Flipping the Page

I am moments away from closing the chapter of 2007. Everybody seems to have thrown their darts on 2008. Many have already evaluated 2007 for themselves. They are now waiting for the 12 o'clock of tonight to tick so that they welcome 2008 with the new resolutions that are freshly baked.

And I am still sitting there without my 2008 cake.

Neither I am ready to welcome 2008 nor am I excited about staying in 2007. I am stuck in the void. This is the first time that I have not yet audited myself beforehand or drew a plan for the New Year.

It is going to take me days to wake up and realize that it is time to achieve new milestones.

Meanwhile, I know there are two thing I could start with.

First, is to do something tonight rather than sit at home. Even if I know I could not have a special new year Eve and that it will be a normal one. It will never be like my last 2 exceptional New Year Eves.

The eve of 2006 was unique as I was among the crowd in Ethan Square in downtown who celebrated the night outdoors with alot of music, interviews with the public, parties, fireworks andthe whole countdown process. What a great memory it was as we were freezing under a temperature of -7 degrees. I still remember how the cold got to my sore feet. I still remember my numb purple fingers and the coldest hot dog I ate in my life.

The eve of 2007 was unique too. The 00:00 ticked on my watch as I was throwing the 5th or 6th pebble in the last pillar during my Hajj last year. After I threw my stones, I stood for a while and gazed at the thousands of pilgrims around me as they keep on walking . I look at my cousin and whisper: "happy new year". He responds with a smile and keeps on walking.

Second, is to make sure that I should get stressed out more often. 2007 was about discovering more about me by adopting a self-realization thinking practice. I have become a bit selfish by blocking those stress-inducing activities especially those ones caused by external factors. I think that 2007 was one of the least stressful years for me. However, I noticed that whenever I see myself in a stressful situation, even if it was a minute one compared to challenging ones I faced in my earlier years, I begin to panic and exaggerate unnecessarily about it. In addition to that, with each year that passes, it will be normal to start burdening more responsibilities, whether they are family obligations, work-related issues, or society expectations. And with this, comes new challenges and alot of decision making to do, thus up scaling my stress meter. Therefore, I need to tame myself back to those good days where I was capable of handling stressful situations calmly and in silent.

Nobody knows what 2008 has for us. But I will be there like you; standing in the queue waiting for 2008 to share its spoils of joy and sorrow. I hope I will be among those with the larger share of joys. J


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Egypt Trip (part 1)

Our flight to Egypt was scheduled on Monday Morning. This caused me quite a mini-problem since Monday was an official working day that I couldn't take as a leave. I wanted to avoid salary deductions by doing a single clock. So I drove to work at 7 a.m. Clocked in and just went straight to the airport. With a single clock, I can contest the fact that the machine didn't register my clock-out because its faulty and I'll start bitching about stupid technology.

(what the hell did I just say? What if a colleague at work reads this and start blackmailing me….Remove that part idiot)

We arrived at around 11 a.m. the first disappointment hit me when I discovered that my cellphone carrier was not roaming in Egypt. Not a big deal. We bought two temporary prepaid SIM cards to stay in touch.

we stayed in the NOVOTEL hotel . Considering the quality of 4 star hotels, The rooms are below average with bathroom doors that cannot be locked and a non-operational TV. On the other hand, It is near the airport (2 minutes away) which means that it does not have a Nile View. But other than that, the lobby is nice. The morning buffet was good. The hotel won its reputation for two things; the dancing nights organized in the tent and the infamous wedding hall.

I was excited that we still have the day ahead of us and we could do something more exciting. However, I wasted the rest of the day catching up on the lack of sleep that piled up; especially since I didn't sleep the night before.

By the time I woke up, (around 5 p.m), our traveling family friends had just came back from a trip to the pyramids. A trip that I already took twice before; one with my family 10 years ago and one with my University colleagues 5 years ago.

At around evening time, we joined with our hosting family friends and we went for a night out in down town, in Khan El-Khaleeli which I cannot describe it better than wikipedia. A touristic marketplace that's always a pleasure to walk in. I bought all my artifacts from the last trip from this place. I still keep in my book of memories that distant night that's 5 years old where me and my friend escaped the curfew imposed on us by the Head of our department. All he cared about was a respectable position in the regional programming competition in North Africa & Middle East. For us, it was a tourist trip that we wanted to enjoy. On that night, we went to a sliver shop that could carve our names in Hieroglyphic letters on silver pendants. I only enjoyed mine for one day before I got scolded by my muslim friends back at university who bashed me by saying that wearing necklaces is prohibited. I gave mine away to my younger sister but it didn't last more than a year as the silver polish faded away revealing the big scam that it was not pure silver after all.

Khan El-Khaleeli was not different than the last time I encountered. The attitude of the salesmen is still the same. They try to sell you an artifiact for 90 pounds but you end up getting it for 20 pounds. An artifact that they charge 60 pounds could be easily purchased with 15 pounds. I think Khan El-Khaleeli is the best place to start practicing your negotiation skills as much as it's the best place to profit from non-Arab foreigners who rarely negotiate prices.

Cairo in general is still the same. Once you unveil your camera to start taking photos or as early as you start speaking, you would be tracked by a herd of the locales who'd jump at any chance to serve you, give you a cheesy smile or even mutter the cliché "kol sana winta tayeb ya basha" (happy eid). But of course this does not come free of charge. The expected response for that protocol is to go out and give money (or eideyah as they call it) for those sad beggers. And if you don't follow their drift, they'd bluntly spill it out for you with "3ayzeen negeeb la7met il eid" (we want to bring some meat for eid) or "mafeesh 3edeyah ya basha?" (no holiday charity this year..?)

Day 2 was much better. After having breakfast, we decided to spend the rest of the day in Pharonic village. It was much different and better than last time we visited it. They took us back in time and made us live the culture of the Pharoahs, the industries, the agriculture and their lifestyle. I hope that the slideshow below would provide the best virtual tour.

One of the interesting things out there is the stick of Pharoah Tutankhamun. IF you look at the picture, the handle of the stick has statues of slaves. The legend says that he used to hold the walking stick the other way so that it shows the level of his pride and that slaves were always under him and equivalent to his feet level.

Other interesting things were the different museums such as the Alexander Museum, Jamal Abdul Naser & Sadat Museums, the history of pyramids and the mummification process. But the problem is that they know the process but they have not discovered the right volume and quantity of amounts to use. So the idea of being mummified at death is out of the question for me.

We completed our day with an outstanding night in a 2 hour boat trip on the Nile River that was featured by the Belly Dancer and the Tanoora Man show.

I went to sleep that night not knowing that thrilling events hidden for me on the dawn of my 3rd day..the Eid day.

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The prelude and postlude of my Egypt Trip


Just finished catching up on the things I've missed during my 10 day vacation; especially my cyber-related activities such as reading blogs, emails, checking facebook, organising pictures and many more. I am the only awake person in the house. Rest of the family are asleep. I can't blame them especially after having one of the worst flights ever.

Our flight was scheduled at 19:30 p.m on Thursday. But because of a silly mistake, Saudi Airlines sent a smaller plane that could not contain all the passengers for the flight. Unfortunately, we were among the victims who have been told to wait till the next plane that's scheduled at 2:10 a.m.; 7 hours later. Thanks to my dad's negotiation skills, we let them partially compensate us for the delay by letting us sit in the first class lounge.

Things didn't go as anticipated and the plane boarded at 5:30 a.m. We arrived at Jeddah at 8:30 a.m and we spent another damned 2 hours and half waiting for our bags to be transported from the aircraft to the shuttle. With the equivalent time wasted (almost 18 hours of airport time), I could have travelled to Canada.

But I won't this last day ruin the joy of the fabulous 10 days of my holiday. Such vacations help in recharging my batteries for at least 3 months of the routine life I am coming back to. I hope it lasts longer this time since my next vacation is in June.

The only drawback of this whole journey was the wintery weather. I swam for one day in Hurgada but only for 20 minutes. The water was so cold that it felt like swords piercing through my guts. It was the first time I swim in such cold water.

