Tuesday, September 30, 2008

All alone ...

Beginning today till the next seven days at least, I'll be all alone here in Abu Dhabi. My colleagues have either left someplace else for work or taking their hols. Being the only one in this huge villa can be slightly unerving at times. Even tiny sounds can drive up bigger echos.

Henced I almost spilled my breakfast all over the floor when the door bell suddenly rang non stop this morning. As I approached the door, I could hear cheeky giggles from the other side. I unlocked the door, turned the handle and pried open the steel gate. Greeting me were about 5-6 kids ranging from the age of maybe 3-8 year olds.

The li'll one standing right in front was a girl in pink. She greeted me and started talking very quickly ... all in Arabic that is. So she might as well speak in Greek cause it made no diff. I just smiled and said I only speak English. Another girl to her right (very pretty and adorable this one) began telling me in crisp English that today is Eid (it's what they call Hari Raya here) and they are here to trick-or-treat FOR MONEY!!!

Lim peh not married yet, so cannot give. Hahaha. Anyways, I asked them if 5 Dirhams per person is ok and this was when the eldest of the group, an obese boy said NO. He pointed at each one of them and said "100 Dirhams each". KNN, siao ar. I then told them I do not have enough money and they just turned and walked away ... proceeding to the house next door. Kids these days I tell ya.

Anyways, I'd like to take this oppurtunity to wish all Muslims SELAMAT HARI RAYA AND EID MUBARAK. For the non-Muslims, enjoy the hols and try not to overdose on rendang k. :p

Monday, September 29, 2008

I'm back yo.

It’s been a while. A tad bit too long actually. Between then and now, nothing much transpired. I went back to Malaysia for a short while to attend a software training. The 3 day course at Mont. Kiara was to equip me with the basic knowledge of the Primavera project planning tool. How was the course … well it was simply basic, touching only the surface for utilizing this software. A whole lot of features are available and were let known that it’ll only be taught in the Advanced course. KNN!!!

Anyways, it’s good to be back home. Managed to spend some time with the family and SY. With baited breath, SY and I informed our families our intention to tie the knot sometime next year and PRAISE THE LORD they were ok with it. :D So now a lot of planning needs to be done in order for us to make this work especially with me being away from home for most of the time. You guys got any ideas or tips bout marriage and wedding planning ... you’re more than welcome to share k. Arigato in advance.

Oh and the food, you won’t really appreciate the wonders of Malaysian culinary offerings till you’re deprived of it entirely. Since I touched down, I ate and ate and ate till it was time for me to board the plane back to Abu Dhabi again. Finally had the time to explore Jaya One and its many restaurants there. The one worth mentioning has to be Ducking. It was so good I went there thrice in two days. The first was with Su Yee and Alex, the second with SY and finally the 3rd with my family. Had countless plates of nasi lemak while I was in KL. Super yummy I tell ya.

Gym-wise, I went lo whenever I could and even managed to teach two BC classes thanks to the kind GXCs of TF. You guys ROCK!!! It was good to be up there on stage again doing what I enjoy best. The members had been most supportive too especially the bunch from Jaya33. *GROUP HUGGGG*

Other than that, there was nothing much … oh wait. I went to Sunway Lagoon with SY too. We even went for their latest attraction … SCREAMPARK. It’s basically a horror house with live humans dressed up as ‘ghosts’ to freak you out. When we first got there, it was just the two of us and so SY thought it would be a better idea to come back later with more people. Our second attempt grouped us with a bunch of Indonesian Chinese. Now this group made out of a few housewives, a li’ll kid and a teenage punk. We need to form a single line as we walk through the ‘ghost house of sorts’ and right from the get go, the other group, especially the housewives were screaming. They were genuinely scared shitless and poor SY had them all clinging to her. It came to a point where they were stretching her top from all the violent pulling and pushing, I had to sternly tell them to stop. But alas, it was pointless for when the ‘ghosts’ appeared again, housewives went berserk again. By the time, the 10 minute ordeal was over, SY’s top was doomed for the dumpster. And not even a whisper of apology from those mofos. Sheesh!!! We went to the wet park as well to splash in the pool and whiz down the water slides. We had good fun before it started to pour in the evening. That was our call to head home. On the same day, we went to CafĂ© De Sky Garden to celebrate SY’s youngest bro’s 16th birthday. It was a vegetarian restaurant and the menu was EXTENSIVE. So much fusion and tastewise, it was real good. I was also taken by their elaborate naming for the food and drinks. Two days later, I brought my family there and they too liked it very much. :)

It was no fun having to leave for Abu Dhabi again ... but work's work. Now gotta save more moolah for the wedding. Chinese weddings cost a bomb man. Any generous sponsors??? :p

P.S. Sam, now blog for your sake already. When are you gonna update yours???

