Saturday, 30 June 2012

The tours

Well, I haven't been on a holiday with others for a while so I had forgotten what is like when we cannot make a decision unless we consult with everybody; the last time that I had traveled on a holiday was longer than 10 years ago, we used to travel with 7 families to tour areas of New Zealand! each one of us have few kids, so matching their likes and dislikes was an impossibility, but we tried to satisfy every age.  The kids were not the problem though, as all they need is an ice cream or a hamburger, or a place to play ball.  It was the grown ups really who used to drag and drag and have to have enough time to decide if we were going to take that ride, and will it eventually empty their pockets.  In the end we used to decide on playing ball with the kids, as some of us were not able to pay for entertainment.

This trip was really fun, we went to all the places we wanted to go to, we sat in every cafe we wanted to set in, and we shopped till we dropped, but we didn't do historical trips. 

Ok, the first day when we arrived it was a free day, the next day was a free day too.  The third day was a city tour day, so we were all excited, woke up early and convinced my sister who suddenly had a back ache, then convinced my daughter who also suddenly had something or the other with her, so my friend packed their breakfast and we waited for the bus at 8:30 in the morning! so far so good.  Anyway, by the time every tourist gathered, it was 9:30, then we drove till we reached the first destination, and the crowd disembarked the huge bus, walking (literally running) after the tour guide, who held number 44 as a sign.  Well, suddenly we saw the Cafes,  I looked back to glance at my sister, I was almost going to tell her that I hadn't had coffee, when I saw her pulling my friend and walking towards the coffee shop. So we sat their while my friend made up a story to the tour about how her mum cannot walk and how my sister needs a bathroom every second and that she will delay us (lies of course) so we split, and sat in that cafe for hours, then went to the grand bazaar, bought our silver, went for lunch, shopped more, and went back to the hotel for a nap.

It was an exhausting day, well worth it though, as you learn a lot when you do things together rather than just walking behind a tour guide.

So because we know now that we all love shopping, we hired a bus and went on a shopping tour. then back to Galata bridge for lunch, it was really nice, having lunch with the cats and the seagulls who were waiting for us to finish so they hunt the table.  The owner of the restaurant was so happy with us, he gave us free tea.

Tomorrow I will tell you all about the Hammam we went to, it was built in 1777, watch this space

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Under the Galata bridge.

I have seen many bridges during my travels, but what I saw today was extraordinary and made me believe that Turkey is a worthwhile country to visit even twice a year. The scenery is fantastic, the cleanliness is apparent, the people have become so friendly as they must have realized that tourism is something that mustn't be sneezed at. Also don't forget the food, when we go to a European country we have to eat vegetarian food the whole time unless we find a restaurant that serves halal food, for example once in Amsterdam we stayed for over 10 days having vegetarian pizza and fish, and one day while we were walking around hopelessly we spotted an Asian restaurant, my husband and I ran to it, and before we were even seated, we ordered all the food dishes that has meat and chicken, i think the owners has a ball that day, as we we had in front of us food enough for an army.  In Turkey, you get the best of both worlds, history as well as food to savour without being scared that it is not Halal.

Anyway, Galata bridge is a wonder by itself, you seen either side of the bridge nice mosques, lovely historic buildings, and much more.  You get to buy stuff that are not on sale in Grand Bazaar, stuff that are actually being made by old Turkish women, and little kids, i bought these cute socks made by an old lady, for my future grandson, and to prepare him for the potty, i bought him this cartoon printed toilette seat made especially for children. all of this for few coins.

