Sunday, 31 July 2011

Lessons from china

The trip to China was a real eye opener, this is coming from a lowly individual who hasn't traveled the whole world; I still have to go to various continents and many more countries to really make up my mind on the sort of comparisons people like me would love to see. Also not being a great shopper as I am, however I like to buy little bits and pieces for friends and family, and always want a comfortable bed and good clean food. So to me a trip is not complete unless the three components above are met. Others may add other stuff to this list so shall we keep it at that for the time being.

Where does china fit into my categories? Let us see!

We arrived in the morning, not knowing that there are taxis outside, we took a ride with a person standing at the exit gate, who punched 280 on his little calculator! We thought we were smart so snapped 200 at him! He agreed, took us to the hotel and when we reached we asked the concierge if the fare was reasonable! He said that we had paid double. On our way back to the ferry the taxi meter clicked 32! So what we paid on the first day was 6 times more. Lesson one: check and don't be in a hurry, you could save a fortune.

The month of July is usually a month full of rain or monsoon, being Gulfians living in a non-rain country for umpteen years one forgets the little things in life! Yes we were wet and soaked! And that too in one of the most beautiful themes parks we had laid our eyes on. On top of that my shoes even though a sports walking shoes, it was not the most comfortable of shoes in the world. So lesson number 2: invest in an umbrella and a good pair of walking shoes.

I love food, being limited to Halal and non-scavenger, non-slimy sea food, the choice were limited really and forget about diet, the food here is great and authentic, since you are having lesser varieties you will be stuffing yourself with chow mein, chow moon and chow maan (rice and noodles with names that I dreamed up). But one great restaurant on top of a mountain that we went to had anything that we can eat in a fantastic ambiance as well as authenticity. The first time I have Chinese food without the Indian influence that we normally eat in the Gulf. Lesson number 3: check the area for your type of food! A country with 1.3 billion is bound to have something that will suit all tastes.

Remember that you will be walking for a long time as every block has its own style! I feel that every block is a country as more than a million live in each building and if you have been to Abu Dhabi for instance you will know that every block has more than 20 buildings! So you could be walking for miles to see things or buy things! One thing will strike you is the cleanliness; I am sure you all know how Singapore has a law against chewing gum! Well, china must have a law about all rubbish as the roads resemble a corridor in your home, very clean! And are they bragging? No! Very humble people are the Chinese. I think us the tourists are the ones that stain the countries we visit! Few blogs away I compared London to Portugal! Less tourist, cleaner, so the correlation could be detected by researchers in posh universities who have never seen a place but can provide us with astute accuracy statistical formulation about anything and everything in a country including its stock exchange. Lesson number 4: keep your trash in your bag, and threw it in a dust bin.

Buying from malls vs Buying from markets and haggling was another thing I learnt from a country like China. The first day I went shopping I paid far too much for goods that I found later for a fraction of the price in the market. I guess shopping malls are created to lure us into thinking that the stuff is brands, and worth paying the earth for! Even in the markets one should slash the price by half at least, for instance my son paid 320 for an 800 gigs toy covered USB, I bought the same one for 80; I am not good in haggling, but it seems that my son is worse than me, I am sure if my daughter was with us she would have got these USB’s for 40, or maybe three of them for 80. Lesson number 5: haggle like there is no tomorrow.

Take your water with you, as you may not find close by shops that sell water bottles, and you should not drink tap water of course, so lesson number 6: drink lots of water.

The day we were leaving two things happened to us that should never had happened if we planned our trip properly. First we couldn’t get ferry tickets easily, so we had to buy first class tickets, and when we reached the airport, we found that we were placed one in Amman and another in Oman (as the Arabic saying goes), the woman at the counter said that we should have booked our seats earlier if we wanted to be together. Lesson number 7: book your seats and buy your tickets early.

The last thing I wanted to mention is the policy of one child family. It is so strange that a whole country listens to its leaders and never has more than a child? I would love to know what that leader does to ensure a one child family? Would he/she provide contraceptives? Or have a watchman in the bedrooms? Are people in China scared of their leaders? Or is there a fine? Not sure what the answer would be. However the results of this policy are incredible. First the parents and grandparents love the children so much; the children are responsible as they must do well in life, or else they would fail their families, and that is not something to be sneezed at in China, family is everything. Then the family ensures that the there is so much wealth to be inherited by the son or the daughter. And the sons or daughters will be great students as this is expected of them? Maybe at the end of the day it was a wise thing to do (limiting the families to one child), maybe the Arabs should think of this, rather than just thinking of increasing their family size either by marrying more women, or having more children and letting them loose in the streets. Sorry Arabs, it is clear that I don’t like us isn’t it?

My last point is about Splendid china theme park. It is similar to Madoradam, the miniature town in Holland. However this one is far grander than that, it is built in such a way that is breathtaking. The trees, shrubs and waterfalls are everywhere. And all the cultural and ancient places that one would want to see in China are located in this theme park, but in life sizes. The best one is the life size Buddha and all his followers, and the terracotta soldiers. I was kidding my son and told him that these are Yaajuj and Maajuj, the ones covered with boiling iron by Alexander the great. Now that they are out, the whole of china is exposed, to us of course and to all those who want to see a new please.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Businesses I encountered in the past few days

Few networking events took place over the past few weeks and I had gone to all of them, I am actually in China for networking with companies that are similar to us. I belong to at least 10 different groups in the UAE that regularly hold sessions and opportunities for business people to meet and discuss the situation in the business world; however, I go to all of them if time permits.

