Tuesday, 4 August 2009

The Doha Runaround

From: Rizzajane Cruz
Sent: 01 August 2009 14:34
To: will
Subject: online uk us address
Dear Mr.Will,

Thank you for subscribing to Shop&Ship Mailbox service. You can now enjoy shopping from any online store and have your favorite items delivered straight to you.
Simply use the below US mailing address when ordering from any US website. This is your own personal US shipping address.
Kindly submit your id card copy to complete your profile
________________________________________
From: Will
Sent: Saturday, August 01, 2009 4:17 PM
To: Rizzajane Cruz
Subject: RE: online uk us address

Great thank you. What do you mean by ID Card Copy?

Regards, Will
________________________________________
From: Rizzajane Cruz
Sent: 01 August 2009 15:24
To: Will
Subject: RE: online uk us address

Hi sir good afternoon,

You are most welcome...

I need the copy of any valid id card, just send it here so I can put it in your file, in order for you to use your account continuously.

Have a good day!

________________________________________
From: Will
Sent: Saturday, August 01, 2009 10:19 PM

To: Rizzajane Cruz
Subject: RE: online uk us address

Sorry but why do you need this?
Do you have a fax number I can send to?
Thanks, Will
________________________________________
2009/8/2 Rizzajane Cruz
Hi sir good morning,
We need your ID card for reference, to complete your profile, and also you can send it through our fax # 450 6622.
Thanks,
Rizza
________________________________________
From: Will
Sent: Sunday, August 02, 2009 1:13 PM
To: Rizzajane Cruz
Subject: Re: online uk us address
Ok, I'll fax it. Is that a local Qatar number?

thanks, Will
________________________________________
2009/8/2 Rizzajane Cruz
Not only sir the # but the copy of any valid id card.

________________________________________
From: Will
Sent: Sunday, August 02, 2009 2:54 PM
To: Rizzajane Cruz
Subject: Re: online uk us address
I don't understand.

So is the fax number in Qatar? Or not?
________________________________________
2009/8/2 Rizzajane Cruz

That’s our fax #, just send your id card copy,
Thanks..
________________________________________
From: Will
Sent: Sunday, August 02, 2009 3:07 PM
To: Rizzajane Cruz
Subject: Re: online uk us address
What is the full fax number including international dialling code?
________________________________________
2009/8/2 Rizzajane Cruz
We need your ID card for reference, to complete your profile, and also you can send it through our fax # 450 6622.

+974
________________________________________
From: Will
Sent: Sunday, August 02, 2009 3:26 PM
To: Rizzajane Cruz
Subject: Re: online uk us address

So it is a local Qatar fax number, that's all I wanted to know. Thank you.
________________________________________
2009/8/2 Rizzajane Cruz

Yes sir, because you registered here in Qatar..

You are most welcome…

Friday, 3 July 2009

Qatar Airways - Quite Awful more like

I'm writing this from the airport - I should have been on a flight 2 hours ago but I'm now waiting for the next one to the UK so I'll use this additional time to vent my spleen about Qatar Airways atrocious policies and customer service.

I booked a return flight to the UK a couple of months ago, on a UK credit card. Nothing too unusual about that I hear you say. Well I just so happened to lose my wallet (with all credit cards, driving license, etc.) last time I was in the UK. There were no issues with leaving the UK without it - I mean, why would there be?

So I try to check in this morning, but the checkin staff say they need my credit card. I say I've lost it. They say they need the number. I say I've lost it. People lose cards. That's why they're made of cheap plastic - because they're replaceable. Nowhere anywhere else in the world with any other airline have I run into this problem. I talk to the supervisor, she gruffly says there's nothing she can do. I talk to the sales counter - they say they need the number, or I can buy a new ticket.

