Monday, September 03, 2007

Life in Bahrain is One Big Endurance Test...

Scanning through yesterday’s newspaper when a few interesting subjects ‎caught my attention which I would like to share with the rest of you people, it has ‎been a while since we’ve been here so let the slaughter begin...‎

All the things that you read about nowadays in the newspapers is a test for us to endure different kinds of nerve-wrecking tests and makes you wonder: "How on Earth is this country running?"

First thing that I noticed of course was the main headline on the front page:‎


Moving on next to this column which reflects a personal experience:‎

To our non-Arabic readers, basically this guy is talking about a letter he received ‎from an exasperated customer to an “Islamic” bank where they charged him 1 ‎Dinar for every month his bank account was below 20 BD. Now, I understand that ‎banks do charge service charges for maintaining accounts which have no cash ‎in them, I have endured that during my student years abroad and I know it’s a ‎common practice internationally. The point, though, is that the bank in this case ‎did NOT make it clear to the customer that they were going to charge them 1 BD ‎for every month their balances are below 20 Dinars. The customer went to the ‎Bahrain Central Bank and told them about this. The BCB told the customer to ‎fuck off as it had nothing to do with them and it’s not a rule that they enforced. ‎We all thought that you motherfucking mongrels did. It became common ‎practice for banks around this country to charge this 1 Dinar. Now let me get this, ‎so you don’t care if banks do that? Okay it’s their right to pretend that they are ‎‎“losing” money from such accounts while on the other hand announce ‎humongous profits at the end of the year and they pay their arrogant employees ‎some 20-40 salaries bonuses. Gimme a fucking break you motherfucking thieves. ‎Hey I am not against whatever policies you decide to enforce. Just don’t fucking ‎rip me off by NOT telling me that you are going to start enforcing some charges ‎and keep charging me whilst not knowing about them. The Bahrainis are broke ‎enough to start worrying about their accounts going in the minus balance.

This ‎also happened to me but not by an “Islamic” bank but our very own “national” ‎NBB. Now these thieves are so good at it that they don’t give a flying fuck about ‎anyone or anything. I went the other day to the branch with a friend so I ‎remembered “Hey I had an account a LONG time ago. If it’s still open why not ‎deposit some money and forget about it? But hey no I am sure that it has been ‎closed down by now”. So I go up to the teller and give him my CPR Number ‎asking him whether an account in my name exists or not. To my surprise and joy it ‎did! Great! No need to reopen an account, just deposit some cash there and ‎forget about it again. All that went down the drain faster than a dumped piece ‎of crap travelling down the flush when the guy told me that the account existed ‎but it has MINUS 47 Dinars in it. WHAT? WHAT THE FUCK? And I asked the donkey ‎why was I in the minus, and not by a small amount but 47 fucking Dinars. He told ‎me that was because I was being charged 1 Dinar every month since they ‎started enforcing that rule. I asked him but my account was inactive for a LONG ‎time why wasn’t it closed? He said that they don’t close the accounts. ‎Elsewhere, now correct me if I’m wrong but an idle account gets closed down ‎after a few months or years of inactivity if it had ZERO balance. But no, these ‎asswipes kept the account open and kept charging me a Dinar a month until it ‎reached this silly number. I asked the fucker why I wasn’t told about this before ‎they started charging me, to which he didn’t have any answers, and I didn’t ‎expect such a low level creature to do. Thanks a bunch, fucking NBB, I already ‎hate you enough but this made me swear not to deal with you or let a member ‎of my family do, EVER. Fucking thieves just like the rest of the thieves in the ‎country.‎

And what's with "Islamic" banking anyways? They just found the right tool to lure religious extremists who think interest is forbidden in Islam to make them take loans using words like "Moraba7a" and "Ajara". This -In my humble opinion- is also interest and daylight robbery but they are more appealing to the bushy bearded and their ninja wives. "Ooooh looky I have a loan from an Islamic Bank. I will not pay Ribba. All you dealing with commercial banks are doomed to eternity of hellfire and endless anguish". Islamic banking my ass.

Okay so we are done with the appetizer, moved on to entrée and now onto the ‎dessert...‎

The situation on this damned causeway is getting from bad to worse. In the days ‎long ago, the Bahraini side was much more competent than that of the Saudi. ‎Nowadays it’s the exact opposite. Saudis have become much more efficient ‎and speedy while Bahrainis are deteriorating and getting worse and worse. The ‎reasons? One main reason is that the employed a whole new generation of ‎morons. Shitty kids with such a shitty attitude that you just wanna hold a giant ‎chainsaw and go through that artificial border island and cut it in half. They are ‎careless, slow and dumb. And God forbid should you say anything that ‎displeases them. They will make you wait even longer and make you wish you ‎hadn’t been born.‎

What’s with all the bureaucratic bullshit? Why don’t you allow people use their ‎personal ID cards (an ID card is different from the dumb smart card)? Now that’s ‎one document which was useful when I last went to Dubai, no passport, no ‎hassle, plus, in the GCC all they do is enter the passport number and they do not ‎stamp any exit or entry stamps in the passport so why bother carrying one when ‎you can use the useful card to go and come as you please?‎

Furthermore, why not eliminate that border island and keep everything on the ‎mainland? At least traffic will be eliminated on the causeway itself. Let the fee ‎collection booth, the customs and immigration part on the Saudi side and once ‎you reach the Bahraini side in mainland Bahrain, you go through the other ‎process of immigration, customs and inspection and vice-versa, use the toll ‎booth, customs and immigration on the Bahraini side and once you cross the ‎bridge, you arrive at mainland Saudi and go through immigration, customs and ‎inspection. You can use the artificial island as a service island containing petrol ‎stations and it already has restaurants. Sort of a last minute errand running place ‎in case you forget to complete them before leaving your country. Check out the ‎crappy illustration as a reference.‎

