Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Trip Down Paris Lane - Part 1

Our recent trip to Paris (in Sept) was definitely full of surprises. But then I guess after spending almost 2 years in Riyadh, anything might seem like a surprise.

For starters, we were very ‘pleased’ with the cold weather that first greeted us at the Frankfurt airport and then at the Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris. Then as soon as we got on the train to get out the airport, we were ‘greeted’ by a smooching couple on the train. No matter what they say, witnessing a couple kissing in public is definitely different from watching actors and actresses in movies or documentaries ;) For the 1st 5 seconds I couldn’t stop but stare. Shucks! How uncivilised I must have looked ;) But honestly it wasn’t the smooching that caught my attention, but the disgusting graffiti-filled neighbourhoods in North of Paris that we saw as soon the train started. Surprisingly the 1st train out of the airport was stinky, and had Parisian youth dressed like hooligans prowling for their next prey. Both me and my husband tightly held onto one another in the fear of being mobbed.

What truly left me speechless and dumbfounded was that as we continued to emerge from the North wing of Paris, after several miles, the scene had completely reversed. The towns started looking like more of what we see in the movies, with beautiful landscapes, people looking more civilised and decent-looking, neighbourhoods that were filled with nice townhouses and buildings etc. The stark contrast hit me real hard when we got to our stop at the Arc De Triomphe on Champs-Élysées. What a 180 degree difference! In short, one can say the ride from the airport gives a visitor a real insight into the major social class difference that exists in Paris. Simply unimaginable! But like they say nothing is perfect...well neither was Paris!

Stay tuned for Part II.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Where to go on a Romantic Date in Riyadh?...Head to Centro Restaurant & Lounge

A week back it was our anniversary. And, both my husband and I were lost in thought about where to go for dinner. After the usual cake cutting and gift exchanges, came time for dinner. And, though it is my hubby's birth right to woo me for a date on such an important date, he simply went ahead and asked me "Where would you like to go for dinner?" I was amazed and definitely not expecting that he hadn't planned the evening, but after he gave me the options of the Globe Restaurant at Faisaliah Hotel, I silently thanked God. Coz I wasn't interested in an over-rated experience especially not on my anniversary. I just wanted a quite-some dinner with a romantic ambiance. And, that's when it hit my hubby to try the Centro Restaurant & Lounge on Tahaliya Street. The interiors in this restaurant are all in the combination of red and black and even the partitions between families are simply breathtaking, made of velvety black curtains. We had gone there once before on a very late evening hour and didn't find a decent seat, not to mention, then we were accompanied by little 10 month old who was feeling extremely cranky. Anyways both me and my husband has promised ourselves we would come back some day. And, I was glad it was our anniversary day coz it seem that the whole placed was booked by us....It was empty on a Wednesday evening at 9:00pm! 

Centro is basically an Italian joint and they have the usual gamut of all the possible Italian cuisine.  The prices though, are at the higher end but hey I don't mind paying an extra couple of 10s for the striking romantic ambiance. We ordered our traditional red and white sauce pastas. Below is a breakdown of what exactly we had:

Japanese Style Shrimps Tempura & Spring Rolls Platter - The shrimps were simply out-this-world. Cooked to perfection!

Main Course
Hubby: Fettucine Al Fredo - the usual white sauce pasta with chicken and parmesan. Asked to remove the mushrooms. 
Me: Penette Alla Marinella - the usual red sauce but asked them to make it extra spicy and asked to add chicken to it. Got the eggplants removed for sure!

P.S - The main course pics were taken half way after we began eating ;)

There was simply no room for dessert considering we had a 2 pound cake waiting for us at home. The total bill came out to be under SR 300 which includes fresh juice and water, not to mention the service charge. All in all, had a lovely evening. 

Definitely recommend this place for a romantic date, especially with the handful of choices we have in Riyadh for any romantic spots whatsoever!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

For finger-licking chops & ribs...head to GAD Restaurant in Riyadh

The other day both me and husband were craving for some lip-smacking ribs and that's when my hubby remembered his all-time favourite Egyptian joint that serve the most delicious finger-licking chops & ribs that one can dream off. Grilled to perfection, not only are they soft and succulent but seriously tasty! Its not the first time I went there with my hubby. This was the 3rd time actually and each time around we leave feeling thoroughly and completely satisfied! 