No here's the rub. I'm heading back to the UK to get married. One of the last things I did was send as much money as possible back to the UK because we've got caterers, bands, and bar bills to pay. Anyway - why should I need to buy a new ticket? I've already bought one. They have the receipt. I have the receipt. The system says it's paid for. My identity is confirmed by my passport. I just do not understand why they need the original credit card as well? Seriously, what moron at Qatar Airways thought this one up?

They say maybe they can make an exception if I'm a privilege card member - and I am - but only if I've got silver or gold status. FFS! I'm heading to the UK to get married! I need to be on a flight today! You can make an exception for other people, but not for me?! Qatar Airways has a shitload to learn about customer service. I've only been out here a few months and was planning on always travelling to the UK with them - but never again! I'll bet you BA wouldn't dream up this Kafkaesque nightmare.

So I speak to my bank in the UK, and after explaining to them the absurd situation I find out my old credit card number, which I duly present to the sales desk. 'No, no' they say - 'we need the actual card'. Ok, you can imagine I'm pretty annoyed by this time but try to keep it together - after all they're the ones standing in the way of my ticket home. I ask how I'm supposed to present them with a lost credit card, when it's been lost. The very definition of lost means - gone, vanished, disappeared, unobtainable! I don't have it.

More phone calls. Nothing they can do. 'It's not me sir, it's the airline policy'. I get buffeted between the sales team and the checkin desks. No can do. You'd have thought I was asking to fly for free! Or without a passport! Absolutely madness. I can't even phone a friend up and get them to pay - because they need a physical card presented at checkin!

Finally I do some sums and figure out that I have just enough on my debit card and cash to pay for a new ticket. I'm told I can get a refund on the previous one. Minus the no-show fee of course. I am just about to fly into a rage at this point, but what can I do? I need to get home. If I had more money on me, or any other cards (they're waiting for me back in England) I would have told them to get fucked and bought a ticket with BA. So I wring out my pockets and scrape together enough to cover the cost. Not a small sum might I add. Arguing about the refund will have to wait for another day.

Although, in order to get the refund of course I need a letter from my bank, saying they cancelled my card, containing the card number and details about the Qatar Airways transaction in order to prove it wasn't fradulent. I'm sure my bank will laugh me out onto the street with that one. But at least I know you can reason with a UK company.

And so, the saga finally ended and they gratiously allowed me to get on a new flight. 5 star service? Only if those 5 stars stand for amateurish, unprofessional, dismal, bureacratic and total shit.

p.s. I might be not quite in the mood for the pub later, or very much in the mood. Today could go either way really. Does anyone fancy picking me up from the airport? I'm on QR001 to Heathrow...

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Ok blog time

Right, I haven't updated in a while due to manicness of travelling and work but don't fret, I'm still alive and well. Only 2 weeks to the wedding now and I think just about everything is organised, at least that's what Jenny tells me and since I wholeheartedly trust her I'll go with that. My trip back home was busy to say the least, but I got a chance to check out the venue, which is lovely, so it should be a great day. All I really need to do now is figure out what I'm supposed to say in my speech. I don't want to ramble on for too long as we've got 2 best man speeches to go through, but it seems like I have to thank the world and his dog, as well as be funny and charming at the same time. Hmmm. Don't hold your breathes guys.

I'm flying back to the UK on Friday - but with no Jenny to meet me at the airport :( She's busy sunning herself in the South of France but I don't begrudge her as she's been great organising everyone so deserves a rest. I'm hoping the flight home will be less bumpy than the last one or else I might be a bag of nerves by the time I land. I'm also hoping that this time I don't lose my wallet - with all my cards, resident permit and driving licenses in it. Actually I can't - because I haven't got replacements for everything yet. I've been to the police station twice already and need to go again in the morning as they need all sorts of documentation, and that's without getting to the driving license part.

I think visiting home has made me a bit homesick. It was so nice to see England at it's best - in the summer sunshine. And catching up with friends only served to show what's missing out here, as nice as the people I've met are they're still no substitute for friends who've known you for years. I'm sure I'll feel a lot better when Jenny comes out - I just hope we get on as well out here as we did back home. Oh well, pub quiz tomorrow - that should be a laugh - hopefully we'll do better than last month's atrocious 15th place or whatever it was.