I was a bit hesitant about this whole trip. First, I am going with family. Second, we are going with family friends - who I never managed to tolerate despite the long friendship they have with my parents – since the day I was born i.e. more than 23 years of friendship. Third, our invitation to Egypt was by another close family friend that we have not seen for the last 12 years. So it was kind of awkward to see them again after such a long period especially since we haven't stayed in touch with their kids. So we were clueless to how they look like and how their characters have developed. Thankfully, none of my concerns were an issue. The Hosting family showered us with their generous hospitality and entertained us with their joyous sense of humour. I managed to get along with the annoying family and communicating with them only when necessary. And finally, I thanked God for travelling with my own family. Why would I complain when I have a father who pays, a mom who organises and packs, a sister who relieves me of my photographing duties by her obsession of capturing every single moment of our journey (for your information, she filled the camera's SD card (2 GB) twice...i.e. 4 GBs of pictures), and a brother who I bully to provide me with other services I require?

There is so much to tell. I'll post about them later. But right now, I need to get some sleep.

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Monthly Digest -End of Year special


and who said we don't have a cool king? ;)


It is always tragedic to hear about lives lost in an accident...or is it?

I was into action movies lately. The 4 movies I watched were those high-ticket movies such as:

Die Hard 4.0:

Maybe I am not a qualified person to comment on this movie as I have not seen any die hard movie before. But in general, the movie does not fail to bring something new in the world of action to the field. Die Hard 4.0 creates its own distinctive environment by showing how humans became fully dependent on technology. It shows how severe and damaging can the impact of "e-terrorism" induce.
One major thing that I didn't like about the movie was the villain. I never felt that the villain was evil or powerful enough. You always feel like he is an amateur geeky kid who acts on ad-hoc basis and never plan ahead. Throughout the movie, the villain always get humilated by the hero John Mclane even when Mclane is put in life or death situation.
Other than that, the script is well-written. The action scenes were well directed and you can already see creative ideas and new moves. Overall, I give this movie 7/10

Here again, I ask you to spare my life coz I never saw the original movie or series. Maybe that's why I didn't have the advantage of understanding some of the "inside" jokes that the original fans would enjoy.
I nominate this for the action movie of the year. Admiring the transformation that each one of those autobots go through is enough to leave you drooling.
The movie starts slowly or let's say normally with a quiet atmosphere. In the first part of the movie, they are setting up the plot and slowly building up to reach the climax. By the end of the first half, you already reached that scene similar to "armageddon" movie scene when they wave goodbye to their country and board their space shuttles.
The first piece of action triggers a chain reaction of action sequences that put you on a mind blowing roller coaster ride varied with battles, transformations, hide & seek strategies and many more. I think this is the first movie I unintentionally held my breath for the longest time and that's mainly because of the massive continuous action sequences that follow each other over such a significant period of time. All in all, this movie gets an 8/10.

Hostel 2:

I was a bit hesitant to go for this one considering my experience with Hostel 1 (a one that I didn't enjoy much..maybe coz I didn't watch it in ideal condition...it is very hard to concentrate when the only two people with you are making out and letting all their hormones out)
For those who didn't watch Hostel 1, the whole concept can be classified to two themes; Porn & Gore. there was no story at all and the relation between these two parts is non-existent to the extent you feel that what happend behind the scenes were as this movie was script written by a porn movie script writer who'd put nudity scenes for no reason at all. and then they fired him and they brought a fetish bloodthirsty psychopath to continue the job.
With Hostel 2, I think they corrected their mistake by bringing a schizophrenic person who'd use hostel 1 as a starting point to write a script based on his multiple personalities that are known for its satisfactory work in blending pornography & gore together in a reasonable way that justifies it.
Other than that, Hostel 2 was much better because the story is furhter developed. More information is shed on the origin of the cult and how do they select their clients and the process that the "contractors' go through. Moreover, the movie contains multiple huge twists that flips the movie 180 degrees to conclude with a shocking ending that makes you question how much humans are willing to sacrifice to survive even if it means losing their sanity and their morality.
It would be unjust to classify the movie under "horror" as it rarely has horrific moments. The movie is for strong hearted people who are willing to withstand alot of gore that are worse than SAW series. Yep, you heard it. some of the scenes are worse than SAW. In fact, there is one scene that kept haunting me in my nightmares for 3 days. So be careful. Overall rating 6/10.

Ocean's thirteen
Ocean's crew is back. Unfortunately, it is without the feminine touch of two of my favourite actresses, julia roberts and catherine zeta jones.
the plot of the movie refers to heisting a casino (similar to the story of Ocean's eleven). Again, the motive is personal and the heist could qualify to be considered the smartest heist plot ever existed. I so wanna talk about it but I don't want to ruin the movie.
Compared to Ocean's eleven, and ocean's twelve, I think that the prior movies were better. the dialogue in ocean's thirteen lacks depth and sarcasm. Although each crew member plays a crucial role in the heist, you feel that the plot focused on developing some specific characters and giving less credit for others as if their role was for support only. Overall, I give this 7 / 10.


I first heard this song as a soundtrack to an episode in smallville. It such a short track but really it is one of my favourites...

Blogospherian World

if we wanna talk about a post that I enjoyed reading every single word or (punctuation to it), then it is definitely Hani obaid's Killer Commas, Camp Horror Stories, Good Intentions, and Other Minutiae

Comically Illustrated:

Eid mubarak to all. Don't forget "kharoof El-eid" (Eid sheep)

Hamzatizing Moments:

I am racing with time as I write this. In 3 hours time, I'll be on a plane to Egypt to enjoy my eid vacation there. the plan is to stay in Cairo for 3 days. and then go to a new area called Ain El-Sokhna (literally translated to "hot eye") where its supposed to become the next Sharm El-Sheikh. and finally, we'll go to Hergada for another 3 to 4 days. That sums up a 10 day trip.
the weekend was extremely busy with the usual last minute shopping spree that we go through everytime. In addition to shopping for myself, I had to become a part time driver for my sister who drove me crazy by making me tour all the malls in the city.
I packed most of my stuff with the exception of my handbag. I am still debating with myself whether to pack the laptop or not. On one side, I don't wanna take it so that I can take a break from the technology world. Plus I don't want to waste my precious holiday moments hooked on it reading blogs or playing videogames.

Other than that, all I need is to put my camera (which I am charging right now) and a couple of the books I got from amazon.com AND speaking of books...

Since I am the only male guy existing in the current cyber book club, I announce myself as the Leader of the Club (hey I had the idea). No, just joking. We have no leaders. I am just a mediator.
Our club has prestigious members such as 7aki Fadi and her infamous book reviews . Sincere thanks to asoom for her continuous support for this initiative. I encourage those interested in participating in our club. the floor is open for anyone who is interested.
So, over this vacation, I am packing two books "love in the time of cholera" - our first reading assignment and a book many of us are interested in- and "Shadow of the wind" a book recommended by a fellow blogger; "Kinano" who efficiently utilizes his sick leaves by the huge magnitude of books he consumes. I hope he gets sick more often so that he'll have more books to review. Any other suggestions in the future will be welcomed.

Let's pull it together guys. We are gonna be the next big thing. We are gonna kick the butt of Oprah's book Club. :D

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Housemaid wanted

Around last eid, our housemaid gave us a notice that she is leaving and going back to Indonesia forever. It is not that she hated the country or hated working with us. On the contrary, we loved her. She was clean, humble, co-operative and her housekeeping was outstanding. It is very rare to find someone like her. But you gotta respect a woman who worked hard just to raise enough money to get her daughter to university. And when she did, it was time for her to go.

Ever since that day, we were searching for a decent replacement. We were extremely patient in finding someone who'd at least meet minimum standards. Instead, we dealt with bizarre situations with the ones that we tested during these 11 months. And I am willing to share with you some of the cases we had over that period:

Case 1: before I start talking about Maid 1, it is worth sharing with you my mom's theory when it comes to maids. Mom knows that each maid will eventually end up stealing from us. Mom has lost hope in finding an honest maid. Her main concern with each one we hire is to catch her steal the first time so we teach her a lesson and make sure she never repeats. This has been a very effective approach. Unfortunately, this was proven right every single time with ALL the maids that have served us during those 21 years. The best maid we had stole from us the first time but when mom caught her, she never did it during the rest of the 8 years she kept serving us. I've always rejected her hypothesis as I am an optimistic person and a believer in people's good intentions.