What surprises me is the variety of business ideas that are emerging these days; it is not traditional businesses that are sprouting, instead we find that many have come up with unique offerings and they are really doing well too. For example one company really attracted my attention, a woman started a business renting out secretaries. Well, what could be the reason for someone to hire a part time secretary? is it because good secretaries are hard to find? or because those good ones are prohibitively expensive that no one can afford them. The other business was with this PHD/master person who teaches Chinese culture. His course is a month long, he talks about art, history, language and other stuff; So far so good, nothing out of the ordinary. He also teaches interesting Chinese cultural stuff, like horoscope, Feng Shui, herbal and acupuncture medicine. Thus far that too is not our of the ordinary. What was extraordinary was his price! guess how much he charges for a day's work and the day is only 6 hours and includes four breaks? 10000 dollars? and his programme is a month long. Which means that he earns $300000 per month! other than the likes of Clinton, Bill Gates and Donald Trump, I haven't seen anyone that earns from a job so much money. Of course this is his money, so if you want to hire him, and ask him to run a course for your organization, you will need to double that amount to cover for the other costs involved in training. So let us say that you did a week's workshop, 5 days x 10000= 50000 dollars, this goes to him, and a similar amount goes to you. And if you get 15 persons to join the course (not sure if people are willing to pay or attend a programme that can or cannot show them the light after the dark tunnel)then each one would pay almost 7000 dollars. There you go, why not do something like this if you like! he also provide consultation for a better energy flow in your house or office for 500 dollars per square meters. I wouldn't like to see the face of the person who lives in a 10,000 meters house after he finds out that he has to pay the equivalent to his house value in order to better feel the energy? well call me skeptic, but i cannot squander the money i earn the hard way like this. This story doesn't end like this of course. This person doesn't speak another language, even though he is interesting to look at but you cannot pay so much money and no be able to understand what he says? unless of course he has borrowed that wand from Harry and would say wingardium leviosa and put a spell on you. Thus we need to add the cost of hiring an interpreter to translate what this Master would say. would you be able to find one though?

The other company with the funny name, education intelligently, is another example of creating value by making up a good catchy name. This business teaches computer skills and language programmes,so there is nothing so intelligent about their business; but the name makes them receive 1000's of students every year, and this makes them very successful.

So, what I am trying to say here is that, any one of us can either create something new or be an accessory to help those that create something new. Can we start focusing to create those new business that will attract people to buy into them?


Wednesday, 27 July 2011

China, again?

I know! You are going to say that I have this fixation on China, and you will remember that I had written about that great country few blogs ago. At last I came here to see for myself, unfortunately it is not a leisure trip, it is business where we are going to meet universities and agents to seek future partnership, however, what I saw baffled me. Same as I mentioned about Portugal, the country is ripe for tourists. It has all the things a tourist wants to see; Food, shops, malls, good hotels, cleanliness, smiley faces, safety, and last but not least great culture. The prices are similar to those in Dubai, so it is not as cheap as people may think it is, but in terms of value for money, the country has a lot to offer. I went for a massage already, and had Thai food, in a good restaurant based in a nice mall called Coastal mall in Shenzhen.

My son, who is more excited than me, and I wish my daughter was able to join too but she didn’t get her visa on time, will be upset if I do not talk about the stuff we saw in less than 24 hours. We landed in Hong Kong airport, and after few escalators down and up, and a nice ride on the airport train (these seems to be popular these days as I had rides in airport trains in Miami, Spain and New York) we reached the main airport, waited for the Ferry tickets kiosk to open to be transferred to mainland China. While waiting for the Ferry, we had breakfast at the airport, and did some emails (of course), and then we did some duty free shopping. The best was the massage oils available at the airport, sold by authentic Chinese women. iI am going to open one of the jars and rub myself before I go to sleep (oops, its already 2:38 am).

Prior to going on the ferry, there was another ferry train, this time it was hilarious, as the train was so fast, we thought that part of Walt Disney had started at the airport, the railway was well lit and turns right and left, then stops then starts again, in a speed similar to those bullet trains. Lovely though, I haven’t been on a roller coaster since I was 17, so this was a good reminder. My son and I both thought at the same time, that airports should have fun stuff like this so people do not get bored; as it is so boring just to see perfumes, creams and chocolates. One wants to see things that are not there in other places. But, who am I to complain, I have my imaginations of course with thoughts about crazy stuff lingering in my mind till the journey ends.

The Ferry was also nice, I didn’t get see sick this time; there were many little islands on the way, one of them had something like a mosque on top of the mountain, Jihad and I were thinking of going to the top to be able to take a good photo of it, we realized later that the ferry was fully indoors, so I went to sleep instead, oh, did I mention that the plane trip was terrible, we were both squeezed so much to the extent that we couldn’t sleep, the guy in front of me had his chair fully reclined and he laterally slept on my lap the whole night. Terrible I must say that they still build airplanes like this! As every time I got up to get something from my bag, I would touch his forehead or pull his hair (by mistake of course)and he would wake up and gives me that mean look, scary!!

We Googled and read few stuff about Shenzhen prior to leaving Dubai, we were told that we should wear face masks, and never rinse our mouths with the tap water? I felt that I will go to a place that is not so clean? But once we started the drive to the hotel, all our bad thoughts were sent as a curse to those silly writers. I hate the media, it tells the wrong story, and makes people wary from visiting new places. Seeing is believing is my new motto. I am calling myself world traveler (i filled one of those online forms, that asked me to choose a profile, it had few descriptions and one of them was world traveler which I liked, so this is going to be stuck on me like Johnson's plaster, and you will have to put up with me while I describe to you my real thoughts while traveling!