I'm officially an employee now as I've passed my probation so it'll be good to now really get into things and push things in the right direction. If only I wasn't so distracted by homesickness and wedding preparations. I think people have noticed I've not been going out as much, but when I get back next month I'll get back into the social swing of things.

No other great news to report...Other than I bought a Pure internet radio - wholeheartedly recommended - and I'm getting strangely drawn to provincial English county radio. It's a damn sight better than the one English language radio station out here - that is in French for half the day! Oh, and my salary is dropping rapidly due to the strong pound (or weak dollar). Pah. Still considerably more than I'd get in the UK though, and anyway, money wasn't the only reason for coming out here.

Things I need to bring back from England next trip - sharp cooking knife (can't find a decent knife any where - want to get another Victorinox one), Molton Brown manly stuff, DVD player (we've got two so no point buying another) and a pair of trousers for my Hugo Boss suit that I ruined (although unlikely the shop will have it since it was last year's).

Monday, 25 May 2009

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Round up

I’m writing this from the resident’s pool. The sun’s gone behind the tower and it’s only a balmy 39 degrees. There are a total of 2 other people at the pool (excluding Jenny) so to say it’s exceedingly pleasant is an understatement. Almost universally this seems to ring true for everything out here. Last night I went for a birthday meal at Chingara – an Indian restaurant in the Ramada Hotel. There were 11 of us, Indian and English (and Irish I suppose), the food and drinks were plentiful and delicious, there was a live band playing traditional Indian music and I even got an unexpected pressie – a beautiful bejewelled marble clock. I’m sure not everything here is as easy or enjoyable as the last couple of months have proved, but I’ll soak it up while I can.

 

It’s great having Jenny here, it’s true when they say happiness is better shared. I’ve decided that everyone visiting will get the VIP treatment once at the airport – this is provided by Al Maha Guest Services, who wait for you when you get off the plane and then go and sort out the visa while you relax in their lounge with a drink, before whisking you past the lengthy immigration queues. Jenny was quite impressed. Possibly not as impressed as by the Four Seasons brunch in the morning. Four hours of frankly excessive over-consumption, laced with wine and cocktails. Followed by more cocktails and wine until way after the sun went down. I think I’m in danger of spoiling her.

 

Work’s still busy, but still enjoyable. I think I’m likely to pass my probation, they seem to think what I’m doing is good, so I’m glad about that. We’ve had the last couple of weekends off which I’m even happier about. Some downtime is finally allowing me to catch up with a few things, such as wedding plans with Jenny, and phone calls that I’ve been meaning to make for a while. They might have to wait a little longer though as we’re off out soon for shisha with the helpdesk and ops guys. It’s a tough life.

 

 

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Very true

http://www.qatarliving.com/node/464456

All the locals drive Landcruisers...

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Monday, 13 April 2009

Google Earth Placemark

So this is where I'm living, if any of you are interested.

Ah, how do I attach links?.... Bugger, no Google earth link, have to stick a map up instead.


View Larger Map

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Wet

They say it doesn't rain much in Qatar but the view from my shiny new 3rd floor apartment is torrential rain and lightning. It's really lashing it down. I'm glad I parked the car outside as it definitely needed a clean, and seemed to come with no rear wiper. So I've finally moved into Al Seal, and it's lovely. I've got a 1 bed flat, but it's about double the size of my one in England and has a gorgeous kitchen, although I haven't figured out how to work the hob - so my massive supermarket shop at Carrefour was wasted. Tomorrow I'll tell you what the view out the window is like. It should be good, although most of West Bay is a building site.

