Sunday, September 24, 2006

Of Deja Vu and Misc

Ever since my first business trip, I always make it a point to carry one or more books with me on the trip to keep me occupy while waiting at the airport. The books too also double up as my "sleeping pill". If I don't don't already have an unfinnished book before a trip, then book will be one of item in my to-get list during preparation for a trip.

With all the bad vibes and rush for early month Pakistan trip, I didn't have get buy a book until I was at the airport. I normally try to avoid getting a book as the airport as I have a feeling there is no much choice and the price is being markups, more than in normal bookstore.

Anyway, I've got myself an Amy Tan's The Bonesetter's Daughter in one of the bookstore. Since I have plenty of time to kill after check in, I went into another bookstore and came across the same book at the price of almost RM10 less :(

With 8 hours to kill during the transit in Bangkok International Airport, by the time I reached Lahore almost 12 hours later, I have almost finnish first part of the book. As I read through half of the first part of the book, I started to have an uneasy feeling that I had read and knew the story before. I tried to recall if I have read this book before, but I can't recall any. I even searched through my book shelf when I was back last week to make sure I didn't read the book before, and I can't find any.

Luckily as I progressed further to second part and third part of the book, on the bed in the hotel, the familiar feeling quickly dissappear. No more I have read this book before feeling. I finnished the whole book by the end of first week.

* * *

Finally my car is out of workshop, during early part of the week. Or that's what I thought so when I receive a call from the service center to pick up my car. Took a cab there late morning the next day, and ended up paying about almost three times more than what was being displayed on the meter. The cabbie wasn't confortable receiving so much, but I insist because I have no time to spare. I have no small change to pay for the actually fare but the RM50 notes, and he has not enough small change as he just started his shift that morning. So I told him to just give me whatever change that he has.

Go down from the cab, and head into the service center. I was make to sign some paper and brought to my car. I pretend to do did some basic visual check, and was also informed that all the demages part has been replaced. Everything seems fine and dandy, yeay! Took the car and drive straight to office.

Only after 5 mins did I noticed that the aircond wasn't functioning. The air blown out from the vents is not cold at all. As the car was parked uncovered, initially I thought it take time for the aircond to cools the air. I was thinking if I ought to turn back and have the aircond check or head straight to office first as I was already pretty late (even on my own standard of reaching office normally around 10-11 am). So head straight to office without aircond.

This weeks is full of meetings and workshop. In between break, I tried making call back to the service center. Everytimes I called, the service agent handling my case was always not at his desk. Only the on the second day afternoon I manage to get hold of him, and book a slot to have him inspect what's the problem with the aircond.

Brought the car in the next morning, and he asked me to wait at the waiting section and brought the car into the workshop for checking. Within 5 mins, he already out with my car and told me the aircond is working. I tried asking him what is wrong, and he seems trying to avoid giving me a straight answer. The technician must have left out a certain thing before the car was handed to me earlier, what I don't know. I hate confronting other people, unless it is very neccesary. In this case, I think I'll just him go since now my car is back to normal again.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

First Pak Trip

Finally got back home on Saturday noon, a planned 4 days trip was extended twice and became a 15 days trip. At least the 15 days struggle to get the system ready for the launch paid off, somehow... Just get the news through email late afternoon that the customer finally agreed to have a soft launch end of next week.
Hopefully by this, the system will never goes into disarray as happened few times before when the ownership has changed hand so many times and different owner has different idea on how the system should be like. The fact that system will go into production mode very soon is a relief. At least they will think twice or hopefully more before asking for change request, and there will not be an accusation that the system is not fit, despite numerous ATP that had been carried out and passed by them *sigh*.
Didn't really manage to catch good sleep on the flight back, not even during the three hours wait in Bangkok International Airport for the connectiong flight back to KLIA. The moment go back home and had a good shower, head straight to bed. Only woke-up for a dinner and dozed off on the sofa in front of TV until one hour ago. With that now, I will not be able to sleep again probably until wee hours of the morning, bleargh!
The first ever arrival to Lahore on the 1 Sept evening was greeted with rain. According to local, it's well past the moonson season over there now and there wasn't suppose to be rain anymore. At least not as much as the first two days I was there. Other than the first two and 14th Sept rainy days, overall the weather was pretty hot and dry.
When it rains, the road all over the town will be flooded and when we travel out for lunch, wadding through the half a feet or more water, it felt as if I was in a boat rather than in a car. The drain system in the city is virtually non-existence.

Rain - It seems that rain doesn't bother the local resident much. The walk freely on the street without carying umbrella, as if they are water resistance. In fact we even saw some of them carry the umbrella in their hand without using it. Which bring us to conclude that umbrella is only used to provide shelter fron the sun, but not the rain.
Traffic Rule - Virtually there is naught. The driver make their own rules, unless on certain junction where traffic police is stationed. The driver will disregard the traffic light on their whimp, sometime they stop at the red light yet sometime they won't.
Driving style - It's a offensive driving rather then defensive.
Cleanliness - There are dust and soil on the shoulder of the road, on most stretches of the road. Or at least most of the roads the I passed through are like that. Not to mentioned the rubbish that being strew all around. However there certain enclosed townshop which seems like being well maintained and well guarded. Which I think is because of the deep divides between the "have" and "have-not". It either you are very rich or you are very poor, well at least that's is based on my limited observation with the short stay. It may not be true.

Most of the my time are spent in the datacenter, even on the two weekends. Been there like more than 12 hours each day, then back to hotel. So didn't have time to go around the city. Probably the only visitor spot that I been to was somewhere near the Badshahi Masjid, Cooco's Den to have a diner. The view at the rooftop was simply amazing, unfortunately I didn't bring camera.
Was told that the surounding area, around the den is Lahore's redlight district. We asked the driver to cruise around after the dinner. Other than the two guys each took turn to squat by the road while the other was on guard, which I suspect having a leaks, there ain't nothing to see, so we headed back to hotel.
The MNC partner there suplied us with drivers. I think it's a normal practise for big corporation, especially MNC to have an army of cars and drivers. During the 15 days there, there were more 10 different drivers and cars sent to bring us around the city. We have to call the transport department to arrange for car with driver to pick us up from hotel to datacenter, from datacenter to lunch and dinner and back to hotel.
I guess the public transport there isn't so suited for visitor, at least for business visitor. I hardly see any cab, their mode of public transport is either the bus, some of which are being colorfully decorated, or a three wheels tut-tut like vehicle, which runs on NGV.
I particularly like their decorated lorry. Though the first thing that crossed my mind when I saw it for the first time was a hearse.