With Maid 1, mom caught her the first time and gave her the usual warning. Weeks later, my dad was irritated by some of the burnt light bulbs in the living room's chandelier. While he was changing the bulbs, he discovered that one of our old cell phones; (my sister's backup phone that she lost a couple of days ago) was just hanging in there. Now some of us have our crazy moments. But why would someone hide a cell phone among chandelier bulbs with a SIM card full of Philippines' contact names. The maid refused to admit it when we confronted her.

Days later, I wake up to go to work. Like every morning, I shower and shave. And when I shave, I usually tend to lock the door of the washroom. It just so happened on that day that I got an SMS message before I wanted to shave and went to my room to check it. And what a nice scene I see especially when I find her there mingling through my wallet. Oh man, for how long has she been stealing from me? How could I've been so careless?

I asked the obvious question "what are you doing"? and she defended herself by saying "she is arranging my business cards and money". What kind of a silly reply is that? Do I have a big "LOSER" sign on my forehead? That's enough, it was time to show her the door.

Heh..and here I thought I could disapprove one of my mom's theories.

Case 2: nothing beats network communities among housemaids and word of mouth. When searching for maids, the first people you'd ask are the maids of family friends if they know someone who would be interested. We Got Maid 2 which is apparently a friend in the same community that our ex-maid was part of. She came and she impressed mom with her clean work, her organisation and her attention to detail. We all liked her...except my sister.

Now that came to me as a surprise, especially since my sister becomes socially active and is always the first one who'd befriend new maids. Hmmm...maybe that explains the VIP treatment and special room delivery service she always had. Ah smart sis..

Anyway, back to the point. So My sister didn't like her. My sister justified her concern by saying: "Hamza, she is too cool. Look at those stylish jeans she is wearing. Look at her expensive cellphone. Look at her thin sexy body. She is no maid".

Ah, someone is jealous but that's an interesting theory. Maybe I can...and a running stream of ideas flush their way to my head.

36 hours later, my mom wakes up and finds me dying of laughter. It took her a couple of minutes to realize that the maid has just escaped, opened up the door when everybody was sleeping and just ran away. I just couldn't stop myself from laughing. This is the first time that a maid escapes form us. Till now, they don't know what happened.

Case 3: maid 3 didn't last too long simply because she had attitude problems. She was not doing her job right and when we criticised her in a constructive way to clean better, she starts arguing. All what we did is ask her to clean behind couches and to swipe the dust over the edges. When she actually did it, she came to me and said "Go check it. I hope you like it now. Now you have no excuse for anything". I was like what the? Is she trying to brag about herself and insult me?

Later, we asked her to clean windows but she refused on the basis that she never had to clean windows in her life. Well, excuse me if you served dirty families but we are not. She gave us another excuse that she has shoulder problems and her doctor does not allow her to strain her shoulder!!! Oookay fine

Next day, she wakes up and complains about her sudden tooth ache and how she "urgently" needs to go see the doctor. Now that's it. It was time to put a stop to this crap. So we just paid her for the 3 days she served us and discharged her.

Case 4: unlike Maid 3's mediocre work, Maid 4 was good. However, she had an annoying problem. She was toooo social. I rarely saw her cleaning without her cellphone. She'll be ironing the clothes, swiping dust, washing dishes while she is on the phone. Well, we can learn to survive with the gibberish Eritrean noise.

2 days later, she asks mom for half a day leave. She is doing shopping with her sisters. Permission Granted. Next day, she asks for another day leave; she has a wedding to attend. Permission Granted. 3 days later, she wants another day leave; a funeral to attend. Permission Granted but now we are pissed. That's 3 leaves in one week.

When it was time for her 4th request (her mom is sick and she wants to take care of her), we were extremely generous as we granted her a "permanent Leave".


And the search still continues...

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Mom and her new hobby

What a great life I am living. Within this week, I got only 6 SMSs. Ever wondered what were they?

Two of them were from MOBILY (my cellphone network provider) who for some weird reason always keep sending me a notification in both Arabic and English telling me to pay my bill. I mean just send it in one language. Not both.

The other four were from the hospital. I gotta admit. I admire the hospital's initiative in utilizing technology and sending SMS notifications of the next scheduled appointments we have. But honestly, I feel a bit uncomfortable when I get one of those messages because I know it's not for me. It's for my mom.

Apparently, mom has developed this hobby of visiting dcotors or, putting in other words, abusing our medical insurance. It all started with "Hamza, let's go to the hospital to check my blood pressure". "Mom you are ok. There is nothing wrong with you" I say, but she keeps telling me that I am not the doctor and she might have something and she wants to be diagnosed early rather than late. So I listened and I did.

3 days later, "7abeeby, take me to the hospital...I wanna do an ECG".

Me feeling a bit worried "Mom, your doctor said your blood pressure is not high but you gotta watch it. He didn't ask us to do an ECG"

"I know, I am just being cautious"

And So I took her one more time. Thankfully, the results were ok but she needs to constantly monitor herself and be cautious. So far so good, but something inside told me that my mom was not satisfied.

A week later, the same request pops up. This time she wants to check her thyroid glands. She argued that her family (her mom and her sisters) suffer from Hypothyroidism and that it might be hereditary and she wanted to check it up. As usual, I kept hiding my increased anxiety towards her excessive obsession about her health.

This time the results disappointed me. The doctor's latest diagnosis concluded that she indeed suffered from "Hypothyroidism" and she has to deal with the fact of using lifetime medications. Such news could never ring well in my ears.

So up to now, my mom has committed herself to 3 separate doctors that she deal with on a regular basis. To my surprise, I feel that my mom is a bit satisfied as if she is enjoying taking care of herself. Well, I don't wanna blow her bubble but I hope her obsession will not become paranoia. If she ever asks me to take her to the dentist, then we are going to have a serious talk. I'd have to explain to her the concept of medical insurance and that it is not fully FREE, and that I have to pay a portion of each invoice and check-up.

But I know I will never do that. If she knew that I pay a portion of her treatments even if it is insignificant, she'll feel guilty and she'll only go when it is an emergency. At the same time, I don't want her to surprise me with further unanticipated symptoms of old age. Because this means that she will soon start giving me the "talk"...

the taking care of my brother & sisters talk. A one I am not ready for yet.


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Replica Shopping

Shopping has never been a big deal for me. I am not one of those people who go "brand" shopping; those who only wear LEVIS, DIESEL, or LEE COOPER jeans; only wear ALDO or CLARKS shoes etc. For me (and this might sound crazy), shopping is about building a relationship with a garment. If I feel I like that piece, then most probably I'll get it even if it was an unknown brand.

At the same time, I have my limit. I know that there are places that I'll never shop in; especially those neighborhoods that are in down town where clothes are sold at peanut prices. I just can't accept this to myself.

And as I've said, when I buy something, it is to satisfy me and be happy about it – not to show off in front of others how filthy rich I am or to show the brands I wear. But lately, I am starting to get pissed.

One of the exceptional things about living in this side of the world is the cheap prices you will find for some of the best brands out there. You are talking about 60 to 70% difference in pricing. And that's basically because of the widespread of "replica" products.

Over the summer, I met a couple of my friend's friends and they astonished me with their experience in buying the best with the cheapest price.

Try to imagine my feeling when I see that a guy bought an elegant classy SEIKO watch that's worth 30 riyals compared to my normal good 350 riyal SWATCH; cool amazing RAY-BUN sunglasses that look like they are worth 400 riyals while in fact they were purchased for less than 20 riyals. These provocative events can't stop me from feeling a bit frustrated by all those who shop replicas. I can't help myself to stop cursing them.

But alas, those days are over. I am joining their league. I came to realize more advantages about replica shopping. Other than the cheap prices, you will have more variety than the originals because each place will present for you a different set with different design while maintaining the brand. Second, the fact that replicas deteriorate faster will justify going back to shopping and getting the latest out there without feeling any kind of remorse for the old piece.

