Saturday, April 26, 2008

tequila ville week 1

I've been in Mexico City (MC) the past week on business, probably stay thru the following week as well. This is my second visit to MC, the first was about 5 years back for a couple of days.

Whilst in MC, one can sense the deep rooted culture, a sense of strong family ties, and respect amongst common folk (as far as I can tell from local lingo/gestures). A lot of social importance is extended towards education, certain professions and social togetherness in the community. Mexicans take a lot of pride in their nation's history, culture and lifestyle. Ways of life in Mexico includes many features from the nation's Amerindian past to the Spanish colonial days. And in a way, I sort of sense quite a few of the above missing in the US - probably given the US is a much younger nation and a melting pot of immigrants & cultures from a hundred nations or more.

The past week has been a mixed bag - unfortunately, I fell sick given the change in weather and apparent bacteria in the air & water. Supposedly an ancient curse (Montezuma's revenge) that falls on most newbies visiting Mexico :) Besides that, it has been quite enjoyable - am loving discovering Central/South American culture and ways of life.

Work takes most of time - people at work are extremely accommodating. We are chauffeured to & from work - none of that car rental, drive to work and possibility of being lost in a new city scenarios. Mornings, we are served with fresh pot of coffee and cookies, people stop by every now and then, ensure we've got information to complete what we are here for - all quite professional and courteous.

Given that I do not speak Spanish, and very few speak proper English - most go out of their way to accommodate, especially the folks at the apartment complex – all of which feel quite hospitable. I sort of have an odd time with room service - often they'd serve something completely different to that of the actual order. For instance, a request for plain pancakes with some syrup on the side - turned into pancakes and eggs benedict topped with bacon, all of which I send back. Request for a large cup of coffee and some cream on the side, turned into a tiny espresso shot and a large glass of milk. To ease pains, the front office manager took upon herself to translate room service requests - she is absolutely patient & lovely.

As for my ego and self esteem, well they've had an unexpected boost! Needless to say, some Mexican "Chicas" are quite exotic - apparently, the ones at work and at the complex find me in good taste (to put it mildly). I've been asked out for dinner by a few - innocent flirtatious queries if am single, age, background, family, accent - yup loving it :)

I have not had the chance to explore the city – primarily because friends continue to warn on roaming about the city by myself, apparently kidnapping of newbies/foreigners for ransom is a national sport! Hence on weekends, I read, watch tele or go for a run around the neighbourhood.

Experienced the first earthquake this evening. Being on the 8th floor the building slightly swayed on all directions - felt surreal. At first thought, it felt like a dizzy spell, but as the chap stick rolled off the coffee table, I went uh-oh? Earthquakes are quite frequent in MC - this one was a mild tremor.

Just got back from dinner with colleagues. Dined at the most beautiful restaurant experience ever - an Italian-Mexican fusion of sorts, with musicians and all. The restaurant's one hundred year old Spanish quarter home surrounds a magnificent tree-shaded courtyard. Its dining area scattered through the building afford views of the patio, aged trees, local cobblestone streets and culture rich romantic plazas - the walls of the dinning area are mostly aged, exposed brick - all of which brought about a soulful charm.

The weather is lovely, feels like tail end of UAE winter – the beginning of spring.

It has been an interesting week to say the least - am going to be in MC thru next few weeks. Hope to visit the pyramids, town of San Angel, where Frida Kahlo lived and the Aztec Museums.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


There are a few things most people look back in life and wish they could have done differently - there are also those who can look back on their lives and say if they had to do it all over again, they wouldn't do anything differently. I am not one of those, I've got the share of regrets.

As an immature 21 year old, who refused to spend Christmas with an unwell grandpa, tops my list. The following summer I learnt it was Grandpa's last Christmas. Regret taught me quite a bit on a single day. It did enhance value & importance towards people who matter. It helps mature, be stronger - yet remain humble and softer in this short visit called life.

The more I think about it, the more I realize regret is perhaps a forgetful, subtle yet powerful emotion. People hardly share regrets with similar intensity as love, hate, anger or frustration. That said - regret is instructive for you to a point. After that, it becomes self-punishment. What's done is done, and there's no escaping that fact, have got to move with the experience, which leads me to believe, regret is remorseful, yet possibly a melancholic success.

Monday, April 14, 2008

making up minds

Think, I have finally said something I have always known, but perhaps never chose to believe. Fellow blogger Proud Emirati had this post @ UAECB on demographic imbalance.

Just a heads up, it could be a touchy debate.

Though not a simple task given any stretch, I believe it shall be for the better for all (citizens & those expatriates) should the government put forth honest thoughts & prospective plans in order to have a demographic balance. Personally, in my mind, I believe the concept of constant temporariness, which has forever been attached to the UAE, shall be removed to a large extent. Below is a response to Proud Emirati's post @ UAECB.

"Indeed true PE: do the powers, believe in all this? I think whatever can be done to minimize the drastic imbalance is quite fine - after all, one shouldn't feel alien in one's own home.

That said, on one hand you've got all this crazy construction and the world's largest airport with Emirates beefing up it's fleet - on the other, you've got to tackle imbalance. Simple math, dictates imbalance is set to continue.

