My first posting in this blog was on the 3rd of June and today is 18th of June. This simply means my blog is actually just 15 days old. But I am touched and motivated by many positive feedback that I received either sent directly to my e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or written at the 'comment' column. Some of my blog readers suggested that I wrote more frequent instead of once a week so that in any one posting I do not have to write too long.
Time Is Really Gold!
The problem is I simply do not have enough time since I arrived here in Khartoum. I have really devoted most of my time helping my Sudanese partner to jump-start my branch operations here promoting 'Doing Business In Malaysia' and the other 2 services that I have explained in my earlier posting. Too many things to do at a very limited time.
The Best Cook In The World
Even now, my busy schedule here in Sudan has made me lost at least 2 inches of my waistline just within 2 weeks time because I hardly had time to cook for my dinner. My Sudanese partner (Mr Abdul Jalil Abujjoud) has been very generous to me by providing a nice accommodation complete with kitchen and various utensils for me to cook my Malaysian dishes. Actually even a simple room is already more than enough for me to be the place that I can pray, sleep soundly and have a complete rest after working very hard throughout the day. Hmm...The truth is at this moment of time I really miss my wife's delicious cooking and dishes. For me, my wife is the best cook in the world, not Gordon Ramsay and definitely not Chef Wan. I believe most of the husbands in Malaysia will say their wives' cooking are the best in the entire universe. Regardless what others say, I will stubbornly say my wife is the best cook in the world, at least from my perspective. Not only she can cook mouth-watering variety of Kelantanese dishes, but also some Javanese traditional cuisine that she learned from my mother, from the irresistibly aromatic to the succulently sumptuous. If not, how come my waistline exploded and expanded from 29 inches when we just married to nearly 45 inches now? Numbers never lie! Fortunately her body figure does not become like mine and she has managed to maintain her body figure more or less the same like the time we have just been married.
How About 'Masak Lemak Tayar Kereta' or 'Kari Tombol Pintu'?
My obsession towards my wife's cooking made her once jokingly said to me that maybe if she cooks for me 'Masak Lemak Tayar Kereta' (Car tyre cooked in coconut milk and spices) or 'Kari Tombol Pintu' (Door Knob Curry), I may say its delicious too! Oh Mamamia!
One of my main mission here in Khartoum is to capitalize on my 15 years working experience to train my Sudanese local staffs about those 3 services related to Malaysia. It's very interesting to teach this energetic and full of enthusiasm Sudanese staffs. Yesterday one of the staffs (Badreldin), my Sudanese partner (Mr Abdul Jalil Abujjoud) and I have had big meeting with the GM of Giad Sudan, a big conglomerate and diversified company in Sudan.
No Soldier In The World Put His Grenades Inside His Underwear!
Prior to the meeting I stressed so many times to my staff how important a good preparation is. I also pointed out to them the need to put all the marketing materials at the right place so that during the actual presentation, they can easily locate the brochures or the CD or the write-up to be passed to the client.
I told them when we go to do presentation we actually go to a 'battlefield'. The presentation materials are similar to the machine gun, bullets, grenades and bayonette. The machine guns must be placed at the right place which is at the hand of the soldier, so are the grenades which should be put at the waist-compartment. So when the time comes, it's easy to pull it out from different part of our body or 'briefcase'. I went to the extend asking him the following question:
"Have you ever seen any soldier (whether a US soldier, Gambian soldier, Timor Leste soldier or even the Taliban) putting his grenades inside his underwear, instead of at his waist-compartment? And if he ever puts the grenades inside his underwear, can you imagine the difficulty he may face to pull it out when out of sudden he is under intense attack?"
The moral of the story is we need to put all our presentation materials (our 'bullets', 'grenades' etc) such as brochures, company profiles, CD and write-up at the right places so that when the clients request during our presentation we can easily produce it within less than 5 seconds time! I believe sometimes we need to use creative analogy or example to get our message across our staff's mind.
The Gigantic Giad Group of Companies
Giad Company is perhaps similar to Hicom in Malaysia in term of its diversification and mega size. It has many diversified subsidiaries including Giad Shipping, Giad Motor which assembles Hyundai cars, and even Giat Automative which supplies armoured vehicles to the Sudanese army.