Ok, everything is over sized here, of course so the 1.3 billion people are fed and sheltered; one of the buildings was so huge, I thought that the whole of Dubai people can fit in it, which will be nice, so at least we will know our neighbors for a change. The malls also are huge, and the variety of stuff sold is amazing. I just returned from a trip to London and Portugal, I didn’t see half the international shops that have their stuff on display, which brings me back to my question, why are the Arabs stuck in London?

Think and give me an answer please.

Feeling frustrated

Sometimes life is not perfect, you work your ass off, and think to the maximum, talk on the phones, do your links, design your new books, do your presentations, meet the clients, and nothing seems to work. You turn everywhere to find new ways or new paths but those too are closed off. As there are changes in the whole world, there are changes on all the roads and streets, those that you normally use would be blocked; of course you know that I am talking metaphorically, not literally. The negative energy that circulates around you at times creates sensitivities, illnesses, trouble everywhere and blocked paths. If we ever want to clear those blockages we must first find a way to remove the negative energy from the surrounding and clear the people that put that negative energy in front of you and then only you can see a clear road ahead, once the negativity evaporates and the clouds fades away, the good energy will circulate around you.

The question is, how do we do that? How do we remove negative people, or negative surroundings from our lives. At times the negative people are those that are there for a reason, and you must have them; so what do you do? Pressure, pressure !

I found a way, and this is called treatment by the book. There are sayings, clauses, articles, and certain gemstones that can be used to put you back on path. Lets take the stones first, if you have an aget in your pocket or in a ring around your fingers, it works on the circulation and removes carbon dioxide from your surroundings. The other important stone to have which is also affordable is the turquoise. Get a good one that have not been polished, and keep it also in a ring on your fingers, or in your pocket and purse. Many more stones to talk about, but not many we all can afford, for example a carate of diamond is also great in helping to recede negativity, of course not all of us have that much money to own that rock, so why not have a crystal instead; these are not that expensive, and any one can afford it. However a good crystal needs to be placed in the correct position at home, or in a necklace around your neck. That way one is assured of puffing away all negativity.

Let us go to the sayings, many I got from Quran, and some I got from those people that were friends to the prophet and the prophet himself of course. So if you say regularly the aya that goes like this: those who are angst-ridden from God will be provided an enlightened path and will be provided a way to make multiply their money. And the other one goes like this: We answered his prayors and removed the agony from his path and so we do for those that ask. Of course there are many jewels in Quran that provides methods of enlightenment and for those that are optimistic there will be more health, wealth and happiness.

As for the Prophet (PBUH) I like this saying, of course I am not an expert in translation however I will attempt it but I will also keep you the Arabic text just as a teaser so you can search yourself for more: اللهم إني عبدك وابن عبدك وابن امتك ناصيتي بيدك ، ماض في حكمك ، عدل في قضاؤك، اسألك بكل اسم هو لك
سميت به نفسك ، اوانزلته في كتابك ، اوعلمته احدا من خلـــــــقك، اواستأثرت به في علم الغيب عندك ، ان تجعل القران ربيع قلبي ، ونور صدري ، وجلاء حزني ، وذهاب همي )
this means that we ask for the jewels of Quran stays as spring to my life, a light in my soul, a way to remove my sadness, and as a method that extracts my predicament.
Why am I beating around the bush? Yes I do revert to theses measures all the time as I don’t feel that life is going as per plan. I plan for everything, and try my best for those plans to work out in the same manner that I dream of them, yes I dream of my plans! did this surprise you?. In fact, I haven’t had dreams for a long time, and now I am dreaming again, so maybe this is a sign, that all will be good soon? Not sure really.

Please send me your good thoughts, I need those soon.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Virgin Atlantic- please do not think that this is a paid advertorial!!!!!

That was certainly an experience worth noting, from the check in to the lounge all the way to my destination Virgin had proved to be one of my new favorite airlines. i have been using Emirates since its start, but for the last few times things happened that made me rethink my loyalty, for example, my luggage, wither the suitcase is damaged or lost, and no regrets from their side either. Thus I ventured out into new airlines. Tap was lousy, British airways is worst, so Virgin was the next carrier to try.

They have their own passport control!! Their own huge club house! That has a deli, a restaurant, a play area for children, a Spa, and of course a huge business centre. The internet was fast and the staff were lovely; I must add that this was my first experience with this flight, I don't think it will be my last one.

Once we rode into the plane I sensed the difference straight away; to begin with, the seats were not placed in the regular positions, and the night pack was made of cloth, they gave us a Pyjama each and asked us if we would like dinner or not! I asked for my hot chocolate (when it came it had marshmallows and few little bars of chocolates with it) the best I had after that tremendous cup of hot chocolate I tried with my daughter at Harrods few years ago. She insisted to go their for the hot chocolate only, so we went after we completed Madame Tussauds tour, I was stunned how it was her first time at that store and she knew the ins and outs of it! I love you kids of this day and age.

I did some emails, read a chapter from my novel and went to wash my face prior to sleeping. After changing into my new pyjamas I came to find my bed was done! Lovely, I thought, so I put the lights off and wore that eye mask. When I woke up it was already time to have a quick Breakfast and go home. I made sure to take the New Pyjamas with me to show and tell with my daughter! Something else to brag about before the euphoria of this short and strange holiday ebbed away.

