The British Asian Blog

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Tag: transportation

Life is a darling adventure, or nothing!

Just a quick note:

I know I’ve been absent lately from blogging – I’m sorry.  I haven’t blogged as much as I liked to and I have my valid reasons why.  If this blog was an actual human being – I’d probably have had a number of fights due to neglecting him/her.  I’d prefer it to be a ‘her’.

Unfortunately, this little note is to add to my absence from this platform for a little while longer – well five weeks to be precise.

That’s right; I’m hours away from embarking on a long business holiday, where the first leg is a (series of connecting) flight from London-Heathrow to Florida.  In theory Florida is my official first holiday home.  The plan is to spend four nights there, mainly to complete outstanding ownership paperwork.  Once done, I’ll be heading to Bangalore, India.  There I’ll stay till September 16th.  Long time – Yes I know and it’s purely intentional and desired.

Most of you will know why I am engaged in India so much.  I wrote about it here, an earlier post back in December 2012 about Change.  In short, I have business interests out in India, a place where I find to be another great place for opportunity.

The business venture which I have been working on with my acquaintance from South Asia was launched in the UK on July 31st and August the 1st.  My acquaintance, although in London for another project, managed to pull it off remarkably well and to perfection and it all it went extremely well. The soft launch had already been in flow few months earlier.  My visit to India is to complete this launch and this will be my final stage of launching the venture.

The hard work will then start.

This venture isn’t about producing a product or selling to a mass market.  It is, in fact, a service for a new elite group of young people who have a ‘seven figure disposable income’ and who reside around the world.  Since the soft launch to the day we went live in London, this venture has exceeded all expectations.

So what does all this mean:  Well, in short, it means I won’t be available from next couple of hours (8pm today) until 16th September.  My personal phone will be switched off for this duration and my international number will be used instead.  It also means that I won’t be blogging during this time, well, I think I wont, but if there appears to be an opportunity then I may drop a line or two.  That said, I do, however, like to switch on my twitter GPS and location option – so you guys can check out where I am – so watch out for my tweets.

When I get to India, and in the care of my acquaintance it will be more hard work to get the final stage of the venture live.  This, I’m sure, will go as well as it did in London.

…and on that note, I wish you all the best and I hope to catch up with you guys sometime soon.

Remember:  Life is a darling adventure, or nothing!

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The Apprentice 2013 on BBC One – Series 9: Part 4 of 14

Lord Alan Sugar hand picked world UK best apprentices put on a magnificent display last week.  The Apprentice 2013 Series 9 and part 3 gave us a glimpse of what was truly in store for us and that these apprentices are truly exceptional people.  Two bright individuals quickly jump to my mind, or rather a couple of scenes flash in my memory.  The first scene – Lusia passionately painting Jordan’s toenails matt-black and probably the only task to date where both Lusia and Jordon have worked so passionately, second Alex the Welsh Dracula with his killer eye-brows taking on the know-it-all Natalie in a race to achieve the unbelievable milestone – to answer the telephone to receive next task instructions.  Why can’t my staff show such ‘extraordinary’ enthusiasm when the phone rings?

The task was simple (as always) innovative storage space solution flat-pack furniture.  You know, the stuff you supposed to find exhilarating in your home/apartment and forced to say  ‘wow can’t believe this wasn’t thought of before’, but since this is The Apprentice, we need to be a little less excited and more realistic, and aim to get some good solutions from our hopefuls.

In a nutshell – The Girls team lost led by Natalie, between the best brains in the world country they could only come up with (in theory) a multifunctional cube, which could do this and that, that and this all the while being just a cube.  When it came to putting the theory into practice they failed miserably and all they made was a nail-free-not-a-cube-looking-rectangle-box-on wheels and finished their masterpiece in the colour grey.  Lord Alan Sugar asked the teams to produce something which involved thinking outside of the box, the girls gave Lord Alan Sugar the box instead – on wheels.

On the other hand, the boys team powered by Alex but led by Jordan produced something a little more exciting.  A table which could be folded into a much needed table.  Not surprisingly the boys team won the task by selling more to their customers.

Natalie brings back the chief product designer Uzma and the not-so-enthusiastic Sophie back to the boardroom, where Sophie ends up falling victim to Lord Alan Sugar’s finger.

It’s clear, the girls are having a disaster of a time and I can’t imagine the impact it will have should they fail the task today – or Lord Alan Sugar may simply mix up the teams so save further embarrassments.

Today’s challenge involves some farmyard shop fun.

The Apprentice 2013 on BBC One – Series 9: Part 3 of 14

Last week we were truly spoilt by Lord Alan Sugar.  Not only did we get to see the first episode of this year’s The Apprentice a day early (on a Tuesday) we were overdosed by the second episode the following day (Wednesday) – thus sending the blood pressure of us The Apprentice addicts into dangerous territory.

The first episode on Tuesday introduced us to the candidates, a deliberate selection of annoying muppets and arrogant to**ers who would struggle to put a key into a keyhole.  The task was simple, unload a load of junk made in China, count it, prices it, work out the profit margins and figure out best locations to flog it.  The team which makes the most profit wins – simple right but boy oh boy did the girls team get into a devastating mess or what.  I was almost stunned to see a group of girls taking a cat product made in China to, what is known as China town in London, and sell it there when already those shops were stocked up with this product.  Not surprisingly the women’s team lost the task resulting in, the mouth motivator Jaz Ampaw-Farr being fired – and rightly so – God damn she was annoying.

