Friday, December 14, 2007
The people here keep asking me one thing...are you sad to go? Sure I am. I'll miss the day to day interaction. The chatting at tea time in the kitchen, the jacket potatoe lunches and the mandatory 10 mins of social talk when you nip up to someone's desk with a question. The folks here are amazing (I believe I said that yesterday) and I'll miss them but I know they have made a contribution to my life and I theirs. Somewhat cliche again but true.
Having been in and out of the country I don't have a desk here so there's no box of acquired 'stuff' to lug home with me. There's no name plate to add to my collection and I don't even think I'll take a single extra piece of paper with me (trust me, when you are in Sierra Leone you learn quickly to print less).
I know this won't be the last I hear of these people. I've made some truly great friends here and have promised to visit again. I've also invited everyone to Canada...I think I have convinced Nana...just need to get rid of some of that snow!
Time to finish 'transitioning' then head off to the pub for a couple of Guinni. It's been a slice!
I'll be here for another week so expect one or two more updates and few more photos.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
(Me and Kate; Jon and Jamie (who were drinking rose...seriously); Milton, Mark and Jaime (the first person from Plan I ever met aside from Susan); Paul and Bruce (who's dog I am going to try to pack in my suitcase); David, Simon, Dave and me)
Conor Sheehy, consultant - Public Service, applies his Accenture consulting skills far from his London office in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Sheehy, in partnership with Accenture Development Partnerships, is working with Plan International – a non-profit a humanitarian, development organization that works with families and their communities to meet the needs of children around the world.
Monday, December 3, 2007
Friday, November 30, 2007
In England the sign says:
Max Cap 8 persons/630kg
In India the sign said:
Max Cap 10 persons/630kg
Can someone check an American or Canadian elevator? I'm curious to see which country's lifts can hold the most folks.
Hosted a small but fab party last night. Many photos. Will post some on the weekend. Note: Sangria, although seeming like a great idea is WRONG.
Oh and we are now live in eight countries...wooohoooo! [UK, US, Australia, Spain, Ecuador, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia and the Philippines!]
Friday, November 23, 2007
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
It was a totally stellar event! (my coat was the last one out of coat check)Tickets are sold out months in advance and the place was PACKED. I went with a bunch of folks from work who go every year so they showed me the ropes luckily. You enter and get a pint glass. You can go around to all the different stations and try 1/2 or full pints of beer for super cheap. I tried light and dark beers. Beers that tasted like banana bread and beers that tasted like beef jerky. Some great and some horrible.
Sunday, November 4, 2007
The people around here think I work too hard/much. I think they don't work enough. Acutally that's not fair. I think they are very good at letting work go. I am not. (ya, you can all laugh now...cause you know it's true).
Someone asked me why I work so hard/much. Especially those who know that I am getting only 50% of my salary. It's not the big bucks, that's clear. The money has never been much of a motivator for me mostly because I don't really have a good sense of it. I am horrible with money. I don't realize what I need it for and what having a lot of it around could do for me.
It's not the appreciation from my team/colleagues (there's very little of that aside from my boss who herself deserves millions more accolades). I think I work really hard for two reasons;
- I am a perfectionist. It's clearly a personality flaw. I am one of those people who think the only way to do something right is to do it yourself. baaaaaaaaaaaad news
- I have this odd sense of pride in my reputation.
I know if everything here on this project goes to pot the finger will be pointed in my direction. Clearly it won't be my fault but it's easier for people to blame the consultant. I suppose I am overly sensitive when people slag consultants. It makes me want to work harder to prove them wrong. Hence a viscious circle.
They will also blame my boss who has worked so hard to get this project to where it is (in my opinion the most successful development project Plan has ever had). She doesn't deserve any of the blame but she'll get and take it personally. And so I sit here on Sunday afternoon...
I was out with a friend on Friday who left the crazy project management world a few years back for many reasons. As we walked by his old office building he said he really misses it. That was quite shocking for me to hear but makes total sense.