We usually go to the Malaz branch and between just me and my husband (my husband being a die-hard beef/meat lover) we order for 1/2 kilo of ribs and 1/2 of another absolutely favourite and must-have ''Tourb". Tourb are basically meat with parsley patties that are basically cooked with fat, so for anyone who's on a fat-free/low calorie diet, this is NOT for you. Despite being grilled, these chops and meat patties are quite fattening yet full of flavour. The total with a couple of soft drinks comes out to SR 110 only. Though some might argue this is on the expensive side, I'd say its worth paying for. So if A) you're a meat lover and B) you literally have a BIG appetite head to GAD for an amazing experience. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Ladies: It's time to rejoice...FINALLY they get it!

I'm absolutely thrilled with the new initiatives that the Saudi government is taking to get more and more women involved in their workforce. Even if its Saudi women, and not expat I'm still really very happy. I just hope that the magic spreads to places like Riyadh too where we are dying to see some lady workers. Not to mention I feel like dancing at the announcement that all lingerie shop owners have been give 12 months to replace their male attendants with female ones. FINALLY! they get it, if you know what I mean. Though I never got a chance to be involved in the Enough Embarrassment campaign that drove this point home for the Saudi authorities, I just can't seem to thank them enough. No wonder recently I saw a Saudi woman clad in full hijab/abaya at Centrepoint's lingerie section, not to mention the section has a special partition and has been made Women Only. Yippie!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Saudi Arabia has a Human Rights Commission! REALLY What for?

The other day me and husband drove past this building which had a human rights commission board on it. Needless to mention, I was shocked that it existed especially here in Saudi Arabia. With the lack of protection granted to expat workers especially domestic servants/maids, labourers, etc. I really wonder what real work the so-called Human Rights employees would be doing here. 

It saddens me each time I read a news-story about a maid being abused, raped, and assaulted in the paper. The worse is when these very women who in an attempt to save themselves end up killing their attackers are sentenced to death or worse have to pay blood money. I would like to ask these so-called human rights people that when a maid dies here because of an attacker, how many a times has a significant amount been paid to their families as blood money. Why are they exempt from this rule? Just because they are considered worthless in the society?!! 

I’ve personally heard and read so many horrific tales & cases of exploit and sexual assault on these women that I just can’t bring myself to side with their sponsors’. Everyone seems to complain that their are alot of runaway maids here. Yes! there are those who runaway for better money elsewhere but I wouldn’t be surprised  if 50% of them run away from their sponsors because the sponsor misbehaved with them, or made sexual advances at them (I do personally know of some who did so to escape being raped). I don’t know who these sponsors are but I sure hope and pray that they rot in hell for treating these women with such insolence.

That said by far I have only heard one good sponsor story here in Saudi Arabia, and many a times I have thanked God for whoever he is and pray that there are or could be more like him in this country.

Anyways I’m glad with the recent announcement of both Indonesian and Philippine government about not sending any more maids to this soil until better measures are taken to protect their people. We can only hope and pray for the best. 

The other day I thanked God for the fact that the Pakistani government never lifted its ban (since the 80s) on supplying women as domestic servants/maids to countries outside. Though it would ease the life of many Pakistani expat families living abroad including here in Saudi Arabia who have to go through the tantrums of Sri Lankan and Indian maids, but any of these problems are acceptable but certainly not exposing and endangering the life of the Pakistani maids in such countries. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

All that Glitters is in Riyadh!

Seriously! Cars dusted with Gold glitter!!!!!!!! See for yourself. I don't know what was worse - seeing a SUV pasted with Louis Vuitton paper all over it (couple of months back) or this!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A must see Pakistan album!

Usually I'm the last person who would comment or or post anything related to Pakistan  on my blog because all one can do is just comment and talk about Pakistan...no matter what we do from here as expats or by living in Pakistan there is no changing the conditions that prevail in Pakistan. Hence I will not say anything more. 

But this album came as a breath of fresh air and I thought now this is something that I'd proudly put up on my blog. This is a beautiful side of Pakistan that even I didn't know about. Do go through it and see what we've been really hiding!

Amazing Pakistan

Anatolia Turkish Grill...A Diner’s Delight!

I honestly cannot even begin to describe what an absolute delight this Turkish restaurant is. My husband and I have been here 4 times already which clearly explains how fond we are of the place, the service and the quality of food. I thought it was time after our 4th visit to give them a review that they truly deserved.