The second episode on Wednesday was a little different.  The boys (Team Endeavour) and the girls (Team Evolve) had to come up with a flavoured beer for punters.  Tim, the constantly moving man who really is a puppet where someone using strings, against his will, moves his arms and head rather annoyingly, was sent over to run the girls team as a project manager – but quickly realised he couldn’t even manage his own moving actions let alone control the tasks.  On the other side it was Kurt who was appointed to lead the boys team.  In all honestly I simply can’t remember him, but somehow he managed to pull off the task and win – especially after his catastrophic decision to send three non-drinkers (including a Muslim) to go actually make, taste the beer – I mean come on.

The boys team pulled it off, somehow, leaving Tim to fight it out with the girls in the boardroom.  It all proved to be too much for animated Tim and was the second casualty of this series.

For me, there is one outstanding character in this series – The Welsh Dracula Alex Mills. He had the best one liner I have heard, well since my preschool days, “Will you be quiet you silly little shit” blasted to the PhD student.  The PhD student from some University had no research knowledge in addressing this comment, and all methodologies failed at this point for him – which resulted in utter silence.

If I had the opportunity to hire anyone of these contestants it would have to be the Welsh Dracula, I mean his eyebrows are amazing, something out of this world – literally.  I’d hire him on the basis that he could scare my competition into submission just by his physical appearance when I take him into meetings, if that would fail he could scare the living daylights out of them by his one liners “just give up your business you silly little shit”.  In fact I am going to find this Welsh Dracula Alex Mills and offer him a job as a personal bodyguard.

What is evident in this year’s bunch of top brass is the attitudes of the girls, if anything, they should be re-branded as Team Delusional.  The boys, including The Welsh Dracula, do have their problems but they proved twice in a row they can meet the task objective and win, but for the girls they are horrible to watch and some are nasty pieces of work.  I am sure that those girls who get fired from The Apprentice will be labelled for life of not-employable.

Today’s episode it’s a challenge for flat pack furniture – bring it on

The Apprentice 2013 on BBC One Starts 9pm Tuesday 7 May

The Apprentice 2013

Are you ready…?  I know I am.  The Worlds UK’s best business minded people are ready to fight for Lord Alan Sugar’s £250,000 investment.  If you’re clever enough – the banks would probably give you more with a good-sound business plan and save you a life-time of embarrassment but then again Series 9 kicks off today BBC One (Tuesday 7 May at 9pm) and can be viewed later on BBC iPlayer.  There are no The Apprentice 2013 spoiler here but only a quick shout out to everyone “that you’re Wednesday evenings won’t be the same again – well not at least for the next few months”.

The Apprentice is one of my favourite TV show (if I can call it a show or should I use the words side-splitting entertainment) and I find it extremely…erm what’s the word(s) “I can’t believe I’m watching this stuff” while I grit my teeth and remain calm at the TV, especially when the UK’s best, sorry Worlds best candidates fight their hearts out in each task climbing to the top, get hired then decide to take Lord Sugar to court.

Let me introduce you to the candidates, starting with my favourite first:

Zeeshaan Shah, Age: 27, Career: CEO of Property Investment Company, Location: London

Francesca MacDuff-Varley, Age: 32, Career: Dance and Entertainment Entrepreneur Location: Leeds

Jaz Ampaw-Farr, Age: 41, Career: Literacy and Education Company Director, Location: Milton Keynes

Leah Totton, Age: 24, Career: Doctor, Location: London

Luisa Zissman, Age: 25, Career: Retail Entrepreneur, Location: St Albans

Natalie Panayi, Age: 30, Career: Recruitment Manager, Location: Rickmansworth

Rebecca Slater, Age: 35, Career: Medical Rep, Location: Wigan

Sophie Lau, Age: 22, Career: Restaurateur, Location: Bristol

Uzma Yakoob, Age: 32, Career: Entrepreneur and Make-Up Brand Owner, Location: London

Alex Mills, Age: 22, Career: Company Director, Location: Cardiff

Jason Leech, Age: 29, Career: Historian and Property Entrepreneur, Location: London

Jordan Poulton, Age: 26, Career: Business Analyst, Location: London

Kurt Wilson, Age: 26, Career: Health Drink Entrepreneur and Health & Safety Manager, Location: Liverpool

Myles Mordaunt, Age: 39, Career: Marketing Company Co-Founder, Location: Monaco

Neil Clough, Age: 32, Career: Regional Manager – Soccer Centres, Location: Altrincham

Tim Stillwell, Age: 23, Career: Mexican Food Entrepreneur, Location: Birmingham

Bring it on…

Rapid Progress: Leeds, London to Bangalore and Mumbai

I’m less than 24 hours away from flying out to India only while being back from India less than 3 months.  This is what I call ‘rapid progress’ and why shouldn’t it be, as time is of essence as always.  You may recall, I wrote about change in my life and the reasons why I am now engaged in business in India.  This visit to India is going up another stage for the venture I am involved in.

