Arabian Born Confused Desi

Originally from Pakistan, born and raised in Saudi Arabia and Canada, living in Canada, working in the States. Any questions?

Name: Mona
Location: Ontario, Canada

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

It's over

I am tentatively starting a new blog and will probably leave the URL for that as a comment in this post when the link has been created.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Before I Forget...

Here's my myspace page. Feel free to add me as friend and I'll do the same.

Weekday Weekend Update

So I lied.

There was no weekend update and I have not had a more maintained blog presence. I've just been busy. And lazy. Busy and lazy.

This whole settling down business involves quite a bit it seems. I had to get a new driver's license, change all my address information (get a new address), get a new health card (which I've not done), get a new cell phone plan, and miscellaneous other things that have me running around.

I mentioned new toys.

I love my new cell phone, the Sony w810. It's compact goodness, a cell phone with all the regular fixings plus a 2MP camera and quite a decent mp3 player. I also love the fact that, being yet another Sony product I've acquired, I can use my existing memory cards interchangeably between it, my camera and my PSP (I also used to have a Sony laptop which had a port for the same cards). In addition it comes with fairly high end (for a cell phone) Sony Fontopia earphones, which are possibly the best earphones you can get in their price range and perhaps even a bit higher. In fact, the version that came with the phone is better than the one I got for my Ipod. The bass is incredible on them.

To top it all off, I got it at least a week before it was available to the general Canadian public. A mistake on the part of the vendor. They did not have it on display but I asked for it and in his rush to sell me a plan and phone I believe he didn't check or perhaps didn't care to check if it was ready for sale. It's a small thing but I can be petty.

Enough about the phone, let's talk about my car for a minute. On hearing that my parents wished to come to see me I first thought of renting because I didn't want their few days here to be spent in a bus trying to get around the city. When I told my parents that plan, they said I should get a car since I was no longer moving about. I didn't really need much prodding - I'm not exactly fond of the bus and any trips downtown or to see friends required a minimum of an hour each way.

I started off with an extremely low budget but some research indicated that the cost of maintenance would make the actual cost rise. Eventually I decided on a 2003 4 door Honda Civic, "suitably boring" but reliable and good on gas. The one I got also has a warranty on it till 2010 which is pretty good. It was in excellent condition, the mileage was fairly low and the price was good. I like it.

Having gotten a car, the first order of business was to burn CD's for driving. I had burnt 24 of them in anticipation. While the car had already played some of my older burnt CD's, the new ones were being rejected. Frustrated, I decided to get a new player for the car.

The hunt for a deck led me once again to Sony products as people at work had good things to say about the Sony GT300. The price was decent, the features were comparably to others in the price range and it looked pretty nice so I headed over to Futureshop. Once there I saw that there was on Open Box discount on a Sony GT500 and it included free installation. So, I got that instead.

Finally (not really a toy), this past weekend I got occupied again when Ahmed asked that I take his cat, Beeshoe (not sure where this name came from), for temporary care as he's been too busy to properly take care of him. The cat was terrified and hid in its carrier for a couple of days. My main concern was that he wasn't eating. On Day 2, he ate food out of my hand which was a relief. He is now out and about and cautiously exploring his surroundings. For the last couple of nights he's been sleeping under my bed.

I am not attuned to cat behaviour and I believe that I am petting him when he doesn't feel like it and not responding correctly to his meows. After some reading I think I'll be able to respond better. Basically, the plan is to leave him to his own devices until he solicits attention. We'll see how it goes.

So that's it for my update. The new job is going well and I haven't been this relaxed in a while. There are several things I wish to do this summer [camping, fishing, berry picking (yes :P), paintballing, going to Caribana, etc] and I'm hoping I get to all of them. If not, there's always next summer and it's a great feeling to know that.

Monday, June 26, 2006


People read my blog! I'll get back to posting this weekend.

New toys to talk about :)

Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Start of Something New

The last few months have been some of the busiest I've had to date. As a result, I've not been updating my blog at all. The fact that I am right now is the mark of a change. A very big change, in fact.