There isn't much the govt can do, unless they decide, to slow down growth and the economy. It is your leaders who wish to grow and propel the economy - I think it's a brilliant idea. However, bottom line, your govt or the UAE cannot do so, without external help. Think of it this way - an economy with say a million people isn't much of a market for major businesses to operate. People and their spending power make an economy.

"I don't think that expatriates should feel threatened because..."

You need to partly realize, end of the day, people shall move to work and make a living where they are comfortable. To be quite honest, the concept of "constant temporariness" what makes the UAE least attractive. For instance, I was born there, I was raised there - and I moved out 7 years ago. There have been opportunities, and I shall admit, plenty of heartfelt sentiments to return - however, I haven't given in. Am fine where I am.

What am saying is - take a stand, implement it, and be honest about it."

Saturday, April 12, 2008

week two

Met up with friends for lunch this afternoon at Paramount, a Lebanese joint at Mississauga (a suburb west of Toronto). Friends discovered the place recently. Food and drinks were yummy, the place was pretty full, with healthy flow of people – we had music and were treated to new drinks on the menu. Felt great to have some Arab cuisine after a while.

Felt nice to catch up with friends, who seem to be settling into lives of home, career and family. A few are expecting – so that was the news of the day. A few bought homes and hope to walk down the aisle soon and one decided to part ways with her significant other.

The weather hasn’t been great past couple of days - it’s been raining all day today. I've got to attend a dinner this evening at Hemingway's, a really nice rooftop patio/bar kind of place. Great food, drinks and ambiance. However, am just beat and lazy - feel like ordering in some Sushi, from across on Yonge (room service sucks) a decaff, a choc cake - and watch tele in my PJ’s at the hotel. Quite honestly, don't feel like socializing this evening, it's still raining and cold. Need a believable excuse and skip tonight’s dinner – thoughts anyone?

Being in Toronto is sort of relaxing. It does not have the mad rush, crowd and pushiness of NYC. Often, being here I learn to walk slower, be nicer and a bit calmer. The city has a much slower pace – personally, it feels a positive change, though after a while, I just have to get back to the hustle/energy of a larger city.

I’ve always believed Ontario/Canada is a healthy place to live, raise a family, though I do hopelessly wish the government did more to propel an economy – do away with the passiveness it's always had. Ontario is a nice place, it's huge. Toronto isn't bad, though not much has changed since mom bought me here the first time, back in '82, except there are newer condos on every inch of downtown, cost of living has sky rocketed and the infrastructure is falling apart. Compared to most global or emerging cities, personally, I find Toronto quite passive and perhaps lethargic - quite socialist, over shadowed by powerful cities of the neighbour south.

There is much Canada can achieve - given it’s vast oil resources across Alberta, the financial industry across Ontario and other natural resources across the country.

That said - it is truly one of the most beautiful places in the world. If and when I am done with career quest, have some extra $$ (and in the unholy event UAE becomes totally unaffordable, banishes me or both) I'd hope to retire somewhere around the Canadian Rockies. Yup, it’s been an alternative, ever since I took a cross country trip. Someday, I hope to have this cozy tiny cabin, over looking crystal pristine lakes, snow capped mountains, wild life, blue skies, pine trees as far as the eye can see - and my two dogs. Canada perhaps is a better place to retire - touch base with your soul and walk into the sunset of one's life.

Friday, April 04, 2008

rambling nothings

Allo peeps, apologies, been MIA.....apparently, no reason.

Been a strange week at work and elsewhere - nothing way out of the usual, teensy weensy stuff had me going - WTF, more than I'd like to.

Anyhoooo, it's almost quarter past 11 in the evening, am busy packing - heading up to Toronto, tomorrow morning (Saturday the 5th) for couple of weeks, on business (as well as a bit of bleasure).

A friend is walking the plank - I mean down the aisle. Even though I think she is doing it more out of s-h-e-e-r desperation, I have to be there for support - support as in talk her to abort, as well as throw in a prayer the groom doesn't show up. Believe me you, given the player history the dude's got on his resume, a prayer is for her own good (am not a bad person, really, I care a lot about my friends). Then again, who am I kidding – am done with all the talking/praying/*cough* threats *cough* *ahem* blackmail *cough* over the past 5 months, so now, I wish her the best, whilst fully knowing in my heart - two years, tops!

This time of the year, the weather in the city (as in NYC, the real city, TO in comparison, is a village) is heavenly. Spring is almost upon us - reminds of subtle winter days in the UAE - which, usually is my favourite time of the year. I was hoping to be part of a project and trip to the ME region this month, however plans changed, instead a few colleagues are heading to UAE, Qatar and KSA *throws head into pillow, sulks/cusses/whines* - saao now, am heading to TO, Chicago and LA - yup, on the road 4 to 6 weeks - wohoo! heh...

Anyhooo, need to wrap the packing, check documentation, and some more documentation –remind myself of a possible, piss off question/answer session, perhaps a luggage search or both (with a French speaking security superstar at TO's arrivals). Hopefully shan’t take long. Plan to drive into downtown, check in - unpack - get some sleep, yup that's right, some sleep - groom up a bit – slip into the Tux and head off to the plank walk.

Need to hit the sack - beyond beat, nightly night again.