Now that this will be my third visit to India in less than two years means that I have already established a solid base and network in India – and I must extol thanks to my acquaintance who has put her heart and mind in accommodating me and in ensuring that all my expectations, requirements and desires are met both personally and for the venture we both are involved in.  Our relationship has grown ever so strong, more so recently, and on that basis our foundations together are becoming more and more solid by the day – what does help is the exchange of large amount of cash from both parties to kick start this venture literally done on verbal agreement, despite my banking portfolio-manager raising his eyebrow at the arrangement.  Had either one of us been dealing with someone else, verbal agreement would never cross our minds but a written agreement, so the trust element of our relationship is at an all time high.

My stay in India will be mostly business with some pleasure, and I hope my stay there for 8 nights mainly in Prabhadevi with some travelling to other cities back and forth will be enough to complete some objectives – mainly getting the ball rolling for recruiting staff for our new venture.  It’s going to be a tough task.  The elite customer base (who have to go through a stringent vetting process) has now topped 4,600 members only in Bangalore and Mumbai alone not to mention numbers in other cities like Delhi or cities in UK and US.  This is prior to our launch date pencilled in for July this year and well before a marketing strategy has been designed, let alone advertising this new venture through a series of private clubs and networks.  This achievement is a mini success.  Something I predicted when we discussed this venture prior to my involvement.

I must say it’s amazing how the word of mouth along with the reputation of my acquaintance in India can achieve all this effortlessly.

So the recruitment drive, in my view, is a big deal.  Any progress in this space needs to be right the first time.  Once this is well under way in India, a similar recruitment drive will be conducted here in the UK.  I guess in the UK it’s more stress-free or less stressful, especially when the various recruitment agencies are prepared to do all the donkey work for you.

This week also completes two months of working in London.  If you are up to date with my change post written prior to my last visit to India in December 2012, you will know the reasons of why I relocated from working in Leeds to London and in particular Vauxhall where I continue with my existing career and Knightsbridge where the offices for the new venture has been established.  The lifestyle change meant that in the New Year, once I got back from spending the entire December of 2012 in India, I had to continue with my existing career and establish a firm base for our new venture, but from London.

It’s been an interesting change with new experiences and where some experiences stretched far longer than what I’d experienced previously.  Travelling by train from Leeds to Kings Cross every Monday morning, then to return on a Thursday afternoon/evening each week for two months has been an interesting experience.  It’s my preferred method of travelling between Leeds and London, where the alternatives are to either drive or fly between both locations.  I’ve tried all three options but I do prefer the train commute, the very least it gives me just over 2 hours of much needed productivity time where I can conduct my business and attend matters which require my attention, where otherwise isn’t available with the other travel options.

Travelling by train between Leeds and London, I have experienced some interesting encounters with people, most are worthy of a dedicate post – like for example, the two teenage girls sitting opposite me on the first class cabin seeking advice from me on their trouble teenage relationships and then having to speak to another girl friend of theirs over the phone to repeat my advice, or the gay guy who burst into tears after falling out with his boyfriend over the phone and then confiding in me the whole duration from London to Leeds, to the racist chap thinking he was a smart arse who I then shredded into fine bits after he made a racist remark to a black student on the train or to the Australian women who was convinced I was a close friend of her ex husband and that I was following her.

The relocation during the week to London has meant having to sell both of my cars in January.  As part of my relocation to London I have been given a company car, this for the time being is sufficient for me to drive around.  It also gives me the opportunity to order a new 4×4 on a 2013 registered plate with my personal choice of colour (Diamond White), interior and gadgets which is scheduled for delivery come end of April this year.

So, with this rapid progress, I bid you farewell for a short while and I hope to catch up with you guys once I touch base in India in two days time.

Achievement Award for 2012

The desire to succeed in life has always been the fire or flame inside me.  No matter what it is, how trivial it is – I have the desire to succeed.  Those who know me spend their time around me and who generally come in and out of my environment will be all too familiar with this flame – it’s always burning.

This morning when I arrived into office we had our regular communications meeting – scheduled once every month for all managerial positions to attend to learn about developments, progress, issues, solutions and regular updates – I was presented with an ‘Achievement Award’ for 2012.  It came as a total shock and surprise to me when the chair of the meeting and regional director announced my name, in front of approximately 30 other managers seated and another 10 or 20 who attended via video conference, called me up and handed me the award certificate.

The wording on the certificate said “Achievement Award – awarded for dedication and perseverance resulting in 100% successful project/assignment delivery this calendar year”, and with this came a high street voucher for £250.  During the meeting one more person was given an achievement award.

Since then, it’s dawned upon me that although I was engulfed and indulged in the daily grind of ensuring those projects under my management were on track to be delivered and where I fought endlessly to ensure the projects didn’t derail – it took someone else to recognise my hard work, dedication and desire to succeed, and it felt good and valued.

During 2012, I successfully delivered 3 projects which ran parallel to one another, and delivered 4 major milestones with our ongoing main healthcare contract – total value of these projects for 2012 hits approximately £4.7 million.  My previous best in 2010 was £4.2 million.

Although this certificate indicates that I exceed expectation of my targets that were set, my annual performance review is already looking promising.  What helped my confidence was the regional manager who later approached me at my office and congratulate me in person hinted to ensure I get prepared for my annual appraisal which to me indicates towards two things pay increase and promotion to the next tier above, something which my manager hinted in November last year.

I’m in my office, with this certificate on my desk and I’m wondering whether I could do this again – whether I could beat my 2012 best efforts of delivering projects beyond £4.7 million worth?

All I can say is this – I have the desire to succeed.