I don't have the energy to unpack tonight, that'll have to wait until tomorrow. The previous occupant left some wine so I'm having a very pleasant glass of Chablis before retiring for the night. There's zero sign that it's Easter here - but not being religious I can't say I'm bothered. Though Happy Easter to everyone that's reading this. I hope to settle down here soon and get Skype up and running again soon. To be honest I just haven't got the time for a lot of things but life should calm down a bit now, both work wise and personally.

Anyway, phew, long day. Night night.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

I do like to be beside the seaside


Not a bad way to spend a saturday afternoon.
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Thursday, 9 April 2009

Vroom vroom

I've got my Qatari driving license. And within an hour had taken delivery of one of these. Fantastic! Drive to the hotel from work was about 10 minutes, compared with my usual 30 mins waiting for a taxi. Tomorrow I'm off exploring!

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Lazy weekend

After a fairly manic week work-wise I've been pretty much just chilling out this weekend. Yesterday I got up late, walked the length of the Corniche (the promenade) from my hotel all the way to West Bay and the City Centre Mall. I hadn't originally intended to walk this far but getting a taxi seemed an impossible task and once I'd got so far I thought I'd just carry on. Plus the weather at the moment means walking is bearable, so I better make the most of it while I still can.

There are only a few malls here, which is nice considering I was expecting something like Dubai, with it's 20-odd behemoths to conspicuous consumerism. City Centre has a large cinema, so I went to see Monsters vs Aliens, an enjoyable animated film a la The Incredibles. It almost felt like I was in Muswell Hill Odeon for a while.

Thursday night was spent with a few guys from work getting a curry at the Ramada, which seems increasingly like the focal point for apres-work activities, followed by a few pints of Fosters at the bargain price of £5 a pint - the cheapest beer I've found so far. I did sample the Guinness at the Ramada last week and was rather impressed with it. I haven't quite decided what I'm going to do today, though they've just started to do a lunch buffet at the hotel, so I suppose I should give it a try.

Speaking of accommodation, if all goes to plan I should be moving into the Al Seal Residences in the very near future. The bank has an apartment there which will be vacated shortly (if it hasn't already) so West Bay here I come! It's fantastic news because I don't need to pay a deposit, only have to give 3 months notice to leave (when Jenny comes out we'll probably look for something bigger) and I don't need to pay the difference between my housing allowance and whatever the rent is there. So I'm feeling pretty chuffed with that.

Also, I've just got my residence permit - apparently in record time of under 3 weeks! So I can get a Qatari driving license and finally get some wheels. Without a car you are just so stuck here. Sometimes, like yesterday, taxis are impossible to flag down. I need to figure out whether I'm going to buy, or if I can lease - which would probably be easier. Technically you're not allowed a car loan until you've worked for 6 months, but I could lease for a couple of months until I've saved up enough for a second hand car. At this point in time I have no idea who road tax, mot or insurance works over here, so I have a bit of investigating to do.

My boss has just gone on holiday, so I'm in charge for the week. Ironically just after he left on Thursday we had a major problem in that our external IP address for sending email was blocked by a number of spamlists. The likely cause is a trojan somewhere in our network, so my priority for the week is to make sure our AV is up to date, and covers every machine, plus sort out our Windows patching. It's a mess at the moment, but hopefully won't take too much to fix. In the meantime we've been unblocked and started routing email over a different IP just in case. It feels good to be getting stuck into things though - but in some respects it's difficult to decide where to start first!

One of my camera lens' has gone kaput. I've managed to locate a shop that should be able to fix it though (or the cost will outweigh purchase price of a new one, but hopefully not). I don't think it was the sand or heat, but I can't rule it out. Oh, and the LCD screen on my little camera has a thick line of knackered pixels running across it. That was definitely the heat as I've been carrying it around with me in my work bag. Foolish man.

It's a real shame you can't get any English papers here because a lazy day flicking through the Independent would be right up my street. I'm finding I'm listening to 6Music online a lot, it's a good slice of normality and the only real way I'm going to find out what's going on in the world. Not that it matters here I suppose.

