Tea Time


Greetings lads. M’sa al khair. Inshallah you are all in fine fettle.
MB is on short trip to Dubai as family just landed out here for 2 month break and just not possible to bring them to Saudi for various ‘cultural’ reasons. The Golf (Dubai Desert Classic) on in Dubai this weekend so maybe get there on Sat or Sun before my return to Saudi. Incidentally lads, am invited for ‘out in the desert’ trip on my return to the Kingdom and will hopefully get some good photos for you all. Hope to do that next weekend.
This week’s pics lads are mostly from a small roadside restaurant/cafe that I happened across last weekend when was in need of a cup of tea.
Pressure of time this weekend lads will result in shorter HX than normal I think. Lets see how it goes.
MB sips Chi in the Afghan cafe and watches lad walking down the dusty street 
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DH – The Reluctant Emigrant

Giving pride of place this weekend lads to fellow blogger, writer (presently some way through her first book) and general raconteur DH. Met DH today for coffee in Ibn Batuta Mall in Dubai.

Was expecting some kind words for the HX blog lads, but some 10 seconds into the conversation DH informs MB – “You are not using your blog in correct way MB, I will give you 2 hour instruction session in due course and show you how its done“. And like all men everywhere lads, I just took the beating, nodded my submissive head a few times thanked DH for the constructive criticism, for her benevolence and kind heart.

So lads, expect some amazing things in next few weeks when DH puts MB on the righteous path. Allah u akbar!

This weeks blog from DH. As usual DH, sukran gizan. May your blog always have traffic. Inshallah.
And as special treat for you all lads I give you pic (with her kind permission) of Irish/Abu Dhabi blogger DH, as shot today at Dubai’s Ibn Batuta Mall:
DH, at Ibn Batuta Mall earlier today
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MR – Childhood
Thanks to my friend MR for allowing me to use the following piece which she posted on Facebook after the recent school shooting in Connecticut, USA. She generally writes on topics more close to her heart, and rarely on other stuff. I am encouraging her to get more ‘logical’ (private joke between us!) and I like the following:
I was reminded yesterday of my childhood by my friend Tony Jay. Thanks Tony. As a child my play time was all the time. I was lucky enough to have been raised on a farm where my friends were the cows, the foxes, the birds. My playground were the trees, the fields and the rivers.
School was my challenge as it curbed my freedom. I realised as an adult the education I received outside of school was to be the basis of how I perceive life today but I am grateful for my formal education in being to able to read and write so that I may communicate and read so many wonderful books and my education was my choice eventually as it was only till I was older that I realised which field I wanted to work in and so having said this I now refer to what has happened in America at the School in Connecticut.
I watched Sky News last night regarding this tragic event. A reporter stating how 5 year old children are drilled about what to do if their is an attack on their school. WOW……is all I said to myself. To think that a 5 year old is at this tender beautiful age is subjected to the world they face, a world where you must own a gun to protect yourself from those who also own a gun. The quote ” Live by the Sword, Die by the Sword” came to mind. I feel as deeply as everyone at the heartache of this situation but is it not a result of the mentality that the world has become.
I worked last year in a care home for Dementia and one lady who had been a school teacher said to me as we were having a trip down memory lane that the children of today are being educated by violent computor games and being subjected to all types of violence in the media..it is everywhere and I absolutely agreed with her. I told her about my childhood where I now realise it was my own imagination was my play and guns were no part of it.
I send Love from the deepest part of my heart to the families and friends in America but I also send Wisdom that all of us now realise that ALL OF US have been responsible for what happened in Connecticut and that from this heartbreaking lesson all of us play a part for change that children maybe allowed to be children. Freedom is never won by violence and children need to know that. My own son asked me at 17 asked me could I become a british citizen as I have the right to do so my mother being English but I was born in Ireland and I asked him why. He said he wanted to join the British Airforce. I told him NO and I also told him I was not going to be a part of him getting into a plane with the intention of killing people. He never asked me again and he is now an engineer. I was shocked that he asked me and that made me deeply aware of the influence of the violence that plays a huge part on all our children.
Change is so needed on this beautiful planet we live on. In light and Love Emoji
Arrived in Dubai on Tue night, camera at the ready – Mosque, Jumeirah Road, Dubai. 
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Dubai Panoramic Photo
Attended a Photo night in Dubai few nights back lads and one of those who gave a presentation was the guy who shot this amazing panoramic shot of Dubai – from the top of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. The viewing deck is on floor 126 as he reminded us, and many of us have visited that deck as a ‘must see’ Dubai thing. As he informed us on the night the distance from the viewing deck to the top of the building is the same height as the Empire State building in New York!
The guy & his assistant brought a video camera with them to record their efforts and was scary just even watching it on the night. The camera used was some high tech one brought from Switzerland just for the purpose, from a manufacturer that I never heard of, using some fancy lens that I also never heard of. The final shot is a stitched panorama of some 48 individual photos, and you can zoom in with your mouse and get close-up of any area you wish.
Afghan cafe/restaurant owner makes chi (tea) for MB in Riyadh last weekend. Most places outside the Riyadh city centre area are very basic, generally small in size and not very hygienic with very small menu selection. The TV was tuned to one of the Afghanistan TV channels and was giving us the news from home in the Pashtu language. Big relief according to the owner & his customers that the US would soon pulling out.
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Dubai Parkour

Another Dubai video doing the rounds at the mo is of an English Parkour activist doing his stuff in some of the older areas of the Emirate. First section of the short movie is in the Spice or Gold Market area along Dubai Creek, and second section is from the Bastakia area (Bur Dubai). Both great places to visit if you are ever out this neck of the woods

For those in saudi on lower income, or those with small business like my Afghan friend, this Chinese make of motorbike is popular
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Home deliveries are possible
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Saudi Walls

I have only departed Saudi a few days lads and I discover that some Ministry has introduced a new ‘wall’ rule. All shops that have both male & female staff must now build walls within the shop at least 1.6m high to separate the males from the female staff. Its obviously a very good idea lads as it will:
  • Provide work for the construction industry
  • Prevent any funny business going on in the public areas of the shops between the male and female staff.
We Saudis can now rest easier in our beds at night in certain knowledge that the segregation of the man and the woman continues in the proper way. Allah u akbar. Read on lads:

Indian lad delivers eggs to the Afghan restaurant and is pleased that MB is taking his pic
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UAE Amnesty for illegals
The UAE Government recently introduced an amnesty for all those living illegally in UAE. If you come as a tourist, or your work visa gets cancelled (after your employment ends) you have 30 days to leave the country. Or you incur a daily fine. After a long period the fine becomes unpayable for many and they live illegally.
The current amnesty involves handing yourself in to the authorities, an iris scan takes place, you do not pay any fine but you receive a permanent life ban from the UAE. You are then free to leave, and must purchase your own flight ticket. The following link relates to one family from Pakistan who can not afford the ticket:
Driver stops for Chi at Afghan restaurant before delivering the blocks
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Salam
Ok lads, gotta go. Maybe bit boring this week. Can’t always be awesomely brilliant I guess. Take care y’all. Chat ya next week inshallah.
MB

Calculation Day


Sabah Al Khaire lads (Good morning lads)

Bit on the cold side at home I hear. Hopefully wood fires burning, electric blankets & hot water bottles serviced keeping you all snug & cozy. The weather in central Saudi Arabia is a delight for fair skinned Irish lads with lilly white skin who hate heat & direct sunlight. Its akin to decent Irish Summer weather at the mo with jackets required morning & evening. Nice.

Street art – Empty water bottle & cigarette butt

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Dubai on the other hand is experience the usual seasonal foggy mornings:

http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/uae/thick-fog-set-to-continue-forecasters-warn-1.1136817?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Newsletter&utm_campaign=&utm_term=%26269500

Received another conversion attempt lads. An early morning attack this time. Landed down to the hotel lobby circa 7am to be greeted by young apprentice Imam (Muslim priest), who is attending the Imam College across the street. He was watching the prayer channel from Mecca at the time as usual, and upon seeing MB turned up the volume to head splitting level, in hope that higher volume was more likely to force the message into the brain of MB.

“Come listen to the Quran” he said, or words to that effect as he has minimal English. “You are giving me very large headache my young friend” said MB who felt the early stages of a migrane coming on. “Muslim beautiful, you must become” he replied with a beautiful Muslim smile, as I waited for the Indian lad at the coffee bar to land out my cappuccino (mafi sugar). “Muslim beautiful, Yahudi (Jew) beautiful & Christian beautiful” replied MB who was starting to enjoy the crack at this stage and was toying with the beautiful Muslim. Young lad was now obviously bit confused as he had obviously not previously considered the possibility that anyone other than Muslims could be beautiful and threw his eyes skyward, looking to Allah for inspiration. Before Allah could bestow some clever ideas MB got in again quick. “Have you ever travelled outside of Saudi my friend” said MB knowing he hadn’t, “you might get some new ideas”.

Construction waste – a study of green & brown

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His level of English was insufficient to understand MBs question so he asked young Egyptian male receptionist to translate. Upon hearing the question Egyptian lad was too afraid to translate it correctly, and even with my limited Arabic I knew he translated as “are you good Muslim?”. The spineless Egyptian smiled a spineless smile and looked at MB thinking he was off the hook. “No BS please young Egyptian lad” said MB, feeling like wanting to break spineless Egyptian’s nose. “Have you ever travelled outside Saudi” said spineless Egyptian, fearing for his nose, to beautiful Muslim, but was still and will always remain, too fearful to ask about the possibility of new ideas entering beautiful Muslims brain should he ever see the wider world. “La (no)” said beautiful Muslim. “Inshallah you will” said MB. “Inshallah” replied beautiful Muslim, as he pondered the thought, trying to calculate how his future might go. MBs coffee arrived, MB sipped, the caffein kicked in, beautiful Muslim refocused on TV screen, headache symptoms receded and all was well with the world. Beautiful world!

Bitumen container

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This week’s theme lads is all about calculation. Friend who has very sharp brain recently informed MB that they had just had “calculation day“. A day full of calculations, from college activities to other aspects of their daily life. And suggested it would make good topic for the blog. Bit like the book Ulysses lads, a day in the life sort of thing. My mind focused on the thought lads and within 15 mins my brain was so tired from ‘calculation’ thoughts, I had to take rest in my bed. When you think about it lads almost everything we do in life has some calculation involved. What time to get up in the morning? What time to leave the house to get to work on time? Or to get the kids to school on time? And so on and so on.

I suggest you do not think too much about it lads, as you will only exhaust your brains and need to lie down. So just crack on with life lads, but be aware that calculations are lurking everywhere and its only when the calculations go awry that life takes a turn for the worst. Get the calculations correct lads and the world will be truly beautiful for you & yours. Inshallah!

Plastic & rubble

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This weeks pics are mainly from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. I am not impressed with the disrespect that many many Saudi give their country. So the photos reflect. They are all shot on residential or commercial area streets. Everyone seems to throw food wrapping or papers out their car windows, or dump their rubbish on any available open space. Construction companies are the worst culprits. I do not know why the authorities do not crack down on such behaviour.

Back to the more traditional HX this week lads (that you all love), after the more photographic efforts of late. Paid extra dollars to the Yankee Website to enable colour and other features, so you will be even more mesmerized in the coming weeks & months.

As usual lads – if you think any friends would enjoy the HX just send on details, and welcome contributions from any & all.

1,000m long x 200m wide open area, filled to capacity by construction waste, dumped illegally to save cost of dumping in registered tip

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Onwards:

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HX Music (Dedicated to friend KB, who moved family to Australia last year)

Let there be music lads. Irish icon Christy Moore, from many years back. From 2004 reunion concert I think. Told you previously that I was lucky enough to see a Planxty concert as a young lad. Will always remember. Copied the following from one of the comments on YouTube. The guy is not far wrong.

I’ve seen the Stones,Clapton,Ferry,Elton John, the Police, the Boomtown Rats, Ian Dury, George Michael, Squeeze, Dire Straits, Paul Young, Southside Johnny, Genesis, Neil Finn (Crowded House), the Pogues, the Dubliners, Mary Black, Christy on his own, and many others. But the Planxty concerts, I first saw them in 79 , have a magical, ethereal, almost mystical aspect to them. The only other concerts that have come close, in my experience – but a totally different experience, are Springsteen’s.

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Tyre & rubble – a study
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Good luck to Crosser RM
Another HX Crosser has moved to Australia. Working in Freemantle as a mine site paramedic. Seems also to like big trucks:
RM down under in Freemantle, Australia – Good luck RM!
RMMar
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Chocolate
Was amazed to see 5 Americano companies in the top 10 of the Chocolate World Cup lads. Had previously thought that the mega greasy burger & extra large fries with super size cola to go, was extent of yankee cuisine. As a dedicated and serious chocoholic I now look on the USA with new respect.
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Coffee mug
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Mali
The French have sent troops to Mali in recent weeks lads, allegedly to quell troublesome militants and assist the Government. I read today that that are now trying to control the Mali army who executed 30 inhabitants of first city they liberated, on the street, in summary justice style. So all is not well for sure. Some calculations have seemingly gone wrong and the French could have landed themselves in another Vietnam. Remember they started that one lads!
Anyway, Crosser SS is not a fan of the French invasion and blogs himself on the topic. Many like SS (and I do not say I agree with them for Mali seems a complicated situation to put it mildly) are blogging against the infidel/Crusader invasion. They are using past mistakes of France to add to their argument, like the following pic, which is famous shot from the French war in Algeria many moons ago:
From the French/Algeria war
Algeria
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From SS:
……anyway mali will be another iraq or afghanistan. rapists cannot guide the world now the time is changing (refers to current legal case against French man in India)
they took all the african money when they ruled. again when they are on the verge of becoming begger they want to invade for either oil or gold
can you convey this to french …..
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Another piece from conservative Yankee website the Huffington Post refers:
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Open space in front of apartment block
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UAE Football Team
We won the Cup last week lads and we are over the football moon. The players are also extremely happy and have mega smiles on their faces as the rulers, and the missus of Sheikh Mo in particular give out the goodies (the ‘1st wife’ as she is referred to, as there is another one at least):

Dubai: Shaikha Hind Bint Maktoum Bin Juma Al Maktoum, Wife of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has donated Dh25 million to the UAE national football team for their achievements.