2012: Year in Review ‘no end’

It wasn’t so long ago, that I was reviewing year 2011 – and for the life of me I can’t work out where a whole year has gone.  I now write a review (in the shortest way possible) for year 2012.

Firstly and most importantly:  All praise is to the Lord above, who has yet again blessed me and continues to do so.  Not only do I remember ‘you my Lord’ for when times are hard and for when in trouble or for when evil surrounds me, but for when you bestow upon me happiness and success in wherever my focus goes, and for this, ‘I am ever indebted to you my Lord’.

With all new chapters and new starting points in life, I like to start with a little prayer.  The previous paragraph is my attempt to say thank you to my Lord.  In my view, words cannot express the humbleness, gratitude and appreciation that I have for everything in my life.  It’s easy to fall into a habit of calling upon the Lord in hardship and when in trouble, but it’s hard to remain focused and thank the Lord for when we are happy, successful and trouble free, and this, in my view, is key.

As I write this post on my iPad, the time is 7:50pm here in Mumbai.  I’m, alone, in probably the highest building which has an open top roof bar.  I’m sat in Aer Lounge, in what is known as ‘Sunset Happy Hour’ at the 34th floor open air lounge in Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai.  I’ve made this a place which I visit regularly; at least every 2nd or 3rd day – and I love this place.  In fact, I am in love with India, with Mumbai, and with the hustle and bustle of the city (but not the crazy traffic during peak hours, honestly, I thought the traffic in Leeds was bad).  More about India in future posts.

I’ve just witnessed the sunset from this jaw dropping view.  I’ve sat here on this very spot probably about 12 times in the past 4 weeks – but today I came here alone, without my acquaintance or with my new friends that I have made here in Mumbai.  Today’s sunset was a different one.  It reminded me of how 2012 came and went, and it’s given me an opportunity to reflect on the highs and lows of 2012.

Don’t worry, I won’t bore you with my highs and lows for 2012, but what I will say is this:

2012 has been a year of great challenges.  I have deliberately made some tough decisions in pretty much all aspects of my life.  You could say, I deliberately and consciously decided to walk on a path that has been less treaded on, knowing that the journey via this route is unpredictable, more stressful and more dangerous, but I know the reward and satisfaction in the end is invaluable against the grave risks I have decided to take.

As for 2013, well, I know for sure that this year will be more challenging than 2012 or 2011 ever was or double of what I experienced last year.  I accept that.  I am willing to accept the challenges for this year and do what I do best ‘fight on’.

This blog will be the gateway for me to echo what is happening, the challenges I am facing and what I get up to. This blog in itself is yet another challenge for 2013, as I’m sure most of you will agree with me that finding the time to blog is a challenge in our busy and bustling lifestyles.  What keeps me energised and enthusiastic to continue blogging is you guys.  I have met some great bloggers and some fantastic people from all around the world through blogging – it is you guys that fuel me in continuing to share my stories, experiences and views.  You may or may not agree with my views and opinions but we are a community and I’m glad to be part of it.

With that I’d like to wish all of you a happy New Year.

Good Bye 2012 and Welcome 2013.

Change

The British Asian Blog – Change

The combination of ‘change’ and ‘life’ is a weird one.  As life goes on second by second it’s also changing at the same pace.  In fact, if I dwell on this deeper – no two seconds are the same and can never be.  Some changes in life are obvious and appear on our life radar and we learn to deal with them, because change is something we simply cannot stop or avoid and some changes happen in small increments, and if we show patients and pay enough attention to the detail in our lives we’ll notice them.  I guess, in dealing with change we either try fighting it, or, do what I usually do, make it into an opportunity and take advantage of it – because whether you like it or not, change is going to happen.

This time last year, I was preparing for some changes in my life on virtually all fronts.  I guess, I had ventured or steered the direction of my life into a path that was less threaded on.  By that I mean, I jumped out of the rat race that our lives are so glued to in the system we live in and decided that going through a path which hasn’t been threaded on much, would, of course, be very turbulent and unpredictable but at the same time, more rewarding and more satisfying the very least.  There could also be the possibility that it could all go horribly wrong.

So almost a year ago from today when I write this post, I made some tough decisions in my life for the future, knowing full well that change was inevitable on all fronts – be it my profession, my PhD research and education, my family, my friends and relationships, on the entrepreneurial level, in my businesses and future ventures.  Change was to happen and I needed to be prepared for it, both mentally, physically and emotionally.

What I write here today isn’t about describing and explaining change in every aspect of my life – that will be explained, I hope, in future posts as and when ‘change’ happens.  This post, I wanted to dedicate to, sharing with you guys some of the stuff that has happened or is about to happen in very brief description – I guess to set the tone for going into 2013 and beyond.

In less than 24 hours, I will be well on my way to India.  This would be my second such visit to a country, which prior to 2012, I hadn’t even contemplated I’d visit twice – let alone in one year.  India as a country, has taken me by surprise.  I’m in love with it, with its people and with its culture.  It fascinates me in every way – and I’d like to thank that one special person in my life, who took me under her wing and showed me the ‘true India’.  In my view, it’s a place where the future is, or at least, the future is for business and future entrepreneurial ventures – and I’m jumping on that bandwagon early.

