Archive for the 'Personal' Category

Sabah Hussain, PMP

Last week I finally got the PMP (Project Management Professional) certification! I made this decision early 2007 but at the time I wanted to go for the CAPM (Certified Associate PM) first, which is basically PMP Lite. However, after going through multiple on/off phases to study; I made a decision last year to go directly for the PMP. Once again I found myself studying a few weeks and then slacking off and the thing with the PMP is that you need to focus on it in a dedicated mode and then appear for the exam soon after (that’s what I feel anyway).

I scheduled my exam for last week and then started going through the course material, I used a couple of books and the sample questions at the end of each chapter were very helpful. Maliha also helped me to go through the questions and revise.

I thought theĀ  exam itself was pretty tough and even though you only need to get 61% of the questions right out of 175 within 4 hours; its extremely difficult to single out the ‘more’ correct answer out of the four provided (its computer based and multiple-choice oriented) unless you’ve gone over the concepts and material thoroughly. There are also 25 additional pre-release questions that do not count towards your score but you don’t know which ones they are.

Needless to say I felt ecstatic the moment the screen displayed my passing status. Now I need to make sure that I apply what I’ve learnt in my job.

Since passing I’ve celebrated by watching 25th Hour, Body of Lies, Gran Torino and Killshot! All of them pretty good and recommended movies. Next on my list is Crossing Over.

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Back from Istanbul

Turkey flag

Got back from our trip to Istanbul this Friday. We all had a great time and the weather was just perfect (ranging from 12-17 C with light rains). I would definitely recommend it and if time permits; one should also include Antalya in the tour which is also a major tourist attraction of Turkey.

The package was arranged nicely and went smoothly as per the provided plan. It accounted for three days of our six day tour and we visited different places during the remaining three days and I have a good friend to thank, for giving me all the right details.

Ayasofya

I’m going to list down our activities during this week-long trip which others could consider if they are also planning to head out there.

  • Day 1: Guided tour of the city. We were taken to the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace and the Grand Bazaar.
  • Day 2: A ship cruise across the Bosporus and we got off the Asian side and were taken by Bus to a nice veiw-point that also had 53 variety of tulips and an excellent view of the coastline. After that we were taken to some souvenir shops and a mall (the mall can be skipped, they are all the same).
  • Day 3: A ship cruise to one of the Princes’ Islands. It was very peaceful and scenic with lots of cafes and stalls and a nice horse carriage ride through the island. Spent the evening on our own exploring the Taksim area and buying souvenirs and stuff.
  • Day 4: Visited Istiklal Avenue that has a lot of shops and stalls. They also have a street that is filled with shops selling musical instruments of all sorts. Almost bought a mouth-organ there.
  • Day 5: Visited the Dolmabahce Palace and then walked over to the Ortakoy Pier right under the Bosporus Bridge. Later on bought tickets for and attended a mesmerizing Sufi music and dance show that consisted of swirling dervishes and a sufi band.
  • Day 6: Visited the Ayasofya Mosque and then the Basilica Cistern (Sunken Palace). On the way back we also went to the Spice Bazaar.

dervish

I would definitely recommend one to get hold of a city map and then utilize the excellent mass transit system they have to move around. Everything is nicely interconnected (subway, trams, rails, etc.).

More pictures, here.

Now in Istanbul

It had been a while since we last went on a proper vacation. So I took off a week from work and we’re now in Istanbul, Turkey. The weather here is amazing right now and slightly chilly in the evenings. That’s a welcome change from the heat that’s finally rearing its ugly head back in Kuwait.

The package consists of 3 days of arranged activities and 3 days free for us. So far we’ve been on the Istanbul city tour yesterday and the Bosporus cruise today. Both were pretty good and you can tell that this is a major tourism hub because there’s a lot of tourists here and the guide says that its pretty much how it is throughout the year. The city tour consisted of a trip to the Blue Mosque (that has six minarets – an interesting story in itself), a visit to the Topkapi Palace and a few hours at the Grand Bazaar. The Bosporus cruise was very scenic and the cool breeze was amazing. Rohail had a great time after displaying some dislike for the cruise boat initially. Tomorrow we’re due for a trip to the Princes’ Islands.

The very first day was a surprise because it was May Day (Labor Day) and apparently they have some violent protests here in Taksim where our hotel is also situated. There were loads of riot police all around and there was a lot of violence going around. We just whiled it out inside the hotel till it was over by evening.

The police patrolling Taksim due to May Day protests

The police patrolling Taksim due to May Day protests

We’ve done our fair share of souvenir shopping and overall the trip is going really great. We plan on visiting Istiklal Avenue on one of the free days to check out the markets and stuff. Amongst the popular stuff we’ve noted here are leather products, carpets and lamp shades. The ‘evil eye‘ or ‘nazir’ is also very commonly seen around here and I’ve also picked up one fridge magnet version of it.

An evil eye product

An evil eye product

Now in Lahore and some updates

Its time for an update. I’ve been very busy lately and have hardly had any time to write. Quite a bit has been going on that I’d like to share.

