This and that and that too

This is the longest, voluntarily or involuntarily, that I’ve ever been away from my blog. More than 2 months since I last posted. Credit totally has to go to work. Life, quite literally, had turned upside down. It all began on a seemingly boring Monday morning on 10th Jan. That’s the day Oracle decided to migrate its back-end supply chain, order management and quoting tools from the legacy systems to the new system. We were informed before hand. But no one saw this coming. And that’s when the havoc started.

And the sales guys were the worst hit. Every process in the book had changed and as we all know, change is not always easy to accept. A quote which used to take 2 hours to configure was now taking up to 2 weeks! Orders getting cancelled. Escalations all around. Nervous breakdowns. Suicidal tendencies. Threats. Sleepless nights. It was madness personified.

But all this till we ended the quarter. At midnight on 28th Feb, I finished with 115% of my quarter’s target. Despite all the challenges. Life was suddenly beautiful again. This was my first full quarter in my new role and it was absolutely essential that I get to my numbers. A lot was dependent on that.

So when work was taken care off, next on the plate was health. For many years, I have been neglecting a condition that they refer to as DNS (Deviated Nasal Septum). Basically what this means is that my nasal bone, which should have been like a straight “I” was actually a crooked “S”. That is the example the doc used to explain. Solution was a surgery to make it straight. They operate and cut out chucks of bone to open up the space. Apparently, I had a 90% blockage on one side and 50% on the other. Decided its time to take the leap and got my surgery scheduled in India on 15th March. It was a good 90 min procedure in an OT and had to spend 8-10 hours in the hospital. Was discharged by night. Bandages were off the following evening. Its been almost 2 weeks now and I am able to breathe like never before.

Got back from India on 21st Mar and was off to Johannesburg on 23rd. Did they ever tell you that long haul flights are not the best place to be, specially for someone with a busted nose? Well, lets not get into that.

So flew back on Friday night and was back in Dubai early Saturday morning. And here comes the other news. We’ve finally finalized a 5 BR villa in Dubai. With a big freaking lawn at the back, installation for a small pool in the corner, parking for 5 cars in the front and still have enough place to host a 20-20 game! Almost. And we’ll relocate this weekend. It was all done while I was away, either in India or South Africa. So the first thing I did after I land, was to go and check out the villa, at 7 am in the morning, after spending 8.5 hrs on an overnight flight! Yes, that’s how excited I was.

And you know whats the best part? My drive to work takes 7 min and from work takes 4.5 min. JACKPOT! I drove up and down that route 3 times to actually believe it. Well, I knew that when the house was finalized but still. Some things are too good to be true, no?

These are the good things. Do you want to know a really bad thing? My wife and Ibrahim are still in India. They are not with me. Were supposed to come back with me on the 21st. But since I was immediately gonna head for ZA, I asked them to stay back for a week. And a week has passed. Their stay got extended by another week. That really sucks. But then, it was unavoidable. So gotta suck it up.

All in all, its been a mixed last couple of months. But things have gotten better at work. So I have better expectations in the coming months. Some exciting things lined up but lets leave that for another post. For now, its good to be back.

And he turns 2 :)

The first thought that comes to mind when Ibrahim reaches any milestone is the fact that time is flying. Really really fast.

It was Ibrahim’s 2nd birthday yesterday 🙂 My little tiger has turned 2. Since the end of December and specially after new year, all we do is wait for this day. Big party plans, gifts, clothes, cake, decorations, sweets, games, toys etc. And we, more or less, did all this yesterday.

A couple of hours before midnight, I handed him over to my mom and asked her to keep him till we decorate the room. Blew up the balloons, put a big ‘Happy Birthday’ banner on the wall, decorated the whole place and we waited. And kept the poor guy awake well past his bedtime.

Exactly at 12, we casually escorted him into our room. At first, he was a little rattled. Not too happy to see everything changed, balloons hanging from the top, banners and decorations everywhere. But after a while, he got used to it. We sang happy bday over and over again. Eventually had to control our enthusiasm coz he was sleepy and was beginning to get cranky.