About 8 months ago, that special acquaintance who resides in India approached me with an idea, a brand new venture on a very large scale.  Prior to her approaching me, she had worked alone on this idea for well over a year.  I must add, her profession and assignments usually occupy her entire time, but when she could afford the time – it was dedicated in recuperating and on this new venture.  So, 8 months ago or maybe a little longer, she made a decision to take this idea of a new venture to the next level and bring in a partner or an investor.  The idea behind bringing another party (or individual) was that it could continue on its own merit and where she could continue on in her profession and career.  I use the word ‘investor’ loosely and if there is one thing there is no shortage of, and which usually is a core ingredient for all ventures, then that is finance and money.  Access to money is not a problem and this is key.  In part of taking this idea to the next level, she put together a list of people who she would consider to approach and bring in as partners.  As she did a SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threats) analysis on the few people she had in mind, I was the only remaining potential that ticket most of her boxes.  If I failed in any area then that was my location.  I reside in UK and she in India.

Due to her profession and career, this new venture couldn’t be associated with my acquaintance at any cost – simply due to legal reasons and complicated career contracts.  It was ideal for a new face, someone who, to the world, would appear to be fresh, energetic and most importantly an entrepreneur from the West, i.e. UK or USA.  So we engaged and she broke this news to me, I felt privileged, excited but at the same time nervous and a little tense.  As my rule in life, with any acquaintance has always been, just that, an acquaintance is just an acquaintance and no relationship or friendship would come of it, and definitely no business ventures.  When I asked her why me, her response was out of the world and in that description of me she used the words ‘passion’, ‘determination’, ‘creativity’, ‘disciplined and confidence’.  If any of you know me in person, then you would know that new challenges attract me, they turn me on and I can’t resist but to take on the challenge.  I guess that hunger to succeed takes over.

As we continued to discuss this in more detail, which included some physical engagements in Florida and Singapore – it was clear to me that this girl meant business and it was going to be simply between me and her.  If you like, she would be a sleeping partner and I would be the face of this new venture.

So in the 8 months that I have worked on this venture, I have conducted further in-depth market research and the more I do, the more convinced I am that this venture is going to be something big, and failure is not an option.   So on that note, I plan to spend the entire December in India, Bangalore (short of a few days) in which I hope to accomplish three things:  1 – to secure contracts for this new venture, where the head office will be in London, 2 – to help her on another assignment which is due to go live in late January 2013 and 3 – to network with some high profile people who will ensure this venture takes off the ground in the right way, I guess I could add a 4th point here which is to explore more of this beautiful country with my acquaintance.  So tagging along with me will be my barrister who also is a close friend (from childhood) and forms part of my crew including a business partner for another one of my business.  Since the new venture requires a head office to be based in London, in theory we are trying to give this venture a foreign and western layer – which is more recognised in India, so my barrister will guide both myself and my acquaintance in getting setup.  Although my barrister’s visit to India is only for the duration of 13 days, it’s the first time he visits India so that will be fun.

This then brings me nicely on to my career and profession.

Working on the new venture means establishing a head office in London, and for this venture to really become a success, there needs to be an office in four major capitals two of which are London and Delhi.  Right now, my crew are working on securing offices in London and in particular Knightsbridge.  On this basis, a few weeks ago, I wrote an official email to my employers, in particular to my assignment manager and department director.  As an IT consultant and a Project and Program Manager in the healthcare industry my profession is tough and very demanding.  So, I expressed my desire to take a career break or a sabbatical for a period of one year.  Considering that I have been with the same employer for just over three quarters of a decade, I envisaged some raised eyebrows.  The thing with my company is that I work for is that they are a renowned international company and their IT consultancy expands to Nuclear energy, Military, Banking, Formula One and NASA aerospace just to name a few, and they, for sure don’t like letting go of people – as they see their staff as assets not cost.  So hours after I officially sent my email of intent, my assignment manager immediately called me and expressed his views and demanded, with all due respect, to make that official email an ‘unofficial’ so that a solution can be found which would benefit both myself and the company.

So, a few days later a meeting was setup between HR, my assignment manager and department director (who flew in from Germany to attend – which is the first for such matters, so I have been told).  During this unofficial meeting, I expressed my desires and aspirations in wanting to focus my attention on my new venture, which would require some foreign trips mainly between Delhi and Prague, and also meant living in London to oversee this venture.  My employers expressed their desire to keep me, and offered to go away and work out a solution so I could continue with my employment and yet fulfill my desire and aspirations.  Thinking this would be impossible, I somewhat agreed.

Few days later, the following simple solution was proposed – which surprised me:  I didn’t have to take a career break or sabbatical, I could relocate to London and work from our company offices in London, where once a week I could travel to our Leeds offices.  This would mean that I would simply continue working for my employer and I could be relocated in London and yet I could still continue working on my current projects with the same resources and team in Leeds.

This solution was perfect for me, although traveling between Leeds to London wasn’t ideal but I guess I need to compromise a little here, and in some respects I’m killing two birds with one stone – so to speak.

So come January or February 2013, I will officially be living in Vauxhall in London, working both in Vauxhall and establishing my new venture in Knightsbridge.

As for my life in Leeds, well, most of my crew members (another name for close friends) will be supporting my businesses in Leeds – as I have worked hard in recruiting business managers who will report to me directly on a daily basis for each of my business.  My family, as usual, continue to support me in this major change.  According to my business plan for my new venture, my relocation to Vauxhall in London, should only last for the duration of one year – after which, it will be time to focus my attention to Leeds or wherever my life decides to take me.