First of all, we’re on the move once again. Two weeks ago I had to go to Dhaka for two days for a couple of presentations after which I came to Lahore. Maliha and Rohail were supposed to join me from Kuwait in Dubai on my connecting flight from Dhaka to Lahore. However, due to some delays in my flight, we couldn’t make it together. Nevertheless, we got to spend a weekend in Karachi with my parents and sister which is always great; and we are now in Lahore.

On my request the company has given me a really nice accommodation since I’ll be staying for around a month. Hotels just don’t work over extended periods and if you’ve got a kid. Therefore, Rohail is no longer restricted to a hotel room and has plenty of space to run around. The place also has a huge garden a minute’s walk away and its a fairly peaceful and secure area. The bathrooms here are about the size of my bedrooms in Kuwait. Either I have tiny bedrooms there or people have huge bathrooms here!

They have some great restaurants in Lahore (hey, this is the city of the Food Street) and we’ve found a place called Readings that brings in used but in excellent condition books from the US and sells them at real cheap prices. We’ve raided that store twice already and picked up a lot of books for the three of us.

On another note, I finally got the iPod Touch 2G (that’s the new one). Its one hell of a slick gadget and I’m totally enjoying the slew of applications that are up for download at the iTunes Store. There’s tons of stuff there ranging from games based on the awesome orientation-sensor (or accelerometer, as they call it) to a copy of the Holy Quran along with multiple recitations. Though what sucks is that in Kuwait we can’t access the US store and therefore we’re deprived of the complete collection. I’ve heard there’s a way around it but so far I’m content with what is available. Along with its music capabilities, you can comfortably watch video content on it as well and this really helped the time tick away while I was stranded at the Dhaka airport for 5 hours on my way to Dubai and then another 5 hours in Dubai due to a missed flight for Karachi. I got a plastic cover from Virgin Megastore temporarily and have ordered the RebelTouch cover on-line which I really like.

I also picked up a Sony H-50 digital camera from Amazon a couple of months ago after my Kodak Z612 got ruined in Cox’s Bazar. Its pretty good and has 9.1 MP with 15x optical zoom. It also has a large vary-angle screen and has an interesting Night Shot mode that sort of works. Along with all the good reviews, what sealed the deal for me was the fact that it came with a lens-hood and a remote control in the box. Here’s what the folks at DigitalCameraReview have to say about it. I also picked up a 4GB memory stick with it that should hold a sufficient amount of content.

For the time being my gadget craving is satiated.

A really long weekend in Kuwait – what to do?

happy-holidays

We’ve been given nine days off for the Eid holidays. It actually four working days and the Thursday is a rest day (sweet!). Coupled with the weekends on both sides and you have nine days to do nothing in Kuwait.

Earlier we were planning to drive to Bahrain and spend a few days there, however, since its Hajj period it will be impossible to get the mandatory KSA transit-visa. A lot of friends and family are also leaving Kuwait during this period so its going to be particularly boring. I’m trying to figure out different things we can do other than me working from home. So far a cruise trip to Failaka Island tops the list. Any suggestions are welcome.

Here’s wishing everybody a great time and Eid greetings in advance.

Visit to Cox’s Bazar

We went to visit my cousin and his family in Chittagong over the weekend. He planned an amazing 2-days trip to Cox’s Bazar, which is supposedly the world’s longest natural beach. The weather was awesome and the waves were aggressive. Rohail was totally terrified of the water and spent most of his time outside the water playing in the sand.

The best part for us when it started raining heavily while we were in the water; that is one unique experience. Rohail also had a great time with his two cousins, Lamisa and Waafee and became quite close to everybody during our stay with my cousin and his family.

The bad news is that I was using my camera (Kodak Z612) while it was raining lightly and apparently its messed up the CCD on it. Below is an example of the sort of pictures I’m getting now. I’ve done some research and it seems it isn’t worth the repair as I don’t have any warranty on it now. On the bright side; I can get a newer and better camera now – suggestions are most welcome.

You can check out the pictures I managed to get before I damaged the camera, here.

A trip to Khewra Salt Mine

Inside the mine

Currently I’m in Lahore for about a month on an official trip and Maliha and Rohail have accompanied me. Last week we got the go-ahead for a team outdoors trip. We decided to visit the Khewra Salt Mine which is located between Islamabad and Lahore. It is a very scenic trip on the Motorway and the whole gang stuffed into a van and we had a great day.

It took us about 3 hours to get there from Lahore. The weather was simply amazing with a lot of rain and by the time we got there, we had a quick lunch and headed towards the mine. They had a rickety train that took us to the depths of the mine and from there onwards we had a guide who explained the various things and showed us the various salt related exhibits they have put up there for the tourists. It was very interesting to see the different types of salts and their colour and light properties. Rohail had a great time as well which you could tell from his excited shrieks.

Fun Facts: The daily production is 1200-1500 metric tonnes and the mine is on multiple levels and ventilation is done through dedicated ventilation tunnels (there is no formal ventilation or AC inside).

This is a unique thing and I would advise people to check it out if they can.

You can see all the photos here.


Who Am I?

A Pakistani living and working in Kuwait who enjoys movies, gadgets, photography, technology, cars and a good book. This blog is all about things that interest me and what is going on in My Life.

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