out there.

I finally got my Iqama done yesterday. Took me only two weeks this time around. Last time I was in Kuwait, it took over a month. Unusually I got a different Civil ID number this time around. I will be heading to PACI soon to try to restore my old number. I have this sentimental attachment to that ID. The Iqama is kind of the only thing that I have which is a proof of my old identify as a Kuwaitfied Indian.

So I was hunting for apartments to stay. And the general climate in Jahra is average of 225 to 250 KD for the older apartments while we are looking at 300 to 350 KD for the new ones.

Having lived for 100 KD a decade ago, there is a definite reduction in size of rooms. But I have no option but to go in for one of these in the current climate.

I resorted to find a place at a walkable distance from my work. Being in a double shift routine, that will let me to spend more home time rather than on travel. It is also going to give me a different perspective of the Kuwait I know having spent all my life in Salmiya.

Looking forward to setting up my new apartment over the next month.

In the meantime, I am going gaga over what ride I should get now that am back in Kuwait. The Dodge Charger is back in my mind again. The R/T. Not the after 2014 model… I want the one before that. That is American muscle. Inshallah after a few months!

The Arabic Lesson


Each decade is a decade of it’s own. Childhood, adolescence and teenage and now into the thirties. As I ended up in my hometown, I was amazed at how things turn around. Imagination and vision was running wild. What the future holds is only to be experienced. But the difference couldn’t be more disenchanting.

The extroverted introvert that I am, returning to home turf was always going to be one of comfort, familiarity and ease of settling down. The memories reviving one after the other as old registered landmarks evoked music from the recent past.

Growing up as a non resident in the Middle East is an experience of it’s own, each markedly different in each state of the G.C.C. One of the smallest countries in the world situated in the northernmost tip of the Arabian Gulf, Kuwait shares it’s borders with Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

As a 5 year old who had little orientation of events during the Gulf War of 1990-91, I grew up having to flee the country when Iraq invaded. Two years of return to native home turf of God’s own country meant I got to go to a convent school in Thangasseri, Kollam as I learnt the basics of reading and writing my mother tongue.

Having been to an all boys school for the rest of my life in Kuwait, personality development as an introvert was terribly blunted. However the ease of scholastic performances masked the nature of individual I really was.

Escaping the barbed wires of teen life happened when I went to medical school in the beautiful southern western ghats of Manipal. Exposure to people of varying socioeconomic strata from different parts of the world and in the company of some wonderful friends, I expanded my realms of personality.

Lack of a specific direction, with the confidence to tackle any problem thrown at, I was willing to challenge myself to many things.

Pressure is a powerful thing. It can bring the best out of some and at the same time releases all your inhibitions; the cloaks of ‘learning’ done over the years can fall off one’s shoulders when push comes to shove. Post graduation was more of becoming a human being and understanding inter person relations rather than learning the trait. Of course, three years of training in work overloaded hospitals doesn’t really let you learn the trade in it’s entirety as medical school seems to be a never ending learning process. But then, so is life.

While the return to the sandy life of the Middle East was serendipitous, the developments over the next 15 months were to change my life forever.

Acclimatizing to the much better ergonomics was a boon. Working with Arabic spoken language ringing all around didn’t hurt the cochlea. Having learnt to read and write the language for three years in school, the old cards of language stored in childhood memory folders were retrieved. Striking though was how the Arabic language that was learnt was so different from the local dialect as well as the Arabic spoken around me. Surrounded by more foreign Arabs than natives I was beginning to hear words that I had never heard before.

Months of listening and learning enabled me to trace the country of origin of a person by just listening. While the Arabic taught at school was more conversational and general, medical language was a whole new set of vocabulary.

As a person born in Kuwait, I prided on the right to know, learn and speak the language. So evading the language was not an option as I set myself high standards. The water paperweight which I received from my Arabic teacher (Madam Asmaa) in 4th standard as a gift for the best Arabic student in class still remains on my TV stand at home. My Dad still prides on it.