The sons of Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance, Shaikh Rashid and Shaikh Saeed, have provided Dh12 million for the team and more donations and rewards are expected, with companies and businessmen coming forward with cash prizes and cars.

Striker Ahmad Khalil has already been given a new Range Rover for scoring the winning goal against Kuwait in the semi-final.

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Coffee & Pepsi to go, with plastic
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Is winning all that counts?
Great story that I recently came across on Fb and shared:
Is winning all that counts? Are you absolutely sure about that?Very little has been said about this…..On December 2, Basque athlete Iván Fernández Anaya was competing in a cross-country race in Burlada, Navarre. He was running second, some distance behind race leader Abel Mutai – bronze medalist in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the London Olympics. As they entered the finishing straight, he saw the Kenyan runner – the certain winner of the race – mistakenly pull up about 10 meters before the finish, thinking he had already crossed the line.
Fernández Anaya quickly caught up with him, but instead of exploiting Mutai’s mistake to speed past and claim an unlikely victory, he stayed behind and, using gestures, guided the Kenyan to the line and let him cross first. Ivan Fernandez Anaya, a Basque runner of 24 years who is considered an athlete with a big future (champion of Spain of 5,000 meters in promise category two years ago) said after the test:
“But even if they had told me that winning would have earned me a place in the Spanish team for the European championships, I wouldn’t have done it either. I also think that I have earned more of a name having done what I did than if I had won. And that is very important, because today, with the way things are in all circles, in soccer, in society, in politics, where it seems anything goes, a gesture of honesty goes down well.”He said at the beginning: unfortunately, very little has been said of the gesture. And it’s a shame. In my opinion, it would be nice to explain to children, so they do not think that sport is only what they see on TV: violent kicks in abundance, posh statements, fingers in the eyes of the enemy …
Tyre trouble
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Kissing In Dubai
How many times have I warned you about kissing MB in Dubai ladies? How many times? Indian lad and his babe did not heed my warning. Or maybe it was CPR. Now in jail and will later be deported:

Dubai: A couple have been jailed for one year for kissing in public despite the man claiming he gave his female friend CPR when she suffered an asthma attack.

The 28-year-old Indian man claims he was performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) when he kissed his asthmatic 25-year-old Filipina girlfriend in a lifeguard tower where an Emirati woman said she saw them cuddling and kissing.

The Dubai Misdemeanour Court convicted the defendants of committing a lewd act in public.

They were also fined Dh1,000 each for consuming alcohol.

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Palm leaves & fruit juice cocktail
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Louvre Museum & other stuff
Maybe I mentioned this one to you previously lads. UAE will shortly have a Louvre Museum. For 1st 10 years they will have exhibits from the Louvre in France. And gradually build up their own contents:
From the Irish Independent:
And Dubai has 20% of the World’s tallest towers:

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Graffiti & rubbish sculpture

IMG_3637Mar

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Snoring 

23% of Saudi couples are now affected by snoring lads. It’s even affecting our “intimacy“. If any of you can come up with cure I am sure the Rulers will reward you, as well as UAE footballers at least! Ideas please lads:

Manama: Around 23 per cent of couples in Saudi Arabia sleep in separate bedrooms due to the snoring of at least one spouse, a study indicates.

According to the unofficial study, several of the spouses have, however, complained that the issue had affected their intimacy and even their relations with the larger family, local news site Sabq reported on Wednesday.

“I was forced to file for divorce from my husband because of his snoring,” a woman was quoted as saying by Sabq. “My husband refuses to see a doctor because he does not believe he has a problem and attributes his snoring to being exhausted from work. My family has flatly rejected my complaints, arguing that I was interested in trivial and frivolous matters and causing problems and apologised to my husband for thinking about filing for divorce,” she said.

http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/saudi-arabia/controversy-on-separate-rooms-for-snoring-couples-in-saudi-arabia-1.1129765 utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Newsletter&utm_campaign=&utm_term=%26267545

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Oil drum with bottle

IMG_3638Mar

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Afghanistan

I wish to extend my good wishes  to young (21 year old) Crosser PRO who comes from the HX area at home and who will shortly be stationed in Afghanistan by his British army employers. PRO played football for MB only few short years ago as 14, 15 & 16 year old. Now, in the mere blink of an eye it seems, PRO will enter an altogether different world. I can not help but still think of him as the young smiling kid who played right full for me on the team. I can not think of him as young adult soldier. Make sure you calculate well young PRO. Important.

Recent email from him surprised me I must admit. He and others in his squad were disappointed to miss the February selection and will now await the March posting. I might previously have thought, had I considered it, that any young lad would not look forward to a tour of duty in such a location. The opposite is the case it seems. Strange to my way of thinking, but such is the way of the world.

Stay safe young PRO, respect the locals & their customs, and we are praying for your safe return. Salam.

PRO is now part of a very long line of Afghan history. The rulers and army top brass condition the squaddies to obey the orders, not to question why, but merely do or die. Take a look at one of my favourite pieces of TV ever. A great anti war piece. Sad that the BBC have now cut the final scene where you see the boys getting shot close up. Added greatly to the message. But still very much worth viewing: From Black Adder – Final episode.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fssPqRWx9U0

And even Poetry is abused to condition the mind:
 
When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Just roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
And go to your God like a soldier…………….Rudyard Kipling (From The Young British Soldier)
 
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Riyadh open space landscaping
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DH – The Reluctant Emigrant
Thanks to DH for her weekly efforts. Amusing as usual:
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Streetscape
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Get the calculation correct!
But if you get the calculations correct lads then life can be sweet!
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HX Photo – From 1939
Need some help from HX based Crossers. Can you please show the below photo to elderly relatives to try to identify any of the men in the photo. They were a digging crew who worked at the Lough Gur lake in 1939. Names if poss to MB. Thanks.
Lough Gur Diggers
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Salam lads
That’s it for another week lads. Stay safe. Calculate well!
MB
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Weekly Photo Challenge: Beyond


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A soaring Kestrel over the Monkey Temple in Kathmandu. Took this shot when I visited Nepal on short break in November 2012.

Man Stuff


Greetings lads

Happy new year to you all and inshallah we will have a good one. If you are planning holidays at the moment lads keep visit to MB in mind in his lonely desert hideaway in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. You can not just turn up at the airport, we must organise an invitation for you, which will enable you to apply for visit visa in your country of residence. When you land please be aware that music, alcohol, dancing, much sport, cinemas, talking to unrelated females and all frivolous behaviour is generally considered haram and likely to land you with a jail sentence and a public flogging of varying severity depending on the transgression.

Great evening sky at Caherguillamore with winter tree skeletons

Caher Sky blue

However, assuming you are not an unrelated female, MB will be able to drive you around the city to experience the Thrill of the Saudi Roundabout and/or the Thrill of the Saudi Traffic Light Junction. The UAE has Ferrari World and much else for family excitement, but I assure you lads that it is as nothing compared to the ‘everyday driving style’ of the Saudi male. He goes around the roundabouts in the wrong direction if it gets him to his exit quicker, there appears to be wholesale national colour blindness in relation to the colour ‘red’ – as red traffic lights are considered as important as the used tissue he just threw out his drivers window onto the public street.  Please in your wisdom God/Allah – inspire the Royal Ruler to ban all Saudi males from driving anything faster than a camel, punishable by the the standard beheading, and allow the Saudi females to take ownership of all automobiles in the Kingdom. I assure you God/Allah that if the Ruler trys my suggestion for one month he will never change the law again. One for my 2013 bucket list, inshallah.

Windy evening sky at Rockbarton 

Sky yellow

Great time at home for 2 weeks with family & friends. Lots of rain to remind MB that he was no longer in the desert and some great skys. Took lodza photos over the hols especially in early morning. Gave you a few in last 2 blogs, and giving you a few more of them today. Especially some sky shots. Hope you like. Never realised how many telephone and electricity cables we have at home until this past holiday. Could not get a shot without them.

Sky with bird, behind my house, early days January

Sky bird

Ok lads, a few tales to tell you from the holiday period and the usual nonsense. Appealing to all Crossers in 2013 to send me stuff for inclusion or any ideas you have that I might tackle. Have already received very good suggested topic for next week from one of my more intelligent friends/acquaintances. So lets have them lads. MB awaits a flood of  replies (get real MB, think of the stuff yourself and stop bothering us!)

Sky at HX (over Conway’s House)

Sky + house

Man Flu

In a medical first for Ireland lads, if not the entire planet, a very close female acquaintance of MB caught man flu over the Christmas holiday. Now in the past lads, I can tell you with 100% certainty, that the same female had less than zero sympathy for any male of the species who contracted the dreaded man flu and would look on him as a Saudi male would look at a red traffic light, a worthless useless object for ridicule and scorn. But when the shoe suddenly went on the other foot lads, same lady threw herself in a heap into the bed, turned on the electric blanket for 2 whole days and moaned like a cow in the last stages of mad cow disease, just before the vet arrives to end the misery.

Copious amounts of tissues and medicines were purchased by the male relations of the family, who fully understood the symptoms, to assist the helpless victim. Mercifully, praise the Lord & Allah u Akbar, after 2+ days of TLC from those same male relatives (that she had laughed at under similar circumstances in the past) she regained her strength sufficiently to resume public appearances. A much more humble, understanding and  wise woman for her experience.

So beware ladies. A new strain of the flu seems to have developed and you too are now at risk. So before its too late, have a few words with your man about your past behaviour and he will accept your apologies with good grace I assure you. If the dreaded man flu hits you you will very shortly need all the TLC you can get!

Family inform me that we have new visitor to the tree at back of our house in recent months – a Collared Dove (note the thin black collar around his neck)

Collared dove

Man Shopping

I had to return to UAE after the holiday to renew my Saudi visa lads and took the opportunity to buy a few necessities. Namely one pair of shoes, one shirt and one trousers.

So knowing the items I needed I headed to the Ibn batuta Mall in Dubai and parked the car – 7.30pm. Walked into the mall and entered the first shop I encountered that had all the required items – 7.32pm. Had look around the shop and selected the approx correct size of the preferred shirt & trousers, headed to the fitting room – 7.34pm. Shirt ok, good to go. Trousers ok but leg adjustment required. Called assistant who pinned one leg to correct length. Put on own clothes and handed items to assistant – 7.39pm. Selected shoes of correct size and tried them on – all ok, good to go – 7.43pm. Paid the bill and was assured trousers would be ready for collection following evening – 7.46pm. returned to car – 7.49pm. Total shopping trip = 19mins start to finish.

For God sake ladies why does it take even the fittest of your number approx 4 hours to carry out the same task? I could play a whole round of golf in the same time FFS! Please ladies, please please please, take inspiration from MB and try to do better in 2013. Your man, if you have one, will respect you all the more if you do. And if you do not have a man, then a quicker shopper is a much more attractive proposition that one who is not. For your own sakes ladies, please take note!

Main Street, Bruff Village

Street lady

Syria

God help Syria. Speaking to Syrian female friend last week she informed me that in addition to the UN confirmed 60,000 dead (& that only includes victims where both first and family names could be confirmed) there are over 100,000 in prison and nobody has access to them so its unknown whether they are dead or alive. There are also millions now displaced within Syria and much food shortages. Cold temps and no heating or cooking oil. Petrol now over 5 USD per liter.

A friend said to me back in Ireland over Christmas that he heard a story that 150 people were killed recently in a single week in in Syria and he could not believe it. I informed him the figure is not correct, it is more accurately about 500 per week getting killed. He found it incredible. And I noticed Syria is disappearing from the TV screens back home. But you can believe it lads – 500 per week are getting shot or blown to pieces while the UN does nothing for various BS reasons.

And as in most wars its the women & children who often bear the brunt of the conflict.

God help Syria.

The Cliona Foundation

A good news story from back home. Great fund raising night was had last Saturday night for the Cliona Foundation, which I have mentioned in the past. And getting lots of well deserved publicity.

Secret Millionaire returns to Limerick
There’s so much doom and gloom about these days that it’s just so brilliantly uplifting to come across a good news story and particularly when it’s to do with Limerick. You may recall the RTE 1 Secret Millionaire documentary aired in September last, which covered our own special Limerick. Unbeknownst to the organisations that were approached by a seemingly ordinary chap whom they were led to believe was a Producer doing a documentary, and who later revealed himself as the Secret Millionaire – Richard Mulcahy was intent on helping those less fortunate than himself. From an unassuming background, Richard made his fortune in a number of areas including software development. Having spent a week in Limerick filming at the beginning of the summer, Richard will return to Limerick for the Cliona’s Foundation annual social night in Bulgaden on January 12 2013 along with the other organisations spotlighted in the SM programme.
http://www.ilovelimerick.ie/2012/secret-millionaire-returns-to-limerick/

Bruff village church with part rainbow

Bruff rainbow

Saudi Man & Saudi Women

Mentioned to you a number of times in the past lads that the Saudi King Abdulla is much loved by the people and is considered to be doing his best to improve the lot of women in the country. He recently appointed a load of women to an advisory council, where they will have to enter through separate entrance as the men in the council are unrelated and they are not allowed to mix. But the conservative clerics are cheesed off with his decision and think the women should be at home cooking and cleaning. They landed to see the King a few days ago to raise a protest. Thankfully he made them wait for 2 hours, before instructing his assistant to inform them to clear off and not be wrecking his head. Can imagine their faces when they heard!

The following 2 links tell the tale:

 
David Sheehan’s sheep
Sheep
Saudi Maid Story
Not sure if this story made the news at home lads but was well publicised in the Middle east region. From the Saudi PR machine:

Riyadh slams world reaction to maid’s beheading

Riyadh: Saudi Arabia on Sunday criticised world reaction to its beheading of a Sri Lankan maid convicted of killing her employer’s baby, the official SPA news agency reported.

Riyadh “deplores the statements made… over the execution of a Sri Lankan maid who had plotted and killed an infant by suffocating him to death, one week after she arrived in the kingdom,” the government spokesman said.