So, these are the changes taking place in my life.  I hope to write when I get to India as well as tweet, but I’m not going to make it a priority as my time in India is going to be my time.  I think, considering the graft I have put in this year, I deserve some rest and pleasure and on that note – I wish you all a very ‘cold’ and ‘wet’ December if you are in the UK or in the west and I’ll be thinking about you guys from India.

Note:  I have written this blog post in the last 6 hours in very small snippets.  As always, there is a mad rush to get my affairs in Leeds in order and my travel schedule is hectic and goes like this:  Outbound from Manchester Airport to London Heathrow, then connecting flight from London Heathrow to Doha International, from Doha International to Bangalore International airport – which means 2 stops and a duration of 24 hours and 45 minutes and arriving in Bangalore for Friday 7th December at 02:55 (according to my e-ticket).  So, the post may have appeared a little rushed but I guess you guys get the idea.

Oh one last thing:  Last few days I was on skype with my acquaintance in India, I could hear a strange and weird song in the background.  So I asked her what it is – when she put the volume up and later sent me the link to that song – I basically had had multiple fits.  My visit to India is all summed up in this one song.  Note:  although the words may sound like Hindi, they are not, they are in fact English but pronounced in Hindi style – sit back and enjoy:

 

What the British do in a crisis?

Due to my long vacation and business trip to South Asia this December (and to rub it in – it’s spanning almost for the entire month minus a few days) I need to do a handover of my projects to other Project Managers, more about this trip in another post.

As part of the first handover meeting between me and 6 other senior Project/Program Managers this morning, we discussed my strategy in dealing with customers, healthcare professional, suppliers, issues and risk factors and how to avert a crisis or how to deal with one.

Now many Project/Program Managers have their own way of dealing with a crisis (when the sugar hits the fan).  Some run around screaming, some try pinning the blame on others, some walk off quietly and find a quiet corner and scream, some simply ask others (like me) for help.  I have a different way in dealing with a crisis.

What do I do in a crisis is drink more tea.

That’s right – the British (including British Asian) way of dealing with a crisis is to drink more tea, simple.

When I explained this to an American Project Manager, he looked up to the left, scratched his head and replied “I don’t drink tea”.  To which my response was “Yes I know.  You’re not British”.  The British and British Asians have always drunk tea, plenty of it, during a crisis.

The British Asian Blog – Tea

Just saying.

Cornetto Ice Cream

This morning, not sure why, but I rode into work on my motorbike despite the weather being so terrible and ‘so not ideal’ for biking.  I’m a little confused why I did this – especially when in summer I only took the bitch out about six times when the weather was perfect for a long period.  Bitch is the nickname for my motorbike and I like it.

Maybe, I did this because, few days ago I saw another chap at work rev into work on his motorbike.  Or that, my acquaintance who is due to spend a few days with me talked about me taking her out for a ride – something which she has never done.

On that note..

Honestly, if someone had told me how hot women get more hotter when they experience the thrill of riding a motorbike, I’d quit University after my first semester and open a women’s motorbike school only for hot women – that way i’d save years in figuring out why so many women wanted a ride on my motorbike again and again when I finally qualified to ride one and got one in my final year.

Any-ways.

Three weird and crazy things happened few nights ago, which I have been debating and wanting to write about.  They are (in order of how they happened):

1.  I was involved in a street fight
2.  I lost my watch in that same street fight
3.  I made friends with a gay guy

All three things happened in one short night, and where in the words ‘street’ and ‘fight’ come together, you can expect plenty of fists and plenty of guys.

OK “plenty of fists” might be a hyperbole or an overstatement, as well as “plenty of guys”. What happened was two pairs of fists began to clash like in a boxing ring, between two blokes.  Neither the fists belonged to me nor neither was I anyone of the two blokes – well not at the beginning.

You’re probably trying to find the correlation between this post title ‘Cornetto’ and the three crazy things that happened all in one night.  Well…

I was alone at my apartment, having just got back from my daily pulverize.  It had just turned 11:25pm and I suddenly got the urge of stuffing at least two Cornetto ice creams down my throat – a strawberry one and a mint one – as quickly as possible.  It was my fix.  I was simultaneously texting an acquaintance who was staying over at her friends nearby, let’s give her a name:  Kiren.  Upon discovering with a fright that I had zero Cornetto ice creams in my freezer – I frantically text this information to Kiren – whose quick thinking suggested “come pick me up and let’s get some” in her text.  Perfect…

or was it…

I drove to her place, picked her up, and headed into the spaghetti-road City Centre in the direction of Tesco express.  I gradually rolled my car towards the traffic lights which signalled stop.  My attention suddenly fell on two guys and three ladies, just a little ahead on the side pavement to my right.  Out of frigging nowhere, one of the guys suddenly launched a ferocious attack on the other guy.  Who at first, put up a little resistance until he suddenly dropped like ‘George Foreman’ against Muhammad Ali during the ‘The Rumble in the Jungle’ fight in Zaire.  What didn’t help George-Foreman-guy was that the three ladies were on the side of Mohammad-Ali-guy.

