Flight Delayed

Made a quick trip “down under” last week…

(I must admit, Changi is one well managed airport with plenty of signage to ensure everyone knows where to go – provided you know English. Price of items sold at the airport is at the high side though. But I guess the most unsettling thing at the airport is seeing young girls walking around with sidearms – I am sure they are well trained on firearms and tactics but still, it is very unsettling. Image source: http://alicetravelstory.blogspot.com)

Overall, the journey was good – we made it in time for the business meetings with plenty of hours to spare, the meetings itself went smooth and without any major hiccups and I had one of the best coffees ever at a small stall by the roadside.

We were half way through the meeting when I got a SMS saying that the return flight has been delayed by almost one hour. One hour delay was not that bad but considering that we had expected the meeting to finish early and will have at least couple of hours to spare, adding another one hour was not something we readily welcomed. But we were still grateful for the heads-up.

We decided to kill time by visiting the nearest watering hole and ordered ourselves some beers to lose track of the time. The alcohol did the trick but not the final bill – beers were still cheaper in Malaysia. Halfway through our beers, my colleague posed the question – what if the SMS was wrong and there were no delays and we end up missing our flight. Fearing the worst, we finished our beers and rushed to the airport. It was peak hours – we knew that the MRT would be packed but we managed to find enough space to squeeze through and the MRT journey back was smooth.

We reached the airport early and headed to the counter to check-in. It was confirmed that our flight was delayed by almost one hour. Somehow, that was a blessing in disguise – we had an excellent early dinner and check out the many duty free shops at the airport (although many of the items on sale were overpriced).

The delayed flight was rescheduled to departure at 9.15 pm but by 9.20 pm, we did not see the plane at the departure gate. We wondered if there is going to be another unscheduled delay. At almost 10 pm, the plane finally taxied in and it was almost 10.30 pm when we finally took off – after almost 2 hours delayed.

I do not know what the real cause of the delay was but I suspected it to be the bad weather in Klang Valley – I managed to catch the weather forecast. We were hoping to hear the reason for the delay from the flight attendants but other than “sorry for the delay”, no reasons were given. As we were reaching the runaway, the captain spoke but other than “we are 5th plane on the queue and we will be taking off soon”, nothing was mentioned on the delay either.

I guess for others, the fact that the plane arrived and despite the 2 hours delay, the flight is taking off without further delays would have been good enough but if the airline staff had mentioned the reason for the delay, at least for courtesy sake, it would have been, err nice.

It was already bad that the flight was delayed by an hour and it got worse with the further delays before we can finally depart. At least knowing the reason for the delay would have been some relieve to the immerse frustration and anger on the delay. I mean it would have been happier to say that “my flight was delayed because of thunderstorm” than “my flight was delayed but I don’t know why”.

A couple years ago, as I was sitting in an Emirates flight out from Dubai, there was a delay in departure. We have already boarded the plane but the plane was not moving even after all the passengers had checked in and the flight safety drill has ended. The captain came over on the intercom and apologized for the delay. He said that the ground crew had detected something and making another round of check just to make sure that the plane remains safe. We appreciated the announcement but at the same time, we did not welcome the news that there was something not right with the plane.

But then, I guessed the captain detected the same anxiety and came over the intercom again. This time, he said that there no problem but to ensure of the safety of the crew and the passengers, the airline staff just wanted to make double sure that all systems was working well. This time we breathed slightly better. In the end, we reached our destination several minutes early and without any problems.

Flight delays are understandable but the silence as to why there was a flight delay is not.

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Brisbane Flood

Click here for more stunning, interesting photos

(An aerial view of the submerged runway at Rockhampton airport on January 6, 2011 in Rockhampton, Australia – Photo by Jonathan Wood/Getty Images)

The last time I saw something similar is when I was flying over from Dubai and we had to stop at Dhaka on transit. Bangladesh had seen one of the worst monsoon season just couple of days earlier and as we neared the capital, all we could see is brown, murky water.

There were patches of land, occasionally on the sea of water and there was people, cattle and everything that the people managed to save in time on this small patches of land. In fact, there was way too much water all around us, I thought we just going to pass over the airport. At the end, we did land but I realized that the airport is only part of the land that was not flooded.

We were even surprised to see a long line of passengers waiting for the plane – some even boarded with wet clothes and bags and a sad face that explains it all – leaving the loved ones with an uncertain future whilst they fly away from the flooded city. Due to the worsening flood, we did not wait for long and soon we were back on air, leaving the flooded country with a sense of relief.

Brisbane fared slightly worse with the runaway sticking up like a sore thumb but things are still bad over there with 200,000 people affected. Back at home, we have not been doing too good either.

Music – my lifeline!

(Day 5 in Dubai)

It was noisy and it was getting on our nerves!

We are sitting the same room where we have temporarily placed 2 mega servers for installation, debugging and testing. They are noisy (because we had taken them out from the rack) and used to be hot as well. Hot until we decided to open the windows and immediately the room was engulfed with “pure natural air conditioner” from the outside. Yes, we took care of the heat and that was too easy but unfortunately not the sound. The sound had a profound effect on our ability to concentrate the work at hand – we were easily distracted and started to have a headache.

We were at lost on what to do next. We could not leave the room (the best place to do work) and certainly could not shut down the server. We looked around and noticed that the system engineers from India were doing their work with a headphone on their ears. They were listening to songs whilst doing some serious coding. Ya, occasionally they were singing as well. Hmmm, a headphone – that might just do the trick. I have brought in an old headphone but it was not in good shape (the sponge was loose and was coming out). The built-in microphone was also getting on my way. So, when I had the chance to visit the Mall of the Emirates couple days ago, one of the first thing I did was to go into Carrefour and get myself a decent headphone. It cost me about 20 Dhr – cheap (didn’t I say it was based on Dubai standard!) but stylish.

The next day, it was more peaceful…

The server was still at its noisy pace but this time, I had my new “sparkling” headphone which muted the outside noise and put the force behind light listening of music. I was able to concentrate on work more and at the same time, eased my work stress with the right doses of Shankar Mahadevan, pumping away good old Hindi and Tamil beats. Occasionally Richard Marx, Josh Groban and Robbie Williams will be entertaining me whilst I am testing out the system here.

Reality checks in once I take off the headphone but it does not matter much. I can always put back the headphone and cut down on the noise. Things should be improving in the next few days when the servers are placed back into their place in a secured server room (far, far away from us) and we will be using a more proper place in Sharjah for implementation.

By the way, I have been listening to Tamil songs most of the time and I am beginning to appreciate Vidyasagar’s talent in composing songs. Brilliant if one listens closely – one good example is the song “Poovukellam” from the movie “Uyiroda Uyiraga” (hear the guitar tune at the start and you will know what I mean. Yes, I know Ajith cannot mimic playing the guitar well, damn too obvious in the video).

Back to my headphone now.

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