That said the only trouble with the place is that it does not have a spacious family hall. It’s quite tiny actually and possibly can serve upto 10-12 families of 6 at a time only. Perhaps that is a reason why I’ve noticed lots of people coming in and ordering takeaways. Either way these guys are very busy and much in demand. We’ve tried them on weekdays and weekends but have never once been disappointed.

As you walk in you are greeted pleasantly and made to sit on the only waiting sofa. They hand you the menus and give you time to select what you would like. Once ready to order, they take your orders and seat you comfortably at a family table. Once seated they bring in their steaming hot (literally out of the oven) bread, with the most delicate butter slice and a cheese slice. To be very honest this itself serves as an appetiser but still we can help order some of our favourites listed below:

  • Humus – was kind of average. We ordered it only the 1st time around, other 2 times didn’t need to.
  • Peynirli Pide (appetiser)– a kind of cheese manakish, but simply superb.
  • Adana Kebap – long kebabs like seekh kebabs but they are simply irresistible. I claim these to be the best seekh kebabs I have ever had in 30 years. They are not spicy but you will feel with every bite a rich blend of distinct flavours of herbs and spices in your mouth. Meat lovers cannot leave without trying this.
  • Tavuk Papyon – these are long kofte kebabs rolled and stuffed with smouldering cheese and mushrooms.... umm!!! an absolute must for cheesy lovers!
  • Peynirli Kofte – similar to the Tavuk papyon just that this one is made out of beef/meat and has no mushrooms in it. Another delight!
 You can view their menu here http://www.anatoliaturkishgrill.com/menu.php
Both I and my husband love Anatolia Turkish Grill located at the Granada Mall. Even the waiters/attendants recognise and welcome us with a lovely smile each time around. I just hope they can open more of their branches around town with much spacious family quarters. From my side they get a thumbs up for everything!

I support Women2Drive...BUT BUT BUT...

I openly admit that I'm all for women driving in Saudi Arabia, however, I will not be amongst those who are brave enough to drive, for the simple reason I'm a driver who can drive only where there are proper rules for drivers and those who don't abide it are penalised severely (like in Dubai). But a year and a half of living and seeing the driving in this country, I'm more than glad to take the back seat. Not to mention I have no intention of having pathetic losers follow me home and wait for me like a prey.

To summarise I'm all for women driving but personally speaking I have other reasons to not  drive here. Whenever and if ever the streets of Saudi Arabia become safe for 'safe and careful' drivers like me I might reconsider until then I will let my husband and taxi drivers brave the streets of this country or more so Riyadh.

That said I do mirror the sentiments of all those women who struggle on a daily basis to get anywhere in this city (or other cities). From dropping and picking children, to picking up grocery, to even managing emergency situations, we have to depend on our husbands, fathers, brothers or otherwise cabbie drivers. Not all of us can afford the luxury of having a personal driver like the Saudis can, but hey when did we expats ever be counted or appreciated for anything that we've done in the Gulf Countries. It is sad indeed that we cannot even be pardoned for taking to the wheel in an emergency situation. What if the sole driver in the house (for example a husband or a father) got a heart-attack at 1am in the wee hours of the morning, does this country honestly expect the woman to just sit and wait or hail a cab at that hour! I'm sure the woman will get an ambulance or a cabbie by the time he is dead! I wish the Saudis who impose these rules would sometime step into a woman's shoe and see the choices we have to make.

Friday, June 24, 2011

El Chico Mexican Restaurant: Unbelievable bad experience!

Before I start this post let me tell you that our so-called lunch this afternoon has completely ruined my weekend. This restaurant has been opened only 7 days and definitely having an upset customer is not good for their business. And, though the General Manager Talal refused to let us pay, and he and his team apologised to us (husband and me) a million times, it still can't do away the bad taste the restaurant has left in my mouth. The reason why I'm so flipping upset is because I've been to the one in Dubai, and their service & quality was simply impeccable while here in Riyadh it was a complete 180 degree.

Husband decided to surprise me this afternoon (I had said many good things about El Chico in the past week that he decided we should try it). We land there at 2:30pm and it was jam packed (like any other new restaurant in Riyadh). However, thankfully we were seated immediately. We ordered the following:
  • A mixed platter (chicken wings, chicken nuggets, mozarella sticks)
  • Chicken Mushroom Fajita (specifically requested for without mushrooms)
  • El rancho with fries and refried beans
What we got:
  • A mixed platter with cold chicken wings and cold soggy mozarella sticks - we asked them to replace the soggy mozarella sticks which they did
  • Chicken Fajita filled with mushrooms - we asked them to replace. My husband was flipping pissed by now).
  • El rancho - my husbands' order arrives, and then my order arrives 3 minutes later (mind you we waited almost an hr before we got our orders). And, guess what my order is not as hot as it is supposed to be. Furthermore, the manager Rami tries to humour us by informing that he got me extra fries...which needless to mention were again all cold.

