Sunday, May 9, 2010
For this one time, I do not want to rewind into my past nor peek into the future. I am trying to stay frozen in time and hoping the reality will not thaw my state of being and plant me firmly back on the ground. It’s not that I am afraid of the ground it’s just deep feeling inside where I am learning to fly, to an unknown destination, to the tranquil of peace and the land of the mermaids. I take a deep breath and ask myself why.
As I close my eyes, I can soar so high, even past the Garden of Eden, the land of promise and golden sunrise. I slowly glide past the opulence of the mountains filled with tangerine trees and marmalade skies. The Cellophane flowers of yellow and green makes me cry out to meet Lucy in the sky. It’s going to be a blue morning and then a blue day – and I wonder why you won’t see it my way.
The rays of hope start to fall on my face trying to wake me up. I steadfastly refuse the nudge, as I want to continue and fly. I beg for my share of time that is standstill.Yet once again the magnificent sun is slowly wining the battle and is forcing the grey skies to mend its ways and be alive. Hope is being restored and released from the clutches of the darkness, the elements of the night start to disappear to wait their chance and return at dusk.
The mermaids of happiness are beckoning me to join the serenade. I can hear the harp being played so far away, and the choir of angels singing
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
I am now wide awake and see that I am back on the ground. The cacophonic reality returns and urges me to make the best of my day. I have to return back to the mill, to the grind of the day, to go back and wear that ball and chain. As I leave, all I ask is for peace, nothing but peace, the real peace!
Saturday, April 17, 2010
15th April 2010 - a day to reckon with.
Normally I would wake up, grab a warm cup of coffee, run to the balcony with a cigarette, to wait for sunrise, and my thoughts would drift to where my soul belongs. In the peace and tranquility of my garden of Eden, the dolphins would be waltzing around a beautiful mermaid, with those seagulls hovering above as though they were an advanced warning system protecting them. In the meantime the sun would come up, wink at me and continue to wake up the rest of the world and spread it’s warmth of love.
This morning I am confronted with an uneasy calm which is making me disillusioned, and the fear of standing on the podium and expressing my gratitude to the peers and heavy weights of the industry who will be judging the capability of the students who made it across the finish line in the first batch of CILT Diploma. Of the scores who attended the course, my colleague Rohit and I are one of the chosen five!
The thought that I am finally graduating and becoming a thoroughbred member of the Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transportation (UK) is soothing and comforting. The thought brings the much needed stability and peace to an otherwise confused mind.
Had my daughter Stephanie been around, the problems like which jacket to wear, and what colour would match the formality of the evening would have been solved easily! However my dearest friend Sheeja comes to my rescue and works out the colour combination with the ease and finesse which she is known for. Now having settled that, it’s time to make up my mind how my 10 minutes of agony on the podium should be suffered. I decide against reading out a written speech and to go with the flow with the random thoughts that comes to my mind. However both Fathima and Sheeja comes my rescue yet once again, and becomes my audience in RHME conference room. Having made the necessary correction in my salutation, they give me an 8 out of 10, and having passed my litmus test, I was ready for the evening.
Seeing my colleague Rohit decked up in his best, gave me the much needed confidence, as I prepare the drive to Aviation College where my dreaded wait will commence. After many cups of coffee and umpteen number of cigarettes, my blood sugar has already started doing the Macarena!
The start of the evening is slightly delayed, and the Master of the ceremony or the Host Mr. V.P. Menon methodically sets the agenda for an information filled evening. The main seasoned and experienced speakers for the evening including Mr. Ram Menen (VP Emirates, Skycargo) is all set and rearing to go.
Mr. Eeklon starts raving about working capital and related issues within Supply chain and does a case study on Apple and other MN Giants. Mr. Balaji Nagabhushan does his bit on Risk Assessment and related management, and wakes up those who had already settled into slumber during the previous talk. Things go on as scheduled, and suddenly it is time to go up on stage, collect our Diploma, pose for group photographs, and start the countdown for the dreaded moment.