Damn, I feel so cheap.

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Wadi Mur

What an outstanding weekend. I think it was the best weekend I had in this year.

It is not that often that you find people who are willing to go on a camping trip. It all started with an email being circulated by a fellow colleague. The plan was to go to a valley 3 hours away (called Wadi Mur) from Jeddah, camp and sleep there for the weekend. I loved the idea since I haven't camped before.

We left at around 2 p.m. I joined the guys at CARREFOUR where they were shopping for what we need for the trip. Tents...check. Food..check. Mattresses..check. Apparently, the guys were experts in camping and they knew what to get. One of the guys even packed one of broken down old dining rooms that were thrown away, lying in the dust. Wood is always good for a bonfire. :D

The absence of signs and the fact that the roads were not paved forced us to be on 4-wheel drive all the time with our only source of guidance was an old 1995 guidebook that was guiding us by resetting our odometer at specific points and calculating the number of kilometres we drive. A typical description was like this: "reset your odometer at 0. After driving 14 kms north east, you'll see palm trees, take right..and drive 32 kms till you see a small farm. Take left And drive 35 kms....etc"

3 hours later, we were there. We picked a great spot that was between a small cliff and a running stream. We set up the tents before it got dark and we climbed up the cliff to a decent spot where we could enjoy the sight of the sun set.

As much as I write, nothing could describe the serenity and the beauty of that night. A night illuminated by a full moon, instrumental music and a bonfire. We shared many great stories and jokes. It was a chance to know each other especially since most us meet for the first time. It is not very often that I hang out with such a unique group; a group that consisted of:

i) Yours truly
ii)an Egyptian guy who spent many years in Cambodia and Mauritania. He basically spent a significant portion of his life camping in the wild
iii)a Maldivian with his kick-ass 10.2 megapixel NIKON camera equipped with God knows what Lens that can support up to 134x ZOOM. In other words, he is a professional photographer
iv) A half Saudi half Swedish guy (weird mix..eh?) who got his degree in Australia and spent 9 months of his life on an environmental project in East Timor
v) An American Egyptian who was an intern in the White house. He was the guy who drafted the speech for the UN American ambassador who vetoed against condemning Israel for the murder of Sheikh Ahmad Yassin.

So considering the composure of our group that give the impression that we are a bunch of amateur foreigners, I think our biggest achievement that night was not getting ass-raped and lose our anal virginity, especially after a bunch of strangers passed by at around 11 p.m. who tried to befriend us and wanted to investigate more about us. We were worried for some time as they camped somewhere near and every once in a while, they'd send out a scouting car near our camp.

By the time we woke up at dawn to watch sun rise, all of us were itching from the mosquitoes that feasted on our skin for the whole night. Well, this isn't too bad considering that we didn't become a feast for other animals, especially those dogs/wolves tracks that I've noticed around our camping site.

At around 9 a.m, we packed our stuff and headed home. On our way back, we stopped by King Abdullah Economical City, and King Abdullah University of Science & Technology. Those were the two big projects that are being heavily campaigned as future projects that will rejuvenate the Jeddah district and attract many foreigners to Saudi Arabia. It is their way of imitating the Jebel Ali & University City areas of Dubai. By the constructed civil works we've seen, it looks like it is a very promising project.

On our way, we passed by Rabigh city and chilled for a while on the beach. For those who don't know, Rabigh is an industrial city that is famous for having the biggest oil refinery in the world. We continued our journey back home and by mistake we ended up in Durrat Al-Arus. Entering that place is an accomplishment by itself as it is usually reserved for high class families who own a resort there. As the Wikipedia link says, its a tourist village that has the American lifestyle theme and it is a "very liberal and open-minded village that is far away from Saudi Arabian traditions". I guess that says it all. We managed to sneak past the security and swim for 2 hours there.

After that, we went for lunch at one of the famous restaurants lying on the outskirts of Jeddah where you personally choose and pick the fishes and ask the cooks to make it grilled or fried depending on your preference. This delicious meal was the perfect way of ending our long enjoyable journey.

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nombres en français

So I am now infected like the others. My life is becoming ultra-boring as it is slowly being shaped by that vicious disease called "routine". It robs from us the precious moments of our valuable time. It breezes by us and leaves us wondering "is it November already? What have I done in my time". Between working 9 hours or more, sleeping, and time spent in showering, eating and driving..There is little room left to enjoy ourselves on weekdays. The only time I have to enjoy would be weekends, which by the way I rarely do since I try to catch up on all the sleep I missed, the books I didn't read and the videogames I didn't play.

So like any other problem I face, I try to rectify the situation with my usual unconventional solutions. I decided to minimize my short-term pleasures (the ones I'd enjoy on a weekend among friends in a coffeeshop, billiards etc) and engage in more routine activities that will yield beneficial results on the long-run.

So, for the last month, I've been going to my gym on Sundays and Tuesdays. And on Saturdays, Mondays and Wednesdays, I am taking French lessons Level 1. It is always have a third language up your sleeve and I really regret not learning French at an earlier stage in my life.

French is not a tough language to learn especially if you keep associating it with English. Nevertheless, I noticed some differences in the semantics and the way French handle pronouns. In English we refer to "they" for both men and women. But in French, it is 'ils' for men and "elles" for women. Moreover, French differentiate between a formal "you" that you use among strangers and an informal "you" that you use among pals. A formal "you" is "vous" and an informal you is a "toi".

The second weirdest thing about French is the numbers. In both English and even Arabic, if you wanna refer to a 2 digit number, let's say 34, you'd take the "thirty" and add to it the "four" to make it thirty four. Same goes for 72..its "seventy" (70) "two" (2) etc.

The system is the same in French. 64 is "soixante quatre" where "soixante" is 60 and "quatre" is 4. 25 is "vingt sept" where "vingt" is 20 and "sept" is 5.

However, and for an unknown reason, numbers beyond 70 starts to get complicated. My only guess is that somebody really pissed off the French mathematicians. The 70 in French is the "soixante-dix" (60+10). So 76 is "soixante dix six" which is like saying (60+10+4 = 74). The same thing applies to the 90 numbers. 92 would be "quatre-vingt-dix deux". Its like saying "80 10 2" (quatre-vingt is 80). This only happens among the 70-79 and 90-99 numbers. Luckily, the 80-89 numbers escapes this anomaly and follow the normal and usual numerical system like the other numbers from 20 t0 60.

These are my basic finding so far. I still have 6 more weeks to finish the courswe. I guess that by the end of level 1, I'll be able to engage in a 2 minute conversation with the locals in France that'll end up with me screaming "please let me talk to one of the representatives in my god-damned embassy".

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A penguin among eagles

It was one of those Saturday nights. We were hanging out in the parking lot of the TIM HORTONS near my house. Just doing what we "usually" do.

One of us started an interesting discussion saying:

"Guys, what do you think is the biggest number in the world?" said Jesus

"I think its the number of stars in the sky" said Gremlin Ears

"well, in the quran, we say "allah akbar" as much as the number of leaves on the tree" said Mo

"or the number of sand granules in the world" said Big J

"or the number of water droplets in the ocean" sadi Jesus

"yea that makes sense. Coz our earth is 75% water. So its definitely number of water droplets" said stoner

"GUYS, I found it"...I said

All eyes fixed on me

"I think its the number of bits of everything that's quantifiable in the world since the inception of time"...I said it with the excitement of Archimedis when he screamed "EUREKA"

All eyes still fixated on me as we share a moment of silence...before Big J blasted out:

"Hamza...how many....times...have we...told you...NOT TO HANG OUT WITH US IF YOU DON'T WANNA GET F##$@%$ HIGH?"

Oh well, it was just another one of those many times where I felt like a penguin trying to fly among eagles.. Apparently, I didn't manage to join them in their "special" mood.