Most importantly though, you will see the amateur fishermen fish, and you will see people selling fish sandwich on stalls for 5 liras as will as smaller makeshift restaurants that sell fried or grilled fish bought from the fish market or fish sellers and you will see the posh restaurants under the bridge! You have an expensive meal, in a 5 star restaurant while enjoying the scenery and at the same time talking to the waiters and buying stuff from passing sellers, like flours and knickknacks. I thoroughly enjoyed my day today the atmosphere and the company of my daughters, my sister and my friend made me forget that I haven't been able to download my emails nor was I able to do any work, but then again, this is my holiday isn't it? Here are some photos to have a look at and decide for yourself if it's worth going there or not.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

The holiday

No it's not the movie, it's what I am having this week. Its my holiday, and no one can tell me that I have no right in taking it, I think of course that the staff will be upset as I hadn't prepared their pay checks, but I am sure they will forgive me as I will return and have a straight face without being mean and nasty and growl at them for the simplest thing like not answering their emails, or not looking after our important 18 year old clients!!?? Also I had a tough time organizing my daughter's henna and engagement parties, and previous to that I had four weekends of important trips, so I had been quite tired really, and was in desperate need for a quite time. So when my daughters and my sister suggested a trip, I couldn't say no. My husband didn't put a fight either, as he too knew that I will have a nervous breakdown.

However, we booked a cheap holiday, but we thought that even though it's cheap, the hotel looked decent (judging by the photos on the Internet), and the travel agent was also helpful so we packed our bags a day after the party and off we went to the airport.

Mistake number one: we exchanged money at the airport? Well, we paid 30 fils more per lira. We should have exchanged in town, but we didn't have time.

Mistake number two: I could have avoided paying for visa on arrival if I had my other travel document with me! But I listened to my husband and didn't take it.

Mistake number three: the holiday company were not at the airport waiting for us, so we spent roaming time on my phone looking for them, and we found them after almost an hour

We had been booked on cheap airline, so we had to buy extra luggage. And because of the cheap airline, we landed in an airport that is an hour away from the hotel???

And when we got to the hotel, we got rooms that were considered single as doubles, and the room was so tiny that at night I pumped my arms on the tv and my legs on the heater and I did that twice, while going to the bathroom to wash for prayers and while coming back. We of course got the shock of our life when we saw the breakfast room, it was a strip? Literally it was a two meters by ten meters, with hundreds of tables and chairs. The Food of course was not what I was accustomed to when I came last yer? There was bread, cheese and boiled eggs, and if we wanted omelet we had to order it and pay for it extra. Of course there is no coffee or tea in the room, so that too had to be bought, so all in all, we would be paying double the amount that we paid for this cheap holiday.
My advise, never take a cheap holiday

My observation, the hotel is full, and the only reason it's full is because they do false advertisement;

My recommendation to the holiday company: please check the hotels that you are stuffing the people into, and put yourself in their shoes prior to selling the holiday. You don't want a big mouth like me to write a bad review about you.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

The Noughty young ones

Last night was a night to remember, we had a gathering of sisters and few friends as mum is here to attend my daughter's engagement party; one of the visitor was a mere two and half year old child.

Mum has a tradition at the end of Rajab (a Luna month that is two month prior to Ramadhan) which includes special reading of some prayers, some traditional songs, candles and food.  This celebration has a tricky part though, the food and candles are laid out on a special fabric on the floor,  and we gather around it and read that book which is now really worn out.  The celebration also includes cutting a melon to pieces and making a vow prior to eating it, so the cycle is completed the following year. 

Well, I am not trying to explain what we do in our day to day stuff when mother is around, as everyday is more interesting than the other, I am only trying to make you visualize the place and think for a moment about that two and half year old. He of course looks like a seven year old, with the size of a large sheep before sheering, and when he walks he is similar to that vacuum cleaner that goes haywire in cartoons (I don't see this cartoon anymore, I think it was replaced with other nicer cartoons showing things that kill people instead) and his arms move back and forth and sideways in a rhythmic fashion that meant to be for hitting any item in front of them and around them. Imagine, I am talking about a two year old child here!! Ok, now he has two maids running after him, while he is eating a 100 pieces of biscuits, few pieces of meat, some cakes, an apple all at one go, he also stuffed two felafels in his mouth and was trying to chew all of this and kick anything that is a meter around him.  Of course my plants were crying last night, and the new lawn outside in the garden was screaming as his hair was being pulled out, the pots couldn't avoid him, so the soil is all out side thrown on the garden chairs, and the cat ( who is very naughty herself) decided that she had enough of him and ran out of the house.  of course when he left we discovered the broken vases, stained coaches and and so on. I regret not taking a video of him and sending it to one of my universities that does child behavior, so they study this child.  I am sure the professors will have a jolly time trying to figure out this one.