The long wait has taken its toll on the butterflies in my stomach and has disappeared. Looks like they ran out of patience, and streaks of confidence and sense of accomplishment starts to emanate and engulf me. It’s make or break, swim or sink, the battle stations are called and suddenly I find myself adjusting the microphones on the podium
“ Honourable chief guest, fellow students, ladies and Gentlemen. Standing here in front of an audience as huge as this as good as being thrown into the middle of the deep blue sea, with the only option to swim or sink. For a moment I wish that I had listened to VP and joined the Toastmasters! Anyway as a true logistician I am going to attempt to take up this challenge and swim across to the other side.
My name is Hubert Richard, Supply Chain Manager of Radio Holland Middle East.
With the boom coming to Dubai......... “ (Gawd, I wish I wrote down and read my speech, but it is too late!!)
I search for reassurance amongst the audience, but there is none, except for Rohit who is begging me not to blow up the opportunity and tarnish the image of RHME, and yet once again I secretly wish I had someone from my kit and kin. People are re-aligning themselves in their seat. Bang in front of my face is Moshin (Director of Dubai Logistics City) and Alex Borg (Director of CILT, GCC Region) who has smiles on their faces when I describe how I explained to my wife the FIFO theory that should guide the usage of the refrigerator and so on. I knew I had hit the right note, as I can see in peoples eyes that they are eager to see where I am leading them.
Suddenly the allocated time is already up – I am thanking the audience for their patience and trying to leap out of the limelight, VP is approaching me with a smile spread all across the Pacific Ocean. Alex Borg walks up to me and gives me the thumbs up sign, and a huge handshake, and that itself told me that I had swum across the river and arrived unscathed! I had yet once again navigated myself through the mine-field of prying eyes and proved my point to all doubting Jonas’s that CILT is what it implies and that’s what made me! In the confusion, I miss out to acknowledge the grande ovation that was being showered.
Fellow students are in a state of amazement as I settle into my seat. Ahmed, Rohit, Sergey & Sabri are all praise, and then Mr. Ram Menen takes the stage for the vote of thanks and opens his talk with the statement Hubert, you’re a hard act to follow! This statement coming from a person whose stature is unquestionable in the industry told me that I had successfully managed to conquer the demons of fear and apprehension and subdue them. Far away I could hear my choir of angels singing This is it!!.
Rohit was on full beam, the only person there amongst the crowd from my kith and kin, once again proud of the fact that he was part of a winning team called RHME. As the evening came to an end and during the networking session Mr. Balaji, Mr. P.J. Mathew, Elias Pereira and scores of others came over and praised me for pulling it off in style, and in true CILT style.
We did the victory dance in Irish Village later that night along with some of the faculty, the students from the new batch and others who could make it to a grande finale!
With the mesmerizing moments behind me, I arrive home a fully satisfied person, with feelings of accomplishment; having kept the flag of not only CILT, but also RHME flying high and in the bargain firmly established myself as a small cog in the wheel amongst the Supply Chain Fraternity in GCC.
What I want to do now is dance to the delicate sounds of thunder in the pouring rain – all alone.... and thank all the angels, mermaids and the seagulls for being there for me when I needed them. Deep inside me I reach out and also thank King Neptune, the ruler of the oceans! Oh how I wish I can do a last waltz with a mermaid....
Friday, April 2, 2010
It’s easy to write off a product on launch which is mostly based on known prejudices and the possible jealousy factor. However should the machine gather even 20% attention in the media, and then you can start to smell victory in its own domain. The iPad for sure has got more coverage in various media and from the word go become the head turner since it was launched. You can’t just ignore this beauty on the catwalk even if she’s wearing a max-ipad! Technically there might be some spec deficiencies in this product, but that does not outweigh the wow factor at this stage, and a company like Apple which is known for bringing out revolutionary products itself will be the guarantee factor for this product.
Time will really tell if this gizmo will really go mainstream computing, and should anyone ask me, my bet will be based on various analysis that is available on the net, and I would go with Apple selling around 10 to 15 million units in 2010/2011. That itself will be a huge WOW factor for Steve Jobs especially in these challenging time.
Steve you just taught the world a new lesion, and I will salute you for this, still I will go with the adage, time will tell.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Thank you for your email. Glad to hear from you.
It looks like only a couple of weeks since we left the old rusted freighter SHIGEO NAGANO (though it's two decades ago) where we had to still hit the Morse Key to communicate with the world after we had left the port. Today the communication revolution has brought us this far - in the sense that I can type an alphabet on my machine and it will display on your screen, that too half way around the planet. We can even see each other as we talk today - thanks to the revolution, yet we are sad, and miss our CODE.