On my way home now to shower, change and go to work, I feel that the past few days were different but lovely. I will let you know about my day with the coffee cups tomorrow

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Harry Potter

I didn't get the time to go to HP last movie as work piles up on me when in Dubai.  So I used the bit of time that I had in London to see it;  And since I had cleared my mind, and was waiting to see this more than anticipated movie, I saw every thing in it. The graphics, the clothing, the castle, the students and how they grew older since the year 2001 when the first one was released. Also how the teachers became older, lord V and his killer instincts, the snake, and watched the people moving in those wall hung pictures, Amazing work of art, and to say that all of this had come out from this woman's brain, it makes the amazement more amplified.  I was not happy, as I didn't want HP to perish, and seriously wanted his wand to be his protector; did you know that I never watch horror and thriller movies? Maximum is Scifi's and action like conspiracy theory and lethal weapon series; my kids say that I need to go to those ones as one need to have some adrenaline pumped up to the blood, however I prefer to have my adrenaline pumping up while watching a check flick, or a drama movie, and weep like a person who is mourning.  So they asked me why I liked to watch to watch Harry potter? In actual fact I don't know why I like to watch it? Was it the magic? Or the imagination? Or because I liked and admired the writer? I followed the trailer of her new website until it opened.  Have you actually seen that trailer till the website was opened? Truly and amazingly amusing, the spiders, the owls and the movements, I know that you will all say that this is simple stuff and like a screen saver, agreed? But have you seen anyone doing a website with a screen saver like this? Dont think so, on hindsight everything is possible. So there you go, JKR have done it again, and when the new website was opened, her video shows a transferred woman, one that was writing the first book in a teeny weeny cafe to keep warm, to a person wearing designer clothing, living in a mansion. 

I tell you fellow bloggers, this woman had toppled it, if any one had won the jackpot, she has.  All the books, and all the movies had been a real delight, and I will treasure them all the time.  try this trick for me, go to google search, and type the first letter of your name! Nothing happens, you google may wait for you to type something or it would right some not relevant at all, but, type H and straight away Harry Potter will show up. There you go.

Funny thing is, I have always taken the kids with me (them and their cousins or friends) this time I went with a friend, why? Because they had all grown out of it, and jumped into the world craft games or other stuff that are more interesting to that generation.  The movie house that I went to was a 2D one, was relative.y empty, but the 3D was apparently full and many didn't get seats.  

I will leave you to wonder why I didn't go to the 3D show.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Addiction! shall I hash tag it too

I think I must think twice before writing this post. My fingers twitch, my mind is trying to find a place to hide in, and at the same time, all the conversations that are taking place cannot stop my mind from wondering, come on, let me have my quite moment to follow my addiction; no it is not drugs, it is worse than that, it is blogging and tweeting

Yes, for two days I was traveling, and wondering between airports, waiting for my luggage to arrive was a killer, they never did, and till today I am washing the same stuff I travelled in, and wearing them again. For this reason I didn’t write anything. Of course my BB was not working as well as it should, so couldn’t send any tweet either. Sorry guys, I know that there are millions of tweets being sent over the web, and maybe none of you were waiting to see what I am going to say or what I have been doing, still I feel that I am responsible and have to tell you something. Blogging and tweeting had become a necessity in my life, even though it is worst that drugs, but it does give one a sort of nostalgic feeling that someone somewhere will be happy if we injected in his/her brain those blogs and tweets . This is my medicine to those who are deprived from the jewels of this century, we do not need doctors, we need those 140 characters, or that shortened link to let us know that someone is alive and kicking. So here it goes
#Portugal is so nice, people are so friendly, and Vasco De Gama is alive and kicking. Tweet.
Few days ago I decided to go on a trip to Portugal, as you may know, my friend’s daughter is doing her internship here, so my curiosity pushed me so hard, I had to come to see what she is up to. Work is taken care of, my kids, husband and the rest of the team are doing their perfect job to keep the students happy (hopefully) and I don’t think that I am needed there to oversee things. Maybe I should be travelling all the time just to explore the various possibilities for my students. This brings me perfectly to the subject of this post.

Why do the Arabs (or the rich Arabs) only travel to well known places? Walk in the streets of London, and you will find thousands of Arabic tweeting, oops speaking people, you walk in Paris and you will see the same. I walked for 9 hours today in Lisbon, and saw only one or two Arabs, one from Morocco, and another from Egypt, the Moroccan is here to attend an environmental conference, she took my photo with the Globe in Columbus mall, and the other guy was selling tour tickets with Greyline, as my friend and I decided to see Lisbon by bus first. I must say, that I was amazed; this is the country that had invaded (or discovered as they claim) most of the world, even Bahrain has its effect till now, we have a castle called the Portugal castle, and many ruins and graveyards too. I think the Portuguese thought that if they bury their dead in Bahrain the dead will rise from their graveyard and continue living. Well, not sure if this is the right theory, but how can I bring Vasco Di Gama back to life to ask him. As I said, no Arab tourists were to be seen in the streets of Lisbon.
The flats are so nice, the roads are so clean, even cigarette stubs are placed in large ashtrays that are hung on every lamp post, and the people are so friendly to the extent that I thought they were all Arabs? Sorry I didn’t mean to say that we are the only friendly people on this planet, what I meant is that the friendliness of the Portuguese was very noticeable, the smile doesn’t leave their faces, and I think they are happy people in general. I tell you guys, the flat my friend and her daughter are staying in is so lovely, the owner had furnished it in a way that shows she cares about the tenants; it even has art, carpets, scented jars, candles, and many nice paintings. She was not worried about the tenants breaking her things; to her the tenants have to feel comfortable. If you try to even find half the size of this flat in London you will be lucky to see a decent bed for three times the price. So what makes the Arabs travel to London every summer?

I have a theory; you can correct me if I am wrong. I think the Arabs only jump in tested waters, they do not like to research or experiment, they prefer to follow word of mouth, and to see other Arabs. They do not believe that they have to be the first in going somewhere or doing something, the Arabs are followers rather than leaders.