“Mooootttthhhhher fucker” I put my foot down and literally rammed my Range Rover on the the pavement towards their direction.  The next few moments where a little blur and hazy, but from what I recall – my Range Rover ended up about 2 feet before the George-Foreman-guy who was still  lying on the floor and the Muhammad-Ali-guy and the three ladies were up against the wall with their hands raised above their heads at the sight of my Range Rover heading in their direction then suddenly stopping – I bet their entire lives flashed by them in a split second as they took their last gasp of air and confined in the wall directly behind them.

Side note number one:  My acquaintances have never seen my rough side.  By ‘rough’ I mean when it comes to fights of confrontations with other men – minimum of two.  My rough side is usually contained and controlled only executed at the right time and at the right place.  On this occasion, these guys were boxing on my home turf and I wasn’t going to ignore this or allow this to happen.  I don’t give a fuck, who you are, who started it or who did what, all I know was that I was going to finish it.

I launched out of my car, and examined the guy in the floor – The one still stood up was trying to continue his attack on the man down – I immediately restrained him with a struggle and a shuffle in which I ended up pushing him onto the floor.  I recollect standing over him and uttering the words along the lines “how do you want to finish this?” with some nasty swears chucked in.  Trying to imply that although the one you attacked is down – I’m ready to frigging rearrange your face right now – right here.  At the same time, I was having a nervous feeling of not wanting my white shirt covered in anyone’s blood the least mine – or the tie I was wearing, to be used to strangle anyone at least not me.

Kiren attended the damaged guy, who at this point was trying to sit up and assess himself. Behind me, I had Kiren and this guy and in front, was this foul mouthed cross between a rugby player and a jockey, oh and the ladies, who were rallying the guy to carry on with his attack.

This debacle within minutes fizzled out, helped by some people who recognised my Range Rover, awkwardly parked on the pavement with both doors open, who then decided to investigate, upon seeing this, the group of attackers somewhat nervously turned and fled.

It dawned upon me that this group of people knew each other.  Well at least the two guys involved knew each other as Kiren interrogated him and while I drove the victim home – well to his apartment, which wasn’t far.

Side note number two:  Kiren was in a total shock.  She freaked out when I said “right, Tesco it is” just as we dropped off the battered George-Foreman-guy.  For her, it wasn’t something she could get over quickly.  By ‘quickly’ I mean, as quickly as I did.  For me it was a common-regular fracas.  One which I have seen a millions times before this one.  Kiren was somewhere between being overly impressed in how I engaged this group alone with confidence and between witnessing the rough side of me – which as I said earlier, she hadn’t seen – and neither has any other acquaintances.  

If Kiren had witnessed this alone, it probably would have taken her more than ‘a minute’ to get over it.  It would have taken her months and probably involve endless phone calls to her girly friends for support, sick leave from her work on the grounds of fracas-witnessed-related-stress, 2 boxes of Ferrero Rocher chocolate with 64 in each and a “I fucking hate Leeds” view for life – then there would go my pleasure and minus one from my acquaintance database.  DRAMATIC RIGHT – I know.

Luckily Kiren wasn’t alone, luckily Kiren had me to help her get over it, luckily we were in Leeds, luckily I was in the mood of some Cornetto ice cream and I wasn’t going to let this punch up deter me from my objective – two Cornetto ice cream one after the other – one strawberry and one mint one.

Any-ways.

At the checkout in Tesco, hugging two packs of Cornetto ice cream, with six in each – I suddenly got a weird feeling in my right wrist.  When I looked – my balls dropped, a sudden fever overcome my body and my forehead pulsated rapidly, I couldn’t hear anything, everything had gone numb – my Hublot wrist watch was missing.

Side note number three:  Now, the thing with my watch was this.  1.  It was a Hublot.  2.  It was a fucking Hublot.  3.  I never paid for it, it was a gift.  4.  When I come face to face with my acquaintance in December, she will ask ‘where is it’?  5.  She will practically shoot me on site, and be prepared to spend her entire life in a prison in South Asia for my murder when I go to visit her this December.  6.  It was a Hublot.  7.  It was a watch which was given to me on my 25th birthday as a gesture of our relationship or whatever we have between us – it wasn’t just a watch it meant more to me then just that.

Staggering somewhat, I made it to my car.  Opened the door and said to Kiren “where the fuck is my watch?”  Knowing I would never see that watch again I contemplated spending five figure sum to get an exact model again – to conceal the fact I lost it.

That night I spent alone, without having consumed my Cornetto ice cream and wishing that I could kill someone with a perfect murder to drown the sorrow of losing my wrist watch.  I had multiple heart attacks on the thought of someone selling my dear Hublot watch on eBay and using the large sum of money on a holiday, a car and plenty of alcohol.  I ran through various scenarios – would my insurance believe me when I say to them I’d lost it?  What if they decide I was lying to them and refused to replace it or compensate me…

The next morning..

I didn’t have any meetings till the afternoon, so I got into work at 9:40am – set up my laptop and then walked straight out to get a coffee, all the while, thinking about last night and more so, whether my acquaintance from South Asia who gifted me the watch would actually find out, and if she did, what would be her reaction?

I walked into Leeds City Centre, deliberately avoiding the very same location where this saga unfolded.  I got to my regular coffee shop which is bang on in the middle of the city centre, ordered a large latte and took a seat.