Some days all I want to do is walk away from this stress and chaos but I never do and wonder why. It makes me stressed, exhausted, sick and often a sobbing mess so why not leave? Clearly that's the correct response. I think, like him, I would miss it. Glutton for punishment? maybe.
Okay I am babbling and need to get back to finding lost users and posting random documents so I can go and enjoy the fall colours before dark. Just wanted to get that out of my system.
I should also mention that I had a bit of a reunion with friends I met in Sierra Leone on friday. It was great to see Anna, Laura and Quirien again. Just like old times we did ridiculous things. There were no random glass-eating men nor beverage distribution little people but it was fun none-the-less. :-)
Back to work for me. Just over 40 days left. Only 100 or so more countries to go live in...should be exciting times! Keep the Christmas Starbucks cups and Festive Specials warm for me!
Congrats to Tim and Shannon and welcome to their weee one Thatcher (great name btw) and a Happy Happy B-day to Xenia-on-a-top (you know who you are!)!!!! Oh and welcome home Ms Parks! I hear you do a wicked Johnny W...can't wait to see it! :P
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
(L-R: Front, Leonard (Ghana), Meike (Germany), Monica (Spain), Joan (Canada), Kabir (Bangladesh), Back, Helen (Ethiopia), Me, Nicki (ChildData Team) and Conor (doing the Blue Steel face as usual)
After my crazy visit from Sarena I was visited by Christie for nearly a week! It was amazing that everyone we saw (including the testers and the receptionist) all pointed out that we looked like sisters! We did the touristy thing up royally and I know feel satisfied that I could leave the UK satisfied with my site-seeing. Check out the photos:
Double-decker bus tour (seriously it was great!)
Haming it up at Buckingham Palace:Nerds at the museum of Natural History:
What trip to London with Tina is complete without a musical?!?!?
And perhaps watching Rugby in a random pub?
And the addition of another 'world wonder' to my list for this trip...Stonehenge!
All with beautiful weather and great company! Thanks Christie!
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
I also learned a new international phrase this week. Feel free to borrow it: GMT, meaning Ghana Maybe Time. It's an indicator that something might get done eventually if someone feels like doing it...just like most things in Ghana. hee hee
I'm still at work at 9:30 so should just finish my stinkin work and go home but I had to be a bit distracted don't I?
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
- Joan from Canada (clearly my favourite)
- Monica from Spain
- Meike from Germany
- Leonard from Ghana
- Hasinil from Bangladesh
- Helen from Ethiopia, and
- Amy from the UK
Looks like the system is ready to go so it should be a busy two weeks. Looking forward to Sarena's visit on the weekend to break it up.
A couple of congrats are due to Jen and Darren on wee baby Catriona and to Dave and Megan on their engagement. :-) So much happy news for my favourite Smiths!
Saturday, October 6, 2007
2) The view of the Taj from the Red Fort in Agra
3) The train station in Mumbai
4) Conor on a camel...seriously!
Okay I should stop procrastinating now. I managed to get a replacement battery charger for my phone so more photos of my fun times to come.
Hope you all have a happy Turkey Day (for the Canadians of course). One of our testers is from the Canadian National Office. I can't wait to take her 'out and about' in Woking!
Thursday, September 27, 2007
I was thinking of this as I watched TV the other night. Much like with my bunny ears at home I only get 5 channels here so there's limited selection but there always seems to be something interesting on.
They love their investigative journalism and the other day I watched a program that tested several different alternative diets and their effect on health. Boring you think. Well one of the diets involved ranchers and probiotics (I won't go into details but there was pooh involved) and the other was an 'ancestral diet' where folks ate like baboons for two weeks to see what it did. Very interesting.
They also love real-estate shows. There's always something on about renos or finding your dream home/vacation home. It's a neat way to see how people live not only in the UK but all over europe. The prices are mostly shocking (the cheapest place around here is about 200,000 GBP = $400,000) but the places are always so full of character. There is a lot of original architecture around which makes for personality abound.