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Unforseen Woohoos

WOOHOO #1: wooohoo. I got my honey back. In my last trip to Sudan, the government of Darfur had thanked us in its own way by offering each one of us a tank of pure honey. Unfortunately, Sudan Airways refused to ship the contents on the aeroplane. We are talking about 5 kgs of pure Darfur honey for each one of us. So, we had to leave them with our accompanying driver from the Ministry of Finance.

Luckily one of our colleagues, who went there for vacation, managed to retrieve them from the Ministry (who I thank for keeping them for a period more than 2 months) and managed to ship it with back with him to KSA. Honestly, I don't like honey, but I'll force myself to enjoy every single dip of it.

WOOHOO #2: today in the morning I met my colleague as I was parking my car. He is the closest guy to me at work since we both joined the same program at around the same time in the same department. We meet up with another colleague (let's call him Uzbei) who we haven't seen since eid il fitr. And this is how the conversation went in the elevator:

"so how was your vacation?" said my friend
"good..." said Uzbei
"just good?"..

"actually very good"..
moment of silence...
"I got engaged" ..said Uzbei
"yea..me too" said my friend
"ah nice..when?" said Uzbei
"just last week"...said my friend
"ah great. So Congratulatons to both of us...see ya later" said Uzbei.

I am standing there in shock telling myself "WHAT THE HELL JUST HAPPENED?". I overjoyed for both of them but at the same time I am bewildered by the their coldness. I mean these 2 get engaged and for them it is not a big deal..like some certificate or an achievement they've accomplished. Seriously, wow. I never felt I'll see this day coming.

WOOHOO #3: woohoo to my sister.. She started her first job this Saturday. Her job is in the interior design domain where she has to basically provide advice and sketch designs to meet the needs of her high-profile clients. And when I am talking high-profile, we are talking about the prestigiously rich & royal class. She is in her 3rd day and she already met a former prime minister of Pakistan and his daughter, and made a couple of visits to the Mansion of a prestigious princess from KSA's royal family (King's Sister to be exact).

My sister is getting depressed each time she comes home. She can no longer dine in our 4 x 3 m2 kitchen. The smallest kitchen she saw at the mansion is 400 x 300 m2. 200 security guards, and over 15 cars are all bits and pieces of the luxury she saw. Nobody is allowed unless he/she prays 2 rakaas in the mosque built inside the mansion – built for the exclusive use of her majesty.

Of course, The shop my sister works at can never cater the likes of you and me. A vase that's worth 30,000 riyals and a small painted portrait that's about the size of the palm is around 1000 riyals. A living room with 3 sofa sets is worth over 150,000 riyals..and the list goes on and on and on.

Life is ironic. It keeps on surprising me. I should learn never to underestimate others, especially my sister who I've always bullied.

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Sick & tired of...

  1. People thinking I am SYRIAN. All the people I met in the last 5 years of my life never guessed my heritage (literally none). The first thing that pops to their mind is "are you Syrian?".God damn it. I've had enough of this crap especially after a cab driver in my own country wanted to overcharge me for his fare because he thought I am Syrian. God damn it. I've never visited Syria in my life. With the exception of my grandmother (who I see her only in the summer), neither my father nor my mom are Syrian. So is it like a curse that will burden me to eternity because of my own self-customized accent that consists majorly of a Syrian dialect. Is it because of all the damned years I spent with the company of the Syrian community or is it the post-effect of watching too much "maraya" series in my teenage years?
    But seriously, the Syrian accent is much easier to pronounce and softer on the ears compared to Palestinian or Jordanian accent. If you wanna confirm something, Syrians/Lebanese say "eih". Palestinian/Jordanian say "AAAH"..Seriously, stare at the mirror and try to say "eih" and try saying "aah". With the "aah", I feel like a predator who's gonna start feasting on his prey. Same for the use of "QAF" letter where Palestinians/Jordanians replace it with "GAF" while Syrians just remove the roughness and make it "Aaf" such as "GALOOLI" and "ALOOLI". And the list goes on and on.
    The only time I took this as a complement is when I met someone the other day and he started "so you from Syria?". I raged and snapped at him "God damn it, WHY WOULD YOU THINK I AM SYRIAN? WHY CAN'T I BE JORDANIAN OR PALESTINIAN?". He just said: "hmmm, you smile alot".
  2. Being always the youngest. "Oh, you are the youngest employee among all our 950 employees in this institution", "you are the youngest person in our program/team/training course"... "Oh you are the youngest student in our university/college/institution"."Oh, you are the youngest person to register for this exam". God damn it, So what if I entered university at age of 16 and was doing my postgraduate degree at age of 19 and started working at age of 20.. GET OVER IT PEOPLE.

    and you know what? In all my life, I never won an award for being the "youngest in .....". So in case you thought people say it because they are impressed with me, then think again.

  3. My Skin. If I ever get to choose what animal I wanna be, I'd definitely be a snake so I can peel off my skin every once in a while.

    You have no idea how much I hate my skin. It is the same skin that was infiltrated by infinite attacks of acne during my teenage years for a period that lasted more than 6 years. Back then, I tried all kinds of crèmes, pill solutions, and I was naive enough to buy PROACTIVE solution (a tv product that Britney spears, kanye west, and Jessica Simpson used) and you know what? Its all crap.

    Infiltration is back now but this time its in the form of moles in my back rather than my face. I visited 2 dermatologists and both of them have said to me the same thing:

    "not to expose myself to the sun"

    Me sitting in the patient's chair waiting for him to complete his sentence before we shared an awkward moment of silence that I broke with

    "how long?"


    Oh Great. So apparently, my skin has the potential of growing random irregular moles every once in a while. The process is accelerated by activities like sunbathing, tanning or anything that involves exposing my ultra-sensitive skin to the Sun. And you know what the fun part is? I have to monitor the development of those moles to ensure that they don't develop into skin cancer moles. And how do I do that? By photographing my back every few months. Thanks to the brochures I am reading, as long as these moles have a uniform color, round shaped, and have a diameter that's less than 6 mm, then I am ok.

    Great..So no more sun and forget about the idea of getting a tan for this stupid pale skin. Akh, where are vampires when you need one?

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Monthly Digest October


so you are in sitting in the coffee shop sipping your cup of tea or coffee. and you want more milk. How would you react if you get...this.


KSA has issued new penalties for those who violate its Traffic Flaws. They are listed below

and they say we live in the 21st century...*sighs*


Blood Diamond

I had this movie in my stack for the last 6 months. I always hesitated to watch it because its a 2 hour and half movie.

Its A great movie with a great cast and a great script. Its one of those movies that help serve a cause. It directs a message to the audience telling them of what they can do to stop the spread of more blood diamonds in the black market.

I am surprised that it didn't win any oscars. I'd give it 8/10.

Grindhouse (Death Proof)
I was very excited when I heard about the joint collaboration of Robert Rodriguez & Quentin Tarantino to make "Grindhouse". I was hoping that it will be a successful movie like "Four Rooms". Unforunately, I was disappointed to say the least. Quentin Tarantino's movie talks about a psycho who enjoys squishing girls with his "death proof"(a car used in movie stunts). Like most Quentin Tarantino's movies such as "Reservoir Dogs" and "Pulp Fiction", you end up spending most of the movie listening to some crazy crap topics being discussed. this time its all boring girl talk. the movie does not have enough violence and gore that we are accustomed to in similar Quentin Tarantino Movie (Except for one flying body part scene). The storyline is totally crap. Only the last 30 minutes of the movie are watchable that got ruined by a highly unsuitable ending. Rating: 4/10

Grindhouse (Planet Terror)

Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror isn't any better. Like "From Dusk till dawn" and "Desperado", Robert Rodriguez's latest work builds up around the same theme and element in which you have an action movie that begins with a very serious tone & script that quickly changes to an extremely odd script. Combined with bizarre visual effects and few comical scenes every now and then, you end up with another extremely moody movie that leaves you asking yourself "how the hell did this movie end up like that?". What this movie lacks in its storyline is compensated by its varied and uniquely creative action stunts. I'd give this movie a 5/10.

