Archive for the ‘bahrain’ Category

same day 2 years back

Before I start off, I presume all the friends in the blogosphere are keeping well and life has been in sync with their dreams 🙂

Its been sometime (more than what it could afford to) i was away from my dear blog due to various constraints.

18 September 2007 – Tuesday, the same day 2 years back, for the first time I had travelled out of country (to Bahrain) . Professionally speaking, it was my maiden onsite trip!

All those incidents are afresh, the way I was enjoying the excitement in me about the new environment, life style etc., Thanks to my brother Muthappan for having assisted in purchasing almost all the things I needed to carry :).

The main reason for this post is all about the nostalgic feelings of my beloved dad, who was there with me by then but NOT today :(. I miss you very much appa!

For sure these wordings and blogging could NOT get you back but to some extent they become the medium through which i can express my gratitude and feelings! I deeply get immersed in those fond retentions…

I entrust my thoughts for reaching you! and you are being cherished in all my thoughts, actions…

Will be back ….

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completing 8 months here

As of today 18 May 2008, i am completing 8 months of my stay in bahrain. I really wonder and don’t know how months are getting passed. One good difference what i feel from my TCS colleagues here is for all of them it is the reverse as they equate the months to years whereas for me it is in the reverse as months are like weeks :).

Yes, the first onsite always has some moments to ponder, memories to cherish, values to add :). Though i am yet to post the part 2 of the post describing the lifestyle here (previously i have posted “Life in Bahrain“), i just thought i can quickly post this as it may not be possible to finish that post within today!

Soon i would be going back to India.. 🙂

Cheers..

completing 2 months here

Ouch.. as some one else (i think its Ponnarasi) told here, i think its time for a next blog! as its been sometime i posted! though i thought of some good title, but dint get any good one so left this as such!

 As of now, completing 2 months here (Sep18-Oct18-Nov18) :). Life as such in a good improvement phase. Only this week i would say i have been doing some little good work in the official front whereas till now have been doing some monotonous routine!

 One good thing to mention is the Amnesty carried out in the office where i work (LMRA – Labour Market Regulatory  Authority)! Being the initiators of it, they do a real good job. Whoever is working under an illegal work permit or who don’t have a proper sponsor, they can just go and report to these people (LMRA) and they themselves help you to get back to your country with a free ticket! Its all for a good cause and to stabilize their statistics and work culture so that they will maintain a good track record of labours!

The website is a portal but still you can direclty get into the statistics here if you are interested! You would get the recently updated information.

 The climate has come to the opposite extreme nowadays. Its not at all hot and it becomes pretty dark by 5 PM itself. I feel as if its around 8 or 9 PM :lol.

To those whom i missed to update, i have started writing a story in this month. Its called ‘Kanaa Kaanum Kaalangal’ and obviously in my mother tongue ‘Tamil’.

The impact on this is the official working hours has been extended till 9 PM for the LMRA staff which was previously till 2 PM only. Though those people work on shifts, we don’t! Moreover doing a production deployment on a weekly basis have to slog till 11 PM 🙂 Anyways, its a part of life!

As such, these are the information.. Rest in next…

Chalo..  C u all l8r….

diwali in bahrain

Well, for the first time happen to celebrate ‘Diwali’ at abroad (in Bahrain). I would say it was as the way anyone would expect without any real celebrations.

Though many of my friends were asking about the availability of crackers here, was unable to answer them by then. Later came to know that here its kinda banned. Happened to hear from some of my TCS colleagues who are here for a couple of years that you can’t fire the crackers outside (public)!

Then i have got 2 questions..

(1) Then what’s the point of making it avaiable?

(2) If not outside means, should we have it inside the home or what?

But i have not seen any crackers being sold here! Crackers apart, no other symptoms as well. Basically being a Muslim country would be a predominant factor!

From my own end, happened to rush in the last minute (yesterday) evening to a mall here (Jeant) with one of my colleagues and managed to get a shirt and pant from Scullers and one shirt from Indigo Nation which i blindly liked! 🙂

As suggested by one of my colleagues (Rajasekar M) to prepare keasari (sweet rava, can i call it in english?) had to buy so many ingredients except the ghee and sugar! As was not in a mood to cook, went outside to a hotel (Kushboo Idli Kadai:)) and finished my dinner! On the way to the nearby grocery mall, saw another shop having good t-shirt collections. Went inside and purchased 4 T-shirts too 🙂

Since the t-shirt selection process swallowed ample time, had been running here and there to get the ingredients in the mall as they were about to close!! Except the Kesari Powder (Saffron powder), got everything! My roomies were pulling my legs and asking whether am in a full festival mood or not. Perhaps i had been i guess! 😛 Admitted the fact.