Enough said; I am not going to argue, the Arabs are losers, it is a done deal. We are losers. Just tell me how many things did we discover? How many inventions (recent ones, not the ones Ibn Sina or Jaber ibn Hayyan had done two thousand years ago) tell me how much money is spent on research? Tell me how much money do we spend on real universities that have individuals that love to study, learn and educate? Tell me if you think that I have to go to sleep as it is 6:15 Dubai time and I am still awake. Guys, I am so upset about us and where we reached, I am truly ashamed of being an Arab. I am going to change my nationality. I don’t even want to be Middle Eastern, look at the corruption report from Transparency International and you will know why I am saying this.
Good night or good morning.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Chaos theory

I would have loved to be a mathematician, or math- magician, or whatever they are called today, those who can prepare a mathematical formula to solve any problem in life. Now I am having two problems only.

Problem one: this is not my problem really but it does affect me directly, nevertheless the time wasted this morning is my time, so I am affected in one or the other. Picture this, a country with 95% of its population as foreigners, who all require visas, medical checkup, labour cards, labour regulations, etc, guess what we have to do to complete a person’s entry and legalise his or her stay? Long process, first a visa renewal form, or visa entry form, to be typed by a bunch of Indians who either have a license or just whisper in your ears, as they are doing it illegally; then we have to type a medical checkup form, after that we take all of these forms, to the naturalization and immigration, and they stamp it in the passport of the person who is to be employed in this country. Similarly on renewal of the visa, we repeat the same process.

The choice of hospital or form to be printed for the medical would depend on which side of the bed that person woke up from; hence my blog. I need to renew my housekeeper’s visa. So the form was typed, and the money was paid. I went on Saturday, to the main clinic, it was closed, and then I went to the other clinic my daughter went to, it was closed as well. This morning, we went first to the one my daughter went to and after finding a car park, and walking in all of the hospital’s corridors, they tell me that this form is for another clinic. Okay! Which one? The person at the counter tries to explain the location, which I vaguely recognize, and I know that there is no parking there at all; Bugger, I thought. Drove all the way there, found the place buzzing with activities, so many people were sitting, at least a hundred, and another 50 were standing. The token was provided; there are 40 in front of us. No worries, I thought, sat to do some work on my laptop, then, our number came up, went to the counter, they took more money, then we had to go to another waiting area. The counter that took our papers had one guy sorting out the paperwork, and few men who check behind him, and then a final guy to check on the rest. Few layers of checkers! I must admit, if I had this level of responsibilities I my office, I think my students would have gone to their destination after 20 years!!
My point here is that, this is a country that is highly dependent on foreign manpower, or shall I say womenpawer just to be cheeky, a simple process would have saved every one heaps of time, and would have made those men that are checking after the clerk would have been in a more creative or could have discovered a new rocket or something. Okay, time to be serious now, my suggestion is that when a visa is to be renewed, then the clinic should be attached to the same place, and the person, types her/his paperwork, goes directly to the medical checkup, then takes the stamped paper to the immigration (all in the same place) stamps the passport, get the ID all at once. No time wasted and no traffic jams. Of course while I am typing this my car got a fine as I didn’t realize how long I have been sitting here.

The second problem is generated from the first problem. Most of us work really hard to guarantee our families and kids a good life. I wrote down the other day how much money is dispersed on stuff that are not necessary, or created by bureaucracy. Just an example will amplify the issue; I was busy yesterday, visiting friends who were ill and were hospitalized, or just been discharged and so on, it was my hospital day (I guess today is going to be a hospital day too) so when I found that the clinics I talked about above were closed!! I gave the housekeeper a 100 buck to take a taxi home; you know the temperature that we endure over here, so I don’t want her to e dehydrated. Then today again, my time and some other bits and pieces were spent, and that too is relating to bureaucracy, which could have been avoided if we applied common sense in our organizations. if my daily pay is so little as it is, and i have to pay half of it because of bureaucracy, then all of us should do something about it.

I need to nag a bit more, when I returned back to Dubai, and wanted to establish this little consultancy, I noticed that there are few things that I could change which will make work smoother. My master’s thesis uses a theory called the theory of constraints, and it basically let you find out where the problems are just from the bottlenecks. So I wrote to the head of the licensing organization and told him that I could rectify the problems very swiftly. Guess what, it has been 9 years now, the problem is not rectified, and surprise, surprise!!!! No one replied to my letter.

Why do I bother, not sure, I guess life is such; we need to try to improve things, but if it doesn’t work out, then fine.

Friday, 15 July 2011

My Friend's daughter in Portugal

well, one of my followers, and the one I follow too is in Portugal, she writes so well, I love her blogs, in actual fact, I knew that she is a great writer, pushed her into the blog world feet and fist. Now she is more known than me:) Anyway, I woke up this morning on her tetet sound on twitter announcing that I got blog (that sounds like a new movie title, rhymes with you got mail? I love that movie by the way, watched it over a hundred times and still cry when he shouts Brinkley ,Brinkley in the park. Please tell me off for being a fragmented writer. this is the blog post. My point here is (of course you will have to read her blog first and then continue to read this post of mine; my point is, I, on the other hand, do not find the Arabs when I travel, and when they find me I pretend to be Turkish or pacific islander or something, but not Arab. Don't take me wrong, I love who I am and I love being an Arab, but when I go overseas I want to see the Romans (do what the Romans do! you know how this goes, I don't have to explain it to you).

