Monday, August 29, 2005

The Hills Are Alive....!!

Steyr is a little town, that doesn't even attract many tourists. I guess when you've seen one pretty Austrian/Tyrolean town, you've seen them all. However, among its claims to fame are the facts that the composers Schubert and Handel both spent significant time here.

The surrounding countryside is beautiful, and I can see Maria and the Von Trapp kids dashing on their bikes, even if it ain't Salzburg.

Anyway, here's the view from my hotel room before I headed out this morning

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Biz Trip

My God... I just got back from vacation, and now I have to go on a business trip to a small town in Austria called Steyr. Never heard of it before, but it looks like a typical Austrian postcard town. I hope it will be sunny, because postcard towns are no fun when it rains!

I'll try to take pictures and post them here.

Meanwhile, where is Anti-Reason when you need him? Still in Austria?

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Bye Bye Landan

Aaaahh London...

Whenever I mentioned to anyone before I went away that I was going to London, they invariably said "how unoriginal". شنو فيها لندن غير اجوار رود؟ said one idiot who I almost strangled.

Of course, that's because most Kuwaitis don't know anything in London beyond the area around Hyde Park, from Edgware Road to Marble Arch to Oxford Street.. and - if you have a bit more taste, not necessarily more money - to Knightsbridge and Kensington. Piccadilly and Leicester Square for entertainment, and then maybe Covent Garden which some would actually consider an adventure, or a day trip in itself! And for hip Kuwaitis "in the know", there's Notting Hill.

But there is so much to see and do in London beyond what I just listed. It truly is one of the world's greatest cities, and it is made of several neighborhoods that function as little towns attached to each other. I am fortunate to have friends scattered around London, so I got to visit them in Hampstead, the East End and Battersea and many places far off the Kuwaiti radar.

The weather was phenomenal. The August heatwave everyone was dreading never materialized, and I spent as much time outdoors as I possibly could in perfect sunny temperatures. I kept daydreaming about buying a small place and moving there, until the one day it rained and I changed my mind. I hate rain!

I didn't see that many Kuwaitis other than the few that I know, but I did see tons of Emaratis stalking the streets of Knightsbridge, trying to decide whether to have their 5 pm "lunch" at Harrods pizzeria or the 5th floor cafe at Harvey Nichols. A study in anthropology, I assure you.

I also went to Copenhagen for a few days. More about that later...

I'm just mad I missed the Mona Taleb/Sundus AbulHassan showdown at the Sheraton Park Tower!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


I'm back, ladies and gentlemen... but allow me a few days to get over my post-vacation depression

It's never long enough!!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Dispatch from London

Beautiful sunny day in London. This is not my usual time to visit, but the workload meant that it was either get away now or never.

Whenever I run into people that I know who live here, the first question they ask is "Are you here on holiday or for work?". A totally legitimate question in a city that is as much a major tourist destination as it is a major business centre.

Maybe someday we can ask visitors to Kuwait the same question....

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Outta Here!

I'm off on a 2-week break... I might post something from my travels if I feel like it, but don't count on it ;-)

Stay safe, be good, and I'll see you when I get back!

ما أوصيكم

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

One blog created every second

Compared with the summer of 2004, it seems Kuwait's bloggers are either bored or have become very scattered across an ever increasing number of blogs, where it becomes very hard to keep up. Time constraints and a desire to maintain a normal life away from the PC also mean that there is no way to keep track of what's out there.

Around the world there's a new blog created every second, which means that we're all engaged in the blog equivalent of TV channel surfing. There's so much out there that audiences have become very fragmented as they set out to discover what they like. Eventually, we all settle into the few blogs (and TV channels) that we're comfortable with and stick to them until something really exciting comes along.

So go forth, trusty bloggers... go out and explore this wonderful world and come back to me with some cool and interesting stuff. I'm sure there are some gems right here in our back yard, but who has time to look?

Tuesday, August 02, 2005


New York has its 9/11, London now has its 7/7... but we've had our 2/8 way before them. So much has happened since that fateful day, both during the occupation and in the years that followed.

We had hopes and dreams that Kuwait would seize the opportunity of a new start and set itself on a path to progress. But did that happen?

You tell me.... how do you feel Kuwait has changed or developed since 1991? Have we learned anything from that bitter experience? Where do you see Kuwait's future heading?

Monday, August 01, 2005

Reader Response

The Chicago Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg has a technique for responding to angry, nasty emails. It's one of those emails that I wish I had written... to quite a few people!!

Dear Reader:

I received your email message. Sadly, I no longer permit myself the pleasure of personally responding to snide remarks from dissatisfied individuals, as doing so inevitably leads to time-wasting arguments and annoying exchanges of insults. Since such encounters often end with the reader complaining to my boss, it seems that this is what rude writers really want to do all along - to provoke me so they can satisfy some inner schoolyard desire to squeal. You may do so now by emailing the editor in chief, Michael Cooke, at, though I should point out that his reply will be a form letter, so his reaction probably won't have the sense of fresh outrage you desire.

Otherwise, I would like to point out that the piece of writing that upset you is a column of opinion, that the opinion being expressed is mine alone, and the fact that you disagree with or were insulted by my opinion really is not important, at least not to me ...

If you have cancelled your subscription, I am sorry, though I am also confident, as you wade through the arid world of the competition and the barren void of television, that you will eventually soften and start reading the Sun-Times again, and would remind you that you can always skip my column; that's why it always has my name and picture on the top.

If there were a shred of politeness or sense in your email you would not be receiving this letter, but as you are, I would urge you to re-examine your life, and suggest that you reach out to all the people you have no doubt hurt with your brusque and offensive manner and beg their forgiveness. I will myself set a good example by forgiving you now. It can be a terrible world, and I'm sure you have reasons for being the way you are.

Best regards,

Neil Steinberg