Got up early in the morning (not just because of diwali but regular lunch preparation + today’s diwali spl keasari) and managed to do all. Somehow the keasari came well (thank god! it was my maiden effort) except a little more sugar could have helped it to be too tasty! But it was definitely ‘eatable’ not just ‘touchable’ 🙂 Distributed to all my colleagues also here!

One good thing is that today bcos of diwali, the cell phone service providers gave some extra amount of talk time in the calling cards which was about 4 minutes surplus than that of regular. (today 26 minutes per 1 BD calling card). Though i was wondering in the morning soon after i heard about the increased talktime, dint care to bother much. In the evening, an sms confirmed the same!

One bad thing was that the lines to India were almostttt busy and had beeeeeennnn trying since morning for so long to get the line connected! :(.

Apart from that, no difference from the regular working day here! 🙂

One funny part was in my orkut profile today it was showing, “Today’s fortune: you are going to have some new clothes!”. Lol 🙂

Hope all of you had a very good diwali celebrations…

completing 1 month here

well, had been thinking nowadays to do a real good post as most of my posts made me think that its either a forward or a mokkai or a thambattam of any sort.. if not some poems or lyrics.. am i getting bored of these usual style? Not really! 🙂 but would like to do it differently.. lemme think.

meanwhile, by today i m completing 1 month here in bahrain as of today. Last month (September 18th) i came here.. somehow days are flying without control.. exact one month! i would say i have got accustomed to this environment nicely and got a good idea about the city eventhough there are many other parts of the city/country to be explored yet!

though thought of having an elobarate post but since it may mimic the previous version, left it.. so a quick short description here..

(i) we had attended one music concert happened on Oct 14th wherein the singers Hariharan and KS Chitra came. The evening program was very good and was nice seeing those people as well as listening to the songs live for the first time. They sang tamil, malayalam, hindi songs! shall share snaps link later. it would be in the same location where i have shared the snaps taken in bahrain.

(ii) got accustomed with these TCS guys here and work wise its really fun.

(iii) we had 5 days off for Ead celebrations here but to be frank, i have not done any good-and-useful thing except attending the musical event!

(iv) one thing is that i was busy preparing Java Slides for the fresh buds in my office as i was mentoring them. somehow my efforts were nice and they came in good flavour. yet to finish the rest-but-one topic.

(v) after ramzan/ead, happened to see the other face of the city which looked like dull,calm during ramzan. now much traffic but still the same rules are followed strictly! 🙂 This is like ‘citibank’ wherein ‘the citi never sleeps’. Till 1 or 2 AM all the shops are open here and people just casually roam here and there! 🙂

what else?

meet you all a little later with some good-but-different post!

take care…

Life in Bahrain..

As such, i would say the 2 weeks of stay in this city keeps me happy except the two extremes of climate.. as its hot outside and to compensate that A/C is provided everwhere. People say that it was so very hot prior to my visit and its pretty cool for a month or so. I also would admit as i don’t see the same climate which was the first one to welcome me soon after i came out of the flight ;-(. Felt like being in a desert really but nowadays it has come down.

The entire city as a whole

Well.. the total city looks very hi-fi and almost you can see many big buildings which are either malls, hotels etc., Was told that initially the entire city was within 22 kms or so and now its widened to be around 72+ kms.. also they are increasing the city circumference by borrowing the land from sea ;-). As the see seems to be not so deep they are able to quickly construct a building.

People are also of high society, well educated. But i am yet to explore much about the clumsy areas as well as i heard they are existing here too. Perhaps, i might have a better look once this Ramalan month gets over i guess. I have not yet roamed many places as i had to come to office on a weekend (for the KT to be completed from my colleague whom i replaced here).

Irrespective of the place, you can find each and every building, table, chair, road so clean and tidy. That’s a very good aspect. Of course with full A/C as well. Almost all hotels are fully furnished and provided with all necessary utilities like modular kitchen, sofa cum bed, TV, A/C, Washing machine, Gas, Iron box,Microwave oven etc., What else do you need? Don’t ask about the rent.. Somehow i heard that its 450 BD per month for a double bedroom. For us, our client pays 🙂 and 4 people share a room. It is big and decent enough to accommodate.