Rizana Nafeek was beheaded on Wednesday in a case that sparked widespread international condemnation, including from rights groups which said she was just 17 when she was charged with murdering the baby in 2005.

Nafeek was found guilty of smothering the infant after an argument with the child’s mother.

Back in Dubai for few days before heading to Saudi. Typical Friday morning scene from the UAE when the Indians get out the cricket bats for relaxation and fun after the week’s toil

Cricket

Entering Dubai Marina from Abu Dhabi direction, Marina towers in the background

Dubai

Have a nice weekend

Ok lads. Take care, and regards to all.

MB

Photos from HX – More!


Greetings to all. 30 more pics from my trip home. Heading back to the desert next weekend.

Happy New Year to all.

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Galtee Mountains, Limerick/Tipperary/Cork border

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Galtee Mountains

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Fog engulfed Galtee Mor (highest peak)

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Bridge @ Bruff village

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Bruff Waterfall

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Ballygrennan Castle, Bruff

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Bruff Waterfall (again)Image

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Mrs Cow!

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Mary Howard’s Pub, famous Bruff watering hole

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Bruff village

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Bruff Church

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Birds feeding

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Mr Crow!

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Meany’s horse

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My daughter & pal running by Ash Point, Lough Gur

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Knockfennell, Lough Gur, shot from the opposite Knockadoon hill

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Knockadoon, looking west

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Lough Gur

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Lough Gur

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Lough Gur

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Lough Gur

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Lough Gur birdsImage

Lough Gur swansImage

Lough Gur, wild goose (I think!)Image

LG & goose (again)Image

Grange Church, from across the lake with Garret Island in middleImage

Moonrise @ Lough Gur (it’s a marvelous place for a moondance!)Image

Wren Boys (girls) at my house on St Stephen’s Day evening – old Irish customImage

Bruff Village

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Grange Stone Circle, Winter solstice evening, 21 December 2012Image

Chat next year. Take care all.

MB

Christmas Photos from HX


Greetings all. A few photos of the past few days around the HX homeland. Cheers all!

Caherguillamore – Solstice Morning 21st December 2012 (x4)

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Solstice late afternoon – Grange Stone Circle

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Caherguillamore – early morningImage

Ditto

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Grange – Entrance to O’ Sullivans/Lough Gur on the Old Rd

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Early morning – Grange Stone CircleImage

HX FC – The Holy GrailImage

Reardon’s Pub – HX HQImage

Caherguillamore – early morningImage

Carol singing for ‘Cliona’s Foundation’ at Limerick Milk Market (LMM)Image

Shop – LMMImage

 

Two Dogs – LMMImage

Polish sausage seller – LMMImage

Polish Honey – LMMImage

Leather belt maker – LMMImage

Three swans over Lough Gur – Christmas Eve morning

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Boucher’s Castle – Lough GurImage

Sunday morning commemoration of 1920 shooting of 5 IRA fighters – Grange Church Graveyard

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Grange graveyard – Grave monumentImage

Grange Graveyard – Raising the flagImage

Sky behind MB’s house on Christmas eve

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Meanus Church – Christmas morningImage

 

Have a good one!

 

MB

 

Happy Christmas


Happy Christmas to you all lads
Inshallah you are all in good cheer and the festive spirit is upon you. MB is counting down the days til he will be with kith & kin. Home on 20th and not back in the desert until the 5th Jan. Al hamdallah & Allah u Akbar! Might try to do a brief HX while I am at home lads, maybe just a few pics, as time will not permit. Have to look after the family lads. Hope you all understand.
 
Christmas was always evident in Dubai, as its a very Westernised, but not a sniff of it in Saudi Arabia. Even though JC is one of the Muslim Prophets, his birthday obviously is not a consideration in the overall scheme of things. In a country where preaching another religion apart from the main gig is punishable by beheading, I suppose it should not come as any surprise to MB that there are no angels and such like hanging off Christmas trees in the shops or elsewhere. Nor even Christmas trees on which to hang them. Walked through one of the biggest malls in Riyadh last night and not a sniff of a bit of tinsel. Nada!
 
In my present Saudi home lads I am surrounded by the native brand of the Muslim religion, from sunrise to sunset. Before sunrise actually, from about 4.30am when the first call to prayer booms out from the speakers of the mosques. And for the sake of it lads, not that I consider myself particularly religious, in the spirit of the season thats in it, and for all that is good in all religions I give you the following from The Kite Runner. A religious first for the HX:

…there is a God, there always has been. I see him here, in the eyes of the people in this [hospital] corridor of desperation.
This is the real house of God, this is where those who have lost God will find Him…
there is a God, there has to be, and now I will pray,
I will pray that He will forgive that I have neglected Him all of these years,
forgive that I have betrayed, lied, and sinned with impunity
only to turn to Him now in my hour of need. I pray that He is as merciful,
benevolent, and gracious as His book says He is.
– Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner

Black Crow/Raven

Black Crow/raven. He features again below. (Note – Click on any pics in the blog to enlarge)
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Reaction to Last Week’s HX
Was only savage lads.
Football referee POB thanked MB & the HX for keeping him alive at present, in spite of a serious dose of diabetes which the Gods recently threw his way. We how have concrete proof lads, if indeed we needed any, that the HX has medicinal properties, in addition to the inspirational ones that the taco eaters in Guadalahara & Acupulco have already discovered. Does anyone know any lads in the US Food & Drug Administration so we can get the HX accredited, allowing us all to bask in the glory, and MB to bath himself in greenbacks? Haha lads, I won’t forget you all should this come to pass. With a postcard at least!
 
BOB was on lads, and she was none too pleased about the attitudes of my Saudi brothers. Even threatened them with some physicals:
 
From BOB:
Just read the weekly blog and have to say the pics were outstanding (thanks BOB, sure what can I say!).  I don’t think I would survive living in such a male dominated society.  Seems to be a mismatch between their ideas of female protection and oppression which would not appeal to me.  I would probably have half the male population beaten to a pulp to knock some sense into them.
 
But the Moustache feature really got BOB going lads, and her moustache of choice was Number 3. I am presently contacting the lucky Indian lad to inform him that he has found favour with an Irish maid. What a Christmas it will be for him in Bombay! She was not swayed by the cool looks & possibility of free jewelry from Nr 2, MBs jewelry trading friend from Yemen, who was, & still is, looking for Wife Nr 2.
 
From BOB again:
On a lighter note regarding the three pics, I think option 3’s the cutest (don’t care much for jewelry).
 
And received a humdinger of a response from Aussi Crosser ‘Anon’ lads, to last week’s piece on the Twitter exchange (about Saudi girls working in the fast food joint in Jeddah, turning into hookers during the course of a single shift). I do not agree with the thrust of Anon’s arguments ladies, but he puts his points well. Am sure many female Crossers will want to do a ‘BOB’ on him and beat him to pulp! 
 
From Anon:

Dear Michael,

I am somewhat concerned about Saudi women working as per your article “Saudi Men & Women – Mixing haram!”

With my limited knowledge of the region (he has much knowledge I assure you lads – do not be fooled), I think it is probable that many would think that women could potentially start work working and it ends in sexual freedom. Simply different cultural upbringing and approaches.

My concern is not about prostitution or even free consensual sex – it is the wider implications on employment and change in society.

With Saudi women not working in the mainstream mixed arena and very few women working at all, the change to society and expectations re women will be dramatic and stressful to all and sundry. Many men will feel that they have lost their mojo as it will be seen by most that they cannot support their family – this is an issue that will cause immense and extreme frictions within families and tribes – a serious issue seldom understood by outsiders.

As a result of women not working, they are used to an ‘easy life’ with the families and the like (very tribal) hence they have drivers, several maids and nannies etc – this is all expected and provided by the male of the family. Consider female ‘freedom’ and potential implications – fewer drivers, maids and nannies as the women want to have freedoms and take responsibility, to drive, to look after kids etc – I suggest that to those who do not know or understand the society that this will not happen for generations.

Herein lies the ultimate Catch-22 – the status quo is actually driven by the women, particularly the elders as they see it as their right to be looked after and pampered by their men. Children are looked after by maids – women are driven about and dropped off and picked up at the front door of every establishment – no woman will ever do grocery shopping nor carry any bags.

I hear much noise about womens rights etc in Saudi and the region – what surprises me is that only the rich and well off families in our society can afford 1-2 drivers, a house maid, a cook and a nanny per 1-2 children, yet this is common place for the vast majority of families in Saudi. I am not sure which society model is correct – but I know many women who envy Saudi luxuries.

Freedoms come with a price and I think we should spend some time understanding the price we have paid for our so called freedoms in the west. I know many western women who live in the region and complain about the so called ‘second class’ status of women – but the vast majority of these same women never want to leave because life is easy and you are pampered to etc.

Simply different cultural upbringing and approaches.

Thanks for Aussi male chauvinist view Anon, we appreciate all points of view in the HX, even yours. Keep ’em coming!
Potato Pickers 
Potato Pickers on Nepalese hillside. Men & women working together (& not a hooker in sight). From recent MB trip to Nepal.
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MB has international appeal
Masha allaha lads. It seems that MB has much international appeal. Have wrote up a few reports on tripadviser.com during the year and according the email that MB received few weeks back it seems that readers of my reviews broke down as follows:
  • USA – 35%
  • Rumania – 10%
  • China – 11%
  • Others 44%
 
Who would have thought lads that:
  • Rumanians & Chines would love MBs reviews
  • Rumanians & Chinese had anything in common at all
And in a big surprise to MB yesterday lads, there were 3 hits on the HX blog in Mexico. One assumes it was a few Mexicanos who were on break from loading heavy bales of narcotic substances from Toyota Hiace trucks into small plane for the short trip into Texas, and were in need of some inspiration. I am almost certain that we have no Crossers currently in Mexico lads, although we can never be sure. So assume the Hispanic types just typed ‘inspiration’ into the google home page and up popped MB & the HX. Its only plausable explanation I can come up with lads, and have feeling in my bones it’s true.
 
It gladdens the heart lads to know that the HX is bringing the peoples of the world together in a not-for-profit way and that only goodness and light is shining forth from our efforts. I must now alas give some serious thought to how I can turn a buck from all this. The bills have to be paid lads as I’m sure you will all understand. All ideas welcome lads. Please forward to MB in next few days so a little income is generated before the holiday. Thanks in advance lads.
Ajman Fish Market  
Ajman Fish Market, UAE. Where internationally renowned photo shooter (in Rumania, China & Mexico at least!) MB hangs out on occasion.
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Crosser GB

Told you few weeks back lads that we have some Crossers down under near the village of Port Fairy on the Southern Ocean. Well, no surprise to many of us, but one of the referred has made the local newspaper. Proud though we are of his Crosser exploits, GB could however have spared us the ‘just off the boat from famine starved Ireland’ look. There will be mortification in certain Crosser quarters:
Bird 
Nature shot – in honour of ‘Get Back To Nature’ Crosser GB – sorry for plastic basin GB – had no time to photoshop it to timber
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Dubai
Fishermen - Unloading The Fish 
Another mega MB shot from Ajman Fish Market.
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Qatari Poet

You just cant be going around preaching about uprisings lads. Especially if the lad in charge is well got in the West:
http://www.zawya.com/story/Qatari_poet_gets_life_in_prison_for_urging_uprising_lawyer-TR20121129nL5E8MT9YD2/
 
 
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Photo Competition
MB just entered Photo competition in Dubai lads. The richest Photo competition in the world (Dubai style!). No hope of winning am sure lads as its open to every professional shooter in the world, but its a bit of crack to take part. Not really sure of my selections must admit. But for what it’s worth here are the 4 entries of MB, and I list the category in which each is entered:
 
The Beauty Of Light (the main theme of the competition this year, and from which the overall winner of the Grand Prize will be selected)
Black raven Of Kathmandu 
Same lad as above colour pic. Was having the breakfast in Nepal last month and noticed this lad in adjacent tree. Is the colour pic above a better choice?
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Black & White 
Kathmandu - 1 in 3 
Kathmandu – 1 in 3. Noticed about 1 in 3 residents of kathmandu wear dust masks for protection from the traffic fumes and the pollution. Thought these 3 summed it up.
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General (anything goes)
Horse & Rider
Horse & Rider. Yes lads, a blurry pic. But nice blurry I think.
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Emirates (UAE culture & geography theme)
Fish market Traders 
Fish Market Traders. Loved this one lots some time ago but not sure now. What do you think lads?
 
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Yankee Dogs
Even the ‘1 Billion hits on Youtube’ South Korean rapper PSY feels the need to apologise to the Yankee dogs lads. Has the man no pride! He recently appeared on Yankee TV:
 
 
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DH – Reluctant Emigrant

Happy hols to DH & her clutch. Thanks for all the tall tales during the year DH. Many more to come in 2013 inshallah:
  
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Salam/Peace/Sionnach
Enjoy the hols lads. Stay safe.
Home is where one starts from. 
– T.S. Eliot
Lough Gur
HX lake from the HX homeland. Otherwise known as Lough Gur. Inshallah will shoot a few more like this over the hols. 
Regards to you all lads. To all Syrian Crossers – hopefully 2013 brings a speedy conclusion to your misery. Thinking of you all especially at this time.
MB

Awakening


Salam, Shalom & Dia Dhuit
I hear parents are christening their kids with the name ‘Noah’ in ever increasing numbers back home lads. On account of fact a name like that will bestow junior with some ark building qualities from the Gods, and his skills will be in big demand in the years ahead. The new IT! Was chatting with the family during the week on Skype and was difficult to hear them on the other end with the noise of the rain blasting off the windows, and stripping paint from the external walls. Where will it all end lads! No knowing. On similar vein hope all our Kabayan friends & their families safe in Philippines after the awful storm that has killed many.

Meanwhile in the desert lads, the sun continues to shine but with less severity than the Summer version, and we are now all bronzed and beautiful. No kidding!

Lots of stuff for you this week lads. And a few pics as usual.

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We like to see the clouds arriving in the desert. Some shade from the sun.

