Photos from these United States

I haven’t had much time to actually go out just for taking photos but I do manage to take a few now and then time permits. This post has a few from Milwaukee, Minneapolis and a lot from Washington DC. A future post will be dedicated to Fort Worth Dallas, Texas as I was lucky to spend a whole evening there.

Milwaukee

These were taken at the Riverwalk in Downtown Milwaukee,

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Heeeeeey! The Bronze Fonz!

Bronze Fonz

Minneapolis

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Washington DC

I only spent three days there but I went out for walks every evening after work as my hotel was just overlooking the Potomac river. There was a nice South Asian man at the reception who changed my room to one with a view so this is what I woke up to every morning.

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Marine Corps War Memorial

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The Ridge Wallet 2.0

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Its been almost a year and a half since I’ve been planning this post but the only hitch was that I didn’t actually have the item in my hand to review! The Ridge wallet is a minimalist wallet that started out as a KickStarter project and it was a success so when they announced a version 2.0 I wanted to get one too. I don’t want to go into that horror story about the Kuwait Postal Service now but you can read about it [here].

Long story short, after landing in the States I thought I’d contact the company to see if I could get a discount on a second purchase since I never received the first one. The owner of the company replied and he gave me a generous discount towards my next order. How awesome is that? Thank you Daniel Kane!

So why did I need a minimalist wallet?

1. I had a bad habit of stuffing random items into my wallet and at a certain point even approached Costanza proportions.
2. My credit cards and drivers licenses were warping and a couple of cards even cracked and I had to tape them up with scotch tape.
3. The bulging wallet in my back-pocket was causing bruising and back-pain especially while driving long distances.

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So finally I got one and I’ve been using & abusing it over the last three months and its great! I ordered mine in Aluminium Gunmetal color with a money clip. In the box you get the wallet, a sample plastic card and the torx screwdriver. I additionally ordered the elastic inner band a set of torx screws.

So whats good about it?

Rugged and sturdy construction: Its got an Aluminium shell and I’ve been throwing it around quite a bit and its in great shape. Also the cards stay safely inside the wallet and I don’t have to worry about them falling out. The money clip is sturdy too. I don’t use paper money much but its nice to have a few dollars for emergencies. I think in the pictures I’ve got around 20 dollars in various bills.

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Compact shape: This is what I love about it and my main reason for buying one in the first place! I have about 7 cards on an average and when I’m staying at hotels I also keep my room key-card in there too. So with 8 plastic card stuffed in it, its still slim enough to go into your front pocket and not bulge obscenely.

Safety and privacy: All my plastic cards are in perfect shape and I don’t think there is a chance of them bending or cracking in the foreseeable future. The second one is the RFID blocking, which I didn’t think much about initially but in this day and age its good to have. I tried it out at one of the hotels I was staying at recently. The RFID lock on my door didn’t register the card while it was inside my wallet so I guess this rudimentary test proves it works!

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Conclusion: Would I buy a second one? No, coz it looks like it might last me a lifetime and as they themselves say “This is the last wallet you’ll ever own”. Would I recommend it to friends and family? Oh yes most certainly. I don’t think I’ll go back to leather wallets after using The Ridge wallet.

You can buy them from the link below

The Ridge Wallet

Avees Puttu House, Alappuzha – Kerala Restaurant

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On my last trip to Kerala, my family and I were on our way to Trivandrum when we stopped at a restaurant, on the Alapuzha – Changanassery Higway, for breakfast. It was my first time there although my father-in-law is a regular visitor and he  suggested the place.

I’ll break down the blog post into shorter sections to make it easier to make it  easier to skim through.

Location : The branch that we visited was located right on the highway on your left, traveling towards Trivandrum. You can’t miss it, its got a giant ‘Puttu  Kodam and Kutti‘ that looks like a giant penis from afar. Here’s the location on  Google Maps [link]

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Interiors: The restaurant is right on the bank of a canal (or estuary? I’m not  sure) and one side of the dining area features large open windows and doors which  leads to an outdoor seating area.  There’s a mock Snakeboat inside that has tables in it and also tables around the  periphery of the boat.

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Food: Although the name of the joint implies its a place specializing in Puttu, I  ordered the Iddiyappam and motta curry as I’m prejudiced against eating puttu with traditional Kadala curry. I prefer my puttu with the regular white ones. Yeah, I’m  racist when it comes to chickpeas.

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The food was good, soft, stringy appams with the right amount of shredded coconut and the egg curry comes with two eggs per order (which is the correct number of eggs for breakfast) and was quite spicy so I had to chug down some cold water to cool off.

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I did try a little puttu and kadala curry from my wife’s plate and it was OK I guess. My kids had a little of both and although both are picky eaters we managed to get them to eat a little.