When I go overseas, I want to know the culture, the traditions, the art, the science; I want to go to galleries, check out the museums, visit the theaters, eat the authentic food, and never ever shop. We on the other hand (by we I mean the Arabs) love shopping, eating, and then going to cafes and relaxing, and chill-axing, sitting around, talking, theorizing, and discussing what the situation of the middle east is going to look like etc etc, but do we do any other thing? No, we can never solve the Middle East issues, nor do we gain anything from knowing those Arabs that we find during our trips and just gather with them to talk Arabic. I have all the time in the world to speak Arabic where I live, don’t I want to learn another Language? Of course I do, and every new language is a new tongue or a new person that grows inside me, did you notice for example that when you speak French you will move your shoulders, and when you speak Italian you will shake your hands? And Spanish, oh well, I am sure you can relate to what I am trying to say here. A language is a treasure trove, you find about words that can resemble your feelings in each one of the languages that you will attempt to learn. Oh, I forgot to tell you that speaking German was like talking while you imitate a statue, I hope my German friends will not be upset with me.

Just a little story before I close the show for today; once we lived in Southampton, I befriended an old woman who lived close to our house, and invited her for tea, or sent her some of my baking, and when my dad visited once she kept him busy while my husband and I were at college. She also loved my son, who was few months old, so she used to take him and the nanny to the park, I never actually asked her for help, but I guess she loved me too; we wrote for years, and for some reason the letters stopped after a while, as of course things work out. Anyway, years after we left Southampton, I needed a referee, so I gave her name and address. The letter that she sent them (before the age of internet that was) made my eyes tear. She said to them (we were trying to immigrate to New Zealand at that time) that I am an asset to every country, why? Just because I smiled to her, sent her some baking, and considered her a friend. I guess what I am trying to say here is that, we never know when we may need something, or when the other person needs something, it is a must that we know other people, and know other languages, and it is more important that whenever we go overseas we have to be in our best behaviors, as we can never know if the person we are talking to is going to be our friend, client, boss, or any other thing that may embarrass us in the future.

Good luck to all those people who are traveling abroad, I wish you to know a new friend, and a new foreign language.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Yaa I like Buddha's sayings

What I am going to talk about here is not proven yet, but my brother (who is a scholar and in prison now) once said that he believes that we do not know all the prophets that were sent by God Almighty. In his opinion, many of those people that were followed and their thoughts became religions were prophets; they were considered part of the 120,000 prophets mentioned in Quran; so Confucius, Buddha, Zarradasht, you name it of today's religions, were prophets. As I said earlier, no one is sure, so let us keep this as a theory only.

He and I used to make up theories and stories, about prophets coming from space, of course we had reasons to believe so, for example look at the accuracy of each block that made up the pyramids in Egypt? Or the atomic battery that was found in some remote areas in South America, or the drawings of men with glass helmets found in some caves? He went to the extent of visiting every ancient cave and place in Iraq (when we were students) to uncover some of the mystic secrets of our creations.

I love my brother, he hooked me on the Chinese horoscopes, as he was interpreting all of our behaviors on the basis of where, when and which hour we were born, he thinks our star is born with us, and is related to the twelve animals Confucius had called upon. I am a sheep for example, born in the winter, so I will never be as rich as I want to be, while my daughter who is a rabbit, will get whatever she wanted. My son on the other hand is a born leader being a rat, as it was the first animal to go to Confucius.

Anyway, this is a story that I received today, hope you like it, it is about Buddha, it resembles what happened to our prophet too, when they used to threw stones and rubbish at him, one day when the guy who used to do this stopped, the prophet went to visit him to find out if he is fine or not? Wow.

Buddha explains how to handle insult and maintain compassion.
One day Buddha was walking through a village. A very angry and rude young man came up and began insulting him. "You have no right teaching others," he shouted. "You are as stupid as everyone else. You are nothing but a fake."
Buddha was not upset by these insults. Instead he asked the young man "Tell me, if you buy a gift for someone, and that person does not take it, to whom the gift belongs?"
The man was surprised to be asked such a strange question and answered, "It would belong to me, because I bought the gift."
The Buddha smiled and said, "That is correct. And it is exactly the same with your anger. If you become angry with me and I do not get insulted, then the anger falls back on you. You are then the only one who becomes unhappy, not me. All you have done is hurt yourself."
"If you want to stop hurting yourself, you must get rid of your anger and become loving instead. When you hate others, you yourself become unhappy. But when you love others, everyone is happy."
The young man listened closely to these wise words of the Buddha. "You are right, o Enlightened One, "he said. "Please teach me the path of love. I wish to become your follower."
The Buddha answered kindly, "Of course. I teach anyone who truly wants to learn. Come with me."
Beautiful Quotes
If you are right then there is no need to get angry
And if you are wrong then you don't have any right to get angry.

Patience with family is love,
Patience with others is respect,
Patience with self is confidence
Patience with GOD is faith.
Never Think Hard about PAST,
It brings Tears...
Don't Think more about FUTURE,
It brings Fears...
Live this Moment with a Smile,
It brings Cheers.!!!!
Every test in our life makes us bitter or better,
Every problem comes to make us or break us,
Choice is our whether we become victim or victorious !!!

Search a beautiful heart not a beautiful face.
Beautiful things are not always good
but good things are always beautiful.

Remember me like pressed flower in your Notebook.
It may not be having any fragrance
but will remind you of my existence forever in your life.

Do you know, why God created gaps between fingers?
So that someone who is special to you, comes and fills those gaps by holding your hands forever.

Packing and unpacking

Once I told you how I traveled all around and still do whether it is for business or leisure, I love traveling and I love experiencing new things in life. However most of my travels happened for reasons beyond my control, the family and I had to go to places and settle for a while or longer than a while to either gain something or obtain other things, this is not the subject of the blog this morning.