Because of having a good lifestyle and wealth, you can find cars only everywhere. I have luckily seen some 2,3 bikes here. Heard that in a single house, there are minimum of 2,3 cars and on an average 4 to 5 cars. And the cost of petrol is very cheap here. You get 1 litre for 1 Re. :). Also getting the cars is very easy. I have seen an advertisement in a mall, asking you to take the car now and start paying the EMI only from March 2008. How is it? 🙂

Currency

Here two main forms of currency are fills and dhinar (BD – bahraini dhinar). They are like paise and rupees in INR (Indian Rupee).

1000 fills = 1 BD

1 BD ~= Rs. 105 INR (it keeps changing. It was Rs.108 two months back and had been Rs. 121 an year ago). [Source: you can check here]

so, 100 fills ~= Rs. 10 INR. (not exactly).

Generally, fills less than 100 is not of much use as 100 fills seems to be the starting price here. 🙂 On an average, many items would be in BD’s only. (Don’t think Indian Beedee (tobacco) as it may give you such impression while reading :)).

Food Items

As these people have much of petrol and aluminium of their own and of course they can’t be consumed for survival, they are dependent on the imported items right from milk, yoghurt, bread, butter, jam, rice, biscuits, chocolates etc., so you can assume the cost of items. Just to give you a piece of info. I have not looked at the individual items for a couple of times till day before yesterday. I used to just get the items and get it weighed (for vegetables etc) and pay the bill. Only the final amount is what i used to see. It would be usually around 6 BD and some times may be around 3 to 4 BD if the items are less. Day before yesterday, just thought of having a look at the individual item prices.. here you go…

1 ltr milk = 350 fills

250 gms of Carrot = 250 fills (4 pcs)

5 Nos of banana = 450 fills (philippines banana they say..)

3 Peaches (looks like apple) = 595 fills

1 kg of rice ~= 330 fills

1 can of drinking water = 700 fills (in the hotel itself they provide for the cost)

Though they are just for a reference, we can’t keep comparing you know.. why? all for the single word ‘survival’ 🙂

A bit difficult for people who do NOT eat non-veg 🙂 but manageable. Thanks to this city and because of Ramalan, started doing self cooking and doing a lil bit of research in it 🙂 somehow with the help of MTR, surviving! Had prepared Dhal rice, Gobi curry (cauliflower poriyal) of my own.. Mix vegetables are also available in the frozen state. You need to keep them in the freezer, otherwise it will be of no use. Even in the malls, there is a separate section which contain the freezer to keep all these milk, yoghurt (curd), flavoured milk, mix vegetables, meat, chicken etc.,

Hotels

Being the month of ramalan (ramzan, ramadhan), its a very strict order from the Bahrain Govt that no one should serve food till 6 PM everyday. If being found, the license would be cancelled it seems. so very less chances to go to a hotel as we would be in office during those times.

We found one Annapoorna hotel here in Manama ( during the last weekend) and I had one pongal (appadaa..) and one Mini Idli (appadi podu!) and one Tea. It came around 300 fills + 400 fills + 100 fills altogether 800 fills. That was not a very big hotel still.

Yet to explore the rest after Ramzan….

Traffic & Roads

within these 2 weeks, i have just seen only one traffic police once in Manama. It looks like there is no need of having them. You know a great aspect made me admire very much was the usage of horn. I literally doubted whether these people have something to buzz or not. If at all they have, do they forget its existence or what? that’s how people use the horn only if really required. that too like a buzzer press. for guys from India, it looked awkward since our people used to just press the horn to establish their presence mainly and at times to ask for the way! I really get irritated by the unnecessary horn. But after seeing this negligible usage of horn even in the traffic signals, got damn impressed. Believe me or not! The way every individual is following the discipline is also too good. No wonder why you don’t need any traffic police.

One more important and distinguishing factor here is, the people in Car give atmost respect and importance to the pedestrians as the government rule says if they hit someone going by walk on the road, they need to pay some 1000 BD it seems. So you can very much take it for granted to get your way in the roads. There are some signal changing machines on the road where you can alter the signal from green to red so that people who follow will have a pause and you get your way 🙂 Aren’t you feeling happy by reading this? So do I.

The roads are so clean as i already told and very broad to accommodate 3 lanes. The gear system here is pretty different as they are adjusted automatically according to the speed you raise. Because of this facility, people easily manage and control their speed. Heard that getting a DL (Driving License) is pretty much difficult as getting passed here would be a bit tedious and you may be asked to retake the classes which varies from 15 to 20 BD per class and on an average you need to take 20 classes at first. For bahrain citizens, it is very easy as they would start playing around with any of the available 3-5 cars in their home..