Anyway, what should I do today? Lunch then wander into town? I suppose I should also tell the hotel I'll be staying for a few more days. I think they might be a bit surprised.

Damn you

Slight generalisation but amusing nonetheless.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

New hotel

So I've been kicked out of the 5* La Cigale because of the Arab Summit. I was wondering why things were starting to look busy in there. Apparently ever other big name hotel is also fully booked, so I've had to take up residence in the deceptively named Ayana Golden Coast Hotel. In fact they have such a problem with their name they couldn't even decide on the spelling -





I'm actually finding it quite charming in a Fawlty Towers kind of way. I've seen other people milling around a bit but according to my personal chef, I'm the only guest (hence personal chef). The bed is rock hard (which I love), I'm right in the centre of town (although the logistics of getting to the office is going to be something of a challenge) and they have more English channels on the TV than the Cigale did. And the restaurant will open for dinner in a couple of days - tonight they just asked what I fancied, and it was quite delicious. Plus it's fairly cheap (though over £100 a night, but that's cheap here) so if I find it bareable I might stick around after I get my residence permit until I find an apartment.

Annoyingly though I'd just got a dozen shirts cleaned and pressed at the Cigale, which were then stuffed into my suitcase erasing all signs of ironing. Work will just have to put up with me looking a bit dishevelled for a while. It's their fault for not being a bit more organised.

Speaking of the Cigale, I was quite suprised to learn that it's a favourite amongst celebrities and sports stars. I mean it's ok but barely scrapes into 5* category. There were a lot of things that annoyed me. For example:
1. Everything wobbled. It seemed like all the chairs and tables in the restaurants and cafes wobbled. Dinner was served on oval plates, which also wobbled. Bizarre.
2. You'd think that if you left the 'do not disturb' on all day (a work day) that perhaps it was a mistake. You wouldn't expect to come back from the office with half a dozen notes saying how they'd like to make up the room but they were respecting your privacy. Either a) phone b) knock c) leave 1 note.
3. The food was, frankly, crap. Nothing I ate there was particularly delicious, only the sushi came close. It was really below par for what you would expect of a place like that.
4. For a 5* hotel it's cheapness was unsettling. They watered down the Chocos with some local equivalent. They let the bar snacks go stale and wilt. The sight of shrivelled crudites is enough to make you choke on your £12 glass of wine.
5. They didn't have any apple juice. Anywhere. You'd think it was pig's blood.

So not overly impressed with the place. I've got a week here and if my RP isn't sorted then they're threatening to move me back, but I'll ask to go somewhere else I think.

In other news, work is going ok. I'm getting to grips with things and the days are going quicker because I'm busy. There is a lot to do here, and I've got to make sure I stay focused on one thing at a time when it's so easy to discover something else that's a complete mess and try to fix that.

I had a great time this weekend. Friday was spent quad-biking in the dunes, a highly recommended activity; as long as you're very careful. I nearly went flying off the top of a dune (and these aren't like the ones you get by the sea - they're 150 feet in places with sheer drops) but just stopped in time. My companion was not so lucky, but managed to only find a small drop, though big enough to separate him and his bike. Thankfully he was unhurt as you can get a nasty injury from coming off these little machines, as we were to learn the next day.

On the Saturday we went off in a convoy of 4x4s to the inland sea (actually an inlet, by the Saudi border) to do a bit more of the same as the journey is over 40km of dunes. Getting stuck seems to be half the fun and thankfully one of our party (a South African) seemed quite prepared and very adept at getting the others out of tricky spots. I'm happy to report that we didn't get stuck, thanks in no small part to our shiny black hunk of GMC Envoy (7 seater). Once we got to the sea we settled down for a spot to eat, then soon afterwards a quad-biker comes hurtling down the beach, hits something (or suffers a tyre-burst, who knows) and flips his bike. He tumbles through the air a fair old distance, breaking a leg and possibly a shoulder in the process. We got to him quicker than his friends did and administered some first aid and ice, and tried to keep him warm until the air ambulance arrived. I say we but in reality it was mostly down to the ever calm South African, the rest of us were mostly standing around looking useless. Which is more useful than this unfortunate fellow's friends who were recording him on their phones to laugh about later.