The third big one is talent competition. It seems they cast most of the West End musicals using TV shows with Danny and Sandy (Grease), Joseph (Joseph) and Maria (Sound of Music) all having been selected by the public (and of course Andrew Lloyd Weber) on tv. I'll have to check out one or two of them live I think.
As for me right now...work is hectic. We are training the 'super users' right now and they are a demanding bunch which is causing us to change all kinds of plans and we are getting ready for User Acceptance Testing so it's going to be a full couple of weeks which is fine with me. Work, gym, sleep, work. I think that will keep me busy until the visitors start. YAY!
Enjoying a cappacino and thinking of all my coffee buddies (Gege, Phil, Martin). Have a great weekend everyone!
Monday, September 24, 2007
A typical Mumbai taxi...note: not a tuk tuk...
I'm not sure what was worse for traffic...cows everywhere or Conor driving a tuk tuk!
My journey from Mumbai to Woking was an uneventful one and I spent yesterday getting sorted and relaxing.
I have cried on two runs during this trip. The first was the day Jay left to go home when we broke up and the second was yesterday. This time I was happy. I love fall runs and I was so happy to be out in the sunshine and free to run where I pleased. Perhaps that's why I ran 10km which I was clearly not ready to do as my quads are telling me today.
I am settled into my new flat which is super nice (no bugs or little men sleeping in my kitchen) and have an address so if anyone wants to write let me know.
I'll post some more India pics now. Enjoy!
Thursday, September 20, 2007
India has been interesting. The culture and food are amazing. The infrastructure and poverty are shocking. There is such a dicodomy here it is truely in your face. Indian people are proud and humble at the same time. It's a delicately plesant balance that I'll miss.
One thing I won't miss is everyone hurrying to help me with everything. I know, that sounds harsh but I really can carry my own suitcase and pour my own waterglass. I don't need help from four people as I look around in a store either. I'll be happy when I am back in the UK where everyone ignores you. I am sure I'll miss the attentiveness eventually....or not.
I realized yesterday that I can use our countdown to the system go-live date to count my days until my return. We go live on December 10th and I return December 18th....89 days. I both want it to come fast and hope it never comes. Returning will be strange and wonderful all at the same time.
Okay no more philosophical stuff. We wrap up our first pass of testing today and I think the team is sick of me. It will be good for folks to get home and to move on to focusing on deploying this puppy. In contrast to other systems I have tested this has gone particularly well especially considering the quality/details of the design. I am very happy with my team's work these last two weeks.
Time to get to work. More reflections on India and photos on Monday. Have a wonderful weekend!
Monday, September 17, 2007
The king built it for his dying wife and it took 22 years and 20,000 workers to complete. Needless to say she died long before it was done. This king was later arrested by his son and put under house arrest in the Red Fort (just down the river from the Taj so he could see it) because he was spending all his time and money building ridiculous things (he planned to build a black Taj on the other side of the river). Very cool story.
Everything at the Taj is symmetrical but the two graves inside. There are actually four graves; two upstairs for show and the two real graves downstairs that you can't see. The place is truely breath-taking. Check out the Wiki link on the right for more details.
I'll try to get some actual pics of us at the Taj and on the train today and post them.
Four more sleeps until I am back in the UK!!!!
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
The washing machine has a Saree setting!
View across the bay in Mumbai from Nairman point. That's the Indian ocean and a few weeks ago I was on the other side in Mombassa Kenya.
The Gateway of India. Sort of impressive but really just an empty structure our on a pier.
The Taj Hotel in Mumbai.
Our $6 lunch at Leopolds on Colaba.
Mumbai 'Idols' singing at the shopping mall in Malad.
Monday, September 10, 2007
Since last message I have:
- moved into a fancy hotel. It's amazing and shiney and I have a dvd player and flat screen tv in my room. No complainte here.