Get rid of those shitty kids or properly train them and actually punish them if they ‎screw up instead of giving them a power trip. Such people will shit on other ‎people’s heads thinking they are the highest of the high. You are high alright, ‎crack-high, that is.‎

I have another experience with the traffic police of the causeway but I’ll leave ‎that to another post when I bash at those pieces of chalk. Fucking mongrels.‎

Screw this shit, I’ll go shop for Ramadhan before prices get bumped up again. ‎Then they say all prices are under close control and observation, yaah riiight.‎

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Smart Card... Dumb Issuer?‎

Okay first of all let me tell all of you what a refreshing vacation that was! After a couple ‎of years of no proper full vacation, only a day or two every couple of months and that’s ‎it. Boy this was refreshing.‎

Despite the heat in Bahrain, I didn’t travel this year and stayed here the whole time but ‎decided to take a full time off computers, relax and do absolutely nothing except for a ‎few dinners out here ‘n’ there, a couple of shopping/food trips to Saudi and that was it. I ‎just wanted to relax and think nothing of work or anything else for that matter.‎

One of my experiences during this vacation was that my CPR card has expired and that ‎they only replace it with the new “smart” ID card. So I said what the heck, whether we ‎like it or not we have to go with the flow. Thanks to the advice on Ammar’s blog... I went ‎there well prepared with all the documentation required. I booked an appointment on ‎their retarded website and finally was set for the day of reckoning!‎

The day arrived and I went to the CIO in Isa Town and was actually 20 minutes earlier ‎than my appointment. So I decided to go to the information desk anyways and told the ‎guy I had an appointment 20 mins later and he asked for my CPR, he entered the data and ‎gave me a waiting number. Once I took the number I saw it flashing at one of the many ‎counters open. I thought “well hey, they have improved a lot, many counters, huge ‎waiting areas, you know what? Maybe these government entities aren’t that retarded after ‎all and that they are changing for the better”. That was going on in my mind as I was ‎walking towards that counter. All was well and I suddenly got that fresh breeze of ‎optimism inside me as I was excited to get the card. The counter was empty but my ‎number was there so I sat down and waited for the person to attend to me. Suddenly that ‎breeze of optimism flew away like a tornado faster than the hurricanes you hear about in ‎the Caribbean. There you go, typical government entity, no one is there! I waited for a ‎couple of minutes until a lady showed up who looked like “Um Hilal*”; she was an exact ‎replica of her. So I gave her all my documents and told her that my CPR was expired and ‎that I need to have it replaced. She typed in my details and this happened:‎

Um Hilal Wannabe: “Are you still studying in the University of Bahrain?”‎
Me: “Huh? No! I work and here’s the letter from my employer”‎
UHW: “But you are listed here as a UoB student”‎
Me: “Yeah but now I work, and for the record, I completed my studies abroad and just ‎was in the registration phase at UoB, anyways, isn’t it your job to replace my details with ‎my work details?”‎
UHW: “No I can’t remove it from the system unless you bring me a letter from the UoB ‎that you are no longer studying there”‎
Me: “But I didn’t study there, I only registered and went abroad”‎
UHW: “In that case bring a copy of your degree from abroad”‎
Me: “But now I have to go back to work and get the copy and this will take even longer ‎to process instead of finishing the whole thing today”‎
UHW: “I can’t do anything else, I can’t remove the details without either a statement ‎from the UoB or your certificate”‎
Me: “But I work now and it is not relevant anyways whether I study in the UoB or not. It ‎doesn’t matter cuz I work and that should be listed as my occupation. You guys just love ‎to make our time harder don’t you? You just love to see us beg like dogs to get ‎permission to leave our job to come here and take it from you? (Which of course I was on ‎leave and it didn’t matter!)”‎
UHW: “Sorry I can’t do anything else... NEXT!”‎

I sat and waited for my friend who was there too, and I went to vent some steam out ‎when I talked about what happened to me loudly in front of the other lady who was ‎serving my friend. That proved to be good because she heard my case and asked me if I ‎had stopped studying with UoB before 2004 to which I answered that I didn’t go there at ‎all but yeah to answer her question yes it was way before 2004, much before that! So she ‎went to UHW and told her that she could change my occupation details without any ‎paperwork.‎

Everything else went smoothly afterwards and a few minutes later, I walked out with a ‎shiny new smart card but also with a few burnt brain cells because of getting angry at ‎UHW. Smart card, dumb dumb dumb employees issuing it.‎

And what the fuck is up with these stupid cards anyways? I mean they don’t have the ‎address printed on them unlike the old CPR card and the Identity (Personal) Card which ‎can also be used as a travel document to some GCC States like Qatar, UAE and Oman, ‎but not KSA which is closer to us, what dumbfucks, instead of introducing electronic ‎passport/ID card scanners on the causeway, they make it more difficult to get through.‎

They say that with card readers you can get the address and other details about the ‎cardholder, but not everyone has the reader yet. So how can I prove my address to anyone ‎requiring it? Smart card my ass, yes smart on paper but dumb in reality.‎

Overall, my view still hasn’t changed about how laid back most of the government ‎workers are, there ARE some who are hard workers but the majority isn’t. Don’t pretend ‎they are and that all life is perfect in these workplaces.‎

Fuck this shit, I’ll go sort all the pics I took during the holiday and articles I dug out the ‎newspapers to prepare them to be grilled here on LiB...

*Um Hilal: A popular fat black Bahraini actress who had popular series in the 80s during Ramadhan.