However my appointment yesterday was with the GM of Giat Tractors and Manufacturing Equipments. I think for my appointment to sound 'friendly and peaceful', it was better not to deal with all the tanks and military equipments first. After 2 weeks of hectic schedule let me deal with tractors rather than with military tank. Its better to put all this 'tank-tank' things aside first. My warrior-blood has got no appetite for this tank-related thing, at least for now.
Located within the compund of its own huge Giad Industrial City, the security is rather tight the moment we entered the Security Post at the entrance of industrial city. We went to this meeting by using Mr Abdul Jalil's car. Finally three of us managed to locate the right building within the Giad Industrial City for our meeting with the General Manager of the Giad Tractors & Agricultural Equipment.
Secretary or Security Man?
There were a couple of times I confused with my Sudanese staff's English accent. So yesterday when he uttered the word 'secretary' to me, I heard it wrongly and I thought he said 'security' especially if the person he was referring to did not resemble any typical personality of a secretary that I have had in my innocent mind.
Upon reaching the car park of the building I could see a Sudanese man wearing light yellow long-sleeve shirt (not tuck-in) waited for us at the car part area. In my mind, surely this another 'security man' because when I did my research prior to this meeting I know that on 29th May 2007, Giad Industrial City was one of the companies that US Administration has frozen all their assets within US jurisdiction and U.S. persons are prohibited from transacting or doing business with them.
That so-called 'security-man' accompanied & brought us to the room of the GM for our meeting. Sitting inside the GM room has made me forgotten that I am currently in Sudan. It was very comfortable and cold. During the meeting I was served with a traditional delicious Sudanese drink called 'Helba' which is the Arabic word for 'fenugreek' or 'Greek hay'.
In Sudan and Egypt fenugreek seeds are prepared as tea, by being boiled then sweetened.After more than an hour discussion I was presented with a souvenir by the GM as a token that I have visited Giad factory. And then the same very friendly but stern-looking 'security man' accompanied us to visit the factory production area.
Do You Have a 'Born To Kill' Face?
After that he accompanied us back to Mr Abdul Jalil's car. Only later inside the car I finally came to know from Badreldin that this man who I initially thought was a 'security man' is actually the 'secretary' of the GM that he has called to make appointments!
They all laughed when I said even though he was such a friendly man, he certainly did not stand any chance to be a secretary of a GM in a conglomerate in Malaysia. I told them almost 98% of the secretaries in big corporations in Malaysia dominated by very presentable lady. No offence to this very nice man 'Mr Secretary', but I told my Sudanese partner that for me, a man is the last person on Planet Earth that I want to employ as my secretary who I have to face everyday. I can't imagine if I pass a draft-proposal to my 'bad mood' male secretary to be typed, I may face the possibility that he will stare back at me as if he wants to rape me. Maybe, just maybe.
Please do not get me wrong. That 'security man' treated us very well that day but...what a day, the 'security 'man is indeed the secretary! I think it is normal for anybody to expect a typical secretary should be a lady with a presentable face like Beyonce, not a stern-looking man with a 'Born To Kill' face. Having said this, I must categorically deny that never in any way I am trying to insinuate that secretary of the GM has a 'Born To Kill' or 'Born To Bomb' face. Never. Anyhow, that's alright. We learn from different countries corporate culture. I guess in certain way, in Sudan everything is possible..
On the way back from this appointment, we stop-by at a very big chicken farm owned by one of my 3 Sudanese partners, Mr Mutasim Osman. In my first blog posting I did explain that I met Mr Mutasim in London in January this year initially to provide consultancy services to him for 'Doing Business In Malaysia' but later it turn out that we agreed to promote this same services to the Sudanese business community. That's exactly the reason as to why I am now in Sudan for 3 months secondment or attachment.
Mr Mutasim is currently in London managing his other business there. So when we arrived at his farm, we were greeted by his Farm Manager or Caretaker. His farm has got tens of thousands of chicken producing eggs to be distributed all over Khartoum and its surrounding areas. This kind of business is definitely a lucrative business here.