88 Minutes
A movie that's scheduled to be released in cinemas in 2008. But don't ask me how I ended up with its DVD release. Being a big fan of AlPacino, I was not going to miss another crime-thriller movie that has a striking similarity to "insomnia" in the way the story unfolds. The movie talks about a psychiatrist and a college professor who receives a phone call from an anonymous telling him that he got 88 minutes to live. With the movie being 105 minutes in length, you live minute by minute with Dr.Jack Grimm trying to find the one behind the death threats and whether one of his college students is behind the attack or not. the movie would not be a blockbuster but it must be on your "to watch" list if you a big fan of thriller and crime movies. Rating: 8/10.


I am not a fan of Timbaland or Fall out Boys. But this is just one of those one-time songs that stick in your head.

Comically Illustrated:


the past week in my life was horrible. I reverted back to the old blog template because I couldn't come up with a better design. After googling for hours on templates on the internet, and playing with the colors, I gave up because I couldn't find anything special.. I will delay the task when I come up with a more creative idea and after I install a decent GUI web designing tool like Frontpage or anything similar. The process of nitpicking at the HTML code and modifying it manually and running the code each time is painful and time consuming.

In addition to all that, I've been overwhelmed at work where I wasted hundreds of braincells on a boring brainless task related to data entry. Its funny how karma gets back at you. 9 months ago, I was the one working with the IT consultants requesting our clients to do the data cleaning assignment to help us in the data migration. But nowadays, I am on the other side where I am being instructed by the IT team to do the data cleaning needed for the data migration.
The data entry part is easy. The hard part is to reconcile with my colleagues and chase them to provide me with the correct data. In addtion to that, there was an ongoing training on Monday, tuesday and Wednesday that was related to SAP BI (Business Intelligence) Reporting that I didn't wanna miss. My director would never approve me attending this course because I have a training upcoming the next week. So I decided to attend it and never tell them about it. And during tea breaks and lunch breaks, I'd go back and chase after my colleagues to complete the data cleaning assignment.
I planned to spend the whole Wednesday night to complete the pending data entry records. However, my computer suddenly switched itself off at 6 p.m. Later, I discovered that the power system in my workplace is configured to cut the power source at that time (an indirect way of penalising me for overworking). So, I was forced to work overtime on Thursday (although we are not entitled to overtime) to finish my pending task.
I've already mailed my hand-over note for this assignment and I just hope that they will not interrupt my training with a follow up on the progress of the data cleaning especially since the deadline is on Monday.

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Vundo, Generic.dx, Downloader_BFC – next generation viruses


I have been testing all kinds of antiviruses to see which one is more reliable. On my sister's laptop, I have kaspersky. On my personal laptop, I have NOD32 and on our home computer had MCAFEE .

Around 2 weeks ago, the internet explorer on my home computer started crashing more often. I get random pop-ups every few hours despite the fact that pop-up blocker is installed. First thing I did is to do a system scan with the Mcafee. Didn't detect anything. I forgot that it is unlike kaspersky and NOD32 where you have to update MCAFEE manually. So after I did that, I kept getting virus alerts about the existence of random viruses such as "vundo", "generic.dx" or "downloader-bfc". What was even more annoying is that none of them can be cleaned. It would start with a pop up screen saying that a certain file is infected and showing the path for it. But then when you go to investigate the path, the file is no longer there.

Apparently, the viruses work by generating files in C:\windows, C:\windows\system32 and in C:\program files\common files and all paths that you wouldn't wanna miss with. What's even worse is that it'll create random .dll & .exe files that leaves you guessing on whether these are system files windows need or not.

That's why googling a solution was not really helpful as each case is computer specific. The files infected at your pc would differ than the ones infected at mine. And that's why all those guys who are infected ended up consulting an online technician who'd provide you with tools to use and we'll request you to post back a log file of the scan results. Accordingly, he'll study the log files and will manually be able to nitpick the path files you need to remove.

After I gave up on removing the viruses by myself (which I find it very humiliating as I come from a computer science background and I pretty much consider myself a techy person), without the need of formatting my pc, I went for my last option of creating an account on forums.techguy.org and asked for help. More on my experience with those viruses can be found here.

I'd like to thank racenutalways for his patience and for helping me to get rid of these annoying viruses. From all this, I learnt my major lesson. I uninstalled MCAFEE and now I am using AVG antivirus which is much faster and much more efficient.

The last 2 weeks left me in awe for those virus writers who got so creative that created viruses that create such random, computer-specific files making a universal removal tool almost possible.

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Mechatrinus goes under the knife

Thank you Eshda3wa.

The last thing I did before leaving home was read eshda3wa's latest post. I drove my brother & sister to the bookstore. We stayed there for nearly 2 hours (oh reminds me of the cold winter days of Canada where I used to stay in Chapters before they kick me out when the shop closes), picked up Hardeez for dinner and dropped them back home. Then WHAM...my first accident.

Thank you Eshda3wa....again.

We were waiting for the the green light. Me on the middle lane. Him on my right. As the lights turned green, we both were heading straight. However, I felt his car deviating left to my side. Of course he wasn't paying attention. He was talking on his cell phone. I honked. I braked. I tried to avoid him but he ended up knocking me off. Nothing happened to his 92 Isuzu while my newly 2 month born Mechatrinus has been distorted with scratches. At first, I was mad because I was having my first accident and I over-estimated the damage. After I came down and looked at the impact, I was relieved (you can barely call it an accident) but then I remembered that the guy was approaching so I put back my frowny face and started the thing I am good at...complaining:

"oh man. Its a new car. Its a 2007. Oh boy, what can i do about it? Man, I honked at you. You were not pay attention. Of course you were talking on your cellphone. You guys are..."

The guy walked to me with a motionless face. He stared at me and said the following:

"First, Salamu Alaikom. Second, park your car somewhere near so that you don't block the road. Trust me, you don't want another accident. I know It is totally my fault. Don't worry, I am gonna compensate you as soon as the damage is assessed. But first, let me call the cops. Get your IDs ready"

Wow, I didn't expect him to be co-operative unless I am falling into some trap..

"I bet this is your first accident. Don't worry. Things are gonna be ok. We will call the cops and we'll go through the regulations together. If you don't trust me, you can call your dad to verify this information"

God damn it. Is he a mind-reader?

So I made my phone call. I briefed my dad about the situation. He was co-operative and gave me few tips on handling the situation.

In few minutes, the cops arrive. And the guy did all the talking. He told him how it was totally his fault and that we don't wanna escalate things. No need for a detailed report coz its a small bump and all we need is this clearance paper to present to any car garage so that I can get my car fixed. What's even more surprising is that the guy didn't need this paper coz he does not want to fix his car. So, he was basically volunteering to assist me.

In 10 minutes, we were done with the cop. He told us to go the nearest police station to continue the rest of the regulations. It was 12:00 a.m. and it was too late for that. Moreover, i have to wake up for work tomorrow at 6:30 a.m. So I barely have time to sleep. So we decided to delay it till tomorrow morning. He gave me his card, number and made sure that I note down his license plate number and he iterated more than once that I call him early morning whenever i wanna go to the police station. I thanked him for his support and we parted off on good terms.

Half an hour later, he calls me: "Hamza, how much money do you need to fix this bump??"

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOK. That caught me by surprise because he is the one calling. Not me..."hmm..I'll get back to you".

Time for another consultation call with dad.

I called him back and told him how much I approximately need.

15 minutes later, he calls me.

"Hamza, make sure to go to the station in north western Jeddah, not the one in east or south. It is on..." and he gave me directions.

"Ok, thank you. I'll meet you there tomorrow"....wow, too good to be true.

Next day, I wake up and go to work normally. At 9, he calls me: "Hamza, wanna meet up there at 10 a.m.? trust me, let's go there early before it gets crowded or they start to get all moody on us"

All that time and I am talking to myself, am I the one whose car is damaged or is it his car?

So we meet up there. And I wish everything was as smooth as that guy.

The Jeddah Traffic Department is rated to be the worst government office you'd enter. They have the laziest; most uneducated, arrogant, hostile officers ever. They have no sense of respect for the person they deal with. The first thing I said as I walked in was "Kol 3am wintoo bikheir". No response. Before we started to present our case, he raged and said "come back on Saturday". We do some begging. "come back after dohr". More ass-kissing. "we ran out of registration forms and the officer with the registrations forms is not here. He might show up and he might not because its eid". So we had to succumb to our fate and wait.