In the morning, my wife cooked him his favorite meal – chicken noodles. Not maggi but the real deal. And she prepared a bubble bath for him with his toys and water guns. He spent rest of the day playing around. At around 4 pm, I came home (early) with Dunkin Donuts (another favorite). He quickly gobbled up a donut and fell asleep. When he woke up, we had his gifts ready. We decided to give him 1 gift at a time. And made sure a couple of hours passed before he got the next one.

Ordered pizza from Pizza Hut and some KFC (another favorite). And I got a strawberry cheese cake from Baskin Robbins (favorite again!). Had a hearty meal at home with family and cut the cake. Lots of photos. Lots of fun. Missed a few guys as well. Family was not on full attendance. My sister, hubby and her baby are in India, my elder bro is also in India while my other brother had a planned downtime at work (which he accepted after consulting with me).

Eitherways, we have plans to throw a big bash next weekend when everyone is back. So all in all, it was a great day. Ibrahim had a fantastic time. We made sure everything was as he likes. Now, waiting for round 2 on 27th Jan. Till then, we’ve got another thing to keep us busy.

Our wedding anniversary on the 25th 🙂

Which, thanks to my family, we are celebrating this weekend at the Hilton. My family has gifted us a weekend getaway at the Hilton resort in Al Ain, which is a 2 hrs drive from home. I am so looking forward to this weekend. Will switch of my blackberry. No laptop. No outside world. Just me, my wife and Ibrahim 🙂

Alritey then. Time to head home. See you all next week. Cheers.

Yes I am back

To all the curious souls out there wondering and inquiring on where I’ve been – I am here, alive and kicking, but really busy.

My trip to India was short and very hectic. 3 cities in 4 days. Add heat, humidity after first rain, tons of relatives, a wedding, traveling 2 nights out of four, lots of luggage and a cranky, unwell kid – a little too much for me to handle.

The result: My system collapsed. Was hit by a stomach bug the day I landed back. Some fever as well. Took me 3 days to recover.

Lucky for me, this time I had my dear wife by my side. So things were a lot better. Only a matter of time before I was up and running.

And here I am.

But work is work. Ensures that I still don’t get time to blog hop and read the zillion unread posts in my reader. Thinking of clicking on ‘Mark all as read’ and pretend as if I clicked on it by mistake! 😉

Not a bad idea under the circumstances. Hmm! 😀

Ibrahim is rocking as always. Took him a couple of days to settle down. He’s back to his old ways, only more naughtier and smarter. I’m loving every minute with him. It had been close to 3 months since he was away. So y’all can imagine my excitement at his return.

The wife is doing well and cheerful as ever. Every minute that I spend away from her redefines my meaning of love. Love to me is everlasting togetherness with her and never to let distance between us again. Ever.

And lastly, a few pics of Ibrahim as promised in my last post…


All set to go out but wondering why his ‘baba’ is taking pics instead.

Love my maroon kurta

Edited to add: As always, taking off the pics now 🙂

Off to India

My, my! Has it ever happened to you that you were not able to post because there were far too many posts by fellow bloggers (because they’ve got this blog marathon syndrome and everyone’s going nuts posting!) and all your time was going in reading and commenting on those posts?

Don’t get me wrong. It’s just an observation. Infact I am not even talking about myself.

With that out of the way, let me get back to stuff.

I am traveling to India on Wednesday night for a long weekend. Back on Monday morning with my wife and kiddo. Finally they’re gonna be back. Finally this phase of forced bachelorhood will come to an end. I had planned a longer trip, atleast for a week, but work cut it short. Some major changes and reshuffling happening at work and I don’t wanna take chances.

A diaper-friend (someone I know from the time we wore diapers together) is getting married next week. I will be attending his reception. So planned this whirlwind trip around it. Really happy for him. About time he settled down.