Overall I’d say the food was fine considering its a highway restaurant and most of the patrons would be people traveling across districts and looking for a decent place to sit down, recharge and then continue to their destination.

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Added attraction: when we entered we found out that they also make their own brand of rice flour, masala mixes and even in-house ground coffee. You can pick up a few bottles of flour or spices to try out in your recipes at home.

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Avees website [link]

Caesar’s Air Cargo Service – Shipping from Kuwait

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When my wife and I finalized our decision to leave Kuwait, one of the things on our minds was transporting a few personal items by air cargo. We contacted three  air cargo services in Kuwait and based on the quick response, quoted price and  their service network we went with Caesar’s Air Cargo.

If you’re looking to do something similar I’ll breakdown the process we went  through;

Assessment: You’re charged for cargo on net weight or ‘volumetric’ weight, whichever is higher. They’ll send over their people to your place and they’ll  calculate both weight and size so that  they can give you a quote.

Packing: We did 80% of the packing on our own but we required their services for packing our delicate glassware and fragile equipment like my cameras and lenses. You will be charged an amount for the cardboard boxes, styrofoam, bubble wrap  etc. I must admit that their packing was really good as both glassware and my  photography equipment reached here without any damage.

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Storage: Caesar’s have a warehouse in Kuwait where you can have your cargo stored till you are ready to receive them in your destination country. We got a month’s free storage so we asked them to hold it there till I moved into a new apartment  in my new city.

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Customs and clearance: We were informed that we’d have to pay the local customs charges once the cargo arrived at the destination port. A couple of days after it  landed I received notice that I had to come and pick it up from the airport  warehouse. Only one of our boxes was opened for inspection and all the boxes were  cleared. The total charge was around 150 dollars.

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Pickup: Our final destination was the port of Chicago and the local agent didn’t have door to door delivery so a family member and I rented a truck from U-Haul and we picked up our boxes from the airport and drove back to my place which was  just an hour away. It was my first time using U-Haul and its a pretty good  service. You rent a truck that fits your requirement and drive it yourself. They  even provide hand carts or other equipment to help with moving boxes. Once you’re  done with the truck you can drop it off at the closest U-Haul office in your area.

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So in conclusion, our stuff arrived safe in the States and we had a good experience with Caesar’s Air Cargo services. You can contact the person listed on their contact page or visit their office in Farwaniya.

Head Office
Office No: 23, Ground Floor, Waha Mall Complex, Next to Farwaniya Traffic Dept.
Al-Dhajeej, Farwaniya Governorate, Kuwait.
Tel: +965 –24344561 / 24344519 / 24337907 / 24330767 / 24332970
Fax: 24313053

I’ve moved!

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As some of you might know, towards of the end of 2015 I moved out of Kuwait to pursue my career elsewhere. With the moving and setting up base in a different country its been a while since I’ve given any thought to the blog.

Now that I’ve blown off the cobwebs on the site you can expect to see updates on a periodic (or at least random) basis.

 

A Visit to Kuwait Dino Park

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A couple of weeks ago I took the kids to the Dino Park Exhibition that had been operating in Mishref since March. The exhibit was in an open area behind Hall 6 in Mishref International Fairgrounds. The main attraction was about a dozen or so animatronic Dinosaur puppets that had some basic movement and sound effects.

I grew tired of it after a while but the kids had a great time and after we had seen all the dinosaurs in action they had some fun on the amusement rides at the venue. If the park is still open I’d suggest you take your young children there as they’ll get a kick out of it.

The ticket prices were advertised as 4KD but when we visited it was 2.5 KD per person and children below 3 went in free. I was also trying out a new lens and took some strategically angled photos there to avoid the cluttered background but some of them needed some photoshop manipulation as well.

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Mais Alghanim – Lebanese Cuisine

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I’m surprised there hasn’t been any blog reviews for Mais Alghanim in all these years. Maybe because the place has been there for a long time and almost everyone I know has been there. Everyone except me, that is. In all my years in Kuwait I’ve actually never dined there and it has always been takeout orders, whether at the office or at client meetings.

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Last week a few friends and I went there to celebrate a recent event and we had a good time there and some of them enjoyed the items I suggested so I thought I’d post them here. This isn’t a full review of the place but rather a list of stuff I always order from there. I wish I were a little more adventurous and order the Kibbeh Nayyeh but maybe next time.

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Pan Fried Chicken Liver in Pomegranate Molasses

For starters we ordered the Hummous Beiruty, Assorted pastries platter and Fried Chicken Livers in Pomegranate Syrup. The last one is a personal favorite of mine and I’d decided on that even before we reached the venue. A few of my friends loved it too. For drinks we had some mint lemonades, colas and our old friend, the Saudi Champagne, that I wrote about a few years ago.

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The restaurant seems to be very smoker friendly and most of the tables around us had men and women lighting up and we ordered a bunch of Sheeshas for ourselves. I don’t smoke generally but I did enjoy puffing occasionally on the apple flavored sheesha.