“For the great Gaels of Ireland are the men that God made mad,
for all their wars are merry, and all their songs are sad.”

– G. K. Chesterton

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MR – The Book About Awakening
When I write my book! How many times have we said that lads? Well Crosser of old MR didn’t just talk about it. She went ahead and did it. Informed me few weeks back she had written a book and was in the last stages with Amazon.com. Was finalised in the past week and now available for all. I have not yet read it, as will do so over the holiday, but MR informs me that it contains some photos of the Stone Circle & the lake in the HX area. So looking forward to a few glasses of vino, open fire and The Book About Awakening.

Difficult to describe what the book is about. ‘Consciousness’ and ‘Awakening’ maybe, from my miniscule knowledge. Asked MR to write me an explanation piece and she has obliged. I have not printed her full composition, but have taken 2 extracts and given you link to the whole if you care to read all. See below.

So lads, encourage you all to support MR, but only available as a Kindle download for $6.50. So you got to treat yourself to a kindle also lads, which might be no bad treat for yourself for Christmas after a tough year past.

So big Mabruk to MR and wishing her the best. Thanks also for the contribution to this weeks HX MR. It’s been too long!


From MR for the HX Report:

Extract Nr 1 –

Well where to start about the Awakening?

I have studied the Mayan Calendar and it has through the media been exploited without understanding the structure of the calendar in the first place. I have done clearings and ceremony work with a keeper of  the Mayan calendar Sean Alan Caulfield. He is a shaman and works closely with the Elders of the Kalahari Desert. I met him in London last year. He explained extensively to me  how the Mayan calendar works and it is not a calendar of dates but a calendar of consciousness and a record and a predictor of changes in consciousness from before the universe even began. The Mayans were exceptional and experts in plotting the transits of the planets. Here is his website and you will see from the calendar that there has been levels of consciousness from before our galaxy existed. According to the Mayans there has been 9 levels of consciousness and this is how everything has evolved. As consciousness rises everything evolves.

 http://www.seancaulfield.com/the-mayan-calendar.aspx

Extract Nr 2 –
Now it is in revelations in the bible and the Mayan calendar being the most precise record of the changing history regarding humanities different ages, it is beyond a doubt now that our world is changing. On the 21-12-2012 which is Winter Solstice and Winter Solstice is our ancient ancestor’s celebration of the sun leaving the winter which is the season of rest and rejuvenation  and celebrating the dawning on the day of Spring returning. On this day and the Mayans predicted the sun will cross the center of the Milky way which is the centre of our galaxy and astronomers and science have now validated that the sun will do this on this day. The planets will start to move back towards the center of our Milky Way after this day. For over 26,000 years they have been moving away from it. If humanity can only open up to a wider perspective of who we are and to take the step out of the box we have been living in, a whole new way of perceiving others, our planet and the universe  will change and it is not an if…it is a when..and it is happening. Eventually humanity will come into right relationship with each other and with our Mother Ship, the EARTH, as without her we are nothing.

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/27063903/The%20Book%20About%20Awakening.doc

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To MR from MB


From amazon.com:
A book of teachings, poems, affirmations, and photographs in understanding your awakening and how to navigate through these changing times in our evolution. Everything is changing on the outside but the greatest change is the change within. This book hopefully the first of many will assist you to answer many questions which you are not receiving from the outside of you. It is a journey which all of you will have to take alone in order to uniquely understand your own journey.

Saudi Men & Women – Mixing haram!
It is safe to say lads that the majority of Saudi men agree with the status quo which discourages or forbids the mixing of the male & female as we would know it in the west. Inform you weekly that it is only allowed for ladies in presence of a male guardian. And even then, from what I can see, its very rare. I am in the country how for 8 months and have never spoken to a Saudi lady (no harm in that says MB’s missus as she reads this section!). Anyway, even if i was here for 8 years I think my ‘single’ status would remain.

The following twitter exchange will give you an idea of conservative male thinking in the kingdom. A Saudi man walks into Hardees, a local fast food chain, for a ‘chip n burger’ and is horrified to see Saudi females working in the establishment, rather than the Philippinos he would more normally have expected. He immediately thinks of the position that the Government is forcing these ladies into by not prividing a job in a ‘female only’ environment thereby making them work in a place where it is inevitable that there will be mixing of the male & female. And as he memorably says – A waitress at the beginning of the work shift, and a prostitute at the end.

This piece of literary brilliance encapsulates much, if not most, of what outsiders (even most Muslim outsiders) think is very strange about the prevailing thinking in KSA. Absolutely nuts. Crazy. But at least the guy who made the statement is now threatened by a lawyer who is encouraging the Saudi ladies in question to take a case against him for impugning their honour. But have grave doubts that they will do so as, for one, they would have to explain the extend of the male/female mixing at work when they appear in court. Not easy, and could end them in more trouble than the blogger.

From Twitter
Anger swelled in the Saudi blogosphere after a blogger posted a tweet addressed to the labour minister.

“You should stop corrupting the society. We will be your enemies on Resurrection Day. Our women are now waitresses at Hardee’s in Jeddah,” the blogger posted.

However, a woman blogger blasted him for the remark.

“Being a waitress and doing an honest is better than begging or prostitution,” she wrote.

However, the blogger insisted on his view.

“A waitress at the beginning of the work shift, and a prostitute at the end. The frequent mixing of women with men leads them to sitting together easily and to dating.”


http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/saudi-arabia/prostitute-tweet-sparks-anger-1.1113649

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It’s a man’s world!

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Bruff Convent

The latest lads – Still for sale. One conditional offer has been made and an ‘English Group’ has twice visited Bruff for an inspection, prior to making a bid it is hoped. A 3rd group is investigating some potential uses prior to making a bid, assuming the figures stack up. And how do you know all this MB? Because I just know lads. And that’s where it lies. Keep you posted.

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For sale – Bruff convent school, now closed

 

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Interview with Photographer Steve McCurry

MB uses the WordPress blog site lads and so does another legend of the camera Steve McCurry. Considered one of the most renowned in world in the field of snapping. And with good reason. His photos are seriously good. So SMc makes the mega bucks with his shots, while MB offers his awesome pics on the HX every week for free. There is just no justice in the world, eh lads?!

Anyway, some lady at the WordPress, who obviously has much time on her hands, interviewed SMc this week and send us all her blog. Herewith:

http://en.blog.wordpress.com/2012/12/05/iconic-photographer-steve-mccurry-talks-blogging-and-wordpress/

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McCurry makes a fortune, while MB works construction

 

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Grasshopper
Was reminded recently of one of my favourite TV programmes ‘Kung Fu’ of years ago lads and looked up a few clips on Youtube. Was full of wisdom and lessons which I discovered during the week were all from the Taoist philosophy. The programme makers were into Taoism and researched it to use as guideline for the lessons of each episode. Great stuff!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCyJRXvPNRo

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Yoga
We have some Yoga buffs in our Crosser midst. If any of you fancy a trip over this weekend lads, there is Yoga & music fest in store:

http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/uae/leisure/dubai-to-host-three-day-yoga-and-music-festival-1.1114932

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A gull swoops for food on the calm waters of Dubai creek (eat your heart out McCurry!)

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Dropbox
As often happens lads, as we have seen many times in the past, once the HX Report gives a heads up, the moovers & shakers kick into gear. Last week MB mentioned ‘Dropbox’. Within days the mannikins at Dropbox decided to make huge investment in the international home of Crosserhood – Ireland. Just another example lads, if you needed one, of the HX Report dragging our rain sodden impoverished isle from the depths, and inshallah making it the ‘Dubai’ of Europe in due course. A shining light in a desert of debt and misery.
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http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2012/1203/breaking5.html

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HX Music
Crosser JMc had posting on her Fb page recently of great Irish Rock band Thin Lizzy. So have chosen 2 of their classic pieces for you all lads. I was amused to see some time back to read that ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’ is the number one played tune of the US forces radio in Afghanistan. Dancing In The Moonlight is may favourite, but I have not selected it. Take a listen:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTH6nrD0ars

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=quyB8PMTD3o

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Guitarist entertains on Dubai Creek dinner cruise

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The Moustache
The majority of Indians working in the Middle East hail from the southern Indian state of Kerla. One feature that distinguishes male Kerlits from others is their moustache. Almost all males from the region sport one. On asking one such Kerlite friend why this was so he explained it as follows.
It is the true sign of a gentleman. There is only one thing that truly distinguishes a man from a woman – a moustache. Nothing else. And the other necessity for a true Kerla man is a pen in his shirt pocket. To sign a cheque, take an order, record a statement. Anything. So armed with a moustache and a pen a man is truly a man and an attractive proposition for any eligible female. I explained to him that in the West it is often the sign of homosexuality. He would hear none of it. He was proud of his growth and nothing I could offer would change his mind.

Let me know what you think ladies. Want your feedback. Would any of the following non-Irish lads take your fancy:

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Opinions in confidence please ladies? Nr 2 is Yemeni jewellery trader friend of MB and is looking for 2nd wife, if any lady interested.
 
 
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Saudi Disputes
I mentioned the Grand Mufti a few weeks ago lads. The leading Muslim cleric in the Kingdom. Well he is back in the news lads. And for a reason I would never have dreamed of.

The Saudi Government recently introduced a law that places a tax on all employees that the employers must pay. Approximately Euro 500 per employee per year. Some companies in the construction industry out here have maybe 20,000 workers. So thats 10 Million Euro new tax for companies of that size. Needless to say all employers are unhappy about the new law. But the clever saudi are attacking the proposed law in a number of ways, detailed in the linked article. But one of the attacks is ingenious. The employers have asked the Grand Mufti to issue a Fatwa against the new law. And if he does lads then the new law just becomes toilet paper. It will not be enforcable and the Government can just forget about it.

i tell you this lads because I see you are all moaning about the budget in Ireland this week. So may I suggest that you all pay a visit to the local Bishop and ask him for a ruling. Worth considering lads. And just another lesson you can take from your Arab brothers. Allah u Akbar.

 

DH – The Reluctant Emigrant
More from DH on family life in the desert – national dress day at school and her kids choice of clothing.

http://thereluctantemigrant.wordpress.com/2012/12/04/irelands-national-dress/

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Tracking in the desert is easy

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Ciao lads
Ciao for now lads. Until next week. Will be taking break for the Christmas after next week’s effort. Have a nice weekend y’all.
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If McCurry takes one as good as this I’ll eat my Arab hat!
 
Be good!
 
MB

For the ladies


Salam Lads
Inshallah you are all in good spirits, life is giving you bounties and the sun is shining. The HX Report goes from strength to strength as you all know lads but MB is trying to build up the numbers. So if you have any pals who might be interested please send on the details. Or ’email groups’ who might be interested.
Further to a query to MB lads, the header photo that I use for the blog is one I shot one night in Dubai Marina. Great lights and great place for night shoots, if the fancy takes you.
We had rain in Riyadh last night lads. Serious rain. Severe flooding in many places. Like most of the Middle East its impossible to keep rainwater gullies in working order as the blowing sand keeps filling them up. So they are always blocked. And never in working order. Serving a more architectural than engineering purpose. There for show. The rains poured down in bucketfuls and had nowhere to go. Road crews were out today cutting channels with electric road saws trying to insert new pipes under the roads to alleviate the problem. They kept the trenches reasonably narrow so we were able to drive over them, sort of. Its still raining but tomorrow is start of our weekend so we can all chill out and avoid the stressful raging waters.
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Riyadh street scene earlier today
Ok lads. Much to tell you. Let’s crack on!
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Where To Live?
Ok lads. Am sure you have asked yourself many times in your life where would be the perfect place to live? Nice climate perhaps, crime free, peaceful, scenery, ocean, picturesque, and much more.Well lads, think no more. It has already been decided. If you like small town life (towns less than 20,000) then Port Fairy in Victoria, Australia is the place to be. Voted Nr 1 in the world, ahead of 2 small towns in Ireland. And I can imagine your first question lads – do we have any Crossers living in Port Fairy MB? What a truly stupid question lads. Of course we do. A daddy Crosser, a mommy Crosser & a baby Crosser – living & breeding merrily amongst the good burghers of PF. This was most assuredly the main reason the town won the award for God sake. Do not ask such imbecilic questions ever again lads. And next question from many no doubt will be – were you ever in PF yourself MB? Of course I was lads. Bought chocolate in Ye Olde Sweet Shope, drank beer in the pub, had some nice tucker in the village restaurant, played golf (sublimely) on the gorgeous links golf course just outside the town on the Southern Ocean, and generally lived the life of a PF-er for a few weeks some time back. Naturally enough the MB flavour rubbed off on the locals and they now find themselves Numero Uno in the world. Need I say more lads.
THE people of Port Fairy have always known it, but now it’s official — the seaside town is the world’s best small town to call home. Port Fairy is celebrating today after scooping the prestigious international LivCom award for the most liveable town with a population under 20,000.The United Nations-endorsed award was placed firmly in the hands of Moyne Shire mayor Jim Doukas, chief executive David Madden and community representative Margaret Watt at a special ceremony in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Monday. http://www.standard.net.au/story/1149695/port-fairy-the-best-little-town-in-the-world/?cs=72
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Whale watching, near Port Fairy
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Shot by MB along the Great Ocean Road, one hour drive from PF. The GOR takes maybe 4 to 5 hours to drive and has spectacular scenery, akin to the Doolin & Cliffs Of Moher in Ireland.
And if you want list of the top countries to be born in lads, take a look at the following: Ireland at 12, UAE at 18, and KSA at 38.http://www.economist.com/news/21566430-where-be-born-2013-lottery-life?fsrc=scn/tw/te/co/worldinNov25
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The Gathering
The Irish Government has organised a tourism venture for 2013 to attract emigrants and descendants of emigrants to return to Ireland for one week in June (I think) to help create links with the greater Irish diaspora. Which in turn might benefit Ireland in the longer term.
I told you all way back that I returned to Ireland in June for the local festival and that the local community had organised an early version of the Gathering through a web site called irelandxo.com. Same idea and the Gathering has become part & parcel of irelandxo.
On one event in June, a walk around the HX/lake area I happened across a Texan, who had come to the area in search of his roots and the final piece of a jigsaw he had searched for over a 15 year period. I had the pleasure of introducing Timothy Cleary to his long lost Irish cousins – Pat & Danno Murnane from the HX general area.
After Timothy returned to Texas he sent me an email that detailed his search over the years and I give you now link to same, plus a small extract from his story. Thanks v much Tim, and hope to see you in HX next Summer and hopefully we shall have a beer or 3 together. Inshallah.