Toilet

The ‘toilet’ deserves very much to be a part of this blog! These people use only bath tubs with shower for taking bath. As far as the commode is concerned, here they are two instead of one. One for ‘using’ and other for ‘washing’ :). No pipe attached. Also no bucket, mug here. We made fun of asking by imitating Madhavan from Naladhamayandhi movie ‘Excuse me.. Jakkoosi here.. please?” 🙂

Language

People here speak Arabi. Urdu also is in use. Somehow english and hindi are also omnipresent and we are able to manage with them.

Liberty

Of all the middle east countries, Bahrain is considered as the most liberal country in the rules and regulations be it in the religious aspects, entertainment and all others. People from other nearby countries like Saudi used to make a visit here on the weekends it seems. But generally there are not much restrictions here as heard outside. That’s true. Of course, even during the ramzan, we are allowed to have our food with no restrictions and relaxations. If at all they have some concerns, they used to say it very politely to the concerned person and not to the individuals directly.

Time Difference

Bahrain time is 3 hours ahead of GMT. That means, -2.5 hrs of IST which is +5.5 hrs ahead of GMT. [Source: You can check here]. The capital of country is Manama which is also of very less in geographical area. As the entire city is very small, you can assume every individual area’s size. Not like TNagar/Adayar in Chennai and Jayanagar/BTMLayout in Bangalore.

Comedy wrt timings

As i forgot to change the local timings, on the very first night(!?), i kept the alarm by 6.30 AM as usual. Once i got up and saw, it was completely dark. Then i went and saw the time in my wrist watch, where i had luckily adjusted the day before. It was showing 4 AM here :). What to do? Slept again. The same happened on the next day (second night) as well. Then remembered while setting the alarm and increased it to 9 AM instead of 6.30 AM. Still somehow we keep the mobile timings as that of IST so that it would facilitate us when calling the people over there.

Working Hours

Here the office working hours for government is usually 7 AM – 2 PM. For some private organizations, they can have a bit relaxed timings which is usually of 8 AM – 3 PM i guess. Being ramalan, its a bit relaxed wherein people are coming here by 8 or 9 AM in the morning. But for us (me and the set of TCS guys working here) its generally like the IST 9 AM – 5 PM.

Our Team

We work for LMRA (Labour Market Regulatory Authority), a government organization which facilitates the visa entry, exit, extension of stay for the labours working here. I alone work here from my office and there are about 15 guys from TCS working here. I report to the TCS Program Director here. There are other people from my office who work in other government organization named CIO (Central Informatics Organization) where they usually follow the same bahrain working hours. Lucky those people 🙂

We are asked to wear tie everyday and its been a good and regular habit of mine. It looks good and very professional you know though at times you may feel a little uncomfortable. Pros and Cons.. he he he !

My usual routine

Get up by 6 or 6.30 AM, do the morning duties.. clean the vessels and my tupperware if there are any left unwashed in the previous night. prepare and cook food for lunch. Generally have cornflakes and bread+jam for breakfast. Get the cab by around 9 AM and reach here by 9.15. Having lunch in the canteen (at terrace) at around 1 PM. Leave office by 6 PM.

The usual time of travel to and from home and office is about 15 minutes for some 10 to 15 kms 🙂 Can you believe? It used to take hours in bangalore to reach. I also heard nobody here bothers about the kms as per the cheap price of petrol. Heard that a guy who has been travelling to the same place for about 10+ years does NOT know how many kms its from his home:)

Commuting

But the commuting here is bit expensive. For my to and fro travel per day, i give 3 BD per day. That too being the regular customer and he is an Indian. Otherwise, it is usually 5 BD it seems. Generally when you go to any mall which is situated a bit far, they charge around 2 BD.

Having asked for the same despite of getting the petrol in dead cheap rate, i was told that hiring rate of car/cab is costly it seems. It very much coincides with the lifestyle of the people.

On some days when we have production deployment might need to stay back. Being on support, may get a call in the untime also. On my very first day when i was back from airport after giving send off to my colleague Vignesh, i got a call saying that there was an issue 🙂 Had to rush to office by 9.30 PM and went back by 11.30 PM.

Wasn’t really much excited and all. It looks like yet another transfer from karaikudi to chennai, chennai to bangalore and now bangalore to bahrain! But a kinda overseas exposure would be a value-added one.

But overall, the work and life is coool…………….. 🙂

PS: As at present i don’t have the snaps taken in this machine, would add the snaps in the required places a lil later.. probably tomorrow. so stay tuned 🙂