Still, by the time the ambulance got there he'd perked up a bit and managed to have a bit of a joke with them;
Ambulance man to his friends (in English) "Can one of you translate for me and tell him that we're going to strap him to this board and put him into the helicopter feet first"
Injured man "Are you speaking in capital letters or lowercase?"

I guess this passes for humour in Lebanon, or Yemen, or wherever they were from. When they'd flown off one of his friends told us that they came down here every week, and he was always falling off...
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Friday, 27 March 2009

Saturday, 21 March 2009

First week

So I've made it to Sunday night, well the equivalent anyway - work again tomorrow morning at 7.15. That is definitely going to take some getting used to. Well, first week over and first impressions? It's very quiet. It's difficult to put my finger on what exactly is so quiet because clearly there is enough traffic noise, prayer calling and birds to bombard your senses but everything just seems kind of muted. I never thought Doha would be like London but I expected some hussle and hopefully a little bit of bussle, which I guess there is, but it doesn't seem very alive. Even the street vendors and market stall owners don't try to hassle you too much. The only constant annoyance is the frequent cry of 'taxi! taxi sir!' - I could easily be stumbling out of a late night Soho drinking establishment, not 3000 miles away in the Middle East.

Other than that the people are very friendly, even the ones that don't get paid to be so (service staff are cheap, so there are a LOT of them). There seems to be zero crime - you can leave your phone, wallet, etc. on the table if you want to trot off to the loo - but the driving's not getting any better. The ruler's have instigated a set of fines for various traffic offences e.g. 5000 Riyals for running a red light, 1000 for speeding, that kind of thing. Unfortunately I don't think they have a fine for overtaking on the central reservation and other random hazardous driving I've seen, so I'm not holding out much hope it'll improve any time soon. I'm eyeing up a very large 4x4 as size seems to be the only defence against reckless drivers here.

I headed for a bar in the Ramada Hotel on Thursday night and had rather too much beer. I think my hangover was amplified by lack of water. See, normally if you have a few too many you'll have medicinal supplies of soft drinks and snacks at home but being in a hotel really messes with your routine. Still I had a good bonding session with one of my new work colleagues and he seems a very nice sort. I don't just want to hang around with workmates though, so need to get my arse in gear with regards to clubs/societies/arabic lessons/etc. I do fancy learning to horse ride here, it does seem the perfect place what with all the sand.

I spent today wandering around the old souq, which is now a new souq. Think Covent Garden and you're pretty close. They have some fantastic smelling shops in the spice area which I'll have to revisit once I have somewhere where I can keep such delights. I also paid a quick visit to the Museum of Islamic Art, on the seafront. Hmm. Well it's a lovely building that's for sure and my photos don't do it justice. But the museum itself? It seemed more a collection of historic arabian items - pots, plates, jewellery - which while quite interesting (especially the mahussive diamonds) I'm not sure as to what their relevance to Islam is, and this certainly wasn't explained anywhere. In fact pretty much nothing was explained. It was even unclear in places which items went with which labels. Maybe the items are Islamic in that Muslims created them, but you'd hardly call the Imperial War Museum the 'Museum of Christian War' or the V&A the 'Museum of Boring Christian Clothes'. Maybe I missed the point. I'd still recommend going, especially because it's free!