The connection I have is that my grandfather’s grandfather (John Cleary) was the brother of Bridget Cleary, who was the mother of Pat and Dan Murnane’s grandfather. The property she brought into the Murnane family is owned by Dan Murnane, which we past on our walk. It took me about 15 years to find Pat and Dan Murnane, but well worth the wait. My story is this.

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Messi the Messiah

Don’t know if you noticed the recent friendly fixture between Argentina and Saudi Arabia lads. Created much hoop la out these parts as most footy fans out here supporters of either Barca or Madrid, and Messi is a Messiah to all. We (us Saudis) drew 0-0 with the much hyped Argies lads, Messi or no Messi. Just shows the power of camel milk, don’t you think lads?
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A truck load of camels heading to the farm or the meat factory
Upon arrival at Riyadh airport the Messiah was mobbed by fans. The Kalashnikov toting soldiers jumped in to save him shouting loudly at the crowd ” stand back there lads and let Lionel through, or he think we are complete bunch of donkeys – or camels”. Anyway lads, as they bussled him through the marauding hoards, the Kalashnikovs were swinging in all directions with the safety catches turned off no doubt. The following article has great pic of one such moment as the weapon swings under the nose of LM and he has worried look on his face. Or maybe it was all a cunning plan from the Saudi footy manager. His match performance on the night was pretty tame I must say lads, but maybe understandable. See what you think:

Lionel Messi is one of the most famous soccer players in the world, and he has a fan base as large as the one Michael Jackson had all around the world, and we’ve seen him visiting many countries before, and we’ve seen the crazy fans, but what happened in Saudi Arabia was something totally different.

http://www.overloadit.com/2012/11/15/lionel-messi-in-saudi-arabia/
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Saudi Women
Most Western women would consider the lives of their Saudi counterparts very restrictive I am sure lads. They are not allowed to drive a car, and can not really do much without the permission of a male relative. Even going out alone is a no-no generally, unless a close male relative is attached (husband, brother or father) or they get arrested by the Mutawah (Religious police). The latest news to hit the headlines is the sms notification that the male relative now receives when the missus leaves the Kingdom. As soon as her Passport is scanned an automatic text message is sent to the husband to let him know what’s happening.

It’s necessary I think lads. For example – Lets say Khalid drops the missus to the airport in Riyadh because she says she wants to visit her family in Jeddah. But she has in her mind all the time taking a shopping trip to Dubai with the credit card. In the past lads the subsequent cc bill could have crippled the family. Now lads thanks to the great new law, Khalid gets the automatic text message and he immediately calls the emergency contact number on his Visa card and cancels the card. Family saved all is well. Al hamdallah. And Fathima will receive gentle reprimand upon her return, and receive appropriate addiction counseling for her ailment. She will recover, apologise for her wayward ways and all will be well in the Kingdom.

So ladies, you who might have gone all red in the face and apoplectic upon reading that news last week (I saw it featured prominently in the kaffir Western news media) must rethink your attitudes and understand that your ways are sometimes not the best. And the rulers of your countries could learn a lesson or two (or even three!) from the benevolent rulers of the Kingdom Of Saudi Arabia. Allah u akbar!

RIYADH: Denied the right to travel without consent from their male guardians and banned from driving, women in Saudi Arabia are now monitored by an electronic system that tracks any cross-border movements. Since last week, Saudi women’s male guardians began receiving text messages on their phones informing them when women under their custody leave the country, even if they are travelling together.
http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2012/Nov-22/195915-electronic-tracking-new-constraint-for-saudi-women.ashx#axzz2D1DgF7pv

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A brave Arab girl – Dana Bakdounis
Most girls in Saudi wear the burka from approx age 11 lads as I have previously informed you. Local Saudi girls will wear full face veil with only the eyes visible. Some non Saudi Arab girls may wear head scarf instead of the veil. So when a girl is brought up in such an environment, where her marriage will be arranged by family, and in many many ways she is expected to conform, it takes much guts to rebel against the status quo.

Dana B has caused a stir by rebelling against the burka & veil. No doubt her family will have in mind that her behaviour will impact on her chances of finding a suitable husband, amongst other considerations. She on the other hand is a young lady, like most kids out here, who has exposure to the internet and modern media from young age, and will have a different outlook on life and what she wants and doesn’t want. Part of a change that’s coming. Will take many many years to change the old ways but will be the result in the end. But at present such people are rare. And brave.

Among the dozens of Facebook groups spawned by the Syrian uprising, a page supporting women’s rights has suddenly received a wave of attention, because of an image posted there by one of its followers. The picture was of 21-year-old Dana Bakdounis, without the veil she had grown up wearing – and it polarised opinion.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-20315531

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A day out at the beach in many parts of the Middle East may look strange to those not familiar with the locality or the culture. But it’s what you are used to I guess.
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Syria
Had very interesting conversation with Syrian work colleague few days ago about the troubles at home and the Iranian involvement. He recently went to visit his daughter in Lebanon and took the opportunity to take 2 day trip to Damascus to check on his house which has been locked up for many months. The house is very close to the Presidential Palace and he had to pass through the Palace security on his trip to the house. Upon being stopped at the checkpoint he realised that most of the guards did not speak Arabic. Only Farsi – Iranian Revolutionary Guards he assured me. And the guards that spoke to him in Arabic did so in a South Lebanon slang and accent, as he described it – Hezbollah fighters. The Hezbollah and Iranians conversed with each other in very poor English but the Hezbollah guys were taking their orders from the Iranians. They asked the Iranians, for example, if it was ok for this guy to visit his locked up house inside the security area. The Iranians gave their permission and he passed through. So goes to show who is calling the shots. And the existence that Bashar is having when he can not trust any Syrians to guard him. It can not be long more before he flees or catches some lethal misfortune. Inshallah.
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Hezbollah demonstrators in Beiruit in Feb 2012 support and show pics of Syrian President Bashar Assad shot by MB on trip to the city
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Drop Box
Hope you are all using Drop Box lads. Very useful for transferring or sharing files. Or creating a link. See for example, this week’s HX Soccer Club notes (more MB stuff) that is in my Drop Box file:https://dl.dropbox.com/u/27063903/Reports%2026.11.2012.doc
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Saudi Ruler
Our Saudi Ruler King Abdullah has appeared in public for first time in many months lads following some medical treatment abroad. He is much admired in the Kingdom and is considered by many to be a Ruler who is trying his best to change the country for the better, within the restrictions in which he must operate:

http://www.zawya.com/story/Saudi_king_appears_for_first_time_since_Nov_17_surgery-TR20121128nL5E8MS9WC3/?lok=161712121128&&zawyaemailmarketing

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Dubai buzzing
Read about the latest buzz created this week by Sheikh Mo lads. A development that will cost more than the entire value of Ireland. Not that we want to buy Ireland lads. We have absolutely  no use for a rain drenched oil-less piece of bogland real estate in the back arse of poverty strapped Western Europe. You can keep it. Not if you gave us all the tea in China lads would we take it. Even as a gift. But Dubai – well that’s an entirely different matter. I wont bore you about links 2 & 3 below lads but link Nr 1 is a whopper. We will build the largest Mall in the world called The Mall Of The World – just down the road from the Emirates Mall, presently the biggest Mall in the world. We really are having a laugh at your expense lads. Keep filling your cars with our petrol lads and not that shale oil muck from Canada & the US. Please. We gotta fund all this somehow lads:
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Dubai has many mega projects already including the worlds tallest building the Burj Khalifa (center of pic) and the Dubai Mall (next to the Burj)
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HX Music
Had no music for last few weeks lads so selected something for y’all. One most Irish Crossers will remember from their school days. In the Irish Gaelic language. Beidh Aonach Amarach (There’s a market tomorrow) (Souk Bukra – Arabic lads – impressed or what!)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYDikGIRs2E

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DH – The Reluctant Emigrant

DH is giving you all flavour of kids birthday parties out these parts lads. Aint nothing like the ones at home!

http://thereluctantemigrant.wordpress.com/2012/11/26/happy-birthday-not/

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Have a nice weekend lads

Take it easy it out there. Until next week.

Sand storm. Visibility can get down to near zero.


MB

Business As Usual


Greetings lads
 
 
Greetings from Saudi where the weather has turned a little cooler during the week and MB has had to wear jacket in the early morning chill. A few droplets of rain landed on the head and face of MB for few minutes on Tuesday from the scattering of dark clouds that had appeared overnight. Only my second sighting of rain in last year, apart from the monsoon conditions I witnessed back home in September. UAE had some heavy rain this week, including yesterday just before the big golf tournament kicked off (McIlroy one behind Donald after opening round).
 
 
This week lads I give you business opportunities, more tales of Sheik Mo, and the sequel to last weeks piece from Saudi Crosser XXX on life in the Kingdom. And much much more.
 
Note lads: Double click on any of the below pics to view in full size.
 

Dubai sunset – on a dry evening
 
More Jeddah Pics
Gave you some MB pics from Jeddah last week lads. Posted an album on FB. Take a look if interested:
 
 
Movie Choice
No cinemas in Saudi lads. They are not allowed. Haram. Despite the restriction, MB watched the new James Bond movie ‘Skyfall’ during the week. Not impressed. Just decided to download a real movie for some Saudi weekend entertainment – Snatch. And will follow that up with Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels. If you have never seen either lads please get a life and purchase or download both. But suspect most Crossers have seen. Found this comparison:
 
Business Opp
In recent times I have given you many many business opportunities lads. From various ‘mega buck return’ deals in Nigeria, to camel meat & milk franchises, to Yemeni honey, to Australian mining shares and God only knows how many more. The opportunities provided to you all lads have been truly endless, and fruitful if you took a punt. This week I bring you a cracker lads. An opportunity that comes from heaven itself. No kidding this time lads.
  
Camel meat on the horizon
 
Previous business opps have also included Yemeni honey
 
OK lads, the company is called ‘Ringtokk’ and it was recently set up by 2 guys, one of of whom is the business development guy and one of whom is serious software programmer. One of them is pal of MB. They have come up with idea that will wipe out roaming charges on your mobile calls when you are out of your own country. It still costs you to use the system, but at fraction of the cost of the telecoms operators.Works like this:
  • Log on to ringtokk.com and register with the website. You are then good to go. Put say 10 USD on your account with a credit card.
  • Open the website to dial the number you want to connect to. It can be land line or mobile number – it does not matter. The process is simple.
  • Few seconds after you dial the number from your laptop or PC your own phone will ring. Answer it. Voice tells you that you are being connected to the other number and you will hear the ring tone.
  • Other person picks up and you speak phone to phone over the net.

I have tried the system and must admit its very impressive. Simple to use and extremely high quality sound. Much better sound quality than skype and you will not lose connections. In the next month or so you will be able to download an app onto your smart phone and carry out the whole process without using laptop. Then it should really take off.

The opportunity arises lads due to fact that the 2 boys need some seed capital as they have used up all their personal funds to get the whole thing to this stage. So if anyone interested in sticking in a few dollars then you will take a slice of the pie. Minimum investment 1,000 dollars. Contact MB if any interest. Check it out lads:

http://ringtokk.com/

Congrats EH – Sideline
Want to give some publicity lads to one of our Crosser members who came up with a business idea as part of a school project. Think she’s about 15 years old. Now her company/business will feature on the the Irish TV programme Dragon’s Den – for start up companies to get some funding if they succeed on the show. It’s related to the Irish sport of hurling and like most great ideas its very simple. Won’t say much more. The video link explains all. But if you are involved with a club back home, or involved with hockey, then the product will be of interest. And nice Christmas idea if your partner or friends are involved in the sport. Best of luck EH, who hails from the HX heartland. Contact details:

ehoulihan08@cik.ie

Link to EH product
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U97HJTDVepw

Link to Irish sport of ‘Hurling’ (for the non-Irish who may not be familiar)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__L1NiWbruI

Leeds Utd
Not satisfied with owning Man City and Paris SG we have now snapped up Leeds Utd lads. Will be some interesting conversations between the Leeds accents and the Arabs!

http://gulfnews.com/sport/football/new-leeds-owners-plan-to-awaken-sleeping-giant-1.1108394

Al Wasl FC fans in Dubai. Closet Leeds fans for many years back.
 
Arabs have worn the white of Leeds United for hundreds of years. The purchase was inevitable.
 
Sheikh Mo
How many times have I told you about the legendary Sheikh Mo lads? How many times? Many many times lads have I given you tales of his most regal greatness lads? So many I have lost track. I know there have been doubters amongst you lads. Especially those of you from the poverty inflicted lands of Western Europe who do not have first hand experience of the exploits of his most Royal Highness. Then doubt no more lads. Will you take Land Rover’s word for Sheik Mos greatness lads? Yes indeed lads, I think you will.
 
In bid to have some of the Royal majesty and greatness rub off on their business lads, Land Rover arrived in Dubai last week and presented the very first 2013 Land Rover to Sheikh Mo. Number plate – Dubai 1. What else says you lads?! And in a double whammy to the opposition they landed another one to Junior Sheikh Mo – young Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan, our future ruler. Number plate – Dubai 11. Awesome or what lads!!!
 
World’s first 2013 Range Rover delivery to Dubai’s Sheikh Mohammed
The two Range Rover vehicles delivered to His Highness were the first to be handed over globally. One vehicle with the symbolic DUBAI 1 registration plate was delivered to His Highness along with an additional vehicle with the registration DUBAI 11 for His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai.
 
 
Doubt no more lads!
 

Saudi Crosser XXX
We featured last week lads a contribution from Saudi Crosser XXX about the situation in his homeland. This week I give you the conclusion of his piece. Thanks XXX.

