Sunday, November 28, 2004

Our predicament

Devious commercial issues, shrewd businessman doing his fancy footwork, political aspirations between four parties and tough deadlines that requires head to roll is getting us hit again, again and again. Our hands are tied and the voices of anger keeps thumping in.

It couldn't be summed as a bottleneck situation anymore. Perhaps a deadlock. A scrawny project director who is always delaying and holding back decisions just to push for a better margin is causing the vendor and the customer to heat up and tire after all the time spent. 10 days left now to the dry run and hell hath no fury like the client's project director's fury when he needs to present all that to the King at that very event. And yes, he hasn't got a clue what everything looks like because the vendor's PD is not releasing anything before he gets a bigger cut of the cake.

By hook or crook, or probably a few bloody noses, all must be done. Authorised, up and running with glittering lights to the delights of the royals and citizens before the battle begins yet again.

Monday, November 22, 2004

double blunder

I had to pick up my colleagues from the Bahrain's Airport two days ago and I have had two blunders. The first was when I dashed right into the parking area without first taking a parking ticket. The bar was lifted and conveniently to me, I just zoomed in. I only realised the embarassing truth when the cars behind me stop one by one to retrieve the ticket eventhough the bar is lifted high up pointing vertically. I then went to the cashier and lamented my problem. He gave me a new ticket with a handwritten 9:45 PM on it. When it's about time to leave that place, to my horror, I realised I've lost the ticket. Double whammy this is. I just drove to the cashier again and told him I've lost that ticket. He let out a sigh, gave me a look of dismay and stated "Four Hundred". All in all, it was sorted with approximately RM 4 and a step on the gas pedal.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Sheraton Crowne

One of the bars that we frequent a lot to have a pint or two, Sheraton's An Nada. Now that it's after the Ramadhan period, the live bands are back in the bars to perform. And as usual, most of them are phillipino bands. Personally I didn't quite like the style and genre of this band here. I prefer acoustic and rock genre so I guess I'll check out Harvesters in Crowne and some pub near Al Bustan that plays covers of rock legends.

camel car

To date, that is the only camel I've seen since coming here. A fake one posing on the roundabout that is. The following pics are of the car that we've been using for this month. I don't know how many summons we will garner from that. ;)

fix it, goddamn it

He lays on the bed looking at the ceiling with open eyes
The ventilation is dead and the atmosphere quiet but not serene
His seek of a chill room comes to no avail
Comedies on the comedy channel are no longer funny
Silly british programmes no longer amuses him
He counts the days that has passed and the remaining days to be met upon
A sigh is let out and a hope sets in the mind
Memoirs of her funny antics animates in his mind
He did not laugh out then but silently inside he did
There isn't a single person to talk to
So he closes his eyes and chokes
into slumber while drenched in his own sweat

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

journal jots

12th November - After sending Sonny to the airport, Tailou, a 50 year old colleague of mine suggested to roam and visit around. He asked "Lei yam jau ker mou?" and I replied "Yammm". So the plan was set and we agreed to visit the malls first. The malls here in Bahrain operate at rather odd hours. You'll notice the traffic jam pilling up on the highway at ungodly hours. I was told that the malls operate until 3 AM here. When I arrived at the malls around 7 PM, most of the boutique shops have not open yet. We were told by a nepalese salesman of a mobile phone shop to go to hotels to get alcoholic drinks. Okay fine. But a sudden lost of sense of direction has lead us way south, travelling nearly half of Bahrain. There was this particular moment where I'm driving at 120 km/h and suddenly I heard some sort of siren blasting "beep beep beep". That was way quirky and I'm like kook-ed up. I still wonder where the sound comes from. We were on a highway and the surroundings were just sand. Someone enlighten me on that please.

13th November - Woke up rather late on the first day of Raya or shall I say Eid Al Fitr. After watching an episode of TVB series I felt rather bored and hungry. So I decided to grab a Macca fix. I grab the map and car keys and off I went for a ride. After weaving around for sometime under the blazing heat, I found Macca at Exhibition Avenue. While walking towards it, I saw 4 young kids, most probably local, shouting in delight and waving their shoes around. Then I was godsmacked when they take turns and smack a delivery motorcycle parked in front of a restaurant. The number plate of that motorcycle fell off and I suppose some other damages were inflicted. I somehow feel pity for the bike. After my Macca fix, I went back and collapsed on the couch till 6 PM.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Just whack

Takeaway KFC. That was decided for dinner by all. I then drove to Adliya for the hunt of KFC. I vaguely remember that there is a KFC, Nandos and Al Jazira there. Zoomed pass an important junction but still managed to find KFC and everyone went home happy with the meal. While waiting for the managers to buy the food, I waited in the car behind the restaurant in a back alley. The alley is extremely narrow and it's a one way street. The turns of left and right were complicated and eventually I somehow lost track of the mental map that's in my head. But then, I somehow manage to get us back to a main road after making only one wrong decision which lead us to a deadend. A short adventure it was but I expanded my mental map of Manama to a very much bigger extent.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

oxygen please

I have had a tremendously hectic week. A full 7 working days including working at home at nights rushing for presentations for the following day.

Sonny said "It's quite a miracle considering things that took more than 1 year to finalise is being done in a mere few days here".

I second that but really, that's Malaysia scenario and delays like that are almost always expected. The management here are also desperate to push things around so that their heads won't roll when the deadline comes and that helps to get things progress at breakneck speed but so is our depressing state. No rest days throughout the week and ocassionally have to make do without adequate food. That's how the increasing stressed state comes by and I suspect, it would escalate into demented mode soon. This in all would be exhorbitantly more in volume for myself as my other two colleagues are making a break to Kuala Lumpur in this coming Raya and I'm left here alone. Who else is here? The fucking priest.

