Friday, March 23, 2007

Gamers hugged themselves and each other and said: "Sony we love you"

Coming into work this morning was actually pleasant and I was surprised to see how many smiling faces there were. Probably because it's a Friday, I mused, as I involuntarily squashed myself between two big burly men with bags underneath their eyes. They were smiling too and after (again, involuntarily) listening in on their conversation, I knew why:

"I am so tempted to call in sick, everyone else in the house has and they're glued to the TV... I'm definitely coming home early to play it..."

I smiled as I listened to the story of how this young man hadn't slept all night because his housemate was one of the first people in the country to buy a PlayStation 3 and he couldn't let go of it all night. They were joking around about hugging it, taking turns kissing it and how lucky they were to have it. I completely understood, even though I'm not a gamer - although they did get a couple of strange sideways glances from some people on the train.
The PS3 was launched last night in the Virgin store on Oxford Street (Corner of Tottenham Cout Road) and the gaming world is overjoyed. I may not be a geeky little kid (glasses not thick enough) or a 20something city bloke with a 9 - 5 job (doesn't matter how old you are, you're still a little kid on the inside), but I understand how big this launch was. Gamers have been waiting for too long for the launch of yet another console that will take up all their time and cause problems with girlfriends and spouses. Previous launches of the XBox 360 and Nintendo Wii drew just as much attention but also a lot of complaints to the companies that didn't provide what their customers wanted.

In this case, no one has yet to complain of the ridiculous antics pulled by the company who launched the console. Unlike Nintendo and Microsoft, Sony didn't dupe their customers by only providing a small number of consoles in relation to the demand. Sony actually provided more consoles than expected to sell AND the first 100 customers at their Virgin Launch last night received HD flatscreen TVs worth £2,500 - for free. This is all just for being great customers and being patient enough to stand in a queue for 48 hours.

You read that right - readers in the UK or US might find it normal to hear of people queuing for days to get their hands on a gaming console (people in Japan right now are probably laughing at people who don't). I remember the launch of the XBox 360 at midnight when a laser show was taking place as the doors of GAME flung open and people ran to grab whatever they could - it was crazy. Problem was, some people were queuing for ridiculous hours and when they got to the front of the queue found out there weren't enough consoles to go around. If that were me, I would have probably gone ape shit, start kicking demonstrations and staff and even my own shadow from having to wait around for nothing. Many times before, gamers have complained to reporters on site (yes, because this does make the news, contrary to what some of you would agree to what should be branded as "news") of waiting for hours and not getting anything at the end. I don't blame them. I have been on many awaiting list for the Ninetendo Wii (a joint christmas gift) and many times have I run to the GAME in Canary Wharf to find a group of people standing around and a spotty member of staff shaking his head in embarrassment. It's March and I still haven't gotten one, must to my (and my christmas gift receiver) disappointment.

Sony was smart enough to put away gimmicks/laser shows/juggling marmoset acts and make this a basic launch. Okay, so they did launch the product at midnight but that's actually pretty smart because you don't have to take time off work or school. Also, Sony recognized this wasn't about marketing as much as about getting the product out to the customer, so they didn't have any flash celebrities around or fancy displays - instead they provided their customers with Coke and Caffeine in the last 24 hours of waiting (super bonus) and gave everyone a pretty cool gift for being so dedicated.

What's cool is that they even provided more consoles than they anticipated selling because they didn't want people to buy consoles and turn around and sell them for double the price on eBay - respect to that. No one should be so desperate as to surf eBay at 6 a.m. to buy a gaming console, it's just not right.
I hope this makes a lot of gamers happy - I for one, have lost many hours of my life listening to the same complaints from a certain someone about this whole launch of consoles... Complaints such as corporations not caring enough about their customers, not taking into consideration certain populations and demographics in comparison to others, debating markets like Europe vs the Japanese, the Japanese vs the Americans, the people vs the corporation, my sanity vs rant rant rantrantrantrant... I think Sony's done good this time, maybe this could mean people can finally purchase something and be satisfied with it...

Read the BBC report here, which has put me in a good mood for the rest of the day.

Happy Gaming Kiddos xx

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Sunday Dedication

from post secret

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Number 41: Real Milk Tea

I've been here for too long. I missed my niece's fourth birthday party this saturday and I internally sulked at the fact I couldn't be there to paint faces or dress up like some cool character that she would remember forever. Yeah 3amee, I'm definitely jealous I wasn't there and this doesn't make you anyone's favourite, alright?