If I tell you that I am a Bedouin, would you believe it? Well I am, as I have been in so many houses since I was less than one year old till now. In Bahrain we lived in three houses (till the age of 16), then I moved to study abroad, where I lived in 2 houses during the four years of study. After graduation, I returned back to Bahrain to be a guest in my parents' house; literally I was a guest, as I traveled to few places, like India, England, Switzerland and Italy, for few months at a time, and over there I lived in flats or hotels; then I moved to Dubai to get married, we stayed in the chalet of our friends for few months, then to a flat, then to my parents house as they moved to Dubai, then to another flat, then we moved to England again, where we lived in a house, then back to Dubai and lived in my parents newly built home, then to a flat, then to our newly built home, which was the only one we stayed in four years in a row, then again to my parents house, then to New Zealand; first we lived in Auckland, rented a nice house for few years, then moved to Hamilton; prior to finding a house, I stayed with my son in a little flat, while the girls and my husband continued to stay in Auckland till they finished their third term in school; meanwhile my son and I looked for a house, once we found it, we stayed in it for a bet longer than two years. Then we sold it and bought a little house for my son to stay in as we decided to move back to Dubai. When we reached Dubai, we stayed at my parent’s vacant house, for few years, then we were homeless for three months, then we moved to our house in the springs. I hated that house, to the extent that I would be either in the office or at the club till 10 at night and I would only sleep in it. I looked for another place and found the dream place in Green community; This is our last house for now, and believe me, I intend to stay in it, until I die, so help me god.

Have you been counting? Well, in 55 years, we moved 25 times. All these times I have been packing and unpacking, I cannot remember how many sofa sets, and bedroom sets we changed, and I cannot remember if we kept the curtains or not, or bought new sets of dinner ware or cutlery, I do remember that the newspapers and boxes will be collected, and the important stuff will be wrapped into boxes, and unwrapped and put into their place when we reach our destination.

The funniest packing and unpacking happened when we moved to my son's wee house in Hamilton, we didn’t have much money then, so I didn’t want to bring a door-to-door company as we normally do, so I hired a truck, and drove it myself between the two houses, we would carry the things and stuff them in the truck, while my friend stuffs them in the new house, and the other friend stuffs things in boxes for us to carry to the truck in the old house. Of course the after math is so great, as we have to clean the house, and keep it ready for its new comers.

Also the cat, we lost her, so we had to provide slips with our phone numbers to the neighbors and the new owners to call us in case she returns; the cat belonged to my little one, and she called her Insane, the whole thing was so insane really as we had to run from a place to another to see if she had returned. Anyway, one rainy day ( Hamilton was famous for those heavy showers) we got a call that she was back to the house, we all run over there to collect her, grinning all the way to the supermarket, buying her a new toy plus food. When we finally decided to move back to Dubai, we had to find a cattery that will house Insane until they found her new parents. I miss that cat, she used to stand next to me when I prayed, I used to think that she was praying with me.

Those were the good days.

Something very funny happened the other day. I was collecting old books to sell for the charity book sale at the college, so while I was rummaging through my stuff, I found four sets of beads. I was trying to remember where they were from and when did I buy them? well, don’t laugh please, I got them when I was 18, from the Kurdistan side of Iraq; we had gone there for a tour during our spring break, and the girls and I decided that we would buy something to remind us of that place, the beads where my souvenir for myself. I think that and few of my university books were the only things that had remained with me during the years that we wondered around the world, trying to find a better place to live, or a better life style.

Human beings are funny creatures, we are never satisfied with what we have now, or what we had yesterday, we are always racing to be the best, live in the best, and own the best, once we buy something, then it stays in the past, and we start to hunt for a better thing. We buy the car today, tomorrow we will be looking at the neighbors’ cars and comparing, if we had got a better deal or they did. When will we grew out of these things? I will never know.

So, if you were planning a move, call me, can pack your things in seconds. It is all in the way you organize them; the vases in one place, the paintings in another, the cloths stay in the cupboard, and the last thing to be wrapped is the furniture. Do this, and you will never lose anything. I think my sister in law will laugh at this blog, as she has been through a similar thing all her life too.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

How banks spend our money

Today I am going to enlighten you on few banks, and on how banks spend our money.

The first bank sent us few of its representatives, who gave the sun on one hand and the moon on the other, swore to us that if we buy in to their investment it will quadruple in few years, and all we need to do is pay up for 18 months. I signed up the whole office, started paying the gratuity money, when the 18 months were over, we all stopped the payment, and waited for those few years to be over to get our quadrupled money back, until one day we received the statements that mentions that if we surrender our investment, the value will not even be a third of what we paid.

The girls in the office were so unhappy that they lost their savings, and so was I; they would look at me every time I enter the office accusingly, as I convinced them to enter into this investment. Two girls left us, as they didn't want to continue to pay more, and I had to pay them back their portion of the investment (they invested a part, and I invested another part). One day, some money was withdrawn from these two girls' accounts! They called me asking what is happening, I advised them to go to the bank and ask, as after few hundred missed calls and text messages with our investment banker, we realized that nothing would be solved. To our surprise, the branch manager told them that he had no idea what this is, and told them that he will check and let them know.

After few weeks, the same happened, and they went again, quietly closed off their accounts and withdrew all their money before that cookie monster eats it all. of course the same thing happened to the rest of the team and me, we did the same and got replied to with the same sentence blabla blabla.

Thus the past three years past by and we were trying to chase the bank with no avail. I found out where their hub is, the office is staffed with two clerks, a manager, and a bunch of monkeys (so called investment bankers) who were all standing in the streets smoking and reflecting about the fall of Wall Street, the rise of Shenzhan and the importance of the India futures. What they had forgotten is that, while they are theorizing the market, people are investing their hard earned funds into it, and they shouldn't be allowed to just talk and smoke, they should actually work to improve the situation of the dropped value of their clients' funds, and must actually consider the money as their own and try to make it more valuable.