Monday, September 1, 2008

I was detained!!!

The date ... 31 August 2008. Also the Independence Day for a Malaysian like myself as well as the rest of the 28 million citizens scattered all over the globe. Back home, it's a holiday but here in Abu Dhabi, work goes on as usual.

The time ... approximately quarter past 10am when we heard a loud knock on the door. JJ went to open and was faced by 4 men all dressed in white arabic attire (can't recall what it was called already :p). The spoke rapidly in arabic and blurred JJ immediately directed them to speak to one of our Syrian colleague, Rawad. 2 minutes into that conversation, Rawad turned pale. The men started speaking louder before coming over to the rest of us demanding that we produce our visa.

SHIT!!! They were officers form the Ministry of Labour. My Deputy Project Manager being the man in charge then spoke to them. He showed them his valid visa but the rest of us could only produce our passport. We tried calling our local partner, Ayham and he said he'll be there in 5 minutes. While waiting, the officers were shooting questions at us but we just feign ignorance ... not answering and pretending as if we do not speak English. Haha.

Minutes ticked by and the officers became impatient. We called Ayham again and he said he needed another 5 minutes. Sighhh ... you see what I'm talking about ... when an Arab said 5 minutes ... it's NEVER 5 minutes.

The officer issued a statement saying that within the next 2 minutes, without the presence of our PRO (visa application officer) ... Ayham in this case, we'll all be hauled up and transported to the Ministry of Labour where further action would be taken.

He was true to his words and we were ushered to the awaiting grilled van. Funnily enough, our two other female colleauges were not detained. Only then did Ayham turned up. He produced the necessary documents but the officer would have none of it. Two other employees under our local partner were also detained with us. Rawad was real panicky and was making calls non stop. The other guy, an accountant who shared the similar name as my DPM, Sathish Kumar was doing the same thing. Dialling and talking. Both trying to talk over the other ... it was rather noisy indeed and this pissed off one of 'em officer. He shouted at them to shut up.

We waited in the van for a good 30 minutes at least ... all in good view of passers by. Aiyo ... embarassing man but us Malaysians, Akmal, Cheong, JJ and myself were making light of the situation. We joked about and the officers were ok with us. Don't think that Rawad in his state of nearing mental breakdown appreciated our behaviour then. :p

A 45 minutes drive to the Ministry of Labour near Al Shahama Airport saw us waiting again in the detention van. The Ministry looks really new, so I guess the detention center wasn't ready yet. Ayham and Sathis (my DPM) (both pictured lastly above) followed closely behind. After a while, Rawad and Sathish (the accountant) were told to go inside the building.

Us Malaysians had no choice but to wait inside the van. More jokes followed and we were even cheeky enough to take photos on my mobile (as seen above).

Rawad came back in later and refused to speak to us. He tried to exit the locked van and it was unfortunate that an officer saw that. A few of them came over and gave Rawad a real good tick-off. Apparently Rawad wanted to go make a photocopy of his passport ... siao!

We were soon told to go in to the office where upon a short discussion between Ayham and the officers and producing the necessary paperwork, we were told that everything is in order and that we can leave. *Relief*

Rawad and Sathish the accountant were not so lucky and had to be sent to the Al Shahama Immigration Center for reasons unknown to me.

We drove hurriedly outta that place and had lunch at a nearby petrol kiosk. JJ commented that Coke never tasted so good. I guess the hunger and new found freedom really makes you appreciate the simpler things in life.

We headed back to the villa to recover from the mental torture experienced earlier. A little while later, we got word that Rawad and Sathish had both been released as well.

I guess this experience is another chapter in my life ... a story I can tell my future generations that I was once ironically detained on Independence Day.