I cannot remember if my three kids were naughty, and if they were naughty I am sure I had methods of making them set quite in people's houses, I know that my daughter who is getting engaged used to think that she is the queen and she meant to sit on a chair so people have the chance to look at her, and my son was the king of bites, no one escaped his sharp teeth, T don't think the little one was naughty, but I do remember that she was whining all the time demanding chewing gum!!. Put all three of my kids together and you can equate them to that rabbit that has the regular battery, compared to this child, he is certainly the one with the Energiser battery, but of course that advert would have chaged to a giant rabbit running with four-horse-power Energiser battery, and this rabbit is left loose in places that has equisite stuff just for fun.

I hope you were able to visualize the scene, and I wish we have a gadget that records our thoughts and covert them to a video, this one would be the one that will earn money, as no amount of Denise the Menace, or The Rascals, The Goonies, etc will be more entertaining and nerve wrecking as much as watching this child move and eat.  however what I would like you to do is to suggest ways to make him a regular boy who sits and reads books, draws, paints, and eat just a little and go for naps!  don't take me wrong, I love him, but we have to have him in an empty space not in a house with furniture, and let him imagine what next to do, as there is no next.

Thanks for listening, I had nightmares about him throwing lit candles near the curtains, and we were all inside and burnt to death. oh my god, what a night.

(I have a confession to make, last night after everyone had left I wrote a stronger version of this blog, and something happened to my stupid Ipad when I opened a new tab to find the brands of batteries, i lost the piece, what a pity, you would have laughed)

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Strange and weird (or are these mean the same thing)

last night i got this email, you know, the ones that people forward to you as they are interesting? well it is interesting, as it involves a woman in Saudi, whose husband retired, so rather than seeing him day in and day out sitting at home and interfering in every detail of the house, she married him off to her cousin, and asked her to stay in the same house, and the kids? ok, the kids bought the wedding gift to their dad, a trip to Mekka. Well, when i read the email out loud in the car, my husband said, that she is a very nice woman, and my sister said that maybe he was getting on her nerves. so here it is, and you decide, but let your first though come out and then think about it:

كـــيـــف تـــتـــخــــلــــصــــيــــن
مــــن مـــــشــــاكــــل الـــــزوج
هدية التقاعد
سعودية تكافئ زوجها المحال للتقاعد بزوجة ثانية وأسبوع في مكة المكرمة

في بادرة رائعة وغريبة في نفس الوقت ، قامت السيدة
وائل العنزي) من سكان مدينة الرياض بتزويج زوجها من
أحدى قريباتها وذلك بعد شهر واحد من أحالته على التقاعد
من أحدى القطاعات العسكرية بمدينة الرياض
اصيله والله يا ام وائل