To be fair, the situation today is nothing like the situation yesterday & isn’t entirely dire thanks to the new generations and new social media that allow some freedom. There are some 2.9 million Twitter users in Saudi Arabia, according to one recent study, and it is the world’s fastest-growing Twitter zone . see this link in the New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/21/world/middleeast/saudis-cross-social-boundaries-on-twitter.html.

In a country that sand trickles through an hourglass at a steady rate, the recent announcement of a sudden change at the top of the kingdom’s powerful ministry of interior replacing prince Ahmad (72 Y) with prince Mohamed (50 Y) who come from the second generation of king Abdulaziz progeny indicated a slight improvement toward reform and perhaps an end of those who said that unless and until Islam the only belief on earth, there will be NO peace, this is the mentality that was supported by the earlier minister (It is not only Islam, but Christianity also “holy wars” for 1000s of years) .

The main theme of the third report of the National Society for Human Rights was that the government executive bodies have failed to meet the ambitions of King Abdullah. At the end of the report, NSHR provided a list of recommendations including suggestions for partial elections of the Shoura Council as well as limiting transgressions by security forces and CPVPV members against citizens. Just yesterday, the fifth session of the ongoing trial of the two prominent human rights activists Mohammad Al-Qahtani and Abdullah Al-Hamid was held. The judge insisted in the last trial session to make it private, but the two activists firmly refused. The judge finally changed his mind and made this session public. Every single details of the trail was available to twitter users and I doubt that this is the case today in the official newspapers.

In conclusion yes, there are a lot of things that need to be changed in Saudi Arabia politically, socially, religiously and constitutionally and I hope this is will happen soon for a bright future to SA and hope that our children will have a peaceful society.

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UAE kids play
Interesting survey on the playing habits of kids in the UAE. Approx 60% play alone.

Dubai: 62 per cent, or roughly six out of 10 of UAE children play alone which could potentially negatively affect their development, a new UAE study revealed.

The study titled Children’s Play Index in the UAE aims to gauge if UAE children have a good balance between play and other activities. It was independently conducted in between July to September 2012 by TNS Research Agency and commissioned by family leisure company Fun City. The study was released on the occasion of the Universal Children’s Day that is celebrated annually on November 20.

The research involved 400 family respondents of different nationalities and particularly focused on the play behaviour of their children from ages two to 12.

http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/uae/leisure/six-out-of-10-uae-children-play-alone-study-1.1107668?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Newsletter&utm_campaign=&utm_term=%26261369

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Drugs in the Middle East

Problem all over the world lads including Middle East where its considered serious crime. Often punishable by death. As these 5 lads have just discovered in RAK, one of the Emirates of the UAE:

Ras Al Khaimah: The Criminal Court on Wednesday sentenced five people to death. They were involved in drug possession and drug trafficking.
The court session presided by Judge Bilal Abul Baqi passed the sentence on an Omani and four Pakistanis after they confessed to drug trafficking through the Oman-Ras Al Khaimah border. A senior court official said they will be executed by firing squad. The official added the Omani was searching for a buyer for one kilogram of opium and another kilogram of hashish when the RAK Anti-Narcotics Dep-artment received a tip-off and sent an undercover agent to do the deal with him.

http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/uae/crime/five-drug-traffickers-to-face-firing-squad-in-rak-1.581202

And of course, most parents worry as they do in the West, about their kids coming into contact with drugs and getting sucked into the scene:

http://gulfnews.com/about-gulf-news/al-nisr-portfolio/xpress/how-uae-schoolkids-get-their-dope-1.1108435

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Middle East Kids – Parents Worry

Had interesting chat with Arab Muslim friend during the week about the worries that parents out here have as they try their best to rear their kids. Surprisingly, he told me he considered it more difficult to bring up a son than a daughter. Told me most ordinary Muslim parents worry about their sons falling under influence of the more extremist Muslim practitioners. This man knows of many families where the son comes home one day and announces his new found beliefs and starts trying to convert all the family to a more extreme brand of the religion. Starts to grow a beard, starts to fight regularly with his parents, pointing out all their ‘haram’ behaviour as he sees it. For my friend this is a bigger fear for him than his 13 year old son getting involved in the drug scene. Can not remember ever hearing of any Western kid screaming at his parents to go to Mass on Sunday lads. Let me know if you have.

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Chelsea

Fans are going crazy. Crosser JB amongst them. Took one of his recent day postings from Fb for you all lads. Armageddon approacheth, according to many.

http://www.ftbpro.com/posts/ian.stewart.palmer/76248/roman-abramovich-makes-biggest-mistake-of-career-by-hiring-rafa-benitez

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DH

Desert safari pic from Sharjah. Idea if you ever come for holiday break. DH landed herself in hot water this week with the Sharjah forces of law & order

DH was busted in Sharjah, UAE this week lads. Read on:

http://thereluctantemigrant.wordpress.com/2012/11/19/busted-in-sharjah/

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Salam Lads

Ok lads. That’s it for another week. TC.

Ajman Fishmarket, UAE

MB

Apocalyptic


Morning Lads

Hope all smiling.

MB finds himself in Jedah, Saudi Arabia, as he writes to you this fine sunny Saudi morning, having flown over (or very close to) the holy city of Mecca yesterday on the flight from Riyadh. The chief air hostess/steward made some special announcements on account of our route and asked Allah to accept all our good deeds. Of which there are many. MB felt the power as we flew over ground zero and passed onwards in direction of Jeddah. Another one to tick off from the bucket list lads. Allah u Akbar.

Great reaction to the new blog format lads. Interesting to see, as I can on the stats section, in what country people are reading it, as a map of the world opens up and gives me a head count country by country, day by day. Something to log on to lads to give me break from Fb!

Some pics from Jeddah Old Town:

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Lots of Mosques. The Call To Prayer is deafening!

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Many of the buildings are dilapidated but with people living inside. Some buildings starting to undergo refurbishment

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Typical Old Town street scene

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Locals play dominoes on carpet on the street

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Carpet sellers abound, along with fabric sellers/tailors who make Arab dresses. And lots of barbers. Young lad says “Howya” to MB.

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Syria

Sitting with Syrian friend as I write, who is on his Facebook page chatting to friends back in Damascus. They are reporting huge explosions around the city as they chat with him. God help the helpless people. Myself and my pal are drinking coffee in Jeddah while innocents get blown to bits in Damascus and we get live commentary, more or less, while we sip the ‘Americanos with milk on the side’. Some world. Some crack.

My pal just stated that one of the lads in Damascus has just described the noise as like ‘Apocalypse Now‘ as the bombardment is so intense and deafening. That guy is in a house close to the Presidential area. But he has no clue where exactly the explosions are happening.

Getting worse by the day with tens of thousands fleeing to country to wherever they can. Whole towns and villages now disappeared into piles of rubble with  more than 40,000 people killed. Estimated presently that there are more than 700,000 houses destroyed, and the count rises each day. The Israeli army reported yesterday that the Free Syrian Army (FSA) now control almost all border crossings along the 800km border. So can not be long now one would think before the end comes. All my Syrian pals tell me that if they had-anti aircraft missiles the whole war would end very quickly as the planes are the Governments main weapon against the people. And presently the FSA has no solution to the plane problem.

The Brits are on the ground it seems, as the following report from Al Arabiya tells us:

As British Prime Minister David Cameron prepares to use the Royal Air Force (RAF) in Syria to put an end to the massacres the Syrian regime is committing throughout the country, British Special Forces are training rebels to assassinate the Syrian president and his commanders, the London Daily Star reported.

UK government sources told the newspaper that British assassination squads are in Syria to train rebels on how to target President Bashar al-Assad and his warlords. Some troops hailing from Britain Special Air Service (SAS), Special Boat Section (SBS) and the Airborne Infantry of the British Army (Paras) are also in the country to teach Anti-Assad fighters techniques on the accurate use of weapons and explosives against Assad regime forces, the sources said.

http://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2012/11/12/249245.html

Also lots of theories amongst Syrians that the present situation is engineered by USA/Brits/Israelis. Don’t agree with any of them. But the provision of the anti-aircraft missiles is a decision that the US could make to bring matters to a conclusion it would appear. Its not exactly clear why they do not provide. Possibly afraid of the missiles future use elsewhere when the present troubles pass. Meanwhile the civilian population are cannon fodder.

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HX Holiday Suggestion
MB would like to give you a holiday suggestion lads. Especially if you like clicking your camera or would like to learn more about your camera so you could become mega shooter like MB and other legends in da game. Take one week break in Dubai in March. Beautiful blue skies assured every day as you tour the fab sites on offer and get in a few Photo Workshops at Gulf Photo Plus (GPP). Having taken part in that event in last few years I can give it a very high recommendation. Workshops for all levels from complete beginners to lads who think the know lots like MB (but really know diddly squat!).

What is GPP2013?

GPP2013 will take place from March 1 – 8 and promises to be another amazing photo-fest. We’re bringing the world’s best photographers and instructors to Dubai to share their knowledge and experience with the Middle East and Africa’s professional and amateur photography community.

Save the date, book your leave and start finding creative ways to convince your partner and/or boss to get out to Dubai or take the week off for a fun and inspirational photography festival like no other!

To get a taste of what it’s all about, check out last year’s schedule here.

http://www.gulfphotoplus.com/gpp/2013?pk_campaign=GPP2012_ESHOT_NOV_13_PRE&pk_kwd=ESHOT

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Go to GPP lads and you may be able to take serious shots like this beauty from legendary shooter MB
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Breaking the sex laws

Was bit surprised during the week lads to read that there is proposal in UAE not to deport dastardly criminals who get jail sentences for having sex outside marriage and such like. In the past these (normally Western) no-gooders would get deportation back to their home countries at end of jail term where they would be free to continue their Godless ways. Not sure why this new relaxation is being proposed lads but as we all know when you give a sinner an inch he will usually try to take a mile. It becomes harder and harder each day lads for the good citizens of the Middle East to promote virtue and prevent vice, when the rulers are now starting to relax the reasonable rules of the past. No good can come of it lads. You will see more and more Tracy’s from Tyneside walking around our Shopping Malls dressed like harlots displaying flesh that is strictly speaking ‘haram’ and their will be more and more breaches of ‘honour’ and general behaviour that gives the middle finger to ‘modesty’.

Remember where you heard it first lads.

Suggested law change (what a joke):
“The most important recommendation is to make the deportation order optional and not compulsory anymore in crimes related to sex and honour, such as consensual sex, public indecency, breach of modesty and honour, and others. However, deportation remains compulsory in major crimes such as rape and molestation.

http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/uae/crime/make-deportation-optional-in-sex-crimes-1.1103947?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Newsletter&utm_campaign=&utm_term=%26260501

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UAE Nuclear Power Plant
The Americans have absolutely no problem with Arab countries having state of the art Nuclear Industries lads. As long as they buy all the high tech gadgets from the good old US of A. The mega stupid Iranians tried to do this without sticking to the rules and are paying the high price, mashallah. The UAE will now plough on lads with a Nuclear generating plant from Disneyland with Micky & Mini Mouse logos all over the boundary walls. Allah u Akbar (again!)

http://www.zawya.com/story/US_technology_to_be_used_in_UAE_nuclear_plant-GN_13112012_141132/?lok=210034121113&&zawyaemailmarketing

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The Grand Mufti

Have you heard of the Grand Mufti lads? Well, he is main man who can make rulings about da Islam, and issue Fatwas and such like. Presently he is none too happy with Foreign Media Agents – and MB received query during week from Saudi Crosser if communicating with MB would be breach of the rule. Assured him/her not lads, as MB is at this stage part and parcel of the Saudi scene and in absolutely no way can MB be considered ‘foreign’. It is probably true to say that MB has become more Arabic than the Arabs themselves. Allah u Akbar (for the 3rd time today).

And chaos & strife is the last thing on MBs mind lads I assure you. Working in the construction industry each week gives me more chaos & strife than I can handle. Who wants more of that for God sake.

From the Grand Mufti himself lads:

Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti has issued a religious edict prohibiting contact and cooperation with foreign media outlets seeking to “spread chaos and strife in Muslim lands.”

He urged people instead to address their concerns through writing directly to responsible authorities.

Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh told worshipers during a Friday sermon held in a mosque in the capital Riyadh that people should not contact foreign media outlets to “divulge the country’s secrets or address various matters” because these outlets “are only concerned with dividing people and striking the unity of the nation.”

http://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2012/11/11/248823.html

Image

Where a Mufti might hang out lads

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Saudi Crosser Contribution

Received some complimentary words from one of our Saudi Crossers last week lads saying how much he enjoys the Friday read. He has even gone one step further lads and put pen to paper for us to give us insight into da whole Saudi situation at present for da natives. His piece is quite long, as MB seems to have awakened a Saudi Shakespeare within. The piece is quite long and I may break it into 50% this week and same next (that’s another 50% next week Cla – to save you doing the calculation).

Anyway lads MB is very grateful for the contribution from XXX as I will refer to him/her as don’t want him/her falling foul of recent fatwas and such like and getting good whipping after da Friday prayers next week.

Dear Mike
You are so persuasive but you will have to tolerate my English then 🙂

OK today is Sunday and after drinking my daily dosage of coffee I decided to email you about what I feel personally about my country.  I really don’t know from where to start? There is a common perception among 90% of Saudis that we are waiting for something that 100% is going to happen but no one can tell you what is it exactingly!! Something related to the murky issue of succession particularly with the obvious aging of Saudi Royalty. Some Saudis say that Saudi Arabia is a monarchy dance on the tune of Western Kafers ….Mummmm.  I wasn’t plan to talk politically so you can ignore the previous paragraph :). If you are surprising that why we may not touch these simple issues try to stay in your fancy room for 6 months without knowing what is it all about let alone try our fancy Saudi jail.

