Here’s a photo heavy post from the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. I’ve been to a few aquariums but this has to be the biggest one I’ve seen so far and even more impressive is that it was opened in 1930!
One of my favorite sets here was the dolphin observation deck. I spent some time patiently watching people on the deck and really liked the dark silhouettes against the blue background. Hope you enjoy them.
As always, you can click on the pictures for a closer look in Flickr or visit the album directly [here]
So this is one of those posts that took about 4 years to make. Its a long story but to cut it short, I took these photos in 2013 and I shot all of them in RAW. Now thing about me shooting in RAW is that I sometimes get OCD about tweaking and processing and sometimes I overthink certain shots to the extent that I end up deleting all the processed ones and start from scratch. Finally these ended up in my archives I forgot about them till recently.
Since this was an aerial show I used the ‘spray and pray’ technique in the hope that I’d get at least a dozen or so good ones. I ended up with around 300 frames and finally just worked on two dozen and finally 19 made the final cut. So here they are 4 years later and was it worth the wait? Heck no! I’m quite disappointed in them actually since I was using my 55-200mm that had poor contrast and vignetting around the edges. Here you go!
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.
These were taken at the Riverwalk in Downtown Milwaukee,
Heeeeeey! The Bronze Fonz!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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]
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]
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.