"العنزية المطنوخة" أم وائل ،لم تكتفى بذلك بل قررت أن تسكن "العروس الجديدة" في الغرفة المجاورة لغرفتها ، ودفعت أبنائها الى تقديم هدايا للعروسين كانت أثمن تلك الهدايا عبارة عن تكفلهم بقضاء العروسين لمدة أسبوع كامل بجوار الحرم المكي الشريف ، كما قامت هي شخصياً بتوزيع بطاقات الدعوة على الاقارب والاصدقاء والجيران .
أم وائل بررت قيامها بذلك بأنها أستشعرت بأن زوجها لديه القدرة على الزواج من ثانية والإنجاب في حين لم تعد هي تستطيع تلبيه مطالب زواجها ،الذي كان وافياً معها لأكثر من 32 عاماً ، وعندما شاهدت الضجر والكآبة تبدوا على محيا شريك العمر ، بعد إنقضاء مدة خدمته وجلوسة في المنزل دون عمل ، أستخارت الله سبحانه وتعالى على تزويجة ، وقررت أن تخطب له أبنه عمها واصرت عليها حتى قبلت بالامر وتم عقد النكاح بكل يسر وسهولة مؤخراً .
وأضافت أيضاً أنها ومن خلال ما سمعت وعرفت من صديقاتها وقريباتها ، بأن الرجل اذا أحيل للتقاعد يبدء يشعر بالضيق والملل ويبدء ذلك في التأثير عن نفسيته وهو ما ينعكس سالباً على أفراد اسرته ، و طالما أنه قادر على الزواج فمن الواجب على الزوجة أن لا تمنعه أن يرتبط بإخرى حتى يحافظ على تماسك أسرته ، طالما أن ذلك سيذهب الى مرضاة لله عز وجل ثم الى رضى الزوج ،حتى لو كان ذلك سيجلب شريكة أخرى.


Sunday, 17 June 2012

The time that we are not waiting for

Its Sunday 8:16 PM in Dubai, and its Monday 4:16 AM in New Zealand, but its still early afternoon in Canada. Why I am suddenly interested in time? Well, today while driving I glanced at my hands, and noticed the wrinkles that have accumulated on them, and the blemishes, and thought that its too early to have them as I am only 56? and then a thought came to my mind, 56 is in the Gregorian calendar that depends on the sun, but in the Luna calendar i must be much older as each year in the Luna calendar is shorter by ten days, so I am older in the Luna calendar by 560 days, that is almost 2 years, which makes me 58, so wrinkles on the hand are explainable now.  Also If I was living in New Zealand I will be a day older, and had I been living in Canada I will be half a day younger? age could also be argued in terms of minutes, once I heard a woman saying that she is half an hour from being 50, what the hell!!

Why are we hung up on age? Does age matter? Why don't we count our age by the number of achievements and blessings in our life? Can we not say that our life is a book, and the number of pages in the book resemble the life that we lived, and the stuff that we did.  We can be in chapter two of our life, as chapter one was education, and chapter two is working, and so on.

I look at my kids, and see my son (who is 28, married and the wife is expecting a baby in 5 months), my daughter (who is 24, and to be engaged on Friday) and the little one who is movie-holic just like me preparing the film and the munchies so we can watch it together while the others are wrapping the gifts for Friday's party, I also visualise next year when maybe I will be have the little one is pulling the wire off my laptop and playing with my Ipad, at the same time I am thinking does time matter? is it us that over emphasise time? Or is time something that people use as an excuse to avoid doing something or pretend that they have not time to do something?

Us the human beings are wonderful creatures, we do not focus, we procrastinate, we buy lots of watches (other than the ones that were stolen I have 32 watches, some are old so I don't wear them but still keep them in case the style is back in vogue) so we keep the time, but we always miss our appointments (I overslept this morning and reached my appointment 2 hours late), we make it to the airport late but get upset when the flights are delayed, we hate it when people are late for their appointments, and we have two different times (an Arab time and an English time). so we do seem to have a different opinion about time anyway, when it’s in our favour we get happy but we cry when we lose it.

I decided to focus on the time remaining.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Helping others

Last night I had a night to remember. Two of my very young friends invited me for dinner in a Chinese restaurant. It wasn't one of those where you can have a whole meal for pittance though! It was in one of those fancy places that I don't normally go to. The ambiance was great and the two girls were really nice, I had them choose the dishes as I thought that maybe my choices will be dull for them, it was a great night with great discussions. 

I know, you were wondering why my young friends had invited me for dinner? Well, for over a year one of them was trying to get a scholarship to do her clinical psychology, she tried all the various bodies and none of them were helpful; so we were working on solving this issue slowly but surely, of course she had many hoops to jump, which was worrying me, as the constitution of this country insists on free education for all the citizens. At the end we had to resort to going to the head. This proved to be problematic as her dad was not too happy about it.  However once that was done, everything fell into place, the domino effect started and she is going to travel in less than two weeks. 