- started Integration testing which is the key process in our project. Everyone has arrive and we are getting into the action. Should be good
- hit the town with the team on Saturday. Basically did the same things as last weekend but with more shopping. We went to a place called 'Linking Road' which has a famous shoe market. If you like shoes this is the place to be. Stall after stall of sandals as far as the eye can see. Marte took snaps so I'll have to steal some. I didn't buy any shoes (as I had already bought four pairs and only have two suitcases) but we did a lot of trying on!
- found a chain coffee shop (Baristas) and had a latte...yum...and yes that's a big deal!
- ran away when Conor offered a man money to get his photo taken with a cobra...seriously. He looks pretty scared in the photos and is only touching the tip of the tail of the snake. I'll try to get that photo too.
- went to the spa in the hotel and had a pedicure, eyebrow threading and 90 minute massage all for about $40 after having room-service for breakie...ah the luxury!
These next two weeks will be quite crazy and the internet here is very limited (in scope not in bandwidth) so you may not hear much from me. Next weekend we are headed to the Taj on an overnight train so that should be fun and they'll be loads of things to report. Then I am headed back to the UK on Sept 22 to finish testing and deployment of this new system we have built. Fun fun fun!
have a great week!
Monday, September 3, 2007
It's been an eventful weekend. Unfortunately I haven't downloaded the photos but will try to do that tonight. Since I last wrote I have moved homes twice, spent a ridiculously small amount of money on a ridiculously large amount of shoes and killed an enormous amount of cockroaches!
The whole team has arrived (except Susan and Nana who will arrive on Sunday) so we are a big group here in Mumbai. We are all living at the 'Royal Palms' which we like to call 'a dumpster in the middle of nowhere'. Seriously, I would send you the web link but it's so far from reality is funny. The place will be great when/if it's finished but right now it's half finised buildings with no amenities to speak of in the middle of nowhere. I am living in a roach infested 19th floor two bedroom apartment that they are apparently spraying as I type to kill the bugs. We'll see about that when I get home. Oh, I know I'll survive and it has become quite comical to be honest. I am staying with my teammate Khalila who is definitely more upset than I so I am focused on calming her down and killing bugs before she sees them....a little mission of mine.
Enough about that. Conor and I headed into the downtown core on Saturday to see the sights. We visited the Gates of India and were going to take a tourist walk that was noted in my Mumbai book but ended up making it to only one street Colaba, and spending most of our day there. I went into the most glorious shoe shop and after about an hour of trying on sparkly lovlies walked out with four gorgeous pairs of shoes for about $80. Later on I followed a vendor into his back alley shop and bought a few pashminas ranging from 3-7 dollars. Did I mention I love this city for it's prices?
We had lunch at a legendary cafe calle Leopolds and ate like kings for about $3 a piece. In the afternoon we went to Reid and Taylor and got measured up for tailor-made suits which we have to go back for a fitting for on the weekend...woohooo! I'll post photos of the events tomorrow.
Spent sunday moving into my now hopefully bug-free flat and doing work (oh yes, there is a lot of work to be done here!) and visited the luxury hotel on the top of the hill in our complex. It was lovely with three restaurants, gym, spa, two pools and general hotel loveliness. I just sat in the lobby and read until dinner. I think we'll have to head there for dinner one night to check it out.
Today we got down to work. The software developer has delivered the final pieces of code so the testing bonanza has begun. Those of you who know me from work know that this is where 'I'm a viking' so I am raring to go. Yay comfort zone!
Another fun note...today I had hand delivered a postcard from Christie's trip to Norway that has reached me via Kenya. Talk about world mail! So fun.
Okay it's time to head out to the mall for some more supplies (perhaps some bug spray?) and food. I'll do my best to post photos tomorrow.
I hope you all had a wicked long weekend and that all of you teacher-types enjoy your days back at school!
Somebody asked me what I miss most...today I thought about driving...I miss driving ...especially on the RIGHT side of the road. :-)
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
We made it into the office today in a tuk-tuk which was terribly exciting. For those of you who haven't had the joy of experiencing this mode of transport it's basically a vespa with a longer seat in the back and a cover. We only had to drive two blocks but it was certainly exciting.
