Mi Bodeguita del Medio

While my blog is named after a restaurant in Havana I hope to someday visit, here you will find musings, rants, political incorrectness, thoughts on Indian Nationalism, strong straight-forward opinions and tid-bits.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

France Legalises the "Siesta" at Work

The French Minister of Health has come to the conclusion that short naps are beneficial to people while at work, as about 10 million people in this mid-sized country suffer from sleep deprivation. A pretty bold move, considering sleeping at work has traditionally been a taboo subject. A comprehensive study was done by a group of researchers and the result was something we all know - a short nap works in favour of the employee, helps them concentrate better and (in case of construction, mining and other potentially dangerous industries) helps the worker practice greater precaution and safety. The plan is to invite companies on a voluntary basis over the next two years to try out the "napping at work" program and measure effectiveness of employees thereby. Six million euros have been designated to the project, which I imagine will be used to set up rest areas at workplaces.

I've always admired the French, not for their wine or cheese, but for their proactive outlook to matters that concern the general population. This makes the government of France arguably one of the most efficiently functioning democracies. Evidence is seen time and again when people take to the streets, make their voice heard, and many a times succeed in changing laws. A similar event comes to mind when the mother of a 16 year old girl in Getafe, Madrid, who was raped and killed by three boys under 18 went around the entire city, managed to collected 500,000 signatures and succeded in changing the "ley de minores" or law of the minors so that these boys would face a sentence stricter than just being put in a detention centre. This incident happened in the neighbourhood I lived in. This "culture" of getting out on the streets and demanding what you deserve is slowly seeping into Spain, I would say a positive influence from their neighbours to the north. Coming back to France, be it the high cost of housing, steep oil prices, lack of dignified, permanant work contracts for young people, no matter what the complaint, the Frenchies are on their toes. They dont let their government breathe easy or relax. The way it should be.

When X swears into office, he should know and be prepared for the kind of responsibility he's taking on (unlike in India that politicians just want to get on for the love of the "kursi," do jack, fill their pockets as deep as they can, and meanwhile let the people go to hell). When one cares about her/himself, demands that their needs and wants be met, then others take that into concern. As they say in Spanish, "el que no llora, no mama," (literally: one who doesn't cry, doesn't get fed).

Paraddax in Oman Part II

As promised, here are pictures of Paraddax at the Muscat Festival.

Jellyfish Sting

I got stung by a semi-transparent whitish gooey-looking jellyfish last weekend. My entire arm swelled up and became almost double its size (ok, I'm exaggerating a little). Lucky for me I'm not allergic to the stuff or I would have to be taken to the ER at the nearby hospital. Out of a group of 8 people, I was one of three that were stung. We'd hired a boat and gone out snorkelling from the Marina Bandar al Rowdha and within 10 minutes of jumping into the water, everyone was back on board again, three of us being stung, others feeling a terrible itch and burning sensation all over (it was in the water).

The guy at the Marina was happy to make his 100 rials, even if it meant not disclosing to us that we would probably get stung. I later heard from people that in the wintertime Omani waters are filled with jellyfish - the kind that sting. Whatever happened to people's conscience?

Anyway, here is the treatment to apply in case a jellyfish sting causes allergy; and it appears that vinegar is the popular medicine in such cases, just like when you get a needle stuck in your foot from sea urchins.

So, next time you hit the water in winter around the Gulf, make sure you check for jellyfish.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Gulf Football Frenzy

We're in the midst of the Gulf Football Cup, and Oman came out as one of the better teams. As a result, the city has been celebrating. Interestingly though, over the last couple of days, I have seen more police cars and ambulances on the streets than I have living here 20 years. Football fans have been going wild after Oman victories, hanging out of car windows and sunroofs. In one case, a car had the flag hanging too low out the back, as a result, first the flag, then the entire car caught fire. Nice celebration huh?

On the main street in Qurm where I live, each match night (irrespective of whether the team won or lost), the street outside lights up with football fans honking, driving recklessly and generally making peace impossible. I haven't caught a wink of sleep until about 5am on these match days (not to mention the Muscat Festival that goes on in the park right outside causing an influx of people from all parts of the country with countless cars all fighting for parking space, right outside my front door). Similar cases are to be heard in the UAE where football "celebrations" have caused 6 deaths so far.

Finally, I'm quite happy that the Oman football team do well in competitions, but some moderation and control as far as the after-party is in order.

Paraddax in Oman Part I

The Muscat Festival this year was a special event for me as I worked to bring the Paraddax European Paramotor Team (EPT) to Oman, after having met them in Spain two years ago. The team was made up of: Armand, Ramón, Carlitos, Carlos, Nino, Felix and Cédric the coordinator. It all went smoothly and for 7 days I did the job of coordinator, chauffeur, tour guide and basically just had a great time with no or little sleep and rest, all worth the effort in the end.

The EPT is a group of expert and accomplished pilots who perform unprecedented aerial shows and exhibitions worldwide. With an impressive record exceeding 1500 performances in 20 countries worldwide, these guys are arguably some of the best paramotor pilots alive.

They were here for a week to do aerial choreographies for the weekend of Jan 25 and 26 (thursday and friday being weekend days in this strange land). On the second day, after favourable winds and after having done more than 3 choreographed routines, they decided to take me up and proposed a tandem. Being my first time flying in a paramotor, I was more than happy to get up there and what an experience.

Coming up soon... pics from the air.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Last Month at Work

Happy 2007 !!!

Its my last month at work. Im soon going to close the Oman chapter and move back to Spain. How great!

However, I still have exactly 21 working days to go. Each moment at work since my transfer was approved has been difficult. But this last month takes the cake. Each morning I think yesterday was long, hope today will be alright. But today always turns out to be longer and draggier than yesterday!

At the office, everybody and their mum knows I'm leaving and can't stop asking me nosy questions that leave me quite annoyed, because I don't have all the answers yet. Sadly enough, the entire transfer process has been not too well organised from the Barcelona side, leaving a lot of room for improvement. I've had to constantly do the follow-ups, which leaves me with a sense of being a bit of a nag, specially to the HR guy at their end. Its now that I wish they would come out of their holiday mode and get their culos moving.

In case my 'permiso de trabajo' (work permit) is not out and processed by the end of this month, I am surely taking off in February to go travelling to SE Asia. Thats my plan so far. Lets see how it goes.

From Muscat, Happy New Year !!!