Since we started our work, we made it a point to help the students get funding, from any source except their parents money. Of course all the organisations that we work with provide some sort of financial aid to the students, and because studying is not cheap and can consume a huge portion of ones savings we make sure that the budget is not exceeded.  One thing we realised is that the high schools are not telling the students that they are entitled to free education; whether it's in the country or outside the country. Thus the staff and I make sure that we tell the students about their rights, and one of them is the free education.  Of course I am sure the scholarship providers are not that happy about us, but we do not work for them, we work for our clients, the students, and the providers are merely the purse that we use to facilitate the journey of studying.  

Money is a weird thing, one can use it for anything and everything as these could be a one off expenditure, but when it comes to paying fees, then it's a commitment, the parents have to ensure that the stream of funds continue for the next 4-5 years, and that is where we have to intervene and make it easier for everybody.  Take us for example, and since we do not belong to a country that provides free education for all, we had to make sure that we have enough money to pay for our kids education, of course it is not simple, but having two graduates at home, and one on the way shows real perseverance from both my husband and I. Sometimes we forgo buying essential stuff for ourselves as the payment for the kids is due. I am so happy that we made it, and now the youngest is in her last semester, its all gone like a breeze.  And I am sure her two years of masters will also be ok. 

I cannot count my blessings, and having young friends for life, who will wish me well, and remember my advise and carry it forward, will only increase the balance of my good deeds. I am proud as well that my young friends distinguished my advice and actually took me for dinner to celebrate their achievements.

This experience makes me forget the agonies of our work, and makes me want to continue to do this no matter what. 

So as I said in one of my tweets, a person can achieve, unless he or she become his/her own obstacle, don't be your own obstacle, and ignore those that throw stones on your way, just go forward and achieve your goals.   


The other day a friend went for a job interview but she didn't get the job, it seems that the interviewer had an accent, she didn't underhand some questions and there goes the job. This incident reminded me of two interviews that I had where I didn't understand the questions but still I answered, and in both times I got the job.  

The first time was an interview with this newly established division in the ministry in Bahrain, it was to look after international conventions and UN agencies and so on. The head of that division (who is still a friend of mine and I meet him and his wife even after 36 years of that incident, and he of course has the memory of an elephant that keeps minding me of the error that I made) interviewed me, it was early morning, and whoever knows me know that i am not a morning person, and one of the questions was "Lesbon is the capital of which country?" I answered him that it's the capital of Spain. Anyway, after few more questions, the interview was over and I went home, and continued my sleep. The next day I was asked to go and complete the job formalities. Yay I got the job, I was really thrilled as the job promissed lots of travelling and so on. 

Anyway after few weeks in the job, we all got to know each other and the manager joked about me not knowing geography, so I said why? He mentioned the error, and all of us laughed, then I asked him why he accepted me despite my Mal geography? He said because my answer was full of conviction! So he even questioned his own knowledge, and only after he went home and check the atlas that he realised that he was tight and I was wrong. So he said that my sincerity made him believe that I would do will. 

The second blooper was when I was interviewed for a teaching job.  Amongst the questions the dean asked me what I do to overcome stress? I said: stress? What does that mean? Well he and the rest of the panel laughed thinking that I don't get stressed! But of course I thought they were laughing at me because I didn't know the meaning of the word "stress" which was true? So I left and went back to my office, and told everybody what happened and that I will never get the job!!!! My surprise was when I got the offer letter, The people at worked were more stunned than myself? Of course by that time I found out the meaning of the word, and felt so bad that I answered with complete idiocy! But we finally figured out why the interview panel had laughed!! They thought that stress is something that I never feel. Haha saved again.