The office is very familiar to me. It looks like like any office at home with modular cubes and big windows. There is even a little poster in my cube stating Ness's 'Values'. Feels like home!
Much test scripting to do today so I had better get down to it. Now that all of my North American friends are 10.5 hours behind me I should be too distracted with emails through the day. booo! Have a great one.
Anyway, we arrived at the shiney Mombai/Bombay airport (everything here has two names a pre independence (British) and post independence (Indian) name) at 5 am and skuttled through immigration, baggage claim and customs. I don't want to stereotype so early but man are Indian people ever PUSHY! I may have to flick someone in the nose before I am done in this country. We found our driver and at the car were swamped by porters who, after helping us lift our bags into the trunk asked us for $$. Ah India.
We made our way to Malad, where we'll be living and working, in the dark of the morning. Even though it was black out we still caught a glimpse of the poverty that is set over many of Mumbai's 13 million people. My first impression was that these were not people content with their lives as the majority of folks in SLE and Kenya seemed to be but desolute, warn down and unhappy people. That will take some getting used to. More thoughts on that later. As per what everyone has warned me about the traffic was scary, even at 6:30 in the morning.
We made it to 'Whispering Heights' which will be our home and were ushered into a flat where it was obvious a man lived. He showed us to our rooms and we were off for some sleep. I was very confused about this place as it was clearly someone's home. I slept for a few hours interrupted by the occasional phone call and doorbell and thought 'my we are popular people'. I got up this morning and took a cold shower (I forgot that I had to turn the hot water on again. Instant hot water is something I definitely take for granted at home.) and headed out to the living room. I was greeted by our friend and told we had to change apartments. It all made sense to me now!
So I left Conor sleeping and headed to 1108 in tower B. This place is a nicely/corporately decorated two bedroom/two bathroom flat that I assume will be my home for the next nearly 6 weeks. It's nice and the view is of what looks like a river or jutty. The sad part is that it appears that there is a lot of rubbish floating near the shore. I'll have to check it out. A quick photo is posted.
I am glad things are starting to settle. You all know me well enough to know that I am not a fan of chaos and I can't wait to have a schedule set and head into the office. There are also still two indian men in my livingroom which I find rather strange but will leave for now until Conor gets here. I think we'll 'work from home' today since the UK office is on holiday (and I think Norway too) plus neither of us got much sleep last night. (Note: since Conor arrived we have become a one little man household...the man is currently sleeping on the kitchen floor though...strange)
This area looks a lot like harbourfront in Toronto down near the kayak rental place (for those of you who ever visited me when I lived down there) and I think I saw a 'Pizza Hut' sign from the other window. I'll bet Conor is ready for some US Chain food as he was in Africa for nearly 3 months. We'll have to explore today. Perhaps McDonalds is on tap...right after we find the gym in this place.
It's later in the day now and since I haven't got connected to the net yet and we've had a little adventure I thought I would add it. Conor and I went for a 'little' walk (which was nearly 2 hours) and sweated our way around the neighbourhood. The people were certainly busy and the traffic amazing. We managed to cross a few intersections alive. We played a rousing game of three-S...Staresies (when someone stares at you you stare back until someone gives up), Sweatsies (I am not going to describe the state of my clothes when we got home but it was like walking around in a sauna) and Swearsies (I'll let you figure that one out but it involves angry bus and tuk-tuk drivers). Glad to be back at 'home' and getting into work for the evening. We got ourselves a pop for a meer $0.50 which will save us plenty of money for our dinner!
Conor and I are here for a week then more of the team (Marte, Nicki, Khalila, Paulina and Hans) arrive on Sunday and will be staying in the same building (we think) and then Susan and Nana arrive the week after.Most people leave on September 22nd then I stay until October 2nd to finish some testing up. I think experiencing this country with the whole team will be fabulous and we even have a trip to the Taj planed (smile!).