Saturday, November 06, 2004


I had my dinner at Mr. Fouad's residence today. After I parked our car near to his enormous side gate, we were greeted by his phillipino cook. A few steps forward and immediately my jaw dropped. This place is amazing. Nothing less. The decos, furnitures, fixtures, paintings and everything is akin to going into a Sultan's palace. It's goddamn palatial. I was taking slow and careful steps when entering into the building and at the same time meticulously study the details of the house. It's just so overwhelming. At a glance, there were Michaelangelo style heads structure at the compound as well as inside the mansion. The craftings or paitings at the ceiling is similar to those in Le Louvre museum albeit not as fascinating. There was a lovely sleek grand piano and a huge ass spiral staircase in the middle section. There so many paintings on the wall that I couldn't keep track already. And it's obvious to not have to say that most things are in gold colour.

We were then greeted by Mr. Fouad and subsequently invited into the dining hall. Another wow follows. The food that was prepared could feed 20 with more to spare and there are only 5 of us sitting there. All of those large dishes are decorated with flowers and vegetables. The utensils are carefully placed and food is served to our plates by the maid while constantly asking "Do you want to try this sir?", "Do you want to have some of these sir?", "Yes sir", "Very well sir". I actually felt very much out of place but I just followed the rhythm and proceeded to enjoy the dinner.

The first serving was majbooba. It's beef and rice cooked together in dark brownish hue. Looks like "loh mai". Rating: 2/5. It's edible. Then came samboosa. It's fried potato fillings in a triangular shape. Quite nice. I liked it. Rating: 4/5. Next was some squishy pale white paste called Harris. It's made of flour, minced meat and barley. It has this baby food taste and it's puke inducing. Rating: -5/5. Then a fried prawn with some meat fillings. Not bad. Rating: 3/5. Afterwards, the maid served some deep fried rabbit fish with tomato and garlic and brown rice. So so. Rating: 2/5. I have to clarify that the fish does not have long ears nor does it hop and chew carrots. It looks like a small "Ma Yau" fish. Later on, there is this curry lookalike dish which they call Trits. It's similar to curry but very mild. Rating: 2/5. And then, I was given another baby samboosa. It's filled with cheese. Goddamn. Rating: 0/5.

Finally when we were done, we proceeded to another living hall. There's huge sofas, some gold colour sofas with printed maps on it and a big widescreen TV. It's dessert time I reckon. We were served with water, arabic coffee or tea. And of course, that's not all. Each of us have this caramel + jelly served in a huge sundae cup. I barely ate it coz I was damn full already. Two karipap lookalike was left untouched. I was told later by my colleague that it's filled with nuts and it's darn sweet. Thank god I didn't try that.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

road weaving and the abaya beggars

Woke up early today to find HSBC bank, money changer and do some weekly grocery shopping. I think I'm much more versed about Manama's area and roads now eventhough occasionally I still give wrong navigation instructions to my manager. But hey, you learn more when you make mistakes. By making those mistakes, I now have alternatives to get to the same destination. Smashing ya?

The city is relatively empty so to speak. I'm not too sure really, but I believe there is 3 public holidays announced to mourn the death of Sheikh Zayed, president of U.A.E. Anyway, while cruising into the city centre, I caught a glimpse of this purple painted squalid restaurant.

"That's Al Osra restaurant", I exclaimed

Sonny turns head around and said "So I think you'll not order any food from there anymore".

I silently agree. Then we head to GOSI shopping centre. The exterior is much like a dull Beit Al Quran sort of building but the interior, surprisingly seems quite posh and nice. The interior designs are somewhat similar to those of Starhill KL albeit the entire architecture of both buildings are totally different. The ground floor actually houses shops selling only mobile phones much like Sungai Wang. However, they each have proper shoplots unlike in Sungai Wang where they have small booths and staffs comprises of Ah Bengs and Ah Lians.

I was heading back to the car after checking out from Al Jazira. While pushing the trolley towards the exit, I was greeted by 5 abaya clad women sitting on the pavement with their arms streched out. Beggars with the abaya gimmick and full face veil do not intimidate me. Nonetheless, I was petrified for a second or two at that moment though.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

workplace and the crew

Connected for 43 minutes but I only managed to receive 2803 packets. Really flustered with this crawling speed. Goddamn. I think it didn't even do the crawling adjective justice. It's more like crawling with the elbows and knees chopped off.

Top left: Okay. Finally Shajan is in light. He's in blue while Ashraf the caretaker of the apartment is standing behind. I'm sure some conversation in Malayalam is taking place at that time. And by the way, that's the entrance to my apartment.

Top right: I stay at 2nd floor

Bottom left: This is my work place at a local business partner's office. Features of this venue would include dreadful internet connection, water dispenser containing sweet water (term used here), and long working hours expected including having dinner at the premise itself.

Bottom right: A room provided for us to work by the CIO.

We have just rented a car yesterday. A Mazda 323. With some connections, we managed to bring down the rental fee of BD 160 per month to BD 110. This kinda puzzles me actually. Why pay for that when you can have Shajan for free?

Monday, November 01, 2004

blow water

Being expatriate experts here, even if you don't know what you are talking about, you still know what you are talking about
said Sonny while giving a pepping talk.

Everytime I walk into this barbwire surrounded compound with guards armed with Mp5, I always worry whether the guards might not recognise me yet and consequently, deny me entry. But then again, I have had only seen one chinese over the course of 9 days here and I recall seeing that guy driving a Lexus on Al Fatih highway. Since there isn't any chinese around, I presume, my point of being worried has become invalid.