I sat there miserably, trying to drink my latte but struggling to swallow when one of the workers in the coffee shop stood over me and said “excuse me, the boss would like to see you”.  Somewhat confused, I asked her to repeat herself.  When she did I felt like saying “Fuck you and your boss, I have had a miserable night, a night where I didn’t get to consume my Cornetto ice cream simultaneously, a night where I engaged in hostilities, a night where I saved someone from a brutal beating, a night where I almost petrified Kiren out of Leeds never to come back, not to mention how bad that would be for Leeds economy if she did, and most important of all, I lost my Hublot which was gifted to me and you want me to meet your boss because he says so….go fuck off” but in return I replied “No – I’m very sorry”.  She walked away disappointedly and I didn’t give it a second thought.

Until

She reappeared and said “Are you the guy, who lost his watch last night?”.  I looked up at her face with some mixed, screwed up emotions.  I replied “how the hell do you know?”. She then uttered “boss wants to see you”.

As crazy as it may seem, I leaped out of my chair, followed the lady through some small grey weird doors until we reached a back office type room.  Right in front of me, you wouldn’t believe who was sat there.  It was the same bloke who I saved from that brutal beating the night before – he recognised me from the CCTV screen right in front of him. More importantly he had my watch right in front of him too.

Apparently, while I was wrestling to hold off his attacker, my Hublot, somehow, broke its strap and fell on him.  He clenched onto it, thinking it belonged to his attacker.  Only after I dropped him off at his apartment he realised the watch didn’t belong to his ex-partner (that’s right, that other bloke was his ex partner), so he immediately assumed it was mine.

Too fucking right it was mine.

This guy who I saved – lets give him a name:  Kevin is a franchise owner of a well established, branded and very popular coffee shop.  He recognised me, as not many people come into his coffee shop with a Hublot watch – which he assured me, and more surprisingly he is a gay.  That’s right.  This late 40’s bloke, who looked like a tanned Australian beach volleyball player you could pass off as being aged in his mid-30’s – was a gay no joke.  When he told me his age, his body physique simply did not match a late 40’s person.  Kevin was as fit as me.  Instantly, in my head I recalled all the past experiences I have had with men who think I’m gay – and I really didn’t have the energy or patience to take on yet another battle.

However…

We spent the next 3 hours or so, talking about him, his fight, the patterns on his face from last night, democracy, Israel (he is Jewish) and how to take advantage of the downturn in Leeds economy and the closure of so many retail space.

As for the fight last night.  Well, the story goes like this…

Kevin was married (to a women) where they first met and got together at University, but Kavin realised he was gay and was too scared to come out into the open with it.  His wife finally found out and ended their marriage with a painful and very expensive divorce.  Kevin then moved to Australia for few years.  When he returned, he moved from London to Leeds for business reasons, and in the process met his first ever long term gay boyfriend.  Let’s give him a name:  Mark.  Mark was his newly appointed business bank manager and a gay who wasn’t scared to openly admit it, they got on, fell in love, and Mark helped Kevin open up his real identity without fear of the public.  They moved in together and lived together for over 4 years until disaster struck and Kevin was being used and abused for his wealth and contacts.  It all ended up in a big mess and Mark eventually walked out on their relationship.

The other night, was the time when both Mark and Kevin came face to face in a club, they talked, caught up with each other until their history came into discussion.  The discussion got nasty, helped by the three ladies who Mark was out with to entertain, and ended up being pushed and shoved out of the club, only to be continued outside – that’s when I showed up at the traffic lights – and the rest you know.

It should be made clear that by now Kevin, to me, didn’t appear to be gay.  He was, to me, just like any other straight guy would be – and I guess, that’s what made me comfortable around him.

We exchanged business cards, he presented me with a loyalty card for his coffee shop. One which allowed me to eat and drink whatever I wanted whenever I wanted.  Thank you but no thanks and I rejected it.  Only to have Kevin appreciate me even more.  So in return, I offered him free membership and free access to my gym any time – which he accepted.

I did have one question on my mind.  I asked him “what if I didn’t turn up today, what would you have done with my Hublot?”  He laughed and confessed that the idea of selling my watch on eBay did come to his mind, but he recalled only ever seeing this watch on two people who come to his coffee shop.  One a white chap and one an Asian chap – who was me.  So he was intended to contact Hublot with the serial number of the watch and get them to locate me if I didn’t show.  Smart move, this now makes me more comfortable around Kevin – and I liked his personality.  It was a good job I intervened in his business the other night.

Now that I have made friends with a gay, this brings the headcount of my gay friends to four.  To me, he isn’t gay and that’s probably how I’d like to see Kevin.

Come Sunday, I have invited Kevin to join me and my crew for a few games of snooker. Kevin accepted and agreed to bring his son around too, who by the way, is in my age group of mid-20’s.

I think, Kevin and I along with my crew will get on really well.  Firstly because we are all business-entrepreneurial-minded people.  Secondly Kevin and his personality is of a great guy and him being a gay is not an issue and thirdly because we probably can network on business-entrepreneurial level.

On my way back to work, I called up Kiren and told her what just happen.  She simply could not believe it.  She screamed over the phone…then paused…then said “open another franchise coffee shop in Leeds with him”…now there’s a good Idea – don’t you think?

I write this blog post from the kitchen of my friend’s house, where four of us have just consumed some spicy Chinese this late hour, and where I have, finally, got the chance to clench my Cornetto urge.

That or contemplate all the ‘what-ifs’ of that weird and crazy night.

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