I left 70% of my meal (see image for proof) because I had lost my appetite. They only thing they managed to get right was our drinks...lemonade for my husband and a diet pepsi without ice for me.

The staff was confused, and literally the restaurant floor seem in complete chaos as each time we asked them to replace something, they would check with 5-6 people, the computer machine, the kitchen staff etc. to ensure they've gone wrong.

The icing on the cake came when we received the cheque. My husband informed me jokingly that they charged us 26 riyals for service. That's when I literally lost it. I asked the attendant to call his manager and Mr. Rami arrives, and that is when I unleashed the severely disappointed customer in me. Fortunately the General Manager Mr. Talal was around and happened to hear everything. He came over and apologized (like I mentioned before too) on behalf of the team. And, tried to offer us a free meal apart from not letting us pay. But, I could not be won. I left the place with a frown. And, apologised to my husband for the absolute f***-up.

Let me add here I already told the Managers that I will be writing a review about this regardless of their apologises, so I'm not being a stabbing-them-in-the-back bitch. I'm just being a bitchy disgruntled customer.

NEVER going to El-Chico in Riyadh again. And, please God I hope none of our friends ever decide to treat us to dinner there.

P.S - Thank you Mr. Talal for hearing me out then. And, thank you for not charging us the lunch, which you know should not have been billed to us anyways because of what we've experienced. But appreciate your professionalism.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Yes I admit and I realise that my blog has become outdated. So much for posting just back in January of this year announcing my comeback! Ha!

The deal is very honestly I’ve just not had a chance to resume being a blogger again. No! it wasn’t the ‘new mommy’ thing but in fact because I tried my hand at working full time. Went for some interviews around town, landed the job too but eventually gave them up. Now this was a big deal for me because for the whole of last year I tried looking for a job in Riyadh but did not get a single call. And, here from beginning of this year it was like the complete 360 degree. However, I let go of these opportunities. Why simply because I had got accustomed to being at home. That said I’m not free, I’ve started freelancing and that is why I had to let my own blog take a back seat.  

I’m now going to make it point to revive this blog with weekly posts. And I hope to have some new comments and followers to keep me going J

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Someone please tell KSA-2 TV that its Pakistan, NOT Pakistatn!!!

 Cannot believe this is a local channel from Saudi Arabia!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Three cheers for the Brave Tunisian People

The last couple of days have been full of surprises. The videos (aired on various newschannels) about how the tunisian people finally revolted against their dictator and finally chased him out of the country are simply awe-inspiring, atleast for the Muslims. Or may be just for Pakistan.

As an expat, I rarely get affected by the shit conditions prevalent in Pakistan but that doesn't mean I don't feel the pain of fellow Pakistanis living there...and this would hold true even if my family wasn't based there. Like Kamran Khan (Geo TV) I wish there was someway all the Pakistanis would get together and throw out all the corrupt so-called leaders of our country, just the way the Tunisians did. In any case three cheers for the Tunisians.

But, a rather shocking event was when I found out that the country that has given refuge to the Tunisian suppressor is infact Saudi Arabia. Really don't know what they are thinking...why is that when a former Pakistani Prime Minister's government was toppled and he got exiled, it was Saudi Arabia that openly welcomed him. Wondering which leader will next become a long-temporary-citizen of this land. Any guesses?

Easy Meat

A wee bit late in reading yesterday's newspaper today, but I couldn't ignore mentioning this wonderful objective piece by Iman Kurdi in Arab News commenting on the Former British Home Secretary's statement of calling his own 'white' trash as easy meat for men of Pakistani descent.

I loved her perspective on asking readers to understand the real reason behind why infact Muslim men and not just Pakistani men think of non-Muslim women as easy targets for sexual abuse. Finally someone who isn't bashing Pakistanis for being Pakistanis ( commonly associated with everything wrong going on in this world especially terrorism and corruption).

I'm Back

I've been away too long...and lots has happened since my last post. I became a silent observer not by choice but by the blessing bestowed upon me...I am now a mother. My views about things may have changed but the feminist, the radical, the rebel in me lives on...Yes! I'm back.