The normal regulations you go through during an accident go as follows: first, a cop investigates a scene and writes a brief report about the accident (already done). If the two parties decide to solve it among them, then all you need is this clearance paper from the traffic department that they have assessed the accident and they are OK with it. If the two parties don't reconcile, then its a whole different story. The cops need to write a detailed report and decide who to blame. After that, they would request an estimate of the cost of the damage for the cars from 3 different garages, and they'll take the lowest.

For us, it was just simple. We only needed that freaking paper for the clearance coz the guy is going to pay me the money.

After 1 hour, the officer who runs the department came and in him we saw our saviour from this cursed land. But all our hopes went to no avail when he brushed us out saying its none of his business.

That was unbelievable. If the cop running the department is saying "none of my business" then whose business is it.

As time ticked by, we waited and we discovered that we are not the only ones. We have witnessed over 18 cases where they only resolved one case just because the guy was injured and was bleeding from his severe injuries. We were all sitting in the waiting room while 5 officers are in one shared office drinking their coffee and eating from a plate of sweets.

I wish I don't have to go through this every time I had an accident. I wish I knew an underground car garage for thugs who do "hit & runs"; who would never ask about this clearance paper. It would have saved me all the hassle.

2 hours later, I got this silly blue slipped paper. After we finished from the damned traffic department, I thanked the guy for his support and help because he was literally following up with the cops like if it was his car. You won't find guys like this very often.

Overall, I am extremely delighted with my experience.

  1. First, I am starting to master the art of "ass-kissing", thanks to the skills I've gained in those memorable 2 hours.
  2. The guy was extremely helpful & supportive. He literally followed up with the cops like if it was his car. You won't find guys like this very often.
  3. About a month ago, while I was parallel-parking, I scratched the car in the same area. Now with the compensation amount, I can get to fix both damages. I would've been soo pissed if I have crashed in the same area after I fix it. Hmm..you know what? maybe I should crash to cars more often whenever I have similar incidents.

Around an hour ago, I got my lovely Mechatrinus and it is now peacefully resting in its throne where it belongs. J

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My Eideyah Campaign

Eid Mubarak to you all.

This is the first time I realize that since I started working that I am expected to give out EIDEYAH (eid allowance) rather than expect to receive one.

Damn it..and I thought I well planned my monthly expenditure and forecasted my cash flow for the next month.

This becomes one of your natural skills after you study "financial planning" for one whole year.

On the few occasions I spent Eid in Amman ( 2 or 3 times only), some people gave me an "EIDEYAH" equivalent to my sister.

Some would give me more since I am the boy and she is the girl.

Maybe they were influenced by "for the male twice as the female".

Alas, those days are over. Now I am destined to give out eideyah till the day I die.

Even if I retire or become unemployed. I have to.

But this year I am starting a new campaign.

I am gonna give girls twice as much as boys.

No matter what the families say, no matter what they think.

Oh boy, I am so gonna widen my enemies circle.

Oh well, at least here in KSA, I only have one relative.

I'll test it and see how it goes.

So, anybody willing to join my campaign? :D

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Why the world needs more “nawar”

Can't believe its already 10 days since I last updated my blog..Well, time really flies by.

As I've state in my earlier post, I try to utilize those holy days with prayers as much as possible. Last week, I arranged with some of my colleagues to go to Mecca to pray there. 80 kms, 40 minutes on the highway doesn't sound that difficult after all.

The Saudi authorities have initiated a smart ( a very rare thing by the way) approach to regulate traffic to Mecca by making all cars who want to go to the "Haram" park in one place and from there, they use public transport to take them to the holy mosque in less than 5 minutes.

That parking lot could enter Guinness book of records for being the largest parking lot in the world. It fits at least 5,000 cars. The "parking lot" spans on two sides of a highway. So during peak days, all you see on your left and right is just cars, and more cars. Well, at least it is better than the sight of sand & desert that you see on your way from Jeddah to Mecca or vice versa.

Our journey went well. Nothing extraordinary happened other than the fact that we had our iftar on the way. Laban (yoghurt) & dates. Surprisingly, it was fulfilling.

We got there. We prayed. We held our urges to insult and humiliate those who have no dignity and respect to the holy mosque. It is for them another picnic place where they eat their ful, hommos, ta'ameya and throw things around thinking it's like their streets back home. Your patience is tested under very odd circumstances, such as that guy who spat at my prayer rug; mistaking it for a trash can. Oh boy, I still remember the scene in slow-motion.

After we finished our religious duties, it was time to go home. However, we stumbled upon a major problem by the time we got to our car. Some jerk has parked his vehicle in the middle of the road; making it impossible for us to move our car.

All our efforts of moving the car or finding its owner were of no avail. I saw a glimpse of hope when I saw a cop car park 5 minutes away. I ran to him to explain to him our current situation. His reply was simple

"Go talk to a cop or find a crane to move that car". He got his prayer rug and headed to the Haram.

What the...? And what are you? I thought you are a cop. Apparently, he was off-duty.

My friend came to me and gave me a pat on the back saying: "oh Hamza, you can be very naive sometimes. Let's go to Plan B. Let's find one of those "nawar" "


For those who don't know. "Nawar" is an Arabic slang word that refers to those hippie street scammers that crawl in every neighbourhood. They can be beggars in the day and pimps in the night. They specialize at harassing people and they enjoy scratching others' car just for the mere pleasure of hearing that "ZEEK" voice that's music to their ears. So overall, they are a mobile hazard that can strike anytime and anywhere


So the idea was to look for trouble to get us out of trouble. Finding a nawari was not difficult. We found one in few minutes. We just asked him to do all he can to unlock the car. With these guys, nothing beats the wire trick. In 10 minutes he unlocked the car and put the handbrake down. We pushed the car out of the way enough for us to get our car on to the main highway.

We concluded our successful business deal with a small fee worth his invaluable service. When we were about to leave, he said:

"And what shall I do with his car?"

We looked at each other and one of us said:

"oh come on. Be smart. Return the car to where it was (blocking the road) and wait to scam other people like us you amateur."

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Monthly Digest September


I bet Harry Potter can't do that.


- For some, its a God, and for others, its another place to go nude. Read more here
- and ever wondered about the arab states that are most corrupt? This article says it all.


How to humiliate your clients? an Iranian bank is posing its new challenge with this ATM.

Blogosphere World:
I delayed writing this issue as much as possible, minutes before starting the next month, in hope of finding a post to surpass the post I have in mind. Unfortunately, I didn't. I am obliged by my blogging duties to give the award this month to Kinan for his post "chronicles from land where time stops: Part 2". Akh I hate him.

Ramadan's Programme

Ramadan is famous for its many attractive TV series. But I don't like the quality of the TV programmes offered this year. Don't tell me it is "tash ma tash" or "khaled bin waleed" or "bab el-harra" or even "king farouk".
The best program this year is "Khawater 3". Khawater is a social, cultural, religious program that views social aspects from a new prespective. He discussed the irrationality behind some countries fasting ramadan in one day, while others in the day after. He demonstrated scientific evidence of the moon motion around Earth and how the date of Ramadan is known for all the years ahead. The host of the program is organising a campaign around the islamic world of "one nation, one moon"

He also discusses how BEGGING is such a damaging phenomena to our socieites. In fact, with the help of make up designers, the host impersonated the role of a begger. The program showed us how people are such good hearted and how he managed to make 30 riyals in 15 minutes. Doing the calculations of working 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, a begger can make up to 28750 riyal every month. That's some high class business.

He also discusses the wrong myths implanted in the minds of some Islamic preachers and sheikhs regarding the treatment of non- muslims. He despises the Sheikhs who make duaa against the Jews and the Christians with prayers like "destroy their economy, kill their parents, quake the earth under them, eradicate them" etc. and how such prayers are damaging to relationship with non-muslims and that such a hostile treatment is not accepted in Islam.
He also mentioned that there is nothing in Islam that says we should NOT congratulate (our non-muslim friends or colleagues with their holidays like Christmas or Easter and how Islam is a religion of peace and is a religion that was never hostile to non-muslims.