I guess that’s it. Can’t think of anything else to add. More when I am back from India. Maybe some pics as well.

Cheers.

There IS a God!!!

Yes, believe you me, there is. And I have proof.

But before getting into that, first things first, I was away for about 10 days. I traveled to India on a whirlwind trip. Sorry folks for not connecting or meeting up with bloggers in Hyderabad as promised. I just about managed to find enough time to travel.

Anyways, now back to the title of this post, let me tell you why. We were scheduled to fly back from Mumbai to Abu Dhabi on 21st night. And we were supposed to take the evening flight out of Aurangabad to Mumbai the same day. I woke up that morning with a severe stomach pain. Eventually ended up throwing up a few times. My wife had the same problem and Ibrahim woke up with a fever and cold. By afternoon, our travel plans were under severe jeopardy. But after taking a few tablets, we decided to go ahead and give it a shot. I had to get back to work else things could get complicated.

So we reached Aurangabad airport on time, went through our routine check-in and stuff, boarded the flight and eventually reached Mumbai. But due to our stomach bugs, we were in pretty bad shape physically. By the time we got to the international airport, Ibrahim began to get cranky and both of us were feeling so sick and weak that it looked impossible to continue. I was feeling giddy and thought I would black out any minute. We even considered canceling/rescheduling our flights. But we decided to give it one last shot.

As soon as we reached the Jet airways check-in counters, I noticed a long queue of passengers waiting. And just as we slowly made our way to the back of the line, an officer from first & business class counter requested us to come forward. I immediately moved towards that counter bypassing an entire queue of waiting passengers. He asked for our tickets and passports. And then weighed the luggage. Now for a fact, I knew we were atleast 25 kg overweight. I was allowed 20 kg on adult and 10 kg on infant tickets. My entire luggage weighed close to 75 kg. We knew this before hand and were carrying enough cash to pay for extra luggage and get over with things. But once I put the bags on the conveyor belt, he just looked at the weight and immediately issued boarding passes. Now, not to let a good opportunity go by, I quickly asked if I could check in one more hand bag. And he said yes to that as well. Can you believe it? Our entire luggage got checked in without paying a single penny!!!

Now once we got our boarding passes, a jet airways employee accompanied us to passport control. Anyone who has traveled from Mumbai know the long queues there. But this jet airways guy, lets call him ‘messiah’, just made us walk through the crowd and took us directly to a counter bypassing more than 200 shocked faces!!! And he did this all by himself. We did not ask for it.

After passport control comes the security check. And Mr. Messiah asked us to follow him. We walked to a lift, went one level down, and reached an alternate security check point with hardly any passengers. And yet he still made us directly walk into the metal detectors. And that’s it. Within seconds we got through this as well.

The entire process which would normally take an hour and cost us atleast 10 grand (for the excess luggage), got done in less than 15 minutes without paying a dime. I just could not believe my luck. I told messiah that I will give him some cash and guess what he said with a big smile, “No thank you sir. It was my pleasure. Have a safe journey”. And he started to walk away.

We were speechless. This was Mumbai airport. People here are ready to rip you off your last buck. And this guy said “no thanks” to money? My wife insisted on paying him. I handed him Rs 500 and asked him to buy some stuff for his kids. He still resisted but I insisted and put the cash in his pocket. He smiled and said goodbye.

I just could not believe what we just went through. We’ve had horror stories at Mumbai airport over the years and today, when we were really challenged health wise, with a little baby who was getting cranky by the minute and were expecting things to get really nasty with the luggage and the crowd, everything worked out like a charm. It was unbelievable. And all this without any initiation. We did not request a single thing. Come to think of it, looking at our tired, worn-out and sick faces, maybe they just had pity on us.

And that’s exactly when I thought, “Yes, there IS a God!” 🙂

Wish ya’ll a Merry Christmas and a Hap Hap Happy New Year!!! 🙂

Turkey Diary

Imagine this: 24 degrees. Lovely sunshine. Cool breeze coming from the sea. Driving along the coast. Into the countryside. On top of a hill. Silence except for sound of wind blowing and birds chirping. Green, green and more green. Lungs full of fresh air. No network on cellphone.