What I am trying to say here is that, sometimes conviction and answering truthfully and to the best of one's knowledge can be a plus in job interviews. Don't be intimidated, the interviewers are human like you, and can have deficiencies too, so if you don't understand the question or you feel that what is being asked is beyond your comprehension, say that, no one is born knowing everything on this earth.  

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Counsellors lunch meeting

Dr Ayoub Kadhim started the forum by discussing the expansion of Dubai in terms of introduction of new businesses that made the economic cycle spin faster. The main company is Dubai Holding, as its the giant in the USE having organisations that span investments, business parks, hospitality, and also properties.

Expansion in education, transport, hotels, oil and gas, new airports, and many others had meant that many jobs are created and many businesses are also benefiting from this expansion. Also a discussion on renewable energy and clean technology sector. The figures are astounding, more than 150 billion dollars are being spent on introduction of initiatives to generate clean energy like Masdar, nuclear energy and solar, wind and hydro. The industry has also grown tremendously, like Dubal's expansion and Emal starting in Abu Dhabi.  Cement manufacturing had also increased to support the construction industry, however the financial crisis meant that the consumption was reduced. One must not forget the media sector, this had attracted major international media companies like CNN and BBC. Also many schools teaching media had started due to this expansion. UAE has a very strong ICT sector, Etisalat and DU are just two examples.

A survey was completed by organization in the UAE, they confirmed that they will be recruiting this year, and are looking for engineering, science, IT, the skill sets required by employers are bilingual communications, team work, strong leadership skills. Also the employees should be trustworthy, flexible and have strong character and morals.

The next speaker is the dean of engineering at the British university in Dubai (Bassam AbuHijla) And he is talking about the various fields of engineering and the suitability for a person's career path. He quoted a nice sentence by Von Kamran ( scientist seek to find what is, but the engineer seeks to create what was not). Engineering is a wide field and covers a huge range of skills, knowledge and abilities including the skills that industry needs these days.

Majors in engineering are a lot, but basically they are architecture, chemical, civil, mechanical, electrical. However engineers should not just take their degree and feel that they are equipped, they should join the engineering society in their country or the associations for their respective fields (these are mostly in USA or UK).

Rema Menon (my friend) talked about the career destination.
Stay cool, stay as a life long learner, if I can do it, any one can do it. I am going to encourage her to join TED talk, she has a nice presentation. but please Rema, dont repeat the word Obese, you have some sort of deficiency not obesity. 

My final word:
At the end of the day I think people should know their strengths and their weaknesses; think of it this way, many people can stand in your way, but you can jump them as hurdles, however if you stand in your own way, then no one can save you from your loss, as you are the only one who can jump that hurdle.

Even though the world needs more engineers, these will need guidance, so having us the Counselors and encouraging students to take up this helping profession as a career path is equally important.

Learnpurple- A course by small business incubator- IBWG

Transforming your organistion
Why is it important: because otherwise you will have a huge manpower problem due to the following:
Skills shortage, more choices, labour turnover at record level, brands, customers know more these days, employees are the essential link, as they are the brand ambassadors.

Losing employees has a cost. Cost of attrition
Recruitment, training, interim cover, management time.

Disruption/lost production
Lost revenue
Knowledge base
Customer relationship

Reputation and market awareness (becoming a great place to work)

Culture/DNA through vision and mission statement (the foundation of every company, and compare them to personal values)

And then

Talent management and retention
Performance and talent review
Goal alignment
Leadership and team dynamics
Risk analysis, succession and aspirations Communication, opinion

At last we have exist policy.

Red flags to watch out for during the interview

Typos, no reference letters, in the cv there is no speciality, cv is generic, not demonstrating achievements.

Present ability of the applicant, mismatch of expectations, body language, build a rapport with the recruiter, seriousness of purpose, has the stories to back up the experiences that he is claiming, inability to market themselves, strengths and weaknesses.

overall the course was great as networking is really what matters at the end. also we always have to learn new things and try to adopt new practices.  life long learning is my motto.