Anyway, during my last visit to my SA I was so desperate when I saw the organization of disorganization. For example  the disrespect of traffic signals by careless drivers is a widespread practice in SA now a days without any response from police. Police inaction in cases of offense or minor crime, specially against non Saudi, like assaulting foreigner workers or house maids, is encouraging those bad guys to do more. If you survey the satisfaction levels of Saudis, you will be surprised that most of them will be not happy with the current situation. This shouldn’t be the case with a country that considered the world’s largest net oil exporter. I am not talking politically here but as Saudis living inside Saudi Arabia we are suffering from many difficulties.  The first of these is planning deficit- in particular we as a nation don’t think about our future . We just eat and enjoy the current pleasure without any thinking of how to keep our country going and improved, especially in the law and legislation. for example the gender segregation debate that still exist is a sign for a society that is stuck in the 19th century. We still heavily rely on expatriates? When you look at some specialist job areas the 99 per cent is dominated by expatriates. We are some time move backward for example I work in the health sector, where the equality is endangered and the right of any resident to gain a free health access has disappeared. not to mention the famous case of Hamza Kashgari who faces charge of blasphemy after two or three tweets about prophet Mohammad peace be upon him. It is like that the Saudi society hide behind being the original of Islam and the title of ‘Custodians of the Holy Mosques’ yet our actions and behaviour are far from Islamic. I feel that If it wasn’t for the fact that Saudi Arabia sit on a large part of the world’s oil our country would remain mired in the past whether we liked it or not.

The be continued………

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DH – The Reluctant Emigrant

Greetings to DH and ta for another issue of her Reluctant Emigrant Blog.

http://thereluctantemigrant.wordpress.com/

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Ciao/Adios

TC lads. Have nice weekend. Be good.

Image

Da follically challenged MB composin more brilliance. Haha lads!

MB

New Beginnings


Morning lads

Welcome to the new media world of the blogosphere lads. Where word gurus hang out and waffle merrily about waffley topics. Promise you lads, will remain humble and modest, and continue to welcome contributions from wretches of whatever creed. This is my commitment to you lads and I am man of my word.

New to this higher tech world lads so still trying to get to grips with designing the layout and stuff. So stick with me for few weeks and we should have da blog looking all masterful and majestic. Inshallah. Might have to be little more careful with the content now that the HX is open to the entire world and searchable on Google. Not kidding lads. The HX & Google are now together. Like lovers. Living together in mutually beneficial harmony.

Hopefully the legal authorities in all the regional countries, where MB could possible get arrested, fully understand the meaning of the word ‘irony’. And have GSOH. Or MB could end up tied to pole in middle of some village square with shirt ripped off and sorely in need of some creams and oils of the healing variety, after 100 of the best across his back. Inshallah this misfortune will not befall me lads and I will remain in the full of my health.

The HX blog breaks all the rules of blogging lads. All the most successful blogs are single topic. And this attracts a dedicated following. So the experts say. But will not change the format lads. I like the cross-selection of weekly topics. And hopefully some topic grabs the interest of readers, even when many other topics do not. And that’s the way it’s staying.

Ok lads. Welcome again to da ‘new look’ HX blog. Remain steadfast. Crossers abu!

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Reaction to last week’s HX

Was only awesome lads.

Cla
Cla was on immediately. Almost before I pressed ‘send’, thanking me for providing da business opportunity in Nigeria and is actively pursuing at da mo. We wish him & his associates in Lagos & Abuja all the best. May their ship arrive in port very soon. Cla was also drooling about MBs pics from Nepal lads, and to stop Cla getting all sad and possible suffering bout of bed-wetting, I hereby give you all another of the savage pic albums:

http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.4820629962458.192462.1497695183&type=1&l=b811019b88

Want to thank Cla for the following links re young lady from HX (almost) who is making name for herself in the hockey world (the non-Canadian variety). And needless to say lads she has Crosser connection. Brother GB is a Crosser member of long standing. Thanks Cla:

http://www.limerickleader.ie/news/local/limerick-girl-uses-her-camogie-skills-to-become-youtube-sensation-1-4440588

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-0TXMVPwaE&sns=em

RQ
RQ was concerned about the mossie that was bothering me last week lads. Suggesting garlic and tea tree oil as eco solutions. As promised lads, I gave the mossie every chance. Opened the door and offered him escape to the outside world. But sadly for him lads, was tad institutionalised, and just couldn’t bring himself to fly out that open door. Another attack on MB following night resulted in bite sores on back of MBs hand upon waking following morning. And that was it lads. Final straw. Short time later Mossie was located – and mashed. Khalas!

SW
Received a most intriguing email from Crosser SW from Connecticut USA lads. A female Crosser who is not personally known to MB but we have mutual past connection. Unknown to MB, SW has managed to hook herself an Irishman. And lo and behold lads, didn’t she only land herself a real prize fish in none other that Crosser PM, who has oft contributed to the HX, and is old pal of many years of MB. A warm fatherly feeling came over me upon hearing the news lads, as realised that we had our first instance on Crossers coming together in amorous manner. Potentially breeding and producing new generation of Crossers. Inshallah.

Anyway lads, back to the intriguing email. MB immediately zoomed in on the attention grabbing line at start of email – “I am in the death business“. Sat bolt upright in my seat lads, as did not really know where this email was going to take me. Turns out lads, upon digestion of the mail, that SW is editor of ‘Connecticut Cemetery News‘ monthly newsletter. Yes lads, something we never in our wildest dreams would have thought of back in Ireland – a cemetery newsletter. E gad! Had read of the newsletter, November edition that SW passed on, and saw that the cemeteries in USA are run by private companies as profitable business. People are just dieing to get into that business I guess lads! (sorry SW – you must be sick of sad jokes like that). And obviously lads that’s why all the cemeteries in USA look like the golf greens in Augusta, perfect lines, 0.3 on the stimpmeter! You certainly learn something new every days lads as the old saying goes. And this was certainly a new one on MB.

Anyway lads SW wanted permission to use MB’s piece of last week on the Hindu Cremations in Nepal in her December edition. An honour indeed lads. And of course lads, permission granted. Who knows what the future holds. Will forward you all the Dec issue when it hits the stands.

RK
RK was on pointing out that he had provided MB with Wikipedia link to last weeks featured Russian artist, but MB was just too stupid to recognise the link and never included the reference. So big apology to RK, and for those who may be interested herewith:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivan_Aivazovsky

And RK gives us new pic this week. From some Russian painter from the republic of Tatarstan:

This picture is about Tamerlan (MB note – some warlord I gather) and his tradition to create hills from the dead skulls to intimidate enemies.

It’s dedicated to Conquers – of all times past, present and future.

MJ & ML
ML back safe & sound from Nepal. MJ presently in some Buddhist village (I think) with 2 more weeks to go.

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More From Nepal

A few tales worth telling you lads, that MB brings you from his recent trip:

Hindu Holy Men – Sadhus
Came across some Hindu Holy Men in the P temple grounds and they immediately catch the eye. With colourful dress, unclean appearance, matted unwashed hair and smiling faces its hard to miss them. They generally depend on donations from tourists and the general public to survive and do not possess worldly goods. They do not take female partners at any stage in their life. Was informed by seemingly knowledgeable guide that their penis’ are “mutilated” at young age, maybe at age 7 or 8. Just to ensure that the they are “of no use to a woman” in the future, in case they might think of straying from their vocation. That’s as the guide explained it to me lads. So I’m sure its true. Am attaching pic that I took of 3 of them sitting contentedly, as they watch the cremations across the holy river. Much like fans enjoying cricket match in the balmy afternoon sunshine.

Must admit lads am bit mystified by the empty coke bottle behind Sadhu Nr 1. Is he hiding it? Sort of goes against the ethos lads, wouldn’t y’all say.
The Sadhu in most of the public temples make themselves available for pics for the tourists and expect some financial donation. They need to eat lads so no harm there. But some Ali Baba types get in on the act by dressing up as Sadhu and try to cash in on the act. Let us call these lads the ‘Unmutilated Sadhus’. Gave 5 dollars to two Sadhu who approached me in that temple. Even thought I did not take any pic of them they made it clear they were not happy with the five, and asked me for ten. As did not speak Nepalese asked the guide to tell them to beat it real quick. Assume those characters were of the unmutilated type. And because of incidents like this, even some Nepalese consider the Sadhu a bit of a nuisance. Sad.

There is famous festival every February at the P Temple near Kathmandu airport when some 40,000 Sadhus from India & Nepal gather. Various rituals are performed throughout the day and night and am told its incredible spectacle. Many different sects of Sadhu have different practices that they offer as sacrifice to the Gods. Was told of one group who never sit down, and spend their entire lives in standing position. Including their sleeping hours. Seemingly they perform the difficult task of sleeping in the standing position by strapping themselves to something like a small tree and then rest their heads and arms over some out-hanging horizontal branch to sleep. Others have various strange diet, only eating same limited food throughout their entire lives. The pic of the 3 lads above is interesting alone. Mind boggling to think of 40,000 of them together.

Volunteering in Nepal
Now a big tourist industry in its own right lads. Many people travel to Nepal to do volunteer work with kids, or homeless, or handicapped or whatever. Many will mix their holiday with some volunteering time. There are many (mostly NGO) organisations available to assist. But you need to be careful. The groups who will benefit from your efforts normally provide internal transport within Nepal, food and accommodation while you are working. But some others are charging a fee to the volunteer or the volunteer must pay for some of the basic necessities. Some tourist companies operating in Nepal may donate some of their income to local charities, even some of the mountain trekking companies.

Durbar Square, World Heritage site at Bhaktapur

If any of you are interested you can check out some of the following:

Loads more listed on Lonely Planet if you want to look up.
The Living Godess  – Kumari Devi
They have a living Goddess in Nepal lads. Truly. A real live living Goddess. She is originally selected on basis of 32 very strict physical characteristics which include her eye colour, shape of her teeth, and sound of her voice. This selection takes place at aged 4 or 5 approx. If more than one girl is selected then all will go into darkened room and men with frightening masks will dance and scream in the same room. The girl who remains calmest is considered the winner and the reincarnation of the Hindu God Durga. She must come from a Nepalese ethnic group called Newari who are renowned gold and silversmiths. She lives in a building called the Kumari Bahal (next to the world heritage site of Durbar Square near Kathmandu) with her family, and will only go outside into the wider world for 5 or 6 ceremonies each year. It is not allowed to take photos of the Kumari but she appears daily (almost) at an ornate window facing the square, when I think pics may be possible. Got there too late unfortunately on the day I visited so never got a photo opp. In the future perhaps.

That’s the Kumari in the middle lads

On the occasion of her first period in puberty the girl will no longer be considered the Kumari and a new Goddess will be chosen. She will be given generous dowry and sent on her way. It is considered unlucky to marry an ex Kumari according to the literature. But MB is wondering lads, about sending letter to Sheikh Mo to suggest possible marriage for one of his sons or grandsons to an ex living Goddess. The mind truly boggles lads when you try to imagine the coming together of the royal seed with the egg of the Goddess. A truly super being or even new super species may develop. Will be interesting to see what answer I get back from Sheik Mos office lads. Keep you posted.

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Sheikh Mo

From the man himself lads. From SM Fb page earlier this week on the occasion of the 41st anniversary of the founding of the UAE:

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum
A very special occasion is approaching us after a few weeks. The 41st National Day of the UAE. As we get closer to this important day. I would like to share some thoughts and ideas under the banner of Spirit of the Union. First, I say to the youth of our beloved nation, the story of UAE is not limited to 41 years only, our history stretches back 1000s of years. Read about Umm Alnar civilization that goes back to more than 2000 BC, Jalfar in the 4th century & the remains in Jumeirah from the Umayyad era. Read about the stories of heroism of our people while facing the foreign invasions in the past few centuries. Knowing our history is a key part of the Spirit that ties us together. The great stories of our people will continue well into the future.

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Syria

The blood continues to flow. On all sides. Bashar has said he will live & die in Syria. Reminds us of very similar Gadaffi comment in Libya few weeks before he died. In Libya.

Was traveling with Syrian acquaintance during the week when he phone rang. Call from Homs in Syria. His brother just got shot in fighting. Lucky for brother bullet hit him in the arm. Entered and exited through muscle tissue. No danger to his life. But few inches in another direction and my pals reaction might have been much different. Such is life for Syrians at present.

Many Syrians living and working in Saudi Arabia, where I am presently based. In last few weeks all renewal of Saudi visas for Syrian nationals was cancelled. Many working here must get new visa every 3 months so must renew at that stage. Now no longer possible. Thinking is possible security risk I imagine, even though all Syrians I know would be very anti Syrian Government and very pro Saudi efforts to remove him. But ordinary people are often just pawns in bigger games. Number of my work colleagues now unable to return to Saudi for this reason, and may end up having their jobs terminated. And will then be unable to send home few dollars to help their families.

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Eye Do

Be careful where you poke that stick ladies. It could have far-reaching results:

Manama: A young Saudi woman was forced to marry her cousin after she caused him to lose one of his eyes when they were children.

Saudi news site Sabq said that the young man never had any cosmetic surgery after his cousin accidentally poked his eye with a broom. When he grew up and wanted to get married, he could not find a woman who would take him as a husband.

http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/saudi-arabia/woman-forced-to-marry-cousin-after-poking-his-eye-1.1097939

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Eid Slaughter in UAE – 15,584

That was the count of the Eid religious slaughter of the goats, sheep, camels and others lads. Was also very many killed at unofficial sites. Remember telling you all that I came across one such unofficial site last year down a small side street. One of the pics on the second link looks bit like what I experienced.

http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/uae/environment/15-584-animals-slaughtered-in-dubai-for-eid-1.1097736

http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/uae/community-reports/makeshift-slaughter-points-1.1098178

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HX Music

Hope you enjoyed the Sting song from last week lads. This weeks recommendation comes from the Chieftains, who were backing Sting last week. Great bit of fun!

Chieftains & Friends
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQaJq-COBhc&feature=related

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Dubai Cars

Have previously mentioned that Dubai is car crazy zone. The high & mighty love their top of the range models, and showing them off on the tourists strips at the weekend. There is vast amount of speed cameras which control the acceleration. But not this guy on Dubai’s main drag – the Sheikh Zayed Road:

271Km/Hr
http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/uae/drivers-clock-271km-h-on-shaikh-zayed-road-1.1097266?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Newsletter&utm_campaign=&utm_term=%26259073

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DH

Thanks to DH for her efforts each week and for giving MB kick to set up real Blog. This week she is Trick or Treating:

http://thereluctantemigrant.wordpress.com/2012/11/04/trick-or-treat/

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Slan Lads

Ok lads. That’s it for another week. If your in Middle East enjoy today/tomorrow off, and if elsewhere enjoy the coming weekend. TC.


