Sunday, 25 January 2009

Quite Unexpectedly....

Quite unexpectedly, it snows, well, not in Dubai, but close. It was reported in the news that snow covers and carpets the mountains of Ras Al Khaimah as the temperature dips to -3 degrees Celsius. We need a helicopter to reach the snowing spots. Many kiasu dwellers in Dubai drove all the way to witness the unprecedented event, but they were disappointed with the road inaccessibility. It will not be a lasting event as the snow starts to melt as I speak [blog] now. The photos are sourced from the Gulf News for us to witness the outcome of one of the many weird ways our world is behaving now.

Last night, when the snow fell and landed on the mountain top, I sms-ed my boss, the Operation Manager to book 30 minutes of her time. I have 3 points to discuss, my project, my team-building program and my business trip to Philippines and Vietnam. She sms-ed in reply, "Sure, morning before 10 or around lunch". I had my thumb texting, "Lunch ~1PM".

Before I went on narrating about the 30-minute meeting, let me shed some details that describe her. She is an Egyptian with sharp features, smooth and creamy complexion, beautiful lips and hazel eyes. She makes a close resemblance of modern day Cleopatra. She is only 33 years and has been in the business for 10 years. So she knows the operations inside out. I mean, almost no single pipeline could escape her mental layout and no single miscalculated operational figures could pass her scrutiny. Well, I could have exaggerated and over-rated her, but she is like that. There is no point going around the bush with her. There is no point not telling what she should know. From the day she interviewed me, I have trusted my instinct to adapt a straight-forward policy with her, strictly business, less words and more actions. I still hold on to the approach despite in the my last appraisal she commented that I need to be more outspoken as she requires more of my fresh eyes' views being delivered on various matters.

So we had our 30 minutes talk. I had prepared my presentation about my project last night and I presented to her. It's well on track. She was so focused on the presentation materials that she was able to give inputs that tie up a couple of loose ends. Then I presented my production team's proposal to have a team-building excursion in Musandom, Oman. She studied the budget figures. She highlighted some safety considerations since it will be a corporate-sponsored overnight affair. With all her concern and considerations turned into action in my to-do list, she said, "Go ahead". The last point discussed was my trip to Philippines and Vietnam. I would be travelling with her and our Personnel Manager to these countries to conduct assessments and interviews as part of our new talents recruitment to fulfil about 10 posts for electrical and mechanical technicians required for our factory expansion. We talked very briefly about our expectation and preparation. My to-do list gets longer and we are done for today.

In those 30 minutes, I have my oriental trip confirmed with a clear mission. On the 29th January I will be flying Emirates in the business class to Manila, and then to Ho Chi Minh City on the 2nd February and will be spending one night in Bangkok on the 5th February. When I return to Dubai, I have to deal with the most delicate part of my project in which we have gone through the process mentally in this meeting. Also, I have secured that my production team, all 30 of us to head to Musandom, Oman on the 20th February to enjoy the sea, sunset and the stars we wish to see above the sky in our night camping. From this meeting, in less than a month, quite unexpectedly, I will have my passport stamped in 3 countries or even 4 if I am able to sneak out of Bangkok airport!

Thursday, 22 January 2009


Part I (morning)
I was lifeless for about one minute, when I woke up this morning, went out to my door to pick up the newspapers, walked back to my bed, screened through the newspapers and gagged at the news in front of my eyes. No, it's not about the sorry sights of massacre in Gaza, there's a temporary truce now. Well, it's about our Malaysian football team losing to UAE in the Asian Cup qualifiers held in Kuala Lumpur. For someone being somewhat kaki bangku or main bola curi ayam, rightfully, I shouldn't be bothered. But losing with no goal on our own field and letting the UAE team won gloriously with 5 goals, come on, it's unthinkable. What's the logic in it? (I think it's my first time using the word 'logic' in my blog, influenced very much by this Dude in Amsterdam in his narration about logical thinking). What happen to Malaysia Boleh? It's just a game, I know. But when the headlines says "UAE crush Malaysia in qualifiers", indeed, I felt crushed for one minute, lifeless. Now I'm OK. Here you go the photo of the page. Anyone with any justifications?

