Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Blood-sucking trip

22 Sept , 7:46 am at Terminal F, Gay Paree

Arrived from KLIA at 6.30 am, 10 minutes ahead of time, even though we were delayed about 10 minutes for take off due to traffic congestion. In KLIA? I got a few hours to kill (departure at 10:24 am). Am word-processing this journal. When are they going to provide free WiFi at all airports. WiFi is like toilets; they are everywhere in this airport. Actually, I like Terminal F. Huge hangar-like structure, no columns. Pity the metal screens on top of the glass roof are not solar panels. Paris airport is huge and old. When arriving, as usual there are the border patrol heavily armed, mascular, intimidating. I gave the guy my passport. He looked at it and passed it immediately to the guy standing next to him. He flipped through every page, meanwhile peeking up at my face. Could figure out what the first guy was suspicious about. Asked the first guy in French. Apparently nothing. So, welcome to gay Paree.

It was my birthday yesterday so my two girls made me a special B-day card; gave it to me at the Penang Airport. They even wrote "Thanks for Everything" and two quotes on the card : “My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me” (Jim Valvano) and “Any man can be a Father but it takes someone special to a Dad” (Anne Geddes). I was really touched. I am proud of you girls too. And Brian? He sent me a text from KL “Hey, Dad, suddenly remembered. Happy Birthday!”.

I remember writing on my website (in the award-winning competition!!) that I did not know my father at all. When I was born, he was already 57 years old. My siblings tells me that he was a good father to them. But I never got to know him. So I resolved to be a “better father” to my kids. Yah, I know, I got angry with them sometimes when they were “out of line”. Wish I could turn back the clock. Still, they all turned out superb. No parent could have asked for more from three children who turned out matured, self-assured, determined to succeed, level-headed, civil, polite, respectful, sincere and super readers.

Ah, Paris. The people are reputed to be snobs, as far as the language goes. Speak to them in Malay, I was advised. Huh? Well, speak to them in English and could be bother with you. Really? Well, not at the airport. Efficient and friendly, up to now. Oooo, the soft morning sun is shining throught the glass walls and bathing the inside of the departure lounge in lovely brillliance.

Where am I going? The Land of the blood-sucking vampires.  Bucharest, Romania to be exact. Why? To be what the organisers refer to as an “expert” (that’s what it says in the contract) for a foresight conference on higher education in Romania. I am presenting USM’s experience in scenario planning leading to our APEX University transformation plan. As with the Chicago trip, I did not ask for it, nor planned for it. Chicago came out of the blue because of networking. And when I was in Chicago, I learned that my name had been suggested (with one other) for the Bucharest trip. Honest, I did not say a single thing about wanting to go to Bucharest but my silence was taken to mean that I was interested. I guess some people are just too shy to put up their hand(s)? Not that I am complaining. Not too much.

Its 8.20 am. I love the sun in my face. Going to stop this entry and go buy a coffee and read “Economicology” by Peter M Wege. Yes, the same guy who paid for my trip to Chicago. So far, I like what I read. Except “economicology” is just too much a mouthful.

A moment of weakness. No more coffee in disposal cups on this trip. The trouble is the airport security are pain in the neck when you bring in bottles or tumblers even if empty. In KLIA the security said empty bottle OK. In Paris, it was no-no. Oh, the cappucino cost me 5.20 Euro; that's about 25 Ringgit for that medium size cup.

Lunch tray from Air France. I have already decided to boycott Cathay Pacific for the earlier fiasco. Now, I have to add Air France to the list. Soon, I will have not airline to fly with. Three cheers for carbon neutrality.

Am uploading via free hotel WiFi at Bucharest hotel. More stories to come. Time now only 8.50 pm in Bucurest but almost 2 am in Penang. And my eyes tells me its time to sleep. Apologies to the nice people in Romania for the title of this blog.


Abe said...

have fun.
Yeah, definitely a great dad


omid said...

Prof happy birtday to you. Enjoy the trip.