I'm starting a new job tomorrow. I've said good-bye to Sapient. It was one of the most difficult decisions I've ever had to make. Come to think of it, it was the single most difficult decision yet. Every day I decided that I was positive one way or the other. And then, the day after my mind changed. I kept bouncing back and forth.

The deciding factor was when I realized that, even though I could go far with Sapient, I would most likely burn out a lot faster. When I thought about the 15 hour days I had been putting in, and that they garnered no recognition, I decided that my quality of life would be greatly improved by a change of employer. Add to that the fact that even after paying for living costs, I would be making more with the new offer, I guess I began wondering if there was any real reason for me to stay with Sapient.

And so, I decided. I'm now working for a product-based company versus a client-based consulting company. Well, I will be tomorrow in any case. I'm excited, and a little worried. Excited because this is the start of something new, a new life. Worried because I don't feel like I've completely severed ties with Sapient. I'm worried that they will call and such. They probably won't and this feeling will probably go away soon enough.

I feel like tomorrow is the first day of school. I've packed my bag, picked out and ironed my clothes and I've got a slight case of butterflies. It's a nice feeling, to be honest. This marks a complete change in lifestyle.

True, I won't have the free car, gas, maid service, food, etc but all that is nothing compared to the fact that I'll be able to plan out my summer, get a gym membership, buy things that aren't the "portable version", have a social life. I'll have a normal life again.

I can always go back to consulting if I feel the need. I don't doubt that. As of now, I'm ready to be stable for a while. No more 4 am Monday mornings driving to the airport and wondering how much longer I can keep this up. No more going above and beyond for the client and not even getting a pat on the back. Essentially no more busting my butt with no result.

I still plan to work hard here. I still plan to go above and beyond. But I know that it won't be expected like it is with a consulting company. I know that it may help me grow a lot faster and even if it doesn't I know that I can leave at 5 and not be thought of as a slacker.

So anyway, I'm back.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Seattle for a week

I received word that I'm off to Seattle for training from Cingular for the week. I'll be going to their head office in Redmond, WA. It should be interesting - I've heard the office is amazing.

A fortunate side effect is the proximity of Vancouver where Wynne lives. I haven't seen her in forever and I've never seen Vancouver. So it will be fun hanging out with her there. I'm sure the both of us will take quite a few pictures.

Looking forward to going back to the West Coast for a bit.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Eid Mubarak

Every now and then, do you ever stop to wonder who you've become and how different this person is from the one that you were X many years ago? It's Eid and I don't even have anyone to say Eid Mubarak to. It's an empty salutation for those who know what I mean but aren't Muslim. Merry Christmas means more in this world, or Happy Thanksgiving.

I remember when Eid was an all important day. It only came by twice a year. We would get and wear new clothes and my mom would make that special breakfast that I hated at first but came to love. I'm not sure what it's called in English, if there even is a name for it. It was made by a sort of thin noodle-like pastry which was boiled in cream I think. My mother would throw in some sliced almonds too.

There wouldn't be any school because it was Eid, and no fighting either. My father would have been up early to go to Eid prayers and my mom up making the breakfast. I guess waking up on Eid was maybe similar to how kids here wake up Christmas morning except that it wasn't about gifts really. A similar excitement though. It's probably what Christmas was meant to be.

We would have relatives, friends or neighbours come over and we would visit with them. There would be lots of good food, goat if it was Eid ul-Adha. It was one day where we could just be. There was no pressure for anything. Even Saudi TV Channel 2 showed english shows all day and relatively good ones (note: relatively).

I felt a sharp pang when I thought about how so many things that meant so much to me are kind of "back there" now. With my brothers all over the place and being on the road myself, it's even harder to have anyone to talk to that shares my cultural background. It's something that's hard to ignore when it's such a huge part of my formative years and it's not something I even want to ignore. I miss Abby - I could have talked about it with her. I guess it's time to call the parents.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

New Year's "Plans"

It’s that time of year again – new year’s resolutions and so forth. But what are new year’s resolutions really? Generally speaking, they are one-liners about what would happen in a perfect world. How is one to go about accomplishing the vague goals they represent? Are they measurable or just a “it would be nice if…”? Are they realistic?