Part II (afternoon)
I was chairing a meeting at the Met Club. In the meeting there was this French woman, Gren, who likes to argue and talk endlessly. When she talked for almost like forever, I was lifeless. The other members in the meeting were looking at me sharply to indicate that I needed to step in to cut her short or cut her throat for good. Finally, I mustered all my inner strengths and the remaining wisdom to snap and interrupt her sentences. Initially the snapping was very dramatic but then it got better in time. So let me share with you some of the snapping sentences I used today.
"Good, let's take 5-minute coffee break"
[This was the simplest one after about 1 or 2 hours from the start of the meeting]
"Well, we'll cover that point later, so now let's move on to ..."
[The truth was that point was never covered later, dismissed and forgotten. Gren having too many words produced in the meeting, didn't notice it]
"Fantastic. I'm impressed. Any other thoughts, anyone else?"
[The truth, I wasn't impressed and I've had it from Gren's long articulation]
"But, really we should focus on..."
[This was my overused snapping sentence whenever there was a very short pause in Gren's trails of words]
"Let me add to that, by saying ............"
[Seriously there's nothing to add, she had covered everything and we had enough already]
"If I understood you clearly, you're saying ....."
[I was like a parrot repeating her points briefly so when she listened to her own word, she shut her up]
"Your point is?"
[This was a nasty one, I guess. Gren gave me a serious look]
We finished the meeting on time. Everyone was happy to leave the meeting room, including Gren. I might have put a limit, just a little bit, on her number of words today in the meeting. She would then have to bug someone else at some other place to achieve her words daily quota.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Dubai Marathon 2009 Part II

I did it! I have achieved what what I have set to do. I completed the marathon the whole 42km 195m in 5 hours 33 mins (From the Starting Mat to the Finishing Mat tracked by the Mika chip tied on my shoe) or 5 hours 38 mins (From the gun fire to the Finishing Mat). The difference was because I started at the back of the eager swarm of runners. We started at 6:40 AM when the temperature was around 16 degrees Celsius. I had to take a leak before the race and the queue was too long. This is something the organizer of the World's Richest Marathon has to improve. The following are the phases that I had gone through to complete the race.

I ran like a stallion. I was in the middle of the pack. My breathing was good and my pace was consistent. It rained in my 7Km. The rain was refreshing. Running in the rain was awesome. Later the winner for last year and this year Dubai Marathon, Haile Gebrselassie from Ethiopia, who clocked 2 hours 5 mins, commented that the rain has slowed him down and thus causing him to miss breaking the new world record and getting the US$ 1 million jackpot.

I started to feel some sensation on my left thigh and then my right thigh started to complain. I had to walk and run, walk and run so that I could control the ache. My breathing was still good, my body temperature was OK but my thighs had started to fail me. They started to ache and get heaty. I told myself, "kan bagus kalau ade air-cond kat peha" as I thought of Eja's line in Sepi. My pace started to become irregular and slower. The weather has been very kind to us. The sun only started to sting in my 30Km. Other runners started to overtake me. I was devastated and started cursing all the oily and salty stuffs I had been consuming of late.

I started to realize if I kept on running I would get a serious cramp on my thigh muscles and would be picked up by the ambulance by the road side and my hope to complete the race would be shattered. I told myself that I have to change my plan. I started brisk walking, meaning my thighs remained straight and the muscles remained relaxed. I timed my brisk walking, it took me 7 minutes of brisk walking like lipas kudung to complete 1 km. I made simple calculations and I was convinced that I would still meet my personal target by just brisk walking till the end. So I did just that in a very unfashionable way to complete the race.

The last 1 km
There were so many photographers taking photo shoots at the runners nearing the finishing mat. Realizing that I wasn't technically running, I decided to switch my brisk walking to muster a little run to the finishing mat while I was photographed by many. So I did it, running and walking and running again till the end. Having completed the race within 6 hours, I was given a medal straight away after passing through the finishing mat.