The main course consisted of several orders of Mais Alghanim Grill platters that consisted of Shish Tawouk, Kababs, Tikkas, slices of Kentakli bread and French Fries and their Charcoal Grilled Chicken.

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Grilled Meat Platter

We ended the night with assorted desserts for everyone but I convinced a few friends to order the Um Ali which is one of my favorite Arabic desserts. For all the pictures you can click on the album link [here]

Um Ali

Mais AlGhanim is located on Gulf Road, opposite the Kuwait Towers and they have a location in Mahboula as well. Locations and maps [here] and the full menu is [here]

Senseless Killing of Wild Birds

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In a previous post I’d mentioned how my friends would go out into the desert to shoot the local wildlife and migratory birds. During the last couple of outings they had also come across instances where birds where shot with shotguns and other live ammunition and left there to die in the desert.

It’s a shame that people get a kick out of shooting these rare birds for fun then and leave them to die. A few months back there was even a news report of a crane shot on Gulf road, which is not only a danger to the birds itself but to passersby on the street.

As you can see from the pictures below, the desert habitats of these local and migratory birds are something that needs to be cherished and maintained in pristine condition. All photos taken by my friend Manoj Olikara.

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Now’s a Good Time For Comic Lovers

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The past year has been quite interesting for comic book lovers of both DC and Marvel camps. There has been quite an explosion of new shows and each one keeps getting better than the previous one! I used to consider the series; Gotham as my favorite of the bunch but today after watching the first episode of Daredevil I’ve changed my mind. I can’t wait to see the next episode of Daredevil!

I’ve compiled the list of popular comic book based/inspired TV shows below;

Daredevil [link]
“Matt Murdock was blinded as a boy in a tragic accident. An accident that also gave him extraordinary senses. Practicing as an attorney in Hell’s Kitchen, New York City by day, he fights as a masked vigilante at night.”

Gotham [link]
“Explores the origin stories of Commissioner James Gordon.  He is still a detective but he has yet to meet Batman and the villains who made Gotham City so famous.”

The Flash [link]
The Flash is the story of Barry Allen, a police scientist who is the victim of a freak accident. While working late, his lab is hit by lightning. The blast shatters a number of vials, so Barry is both electrocuted and bathed in dozens of chemicals. When he recovers, Barry finds that he has gained the ability to move at almost impossible speed.”

Arrow [link]
Arrow is a modern retelling of the DC Comic character Green Arrow. Multi-millionaire playboy Oliver Queen is missing, and presumed dead after a shipwreck at sea. He is found five years later, having survived on a desert island off his wits and by mastering the bow and arrow. When he returns to Starling City however, he discovers that it is rife with corruption and crime. Oliver decides to put his skills to use by taking on the persona of Arrow and becoming the vigilante that Starling City needs.”

Agent Carter [link]
“In 1946, Agent Peggy Carter is grounded after World War II, stuck in administrative work at the Strategic Scientific Reserve. However, industrialist Howard Stark asks for Peggy’s help clearing his name when his weapons are used to spread death and destruction”

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D [link]
“Based on Marvel’s fictional government organization, S.H.I.E.L.D.  It shows that not all heroes have to be super. Agent Phil Coulson (The Avengers) recruits a new team to go into the field and handle any cases involving the strange and the bizarre.”
Dark Knight at Burj Jassim

2015 Honda CRV Review

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As a long time automobile enthusiast I’ve often looked at global auto trends and compared them with the local market here in Kuwait. The most glaring difference is in the area of best sellers in both sedan and Crossover categories. One of these is the Honda CRV. Honda has three SUVs in their  portfolio starting with the MRV, the CRV and the HRV and I’ve seen all three vehicles even in Dubai but in Kuwait they don’t appear on the roads as much.

Last week I got an email from my contact at Honda asking if I’d like to take out the 2015 CRV for a spin. It was a great coincidence as one of my colleagues was looking to trade in his 2007 CRV and get the new one. I spent a weekend with the car and here’s my review on it but with a little difference this time.

Up until now I’ve only reviewed the sedans from Honda and this is the first Crossover I’ve received to review. I’m a married man and father of two kids and we’re a single car household so a crossover makes pretty good sense for a family man. I’ve had my own Outlander for 7 years now and it’s perfect for my kind of use.

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Whats new in the 2015 CRV?
Externally the CRV has undergone changes to the front that brings it more in line with its Honda siblings. The front grill and the headlights have styling elements that’s common in the Honda lineup. The new front is an improvement I must say, I didn’t like previous generation CRV that looked like it was missing something in the front bumper. The rear though is a love it or hate it affair and I’m not a big fan of the bulbous look. It may be functional in terms of increasing load area but looks-wise its not for me.

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