That’s Turkey for you in a nutshell (err…no mobile network was only on top of hills. Otherwise, Turkey is very well connected :p)

Yes, I am back from my short trip to Istanbul. It was breathtaking. Perfect getaway from the summer heat & work stress of Dubai.

Day 1: On the first day, we went to Princess Islands. These are a group of 4 islands around 2 hours boat ride from Istanbul. Decent place. Very scenic. Famous for seafood, bike rides and horse carts.

Princess Islands

Day 2: The countryside. This was the best part of our trip. Rented a car and off we went to this place called Yalova. To get to Yalova, we had to take a ferry from outside Istanbul. The one on which you can take your car as well. Once we got to Yalova, we drove to Termal which is known for its hot natural springs. Spent some time in the thermal pools. And after lunch, we started towards Bursa. But never made it there. Coz to get to Bursa, we had to drive through the hills. And once on the hills, we never really wanted to come down. We eventually decided to head back to Istanbul but this time I decided I wanted to drive back. It was a 180 km drive along the sea coast, hills, lakes and through the country side. The best drive of my life. Period. On top of the hill

Another shot from the top

Three musketeers

On the ferry

Imagine owning a house there in the middle

Day 3: Istanbul City – We spent the last day in the city. Visited the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia Museum, Topkapi Palace and the Grand Bazaar. All world famous tourist attractions.Blue Mosque

Istanbul City

Inside Hagia Sophia Museum

All in all, it was a memorable trip.

Updated: One thing I particularly did not like about Turkey was the Turkish hospitality. Like if we go to certain places, we talk about how kind, helpful and generous the people of that place are. I had gone to Dublin and loved the locals there. But in Istanbul, I was in for a shock. These guys were so rude and arrogant. Not at all helpful. Always trying to dupe you. No one seemed to know how to smile. From the air hostess in Turkish Airways to the hotel staff to the cab drivers to the shop keepers, the airport staff – not one person greeted us with a smile! Infact in the entire trip, I saw only 2 people smile: a 9 year old girl selling us hand wipes at Princess Islands and other person was an old man at Avis rent a car. Is it that difficult to smile?

Turkey calling

I’m off to Turkey this weekend with my colleagues. Folks at work decided we all needed a good break from work. My guess was we’d have to gone to some neighboring cities in UAE itself but they picked a different country all together. I’m not complaining. No sir. But just a little surprised and excited as well. Its not free. We had a shell out a few bucks (actually quite a bit) but since this is a bulk booking, we got the whole tour planned at a very subsidized rate. So basically the entire tour cost me what just the air ticket to Istanbul would have cost me otherwise. Cool no?

We leave on Wednesday morning and back on Saturday night. Heard Turkey is a beautiful country. Has become quite a tourist destination lately. Its got everything – history, culture, nature, modernism, weather, beaches, cuisine, night life etc. So I’m really looking forward to this trip.

Any suggestions on places to visit, things to do in Turkey are welcome. I’ve relied on Google maharaj for most of the info but any firsthand experience would be good as well.

One thing I totally despise about traveling abroad is the visa formalities. Regardless of everything, We, Indian citizens with an Indian passport, still don’t have the ‘visa on arrival’ option in MANY countries. I think it is quite annoying and embarrassing. Indians are right up there today in almost every field. Yet just to travel to a different country, I have to visit the Turkish consulate, fill up forms, get ‘no objection’ letter from my employer along with a salary certificate, 6 months bank statement, credit card details etc,  leave my passport for a day, just to get the visa stamped. While someone with a South African passport or British or US or Canadian or anywhere else from EU can land in Turkey, walk up the the visa services section and get the visa stamped, right then and there and walk off! Am I less deserving or are they more?

OK, end of rant. Back to travel mode. So yeah, I’m off to Turkey. See you when I see you.