Well this year, I’m doing it differently. I’m making them quantifiable, trackable. I’m setting milestones, I’m creating month-to-month plans. It has to be done right this time.

To start, here are my vague, “perfect-world” goals:
- Lose weight (as always, this is on the list).
- Get a promotion/raise.
- Invest.
- Travel and see some of the world.

What does that mean exactly?
- Lose 8lbs/month consistently until bmi is 20-22, after which focus on maintenance.
- Complete courses for promotion, take Sun Java Certified Programmer exam and attempt to get a track lead postion by end of year. Move from Associate Tech level to Senior Associate Tech level. This will accomplish the raise objective as well.
- Investigate Mutual funds available from various banks and purchase the promising ones.
- I have about 5-6 weeks of vacation to use this year. Set a target for when I want to vacation and pick Europe or the Carribean. Plan out finances and dates much in advance.

What are the details and milestones?

January – Begin Plans
Lose Weight:
- Commence diet focused on high nutrition/low calories.
- Strict exercise schedule with 30 minutes of cardio/day.
- Mondays will be weigh-days. Should keep an excel tracking progress.
Get a Promotion/Raise:
- Complete at least 3 of the required courses for promotion. Should average about 1 per week.
- Finish studying materials in book for SJCP exam. Complete 1 chapter every 3 days in order for the 9 chapters to be done by the end of the month. Meet with Joe every Sunday to quiz each other on completed chapters.
- Call BMO, RBC and TD Bank and set up a Mutual funds account that I can access and change online.
- Contact Nauman for help evaluating various mutual funds.
- Research prices online for trips to Europe and the Carribean.
- Call travel agents and ask about package deals.

Lose Weight:
- Continue diet and weight tracking, increase daily exercise to 45 minutes of cardio/day. Weight loss should be approx 8lbs at start of month.
Get a Promotion/Raise:
- Continue completing courses required for promotion at rate of 1 per week.
- Review test prep material from book for SJCP. Review all of the material in book. Agin at a rate of 1 chapter per 3 days. Continue weekly test prep meetings with Joe.
- Make a decision and invest in chosen mutual funds. Begin monitoring fund progress every week.
- Continue research and decide on timeframe.

Lose Weight:
- Continue diet and weight tracking, increase daily exercise to 60 minutes of cardio/day. Weight loss should be approx 16 lbs at start of month.
Get a Promotion/Raise:
- Call Prometrics and schedule SJCP test time. Take the test and do more than pass! :p
- Continue completing courses required for promotion at same rate.
- Continue monitoring mutual fund progress and make any changes I feel necessary.
- Firm up timeframe and narrow down on location.

Lose Weight:
- Continue diet and weight tracking, 60 minutes of cardio/day. Weight loss should be approx 24 lbs at start of month.
Get a Promotion/Raise:
- Current project will be ending so put pressure on staffing to place me on a project with track lead opportunities. Leverage Career Manager influence for this. Cite SJCP certification in my favour.
- Continue monitoring mutual fund progress and make any changes I feel necessary.
- Wrap up details, pay for flight/package.

Lose Weight:
- Continue diet and weight tracking, 60 minutes of cardio/day. Weight loss should be approx 32 lbs at start of month.
Get a Promotion/Raise:
- Be on a project as a track lead.
- Work on development plan.
- Discuss promotion possibilities with Career Manager.

Get a Promotion/Raise:
- Fingers crossed: receive news of promotion/raise OR: discuss with Career Manager and Project Managers why I was not promoted and modify plan so as to rectify situation.
- Begin planning for next Sun certification.


Unsure of Month
Lose Weight:
- Achieve BMI range of 20-22. Switch to maintaining weight. Slightly more flexibility with diet. “Cheat Days” now allowed.
- Travel and take lots of pictures ?

Well that was a massive post. But there you have it. Now let’s see if I can stick to it!