The programme is scheduled daily before maghrib prayer KSA time. It is at 3:00 GMT on MBC. Its just a 10 minute program. You can watch some of the episodes on youtube.com or on MBC website. I strongly recommend tuning to it.

Hamzatizing Moment:

Ramadan is never better anywhere in the world. I spend my best ramadans here in Jeddah. You feel its the season where sheikhs compete with each other in attracting people to pray. There are 6 famous mosques distributed equally around the city; each attracts at least 2000 people. It is always a tough choice to choose where to pray as each sheikh has his own unique reading style, and a heartbreaking duaa that will involuntary make your tears fall.

So this is how I spend my ramadan. Work, home then mosque. Nothing else, and I am enjoying the spiritually I feel with the enchants that revitalize my soul.

What's even great is that Mecca is just 80 kms away. Any time I want, I take my car or a bus and in an hour time, I am there. I guess this alone is an assetthat many people long for.

In addition to that, if things works out, I might go to Madina this weekend. It'll be another chance to utilize those holy days.

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I wonder...

I wonder...


2 days ago was Saudi Arabia's National day


2 days ago was the eleventh of Ramadan


Ramadan is the ninth month in the Hijri year


Conclusion : Saudi Arabia's National day is on the 9/11


Bin Laden is not a madman after all


I wonder....

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My first Mission (Part II)


Just make a statement to the press that despite the political instabilities in Darfur that there are some developmental projects in the area like your project and talk a bit about it

So, I blabbed something that I don’t remember what it was that aired on the local tv stations. My colleagues joined me and spoke more about our role there and that we hope it will invite other organisations to finance projects in Darfur. I understood later the significance of such a press conference in trying to negate the media propaganda about Darfur. Personally, I am very content that this trip corrected the wrong image I had about this highly unappreciated region in the world. However, I am still clueless about the true motives of those external parties who are behind this unjust media propaganda. The only reason being iterated by some is that the Darfur region is one of the three largest deposits of high purity uranium in the world.

After the official reception was over, it was time to rest in one of their so called hotels – specifically “Ferdos Hotel” (means paradise hotel). But I can assure you that this place could be anything BUT paradise. Moreover, I think that they missed an “S” in because a 12 room place is more of a hoStel rather than a hotel.. I had my own air-conditioned room and I was sleeping on an old antique bed that creaks at each movement. It is very similar to the room of our house guard or maybe a bit worse. The washroom is a scene from a horror movie with its yellow basin and smelly “Arabic” toilet. It was in Darfur that I’ve spent the longest time not showering – 3 days and that’s because of another problem; water cuts off very frequently and the same was for electricity. But overall, it is better than I expected. I was expecting to share a room with 4 others and sleep on the floor.

At night, there is not much to do other than be invited for dinner in the outskirts of the town under the gaze of gigantic trees where you eat your food with one hand and shake off flies with the other. That’s how much flies are out there. In Darfur, I have seen species of flies that are most probably not documented by biologists. I’ve seen the “doban il azra2” (blue flies), astonishingly large-sized flies that are around the size of your thumb, and mutated red-eyed flies with abnormally long legs.

After dinner, we go back to the “hotel” where I spend a couple of hours entertaining myself in the most bizarre ways ever. I am so gonna miss my “how many insects are on the floor?” self-created game.

I guess a number.....7...I look at the floor. Oh, there are 2 cockroaches, 2 lizards and one beatle. That’s 5 in total. Less than 7. Leave them in peace.

Half an hour later, I guess 4..I look. Oh no 6 are there..THWUMP, THWUMP, THWUMP, THWUMP....and after running mindlessly in my room for 20 minutes, my biggest THWUMP was for our friend down there. Mr. Grasshopper-who remained there as a souvenir reminding me of how savage I am.

Other than that, our 2 day workshop was very satisfactory. The 2 other things that were interesting was our visit to Darfur museum and a site visit to one of the schools there. And what a great feeling it was to sit there and admire those 6 to 7 year old children singing and doing their cultural dances, showing us how they use first aid kit, showing us their knitted fabrics, their small artistic artifacts build purely from clay, their cooking and housekeeping skills, and many more. I bow for the hard-working efforts of the School’s Principle for the achievements she did with her limited resources and funding in a school that’s only the size of an average 3 bed roomed apartment.

By end of 4th day, it was time to go back to Khartoum to commence working and following up on our other projects. We gave our farewell and sincere thanks to Government of Darfur for their generous hospitality and thanked them for the exceptional souvenirs of the culture of Darfur; including a gallon of pure honey. :D

As usual, the plane arrived late but all I cared about is getting back to the hotel to cleanse myself from the filth that accumulated. I hadn’t excreted in 2 days and I felt my intestines are about to explode. I was so disgusted with myself that I felt like burning all the clothes I wore there. I didn’t do anything that night as I spent at least 4 hours in the washroom. Shower, bubble bath, and another shower. It felt so good to be clean again.

5th day was another long day for me as our next project was in a city called Madani – 2 car hours away from Khartoum. We woke up at dawn and left at 6 a.m. sharp. It was the only time in my stay in Sudan that people were punctual.

One of the hilarious things about that journey is the names of the towns we passed by on our way. There is a town called “arbej” ---which means “sit down” , another called “galleb” ---which means “lie on your side” and another called “kammel nomak” ---which means “keep on sleeping”. That’s another proof that the stereotype of Sudanese people being lazy is not so wrong after all.

We arrived there. Attended a small presentation and spend the day doing site visits to the different colleges and university campuses spread around the city as our project is mainly about expanding the university. I was astonished by the Cancer Research & treatment Center that is considered one of the focal points for Cancer treatment in Africa. It was funded by the UN and it is very well-equipped and is filled with world-class calibre doctors who serve patients coming from all over Africa.

I was also shocked by the medical college there. Despite the fact that their labs are very outdated, underequipped with facilities that are nearly zilch, the college managed to get least 4 awards for being the best medical college in the arab world in 2002 from different organisations. It shows you the persistence and determination of the college to maximize on their existing limited resources.

At lunch time, we ate at a hotel that was hosting the MAREEKH team (Sudan’s famous soccer team). Apparently, they were having a local match in the Sudanese league in the city. The hotel was “internet-equipped”. It gave me the glimpse of hope of accessing that urgent email I am expecting from work. My hopes diminished when I discovered that the internet access has been down at COUNTRY level for at least a week.

We concluded our work sessions by 6 before we headed back to Khartoum. It was nice to see the sun rise and sun set on the same road.

6th day was nothing special at all. First day of Ramadan but it didn’t feel like Ramadan at all. We did some project follow-up. I swam in the afternoon and worked on my back to office report.

Friday was our last day. And it is at Friday that my stomach gave up and decided to breakdown. I spent most of the time in bed before forcing myself to dress to attend an iftar invitation.. My memory is vivid of that day as I didn’t eat anything and I spent most of it in the washroom puking. I could recall watching a stand-up Sudanese comedy but I barely understood the jokes because most of the time I either couldn’t understand the accent or it was related some insider Sudanese joke.

My suffering was not over as we have been informed that our 11 p.m. flight was delayed till 6 a.m. which means that we cannot check out the hotel and that we need to stay one more night. The problem is that our travel allowance given to us is not enough for one more night. And unfortunately, because of government regulation, VISA & American Express card transactions are not accepted. The same problem was for my other 2 colleagues. Our combined cash reserves can accommodate the 3 of us one room only. But i had an idea. My colleague’s room is adjacent to mine and they are both connected with one door. I opened the joint door before I left and I checked out my room. We booked my colleague’s room for a further night with our combined reserve money. And I went back through my colleague’s room and slept in my room. I was gambling on the fact that they do room service in the morning of next day and that they won’t give the room to anybody. Oh, I love cheating the system.

By 5 a.m in the morning, we were on our way to the airport going back to Jeddah after an unforgettable thrilling 7 day trip.

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