Today when I look at it RADIO OFFICERS sounds like it is older than the dinosaur... Gawd, what did we do wrong.... We worked so hard, and we were rewarded as we were the only chosen few who would make it to the finish line before getting our stripes, and yet even though we are alive, we are history that no one even bothers revisiting. There is no more mention of Morse Code and the code bearers anymore in the world except for a few web sites, and those of us who walk around with pride and conviction that we were the flag bearers of the past generation of communication. Deep down inside we still hear Portishead Radio sending out the traffic list - don't we? or is it Bombay Radio ?? or is it the static in the air...
daah did did did did did did daah did daah daah daah did did did ....
It's only 5.30 in the morning and am sitting out in the balcony patiently waiting for sunrise, and I already need a drink! (Even though I haven't had one since new years eve...) - It's nostalgia creeping all over me..... Between this typing - I can look out into the outer anchorage of Port Khalid aka Sharjah port and see ships waiting to come inside, thanks to living on the 20th floor. Time and again I would secretly wish I could live on the beach and look out of my bedroom to see the ships docked in port and feel safe in my cocoon of my maritime days....
Those were the days, yeah! Those were the days... The days when ships were held hostage and couldn’t leave port without us Radio Officers, they would patiently wait till we boarded the gangway. Those were the days that upon docking we would be declared FREE and would hit the nearest and probably the only seaman's mission where we would send out our post, get a haircut and hit our first beer. We would go out ashore wander around even in lonely places like Sullom Voe (Shetland Isles), Come by chance, Cape Town and even to Lyttleton in far away New Zealand.... No matter where they are, they were home away from home. Nobody would know us, recognize us or even talk to us, yet they would be like our family!
Today we toil in an industry devoid of the code, the decorum and the comforts of the rank. We walk on hard ground without having to bother to lash up things and getting ready for sea. Instead of the rolling and pitching we suffer from the inner turmoil of the office politics. And from years of egg and bacon for breakfast - we suffer from diabetes, cholesterol and high blood sugar, and we wish we can attribute all this to the demise of the Morse Code...
Yes, the Morse Code, is (was) the center of our universe... The bloodline on which the Maritime industry thrived, or even existed. The planet and it's inhabitants were dependant on the ships calling their shores for their daily existence. It was the CODE that took us to the right place at the right time! Samuel Morse & Marconi were our unseen but revered Gods. Yet all this has been consigned to the deep annals of history, whose custodians don't even feign knowledge of these important facts.
We took things for granted and life went by. We ignored the warning signs of the arrival of GMDSS and believed that nothing could replace the CODE and the code bearers. We argued that satellite technology wouldn't fall into place even after we retired. And deep inside we harbored the fear that all this will not be true. When INROC sent out the initial salvo of missiles warning us that Inmarsat-C would be an active component of the distress structure, we argued endlessly against the folly of that thought process. In the meantime the satellite engineers toiled away in the background making GMDSS a reality, and the ship owners grabbed the opportunity whole heartedly, and consigned us into the darkened pits of un-employment.
Today we wish, that we can go with our coffee mug with a hot steaming brew, stand out in the bridge wing and get the fine spray on our face. We close our eyes and feel the gentle roll as we steam across the Atlantic ocean at a steady pace. We would think of home and those whom we left behind, and wonder what they were doing. and we would wish that we will not forget to pick up the next weather report and navigational warning. All these are just wishes today.
Today it's all over. All we get to do is stand out in our balcony and look at those ship's that are far away, wondering what is happening inside. we know exactly what is happening, yet we wonder.... and we wonder where today's technology will take us tomorrow...
All we do is wonder and wonder.... even wonder what the old whalers are doing today....
Let the CODE be with you....
Friday, February 19, 2010
The few things on the agenda for the year is, to lookout and locate an appropriate Master's in Operations Management, plan for slowly moving out to a better location, meaning a better neighbourhood, and finally starting to prepare for my eventual return to my homeland. Having left my country in 1983, it's about time to hang up the oars and return home to sit by the fire for a while...
That begs the question - if I am going home to sit by the fire, then why bother about doing the Masters ??
I must be out of my mind......