Where Is Actually the 'Road?
This huge chicken farm is located nearly one or two kilometre off the main bitumen road. In order to reach the chicken farm we have to drive along the so-called 'countryside road'. But what amazed me is this countryside road does not have a clear road delineation, unlike in Malaysia. It is like crossing a huge empty area like a desert. You can drive which ways you like. So there is very, very little possibility of an accident with other vehicle except the driver of incoming car has a very high tendency of committing suicide by directly ramming his car towards your car. The 'road' is so wide. If you want to drive in a zig-zag manner there is nobody going to stop you to do that on this extremely wide road. But should you do that, you may risk appearing on the front page of local Sudanese newspaper:"Mentally-challenged Malaysian Driver Driving Zig-Zag on Sudanese Countryside Road"
Chicken in Air-Conditioned Barns, Human-Being Under 50 Degree Celcius
There are tens of thousands of chickens in that chicken farm. I consider these chickens as 'privileged-few' in Sudan. Why? Because all these chickens are living in a fully air-conditioned huge chicken barns, whilst the Sudanese in general has to endure the extreme heat of 45-50 degree Celsius especially during April to June every year. It is a practice in the chicken breeding industry worldwide to equip their chicken barns with air-conditioner so that the chickens will not die due to overheating. The moment I came out from the car and entered the chicken barn, I felt as if I wanted to stay back inside the barns. It is undoubtedly comfortable. When I entered the chicken barn, all the Sudanese chickens started staring at me but I looked back at all those chickens in an envious way. Can you believe it. For the first time in my life, I felt chickens have received better treatment than me, a human-being. Oh Chickens! How lucky you are..
The Chicken said: "You Want Us To Produce Eggs, We Need To Make Love. You Want Us To Make Love, We Need The Air-Conditioner"
If you see the photo of the chicken farm factory boy who manning the egg paper-plates machine, it's very clear that he could not stand the hot weather, thus he took off his shirt while working. But it's not the fault of the factory management that this boy took off his shirt. If I work there, I will take off my shirt too. Its just a natural reaction to the hot weather. Guess what? At the time when our fellow human-being was working in a relatively hot condition, those lucky bunch of chickens comfortably making love inside an air-conditioned barn. As if the chickens proudly said:"Don't you learn Biology in school? There is no chicken in the world that can produce eggs without making love first. Never. So, if you want us to produce a lot of eggs for you, we need to make love very comfortably. In order to to make love comfortably, we definitely need the air-conditioner. No excuse." How rude this ungrateful chickens!
You Kill Me, No More Eggs!
Since these chickens are bred for producing eggs, they somehow are not worry to be slaughtered, unlike those who are bred specially for its meat. As if these chickens are all saying to me: "If you dare to kill me, there will be no more eggs for you!"
After spending nearly an hour visiting the chicken farm, we decided to drive back to office. On the way back from the chicken farm towards the main bitumen road, we passed by a 'desert-type' of empty land. That was the time Mr Abdul Jalil showed me something that he called 'poor man refrigerator'. These 'poor man refrigerator' is actually water containers made from clay and as the water inside evaporates, all the heat goes with it. But this clay is not an ordinary clay because it is normally made from soil found near the riverbank. It resembles our very own 'Labu Sayong' which is famous in Kuala Langsar but it is bigger in size.
Is There Any Bacteria Inside the Water?
So if you look at the photo I attached, this 'poor man refrigerator' consist of many clay water-containers arranged nicely in the middle of nowhere, a 'mini-desert'. Any thirsty driver, or traveller can just stop-by and drink it using a small pot. According to Mr Jalil the water is normally been constantly supplied or filled by anybody who wants to do 'amal jariah' (good deeds). On daily basis this unknown volunteers use their car or donkey to bring the clean water and filled into the 'poor man refrigerator'. They asked me to try and drink it. So I drank it. It was indeed very cold and refreshing.