Receiving accolades from school meant the reward phenomenon was at it’s very best. The need to perform was engraved into the competitive system of my life. Of course with fleeting levels of concentration, I still love shifting from one area of interest to another.

Three weeks into joining work here, I was offered a two year contract to work for the government of Kuwait. As a performer, I took it as a challenge. To bring the best of my abilities to the table was my strength and I was not going to shirk away.  

Having worked for a year prior to this in a semi urban town in Kerala, I found this job a luxury. Getting paid more than what I was in India, with a 2 day weekend and half day working routine, I envied all those who worked in this country for years.

Born a Libran, there are some inherent personal qualities that detest certain ways of living and corruption is simply not my forte. Having spent more than 65% of my life in this country, those were nearly two decades of my life that never really exposed me to the system.

Data from transparency international (2015)

One year of working here was to turn my view all upside down. Things weren’t so clear anymore. Two thirds of the country’s population is non nationals. However the bulk of nationals remain employed in the government sector.

Less than a quarter of foreigners remain employed in the government sector. And the graph is heavily skewed to Arab speaking foreign nationals. Whilst Kuwait leads among the Middle East Arab countries in employing the most number of women in the public sector, the bulk of the office level jobs are held by Arab speaking expatriates the bulk of which come from Egypt. Indians and other nationals of the Indian subcontinent and South East Asia tend to work in the blue collar sector. The white collar sector South Asians work in the private sector.

As a young professional who recently embarked into his career, my experience thronging the offices of government officials was turning out to be a nightmare that seemed to never end.

Top 5 strongest currencies in the world. 

For a country that holds the strongest currency in the world, the infrastructure still operates as though it is a century behind. Paperless life and digital records are still a distant dream. Middle Eastern countries equate to developed nation strata with maximal savings and a taxless life. And yet the systems in place in this country are regressive and fertile ground for corruption.

Expat Insider 2016 stats. 

Studies and polls done across the world recently all favor poor ratings from non nationals living in Kuwait. Well there is enough rhyme and reason to it. Living here is getting harder. But that does not mean people will start leaving the country. It’s definitely getting more difficult. The changes are beginning to reflect as the system looks to sure up the economy with the collapse of international oil prices. The only bad news is, it is at the expense of the non national.

My entry into the government service was as straight as it comes. No agents, no hidden agendas, no backdoor entries. Purely on merit is somehow where it all began and pretty much ended. Every office that was involved in processing my papers had elements of corruption embedded into the system. What should finish in an hour finished in a day, ones that took days took weeks and eventually I got paid after 13 months.  While the superiors holding the posts of authority were either unaware or happy to lend a blind eye to all that happens beneath them, the underbelly of corruption driven system was visibly evident to me. My persistence to envisage a path of truth and integrity met with resistance at all levels. The empowerment of truth and the strength of traveling the less trodden path of righteousness made me endure a lot in the last fifteen months.

It was also a harsh realization of how difficult it is to strive a path that is built on the pillars of morality and uprightness.

Enabled by a profession of service,  it is easy to forget about the self and sacrifice is my forte. The amount of mental turmoil and financial insecurity endured by a qualified professional in a government sector, accompanied by the lack of respect for the individual, forget the profession makes all the pros of surviving in a world of luxury a big facade.

Evil never prevails. Good always wins. And you cannot change the fairytales as time changes. Kids need to be taught good always beats bad. Selflessness beats selfishness.

There are reasons why certain quotes resonate and get retweeted a lot. I really like this one. ‘If you don’t take risks, you will end up working for one who does’. As I swap jobs after another year, my brain has decided to allow my heart to make the call. Never sacrifice one’s own integrity to lead a life painted with pretense.

P.S. This rant comes out of a day of joblessness sitting by the lovely Marina beachside at Costa Coffee enjoying a hazelnut cappuccino and chocolate fudge brownie.