MB

Scaling The Peaks


Morning Lads

Namaste lads. Tai-pai-lai kas-to-chha? (Hello lads. How are you? – in Nepalese) Hope all healthy. Plagued at present by a single mosquito who seems to love me lots. Is sharing my room but keeps himself to himself during daylight. I can hear him buzzing around my head at various times after lights out and I see and feel the evidence of his love every morning as the bite marks get all itchy & red. He seems to have the gift of invisibility when it suits him and I do not really have an easy solution. Will try to leave the door open today for a while and inshallah he disappears from my zone to find new friend. Otherwise I will be forced into drastic action. Resulting in the death of the mossie.

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My Trip
And if I was Hindu or Buddhist lads I would not consider the above final solution for the mossie. Which brings me nicely to my main story of this week – my trip of last weekend. Mentioned to y’all two weeks back that I was heading to mountains & temples. And so I did lad. Off I headed with the camera & lenses to Kathmandu, Nepal. Amongst the peaceful tolerant Hindus & Buddhists. As good luck would have it lads, the BBC had feature on World News channel on Nepal. Problem there at present of locals catching cholera from drinking dirty water from streams. So stuck religiously to bottled water during the trip lads. The last thing you need when you are scaling the high peaks lads is a bad dose of cholera. Also stuck to boiled or fried foods to avoid diarrhea and it worked. And double socks for the long hikes. Another MB trick to note lads for your own future use.

There are many thousands of Nepalese working in Middle East and all I have met in recent years are extremely polite happy smiley people. Am pleased to report that the description generally applies to the entire home population. But huge poverty problem. It is reckoned that some 7M of total population of 30M do no have sufficient food for their daily existence. I witnessed very large numbers of people begging during the day, and sleeping rough on the streets at night. Saw groups of 4 and 5 children huddled together under blankets on the footpaths after dark getting ready for an uncomfortable night on the hard paving. The electricity to public lighting gets cut off every evening as darkness descends. Suddenly, even in the capital Kathmandu, you are walking in pitch black streets which quickly go silent and only the howling of hungry dogs and replies from other hungry dogs breaks the dark night quiet. Didn’t haggle with the locals when buying stuff, generally. Hadn’t the heart. Except for few taxi drivers who were taking the mick with the Western tourist MB.

Nepal Women
The women work harder that the men. Or so it seemed to me. Even in the mountain area of Nagarkot that I trekked through for a day, approx 90% of the lifting of crops and other loads was being done by the women. And very old women in many cases. Carrying heavy loads on their heads or by ropes on their backs. As I said earlier lads huge poverty and large percentage of the rural population (and even the urban population) living in very poor decrepit accommodation. But amazing to see how clean and stunning the women managed to look at all times with their multi-coloured clothes spotless throughout the day, even when working in the fields.

Crops
Was surprised to see and immediately recognise potato plants growing in the mountains as local villagers formed shelves on the mountain and hill slopes to create horizontal terraces that would allow potatoes to be grown. Men & women working together with picks & shovels clearing the ground, setting and picking the crop. Some of the crop for eating and some for sale to provide an income. Rice also growing in many locations.

Politics
Politically speaking the country is a disaster. The politicians have been fighting for 5 years about trying to make a constitution and make laws. But still no success. Someone told me they have 601 Ministers. Meanwhile the people live in one of the poorest countries in the world. Someone told me 10th poorest but not sure if this stat is correct.

Traffic
Traffic in Kathmandu – a disaster. And creator of huge pollution. Many locals working in the city wear dust masks for protection. The problem is the combination of car fumes and dust rising from streets that have no paving in many places so dust constantly rising. Seems that in approx 2001 when the king was killed by his son (along with a number of other members of the Royal family) there were only a very small number of cars in the entire Kathmandu valley, but now there are tens of thousands, going as fast as they can along very narrow streets, more designed for rickshaws and motorbikes than cars. Petrol is very expensive bearing in mind the income levels. Approx 1.45 euro per liter I was told. So the car of choice, over 90% of all cars from what I could see, is the 800cc Suzuki Marutti. Very fuel efficient. And huge numbers of motorbikes and scooters. Was informed that 3 people per day get killed in motorbike/scooter accidents.

Religion
Mainly Buddhist (originally from Tibet) & Hindu (originally from India). Many of the temples permit both religions to worship together. The main Buddhist feature you will see are the prayer wheels which you spin while chanting a mantra. God will then forgive your sins. The Hindus have 3.5 Million Gods according to a Guide who showed me around a particular temple. But some are more famous and prominent than the others and some of the temples are dedicated to the more important Gods. The Hindus believe in reincarnation which happens again and again until you reach Nirvana. If you die from a snake bite you will immediately reach Nirvana as the snake is a sacred animal/serpent. Hindus also revere the cow. My guide told me that the general prison sentence for murdering a man is 7 to 8 years with 50% time off for good behaviour. If you kill a cow in Nepal you will receive 20 years.

Funerals
The holy Bagmati river flows through Kathmandu. As revered by Hindus in Nepal as the Ganges by Hindus in India. And next to a temple area, very close to the airport, is where the Cremation of dead bodies takes place on a small polluted stretch of the Bagmati. I made photo album of the cremations. Which in another country and culture might be insensitive and disrespectful. But because the Hindu believe in reincarnation, the funeral cremations are (generally) a happy occasion as all are aware that the dead person will shortly be reincarnated in another form. It is not uncommon to see Hindus laughing and smiling at a funeral. It is consider a time of joy. As a tourist you are asked to give the family respect by keeping your distance and not to intrude on their privacy. I, like most others, moved to the other side of the river and took the photos with my zoom lens. I had seen this on YouTube before I went on my trip but to see the whole ceremony live was a really great experience.

There are 2 parts to the funeral ceremony. When the dead body arrives (normally by Government ambulance) it is taken to the purification area. This involves dressing the body in orange robes plus a few other rituals. But the main event of the purification involves taking the body to the edge of the river and dipping the feet in the water. At this stage Hindus believe that the soul has not yet left the body but the body is now purified. Two months back it was noticed during the purification that the body was still breathing. And obviously still alive. Body was immediately rushed to the ambulance and taken back to the local hospital.

The second part of the ceremony is the cremation. This involves a number of new rituals including pouring water on the head or mouth, marching around the body three times plus a few others. The critical element of this stage is the placing of fire in the mouth of the body. This is done, from what I could see, by stuffing some straw into the mouth of the body, and possibly use of oil, and then setting fire to the straw. At this instant the soul is considered to leave the body and the body is now officially dead.

Unfortunately, in the last year, two bodies awoke, or came out of coma, when they reached the ‘fire in the mouth’ stage. As I said above once the fire is lighting the Hindus consider the body as dead. So in the two referred instances, or whenever this might happen, it is considered that an evil spirit is trying to awaken the body. The family and cremation professionals will then use heavy bamboo poles to ‘quieten’ the body, as my Guide described the procedure. As in – they beat the body as hard as they can on the head and elsewhere to ensure it stays on the fire and to ensure that the evil spirit does not succeed.

Food
I took the opportunity on first morning lads to take large chunky slice of Yak cheese with the breakfast. I immediately felt the surge of protective power eminating from said Yak product and it would appear lads, that in the nobel Yak, we have worthy competition for our beloved Middle East Camel. Who could ever have dreamed such a thing lads? If you suggested such an idea to me two weeks ago I would have laughed in your Kaffir face and asked some local Mullah to organise 50 lashes across your back for your insolence. But not any more lads. I would now be buying sooth-a-cream for you and begging your forgiveness.

Momos are considered the national dish and are yummy. Little parcels of meat or veg wrapped in a light cover, like dumplings at home. Maybe even served with icecream if that’s to your liking. Lots of Indian type foods, but loads of restaurants in Kathmandu and you can basically get any food you want. Themel is the main tourist area in the city, so loads of shops and bars for your delectation. Trekking shops like you never saw in your life, as KTM is the starting point for most trekkers and mountaineers heading for the peaks.

Photos
If you are connected to me on Facebook lads you will already have seen the photo albums I have posted up after the trip. Giving you all link to my trekking album which gives good idea of the rural scenery around the Nagarkot area. Think you can also look at the other albums when you log on – if you wish. Did not get to the Himilaya/Everest area but managed to take photos of the sun rising over the Himilayas from a viewing tower in Nagarkot, many many kilometers away (another of the pic albums).

http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.4799640237728.192006.1497695183&type=1&l=8d9639c378

Spent approx 5 hours trekking through mountain terrain and ended up in small village as dusk was approaching. No taxis in the village so jumped on a bus to get me to village that actually had taxis. Bus packed to capacity, so jumped on the roof along with many others, feet dangling over the edge and great vantage point for more pics! Very memorable journey.

So can give you all a very big recommend/yes for Nepal. Interesting fascinating place. Not really a place for a family holiday though When you go there its all action and/or sightseeing, so a reasonable level of fitness is necessary. They also have big adventure area for white water rafting, paragliding, bungi jumping, and other stuff near the border with Tibet, if you want to give the trekking and temples a miss. Big thanks to PS, Nepalese Crosser who gave me great advice before I traveled, and to MJ & LM who were great traveling companions on my first two days over there. Hope you both get back safe & sound in due course. Both now new members of the Crosser brigade.

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HX Music
Am often asked out these parts if we have our own language in Ireland. Yes non-Irish Crossers – indeed we do. And to let you hear the sound of the Irish (Gaelic) language I give you Mr Sting singing traditional Irish song with the legendary Chieftains providing the music:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auSa0YfkxFE

And received email little while back from Jade Dillon informing MB that she will shortly post up some more original songs on YouTube so will pass on to you all when I receive. Hope you all enjoyed her 2 great pieces of 2 weeks back.

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HX Art (yes Cla – art!)
Received a few emails from Ruskie Crosser RK during the week, who grew up in Tatarstan in Russia before moving to Khazakstan in his teenage years. Anyway lads RK sent me on his favourite Paintings – by some Ruskie artist that I never heard of who is famous for his paintings of the sea. I am attaching RKs best known painting by his favourite artist. The name of the artist appears in Russian script in all the emails sent to me lads so I can not give you the artist’s name in a real language. Let me know what you all think.

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HX Book Recommendation
Just finished a book called Three Cups Of Tea. About an American who got lost in the northern tribal area of Pakistan after failed attempt on K2. Went on to build many schools in the villages and ensure that many young girls got an education. Great read and great lessons for the great & the good.

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Taj Mahal
Told you few weeks back lads that a developer in Dubai will now build a larger version of the Taj Mahal than the original version in India. He will use it as hotel & wedding venue. Will be huge success I think. Now some Indian politician is bleating on that it should not proceed. Donkey!

http://www.emirates247.com/news/emirates/no-one-can-scare-us-taj-arabia-will-be-built-2012-10-29-1.480602———-New Nikon Camera
Quite a few Crossers into photography. If you are serious enthusiast you will normally chose Canon or Nikon. Nikon have new DSLR on the market which might be of interest to some.http://www.zawya.com/story/Nikon_launches_smallest_FXFormat_camera_in_UAE-GN_19102012_031020/?lok=210003121019&&zawyaemailmarketing

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Opportunity Knocks
MB is not slow to pass on business opportunities to you all lads when they arise. I have decided to pass on the following offer due to pressure of work but might be of interest to Cla and others. Email received by MB during the week:
I am very pleased and happy that contact with you, my name is Dee Kufo, I got your contact from your country and on the basis of the information provided to me which assured me of your opportunities
 
I decided to make you as a beneficiary of $ 10 million, as well as 80 kg of alluvial gold dust in storage here, Fidelity House in Ghana. the Fund belongs to Gen Hisham Ikhtiar  who was killed by the rebels during this Revolution.
I want you to be the next of kin of that person (Gen Hisham Ikhtiar), he did not have a family again, they where all killed in Syria, revolution, and if we succeed in having money and gold, we divide equally.
I work in a company where gold and money, we have their gold and money, I wanted you to have your cooperation in this businss proposal.
Now I’ve got all the relevant documents concerning the Fund and Gold Dust but the only thing that I require from you is your honest cooperation and sincerity Lite this is true, I need the following vital information below
 
(1) your full name
(2) your full contact address
(3) your age/country you come from.
NB I will need this information to work on the document, we want to change you to the nearest relatives ofGen Hisham Ikhtiar.
 
I assure you that once this is done, the transmission is in your care and gold will be sent for sale under your supervision. If you are interested, please kindly get back to me as soon as possible.
 
Waiting to hear from you as soon as possible.
With respect.
Kufo Dee
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Facebook Friends
We just won’t tolerate this kind of carry-on lads. And be warned if any of you are thinking of coming out to visit MB and expecting him to engage in kissing or cuddling of any kind:Dubai: A student admitted in court on Monday that she cuddled and kissed with her lover consensually at his flat nearly 20 times after he promised to marry her. Prosecutors have accused the Pakistani student and her Indian lover, both aged 24, with hugging and kissing consensually without being married. “Yes it’s true. We hugged and kissed several times but that was after he promised to marry me,” the student claimed when she entered a guilty plea before the Dubai Misdemeanor Court. The Indian, who works in customer services, entered a guilty plea as well but denied that he promised to marry the woman.

DH – The Reluctant Emigrant

Thanks to DH for continuing to include us all in her weekly blog list. Unlike MB, DH is real writer with big future. Keep up the good work DH. Always enjoy your stuff.

Rolling In The Deep
http://thereluctantemigrant.wordpress.com/2012/10/31/rolling-in-the-deep/

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Namaste lads (Goodbye lads)

Ma a-li a-li Ne-pa-li boll-chhu (I only speak a little Nepalese). So will leave it at that for this week lads.
TC all.

MB