However, after the water flowed nicely through my throat, I initially wanted to ask this silly question: "Is there any bacteria inside the water?" You know, this 'poor man refrigerator' are left alone unguarded in an unoccupied vast empty land sort of like in a mini desert. But fearing this question may offend them I kept quiet. I said to my self: "What if they get angry with my 'uninsured mouth' for asking an insulting question, and they may just leave me alone there to find my way out and drove to the main road without me on board . The moment I visualized myself alone stranded on a mini-desert made my mouth automatically shut-up and I behaved like a good boy.
But...my mind kept on asking what if there was a 'katak puru' (frog) sleeping inside that 'poor man refrigerator'? Probably that frog also wanted to cool down his body and I innocently drank the water from that particular clay water container. Sheesh....
Even Brad Pitt Face Can Change To Rabuan Pit Face Under This Extreme Dusty Heat
Maybe some of you who have known me well may think how come Khairul's face in the 'poor man refrigerator' above photo became so dark, 'chomot' and not as a macho as his normal face used to be? Well my friend, trust me, under that kind of extreme hot weather plus the dusty wind keep on caressing your face, I have no doubt even my good friend Encik Brad Pitt's face will definitely turn to Rabuan Pit's face at that time. I am not saying Rabuan Pit (our Malaysian 100m sprinter who used to be the fastest man in Asia when he got gold medal at New Delhi Asian Games in 1982) has an ugly face, but I think you know what I mean. By using the same logic, no wonder my usual charismatic and macho face that many ladies said very much resembling President General Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono looks very much different in the above photo.
What the Hell is 'Haboob' Sandstorm? Is it a Kind of Boob? Sheesh...
Locals here call this sandstorm 'Haboob'. This 'Haboob' is a sandstorm prevalent in the region of Sudan around Khartoum with the leading edges of which often appear as solid walls of dust as much as 5,000 feet or 1,525 metre high! The told me that we can see the sandstorm looks like a mountain of sand approaching the house until it covered it. Huge storms like this usually come once a year. Wow! Once a year. I am so thrilled to hear this. I hope I can get a chance to see this big sandstorm and if I do, I will try to take photo from inside my room.
This morning (Thursday, 18th June) for the very first time in my life I walked through sandstorm when I went to the nearby grocery shop to buy my breakfast. The shopkeeper told me it is just a minor sandstorm as compared to the real sandstorm which is gigantic and huge in size.
I Nearly Naked This Morning. All Because of Minor Sandstorm!
Even a Plane Crashed Because of Sandstorm!
The photo that I attached here is the huge sandstorm, not the one I experienced this morning. This huge sandstorm can be fatal. Your nostril will be filled with sand and you can become injured or incapacitated. In fact on 5 May 1996 a Sudanese passenger plane that was attempting an emergency landing during a sandstorm, crashed in a field, killing all 53 people aboard.
If you are caught in the middle of the sandstorm, no matter how strong you are, you will be helpless. Your visibility will be zero. In addition It will cause the drying of your mucous membranes.
How Do You Think Hang Jebat Will React in a Sandstorm?
Talking about 'strong man' I try to imagine what will happen if our Hang Jebat (the Malaysian ancient hero well known for his vengeful rebellion against the Malacca Sultan) is trapped in a sandstorm in Khartoum. You know'lah' Jebat...The only words he got in his life dictionary to resolve any problem is 'running amok'. For Jebat, there is no such thing as Nobel Peace Prize. I can visualize how my great Jebat run amok against this sandstorm and how he will try to stab every single solid walls of dust that keep on 'attacking' him. I am also very sure no matter how strong and well-built a bouncer from Kuala Lumpur nite club is, he will immediately be a 'scared little cute mouse' the moment he is trapped in 'Haboob', the infamous Khartoum sandstorm!
As for Hang Jebat, I believe his encounter with the Haboob sandstorm can be construed as the ultimate 'Battle of the Amok'. If Jebat is still alive today I will sponsor him to fly to Sudan. I will show him when the Sudan's sand and dust 'run amok', forming the formidable Haboob Sandstorm, his infamous 'Amok of Jebat' will look like just the amok of a kindergarten's kid!
(My next posting will be my story regarding the uniqueness of houses in Sudan and about the normal practice of Sudanese sleeping outside their house 'open-air ' while enjoying the nice night sky with thousands of stars)