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Shanghai and Small Mercies

The Bund, Shanghai

Just arrived in Shanghai this afternoon and checked in to a lovely hotel on the The Bund and overlooking the Huangpu river. You see the view from my room above. Quite nice.

First impressions of Shanghai is nothing short of “wow” mixed in with “oh shit!” and an occasional “daaaaamn!”. Let me explain:

From the air, the city looks very modern as evidenced by the factories, parcels of land, channels, and other man made structures. Tidy, clean, modern and spiffy. This is further strengthened when you land in their airport – which must be one of the quietest in the world, and certainly one of the best organised. We were off the airplane, through a very orderly immigration line and onward to collect the bags without a hitch whatsoever. I was worried that my luggage will be lost as my connection in Doha was a mere 40 minutes, but Qatar Airways came through again, and the flight was quite pleasant. Bags of space, but the food, unfortunately, was terrible. Can’t complain too much though, I’ve had a solid 7 – 8 hours of sleep!

Back to China. I’m here as part of a delegation from the EO Bahrain chapter for a Global Leadership Conference. I’ve arrived a day early but fortunately an EO colleague and friend, Faisal Alireza, was on the plane with me. He had the foresight to book a car to take him to the hotel and offered me a ride, which was very kind, but my much anticipated MagLev experience will have to wait for a few days. Off we went in a latest model Merc limo, which was the cause of the “oh shit!” experience.

The roads from the airport are modern, wide, well routed with nary a bloody roundabout or traffic light in sight. You would think that one would generally put the foot down and compete with the 8-minute-431kph-ride of the MagLev to town. But, human nature comes between that ideal and reality. The driver was amicable enough, but boy he must’ve been completely understanding of Schumi “nudging” Villeneuve in that Australian F1 race to get his racing line! And he’s not alone! Drivers here across the board – yes, I’m generalising – are bonking mad! Their over-riding mantra seems to be I’m in a hurry and to hell with everyone else. They’re driving ultra-expensive cars haphazardly and if they don’t see gaps to squeeze their cars into, go ahead and create the blasted things! They do signal though, and as everyone knows, if one does signal, then one DOES have the right of way! Does that remind you of Bahrain? Of course it does, but to be completely fair, I suggest that we’re a few notches better than the drivers here. Drivers in Shanghai take a gap as a challenge: if you don’t take it then you’re a pussy.

We arrived at the hotel. Absolute luxury that would put the Ritz in Bahrain and other luxury hotels in the Gulf to shame. Half the staff seem to be waiting outside to welcome guests – with smiles! – unbelievable! Get into the lobby to be once again received with smiles and clear professionalism. The check-in process took under five minutes and up to the room I went to be greeted with the view you see above. Not bad.

I was looking forward to check in with the office, pay attention to the email, and the usual haunts before I hit the shower, so out comes the laptop and connected to the wireless Internet without a hitch. The price per day is reasonable enough and the happy thing about it is that it is FAST! Unfortunately, I discovered soon enough that that speed is a trade-off. My usual haunts of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube amongst probably other social media networks is blocked! Damn and double damn.

Might as well get the chisel and tablet out for the duration then, speed or no speed… the Internet here is severely crippled. Thank “godness” that we haven’t reached that stage back home yet.

Small mercies I guess…

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Bananas!

Bananas!

Bananas!, originally uploaded by malyousif.

It’s almost mid November and Bahrain’s weather is still in the 30s C. No wonder the plants are confused. The banana tree is showing a new crop, in November!

Although it’s Friday the 13th today, do have a fantastic and peaceful Friday my friends.

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Portulaca

Portulaca

Portulaca, originally uploaded by malyousif.

Happy Friday!

There isn’t much happening in the garden at the moment; end of summer, still hot and barely recovering from the onslaught on the house by the painters. Only the toughest plants are flowering at the moment: this portulaca in the Cauldron, some lantanas and of course the frangipanis.

I hope you’re having a wonderful Friday and even better weekend my friends.

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Gharra Date Palm

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Gharra Date Palm

Gharra Date Palm, originally uploaded by malyousif.

Gharra is one of the sweetest dates available. It usually is one of the first varieties to become available in the summer.

I hope your Friday was peaceful. I wish you a fantastic rest of the weekend.

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Khawajah Date Palm

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Khawajah Date Palm

Khawajah Date Palm, originally uploaded by malyousif.

It’s been a very busy week, and the weekend is too. The house is being painted so it’s like living in a construction site for the last 3 or 4 weeks. So forgive me for not posting anything. I promise you that i have been gainfully employed and you shall see and hear the fruits of that labour soon enough.

For now, enjoy these particular variety of Bahraini dates, the Khawajah, one of the largest dates available and quite sweet too.

Have a wonderful and peaceful weekend.

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The Dates

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The Dates

The Dates, originally uploaded by malyousif.

The dates are really getting close to being ready to be harvested… hopefully we’ll get some of that before we go on holiday.

Have a wonderful weekend my friends.

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Pomegranate

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Pomegranate

Pomegranate, originally uploaded by malyousif.

Not many trees are bearing fruit at the moment, well, except for this pomegranate and of course the date palms which are almost ready to be harvested.

Have a wonderful Friday my friends, I hope it’s a peaceful and fulfilling one.

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Hibiscus

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Hibiscus

Hibiscus, originally uploaded by malyousif.

The garden is a bit bare at the moment, most plants have been severely cut back to make enough space for the painters to do their job. Yes, we’re having the whole house repainted – with a new colour scheme inside and out. I think it will take another 2 weeks before we’re done, giving us just a few days before we fly off for summer holidays in Victoria, BC, Canada.

Why there? Delivering daughter #2 to college where she will join her elder sister. It’s fortunate that both will be in the same college and ultimately will be sharing the same accommodation.

Have a wonderful and peaceful Friday my friends, and thanks once again for visiting.

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