And it's a wednesday and I'm feeling funny and the only thing that's keeping me going is that in exactly one month I will be back home. Awesome eh? I can't wait. All I can think of is how I'm going to spend lot's of time attaching myself to various people I've missed over the past year and how much crap I'm going to bring back with me. Coldstores and supermarkets beware: Sara is coming back - no jar of PUCK cheese will be safe.

List of things I miss about home:

1. Not scrubbing limescale off anything.
2. Constant sunshine - no better way to wake up
3. Mum's food and funny ways.
4. Mum. And Dad. And my brothers and my sisters and my neice.
5. Playing pretend with my niece and having her "read" me stories. I even miss it when she corrects me if I skip something - I miss her bossiness and her hugs.
6. Being woken up in the early morning to have breakfast with everyone in the house before they go to work. Watching my sister fuss over herself in the mirror in the kitchen before she leaves, my brother drink his chocolate milk/banana milk/coffee milk. Mum reading the newspaper absent mindly and Dad asking about the expiry dates over everything on the breakfast table (but still eating it all).
7. Meeting friends in 15 minutes all the time - wherever we are.
8. Late night runs to Burgerland for Shawarma
9. Making nice dinner plans and not having to pay more than 15 squids for it, ever.
10. Reading the GDN and tearing apart the crossword puzzle.
11. Driving over to Saar for a lazy afternoon - I love morning drives on empty roads because I have yet to experience the horrendous traffic everyone speaks of.
12. Making cakes that someone will eat
13. Even when there's "nothing to eat at home" the kitchen is still overflowing with goodies to munch on.
14. Honking your horn outside a coldstore, buying something and then waving my "Thank You" - I know the asian men appreciate it as much as I appreciate their service.
15. Hong Kong on a Friday - even if the food isn't as good as it used to be and most of the staff have changed. It's the principle of it, and the Baskin Robbins ice cream that must follow afterwards.
16. Long drives and the talks that go along with it.
17.Never getting the style but loving it anyway.
18. Hearing the label "So Bahraini" and how people always want to be different than that. It makes me smile, some people who live in Bahrain just can't accept the fact that you are what you are.
19. Lgaimat and Mihyawa
20. Taking your shoes off before you walk in anywhere, such a sign of respect people in the rest of the world lack.
21. Space. Spacious cars. Spacious Houses. Spacious streets. OPEN SPACE.
22. Going over to my gran's and finding more kids than I remember being born running around and causing general ruckus.
23. Formalities in the Arabic Language.
24. Stopping to say hello to people and not having to rush off anywhere else.
25. Being able to rent any DVD that's out before than in the UK. Hah, beat that Blockbusters and your crummy, crummy selection of movies.
26. 500 fils coins and notes, either, and the value that they have.
27. Al Jazeera Supermarket for stocking Lucky Charms and Count Chocu-ula.
28. Buildings, Tall Buildings =)
29. Swimming and Beach Days and the smell of the sun
30. Coming home somewhere nice and getting hugs for it. I miss you, crazy family.

That's it. I can't come up with any more or else I'll start balling my eyes out to poor Meredith who won't know what hit her.

One month, folks!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Happy Birthday 'Shoo

Excerpt from my Diary, Dated 29th April, 2004
I'm listening to one of R's favorite song... It reminds me of this one time back home, one of those times that was super insignificant but will alway stick in my mind as just one of those nice days spent with my big brother... I remember waking up that cool morning in December and finding him sneaking into the house his pyjamas.... Sneaking into our house to steal some movies to watch while he bunked off from work...

"I'm supposed to be sick today..." he would say to me, smiling ... "and i'm also supposed to be too sick to come over for lunch.. so don't tell mom I was here" he smiles again, holding his fingers to his lips... I would laugh, he always made me laugh like that.... "What are you doing? do you want to come over and watch movies with me?" How funny he was! Why not?

Here he was, whom I always thought was the most responsible of us all - sneaking behind around to do something so silly: steal some movies to watch because he just didn't want to go to work and didn't want to have to explain... I knew it, he woke up, watched his wife get ready and take their daughter to her play group while he coughed and droned how tired he was... watched her leave the gates, turn the corner to the club and then he would run to the car to escape... didn't even have time to change out of his blue striped pyjama pants ...

And here I was, aiding his escape, finding the newest rentals in the house to watch and jumping into the car with him... driving in the early morning sun that still wasn't hot enough to cause discomfort, it was just right... As we drove away from the house he just about to explain why he was faking his illness when out of the blue, this song came on the radio...

"I love this song!" he shouts, raising the volume... are the villagers looking, I wonder? Who cares... I look straight ahead and sing right along with him...