Then it was off to the City Centre Mall, which is nowhere near the city centre, but definitely a mall. I was quite knackered by this point so just sat down with Steve to have a cold drink, checked out if there was anything interesting on at the cinema (no prizes for guessing the outcome) and jumped in a cab back to the hotel. I've got all my laundry back - and ironed as well - bliss! So now I've time for a bit of Wii before bed. My dinner times are all messed up, but I reckon the Pad Thai I had at 4pm will keep me going till the morning. Besides, it's better to be starving hungry at breakfast otherwise it's difficult to get enough of it down to last until the afternoon. Oh to be able to make my own sandwiches...

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Day 4

Well I'd love to fill you in with tales of Arabian adventures, sandstorms and narrow misses with armed Bedouin but I'm afraid all I've seen so far is the hotel, the bank and some very large and obstructive roads. I had a quick wander around yesterday and ended up in Applebees, a TGI Fridays type establishment, for dinner. Even though everything's being paid for at the hotel I just had to get out and try something else. In the words of Gordon Ramsey it was fucking dreadful. I went for the 3 shrimp combo - king prawns cooked in 3 different styles. Apparently those styles were greasy, very greasy and fried. Still, at least the waiters didn't need to wear any flare.

Work is dragging - a combination of the early starts, long days and not much for me to do yet. I'm no closer to what their definition of an IT Operations Manager is yet but perhaps in spite of their urgency with my appointment joining just as a major project was going live was not the best idea.

The hotel is already starting to bug me. It's just the little things really. I don't want a newspaper delivered every morning because I won't read it so it's a waste. I don't need a bread basket at breakfast because I'll go for the brown bread from the buffet. Drinks are seriously expensive - one small beer is about £10 - so I'm learning to make them last. I suppose that's a good life skill to have! Plus it's fairly impersonal, as large hotels tend to be.

What I am pleased about is the free internet access. And Skype seems to work here - will give this a go soon as the girlfriend is Skyped-up. I've decided I'm not all that keen on the word 'fiance', I still prefer girlfriend. It just seems like an unnecessary recategorisation of a perfectly acceptable noun, in order to attribute potential change of status. Like joining the Ferrari owners club just because you've ordered the F350 catalogue. But maybe I'm just grumpy because I'm missing my fiance.

Anyway, off to dinner with a few workmates - should be a good one - let's paint the town red! (But be back in bed by 10....)

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Quick update

Arrived safely. Swanky hotel (all expenses paid for except booze). Weather hot and sunny. Phone doesn’t work here. MAD drivers. Work starts tomorrow. Trying to ignore nerves.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Nearly there

I’m panicking. I have 48 hours left in the country and I haven’t started packing. I haven’t gone through piles of junk to at least clear some of the crap in my flat before I leave. I still haven’t bought tiles or a radiator for the bathroom even though Dariusz the Polish builder is starting work tomorrow morning to transform the bombsite I’ve been bathing in for the last few months into a fully functioning, possibly even rent-enabling, bathroom. Who’s going to be hanging around for him I have no idea – to be discussed with fiancé and family I think.

 

I’m apprehensive about flying on Friday 13th, because I’m a bit silly, but there you go. Couple of gin and tonics should sort that out. I need to figure out which are my essentials for the next few weeks of hotel living, as the baggage allowance is a mere 20kg. I even have to fly economy. Oh the indignity. Still Qatar Airways are supposed to be quite plush, but we’ll see. At least the hotel looks nice.

 

Monday night was great – had some leaving drinks with a wide selection of friends at the lovely George in Borough. And there was a good turnout, especially considering it was Monday night, which I’m reliably informed is not supposed to be a going out night. Whatever.

 

I’ve been sent an itinerary for my first couple of days in Doha by the bank I’ll be working for. They’ve conveniently arranged a half-day tour of the city for Saturday afternoon which I’m so not up for, but I don’t want to appear ungrateful and saying no is not what I’m about these days. That’s right, I’m a yes man (go read the book it’s better).