The long queue to pee before the race

The start - when it was dark and cold

The results available online right after the race as it is supported by an efficient tracking mechanism

I could have made a better time. I am embarrassed that some old runners, overweight runners and even a blind lady runner (accompanied by a running guide) were all ahead of me. This proves that anyone can complete a marathon. Where there is a will, there is a way. Right now I am looking for ways to get recuperated soon enough since I have to get to work tomorrow.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Dubai Marathon 2009 Part I

Two days before the event, I went to Westin Dubai Mena Seyahi Beach Resort and Marina to collect my run number and a bag of goodies. This new hotel resort is recently open and is located at the opposite of Dubai Media City. This is where the marathon will start and finish. My run number is 670 and inside the bag there are a yellow Puma T-shirt, a sleeveless Puma shirt, a bottle of Pokka energized carbonated drinks, the marathon map & guides, a Mika chip (a cool tracking device to be tied on the shoe and is supposed to track the timing for the runner) and commercial pamphlets. I begin to understand why the event has been claimed as World's Richest Marathon, judging from the preparation made by the international organizer as well as the US1 million prize-money as well as further US$1 million for a new record holder. The exact distance for this classic marathon is 42km 195m.

Having all the preparations ready, I was a bit worried about my own preparation physically and mentally. I was with my family in Dubai for 2 weeks and followed by my homecoming visit from 2nd to 9th January 2009. In those wonderful 3 weeks I had indeed neglected my last leg of my training plan. Back home there were a couple of times that I was out to train at Tasik Shah Alam but it rained so I drove home and continued eating cekodok, goreng pisang and keropok lekor. So I have this whisper in my head, "Come on, forget the running madness and let's eat more of the mee goreng, roti canai and nasi lemak". Somehow my mental strength has been able to fix my mind to just do it, just run till the end to finish what I have started, but still I had a good portion of that home-made mee goreng. Yummy. Well, let's see what happen on the 16th of January, the D-day for Dubai Marathon 2009. For this maiden marathon of mine, I hope I will make it to the end and finish the whole 42km in a less time than that of the last year English finisher at 7 hours 31minutes.

Home Sweet Home

I was with my family in the home bound flight. We arrived KLIA on Saturday morning, 2 days before the school started. The Saturday was a recovery day. So I only had one Sunday to spend outdoor with my family. My grandmother, my mother and my mother-in-law joined us on a half day trip to Melaka, the place in this planet where both my maternal and paternal ancestors once lived. It was also a place where I used to be kept in a boarding school in a little town called Jasin. It was the place I used to cycle from Jasin to Ayer Keroh with my fellow team mates of Kelab Kembara. It was the place I met my first love. It was also the same place this old friend of mine met hers. We went to a river cruise and then witnessed the sunset and got stuffed with so much seafood at Restoran Terapung Umbai.

The day has come for my daughter, Aimi to begin her schooling adventure. She is attending a religious school in the morning and a primary school in the afternoon as a standard one pupil. From here it will be a long journey of discovery of her intellectual, emotional, social and physical capabilities. She will have to learn, make mistakes, relearn and continuously learn to live up to her own expectations as well as others. Along the way she will meet and mix with others who will bring her laughter, smiles, joy as well as tears. As a parent I can only pray that she will have a life well-lived with limitless education.

My son, Hadiff is a senior now in his pre-school. At school he is as jovial as ever. But he is the happiest, the moment he is on his way out of the school gate. And when he returns home to play, he gets lonely and is missing his sister, his playmate for years. His mood is lifted again as his sister returns from school in the evening. With school from morning to evening, Aimi gets tired and gets to sleep between 9 and 10PM. Hadiff is left alone again and there is little to distract him from focusing on his school work. A good development for this hyper-active boy.

My wife was busy sorting our photos in Dubai and arranging them in 2 albums. In doing so I know part of her mind is planning ahead the work to be done after her long 3 weeks leave from her hectic work at UMMC. She has completed her masters and specialization in internal medicine. I am determined to be back in August 2009 to see her on her graduation day, for I still feel bad to miss her last MBBS graduation in Tasmania some 9 years ago. Insyallah. She has a big decision to make on whether to sub-specialize in cardiology or neurology. I hope she makes the right choice.

I had been with my loved ones for 3 great weeks. I was soaked with their presence that the moment I left them at the airport I felt a sudden vacuum and emptiness that took me to recover longer than the jet-lag. But life goes on.....