So this is the real story. The first bank goes into a venture with a foreign investment house, hires a bunch of idiots to run it, doesn't even bother to brief its own branch managers about it and get them on their side; instead the branch managers show their frustration because of lack of knowledge, and of course they make the clients more unhappy. What the bank had totally forgotten about, is that all the bank's expenses are actually paid for by the clients (us) and all the shirts, pants, rent for their houses, stationary, cigarettes and that delicious cup of cappuccino they ponder upon is actually paid from our money. How can this bank allow its employees to play around, spend time doing their own things rather than focusing and make our money grew more and show us "the clients" that they are actually caring about us.

The second and third bank have done exactly the same thing, they provided us with things that have not worked, we trusted their judgment as they are the experts, we cannot all be financiers and we cannot all understand financial instruments; we need the banks to be the protectors and the advisers; what we got instead are people who will happily steal your money and smile at the same time. for example, I needed a letter from one of them, the letter costed me a trip, an exhibition, a car buyer, and also my trust. To add to this, the branch manager thinks that it was my fault that they didn’t do their job properly, he reckoned that the client should look after his/her own interests. All it was is a letter that I had paid off my car loan; why on earth does this go to head office, and takes 8 days to print? well, it is because the banks have to hire staff and create a kingdom to provide themselves more power, and also to make us pay more money in charges etc. just count by yourself, for every transaction a minimum of 50 dirhams is charged, each of us do a minimum of 2 transactions a month, and a bank will have a minimum of 100000 clients, their charge from two transaction is a staggering 10,000,000 dirhams. I am not going to scare you by calculating how much money my company pays in charges every month ( and we are a small fry, we pay 3000 dirhams a month, there are 450,000 companies in Dubai only, if 50,000 of them bank only pay 3000 a month, that is another staggering 150,000,000 dirhams a month.

If it is left to me, I would open my own bank, and pamper my clients to the extent that no one would ever think of changing from my bank to any other bank.

Why am I saying this? Ok let me give you a story. A tiny consulting office like ours, we visit Oman three times a year to promote; we met a person during on of the trips, he traveled through us, he gave our number to his brother who provided it to the members of his entire family, since then we have advised them all, and they had all been educated by us. I am not saying that we are the best, what I am saying is that we must be a good company as the repeat business we receive is a sign.

Will I provide you a name of a bank to work with over here? No way, I do not trust any of them, nor do I want you to later on criticize me for providing you that contact, no way Jose, my reputation will be at a stake here, as I normally only recommend the best to everyone.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Movie Critic

I watched a couple of movies so many times and have continuously asked myself while watching, what is going to happen next? While whoever else watched them with me had either cried or felt miserable afterwards; the first one is p.s. I love you, and the second one is eat, pray love.
I love both actresses, don’t take me wrong, they are both great, and have always enjoyed their movies, and what they stand for. Julia have surpassed any other actress of course, she has values, and never acts in a movie that is just for block buster or box office sale, and Hilary is the same, it is enough to see her movie freedom writer to detect the absolute conviction in the cause. Also, don’t forget her other movie where she sacrifices everything to defend her brother. That was a fantastic show.

Let us start with P.S I love you ( I was waiting to see what is going to happen next, is he going to come back from the death? Is she going to be utterly surprised? Was that just a trick to see how much she loves him? Was the trip to Ireland a trick to make her see his family so she loves them and then he will come back and they will live happily ever after? You will not believe my disappointment when the movie was over, my daughters were weeping, and so did everyone else in the movie house, while I was mesmerized in the designs she made, the whole fabrication of the story, and the size of her flat and how many things she was able to stuff into it. I was also waiting to see if the movie is going to have a sequel, like superman one and two etc. Of course I watched the movie the second time and, yes I did weep, and was upset with myself for not weeping the first time I saw the movie. I still watch it whenever I am on my own, and have time to spare.

But my disappointment was aggravated when I saw Eat pray love (, I didn’t read the book before the movie, so didn’t know what to expect, enough for me to see Julia Roberts and her awesome acting. Needless to say that not only those who went with me were crying during the movie, also all the men and women in the movie were crying all the time. I haven’t seen so many men cry in a movie before. I am not hinting that men should not cry, anyone can cry, that is why god gave us all tears tubes, so we all can cry and cleanse our souls. The number of those that cried was astonishing; normally you will find one man crying in every 100 movies, but to find every actor in that movie crying? It was silly really. Like the scene where Julia’s first husband was weeping in the left, that was disastrous? And the guy in the ashram? What was that all about? Ok, he was an alcoholic and a loser, and he figured that out, why cry? Or does life without a real faith make the heart go weak? Not sure really what it means.
It doesn’t end that way, Javier, who I have only seen him once, in this movie, and thought that he is a gorgeous young man? He also cried, he cried for loving Julia, cried for seeing his son goes away, and for hearing his son’s voice on the phone? Of course don’t forget the kissing on the mouth, that was awesome, I love it when fathers are cuddly with their kids, it shows character, it gives weight to the whole parental relationship (by the way, my son kisses ,me on the mouth all the time, and I like that) he is like Javier, very cuddly too. What I am trying to say here is that, for Javier to be in a movie with Julia, you expect a Breakfast with Tiffany, or Gone with the wind. Not a weeping movie where people have no idea what they want in life.
I think I should read the story, maybe the book will tell me something nice, and maybe I am so engrossed with my life to the extent that I do not understand what is going on in the minds of the western people. I loved the part where Julia went all the way to India to see the Guru, but the Guru was in New York? Classic, even religions are becoming for sale.