You've gotta be cruel to be kind, in the right measures, cruel to be kind, it's a very good sign...
Cruel to be kind, it means that I love youu... baaabyyy... you gotta be cruel, you gotta be cruel to be kiiiiind...

It will always be one of my favourite memories, singing along in the car to some good old music we both loved... We got back to his house and he called his wife, admitting of his little escapade... I heard her laugh and tell him we might as well walk over to the club to pick them up... We walked over, found his wife and his daughter waiting and I watched him reunite with his family... Smiling together, pushing the little one's pram and just enjoying the simplest of times...
Truly one of my favourite days, favourite memories... Even the simplest of days are the best: spending time with my big brother... how cheesy but true... I miss him a lot, I hope he's still not bunking off work to watch stupid movies at home...
Happy Birthday, Love Lot's
Seroo x

Monday, March 05, 2007

mmm mmm good good!

I was never a soup person. I was just never that into soup.

I guess I always preferred having the lamb chop or the cheese burger or the tikka (notice a trend) and never really the watery slurpy soup.

Perhaps it has something to do with it being too filling for before a meal and then not filling enough on its own. Whatever it was, I was never too big on the soup & salad combo (just the salad, thanks) or the soup and sandwich (just a bigger sandwich, thanks again) - I simply was never a soup person.

Then one day, things changed, and on this particular day, I was cold. On this particular day, I noted that winter was upon us and there's no denying that fact: as I stepped outside the building and pulled my coat tighter across my waist and cursed Mother Nature for giving us 4 seasons instead of one (Spring of course). I wasn't hungry but I needed something to warm me up and I've had enough heartburn from numerous cups of tea and coffee all morning. I needed something else. A pie? I looked at the queue in the tiny eatery and decided against it, walking to the Sainsbury's and keeping my face down, away from the piercing wind. What could I get?

"Get some soup" Charlotte retorted 5 minutes earlier in our office when I pondered aloud as what to have. We wrapped ourselves up in layers of dull coloured mixed wool and made our way out the building for lunch.

"I don't know..." my voice trailed off, thinking of the stringy chicken soup mums force down the throats of their sickly children. "Where's the chicken, Mama?" I'd ask, playing with the steaming liquid infront of me, unsure of why I was drinking something I should be chewing on - especially as a child, the concept of a meal you had to drink wasn't at all appealing unless it was space food. Looking back at it, perhaps it wasn't the fact that it was soup but more the fact that it was chicken (and I'm not so hot for the chicken) and that I was sick and sometimes funny things like that carry on with you for the rest of your life and you can't really explain why. Perhaps.

I could get soup... I looked at the alternatives: Sandwiches? Nothing satisfying. Baked Potatoe? Never really fussed about a potatoe before... Greasy Chilli Con Carne on long grain rice? Pass. Soup it is then.

I turned the corner to the fridge and I have to say, I was impressed. Soup isn't the boring cream of tomato it used to be. Oh no, soup has now evolved into so many different things as I looked at all the possibilities. Hearty Broths and Chunky Chowders, even the boring Chicken Corn Soup had been given a face lift and there was the bold Red Thai Chicken (even soup has become Thai-a-fied! Incredible!).

I hung around the soup shelf shyly for a couple of minutes, mulling over the possibilities. Minstrone or perhaps the Winter Warmer? So many choices and the clock was ticking - I was somewhere between the begining of lunchtime and the middle of rush hour, so I had to make a decision fast. I decided to go for the Vegetable Mulligatawny Soup - seemed safe and had some chunky vegetables and some rice, so I could do a bit of chewing and ease myself into it. Would I be disappointed? I bit my lip as I paid for my veggie soup and wondered whether this was going to be a bit mistake - in a flash, I imagined having my first spoon of soup and feeling so revolted I'd spit it out at my co-workers in disgust. I shivered at the thought of stringy chicken soup and vowed to give this a try.

And disappointed I was not - My Mulligatawny soup was just the right mix of veggies, rice and broth and was satisfying til the last spoonful. I was overjoyed - one less food not to like! And the days that followed after that were filled with different soup adventures: the chunky chilli veggie, the carrot and corriander - perhaps a multi-grain bagel to go with that? Sure!

The key element to take back with you is that soup is perfect for those cold winter days. Unfortunately, today the sun was shining and I was stuck for choice of lunch so just ran in to get my dependendable Carrot and Corriander and bagel only to find it bland and unsatisfying. This was probably because the sun was out, and when the sun's out, there's no need for the warmth of soup. Maybe tomorrow, when it's cold and grey and there's a chill in the air, I'll go back and have some nice chowder. If not, it's okay, at least I know Soup Isn't Just For Sick People, it's also for those with the winter blues.

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