 

I’ve also got to cancel BT, Tiscali (useless fuckers), let the council know I’m moving, speak to the water people, urgghhhh. The list just goes on and on. I could really do with another week or so just to sort everything out, but never mind.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

New beginnings

As you may have noticed I've changed the URL of this blog as rather than abandoning it I thought what I would do is continue the theme of self-discovery, but not specifically about what to do after you quit your job, because I've decided that now. I'm moving to Qatar to take up a position with a bank out there. When I left my last job I was pretty fed up with the banking world, but this looks like it could genuinely be a really exciting position in a totally different size and style of banking, so I'm embracing it.

Plus the opportunity of leaving London for a while, settling down in the sun with my girlfriend (soon to be wife) and experiencing a totally different culture is too good to pass up. So I'll be blogging about my experiences out there and hopefully this will be a good way to keep up with how I'm doing. I'm also going to clean up some of the existing posts on here as part of a fresh start.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

OU Course done

Finally submitted my ECA (End of course assessment) for a short maths course at the OU (S151 - Maths for Science) so I can have my life back again. Although in all honestly it's only taken up my life for the past week or so as I frantically caught up with where I should be due to slackness on my part. Not sure how the scoring works but I'd hope to get better than a pass for this:

S151 End of Course Assessment

# Result
Chapter 1
1 Correct at 2nd attempt
2 Correct at 1st attempt
3 Correct at 1st attempt
4 Correct at 1st attempt
Chapter 2
5 Correct at 1st attempt
6 Correct at 1st attempt
Chapter 3
7 Correct at 1st attempt
8 Correct at 1st attempt
9 Correct at 1st attempt
10 Correct at 2nd attempt
Chapter 4
11 Correct at 1st attempt
12 Correct at 1st attempt
13 Correct at 1st attempt
14 Correct at 1st attempt
Chapter 5
15 Correct at 2nd attempt
16 Correct at 1st attempt
17 Correct at 1st attempt
Chapter 6
18 Correct at 1st attempt
19 Correct at 1st attempt
20 Correct at 1st attempt
Chapter 7
21 Correct at 1st attempt
22 Correct at 1st attempt
23 Correct at 2nd attempt
Chapter 8
24 Correct at 1st attempt
25 Correct at 1st attempt
26 Correct at 1st attempt
Chapter 9
27 Correct at 1st attempt
28 Correct at 1st attempt
29 Correct at 1st attempt
30 Correct at 1st attempt
31 Correct at 1st attempt
Chapter 10
32 Not completed
33 Not completed
34 Not completed
35 Not completed

Yes I know Chapter 10 was not completed, but you had the choice of 9 or 10 and I didn't have the will to revise differentiation.

Anyway, it started out as a pretty tough course, not having done any maths since GCSE, but seemed to get easier as the course progressed - I've always thought statistics was a doddle. I don't think you could say it was particularly enjoyable but I've been thinking about going back to university to study a science, so wanted this under my belt. Think I might do another course but not entirely sure what yet. One thing I've learnt is that I'm not any more self-motivated than I was at university - which is a bit of a problem. I'm still intelligent enough to cram 8 weeks of work into a few days and get a decent result, but that's not going to help when it comes to subjects that require more thought, ongoing assessment and essays.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

How to be free

One problem I've discovered from an abundance of free time is a real lack of focus on my part. I can go from watching a movie to jobhunting to photography to reading to internet browsing all within the space of half an hour. I'd never really considered myself to have a short attention span or to get bored easily, but it seems that everything seems to distract me when I have a seemingly limitless expanse of time to fill. Free time would be great if I didn't have so much of it.

This is why this blog is having difficulty finding it's feet. It's not that I don't have things to say, it's just that when I get around to saying them I suddenly disappear off on a Wikitrail (following link after link on Wikipedia) and then it's lunchtime. Also, I have things to say that I don't think would be appropriate on this blog, but fortunately a collection of likeminded individuals have now clubbed together and set up The Filthy Columnist for this very purpose. Because individually we can moan but collectively we can moan a lot.

So, my new year's resolution? Write more. Either here or there. Anywhere.