Sunday morning …..8 AM , Egyptian Time
Reluctantly I got out of the comfort of my double-bed and started getting ready for office. Apparently in Egypt, as with many Arab countries, the weekend is Friday/Saturday.
This meant that, after working heavily from Monday to Friday back in Bangalore, and spending the whole of Saturday travelling from B’lore through Mumbai to Cairo, here I was on a Sunday morning, starting out on a fresh week, with no break in sight for a further 5 days until Friday !
Neverthless. I dressed up in my new pair of “Peter-India” [ that’s the way I prefer to call it 🙂 ] formals, nearly strangling myself with the neck-tie …..[ that’s the problem with onsite – the dress-code can’t be compromised ]
DAMN !!! this meant that I’ll have to forgo my breakfast for today …… eating at this 5-star hotel would cost me more than my Per Diem….. and there were no other decent restaurants/cafes in the vicinity !
I enquired with the Bell-captain about the directions to the office, and it turned out to be just about 5 minutes walking distance away.
As soon as I stepped out of the hotel, I was stopped by a security Guard armed with what looked like a cheap imitation of a Kalashnikov …..he wanted to see my ID and enquired where I was going. I showed him my THBS Id card ( the only ID I was carrying ) , fearing that he might require something more, but strangely, he was satisfied and let me go.
I walked down the few blocks towards the address of the office. The office was in this complex called the Nile City – a huge pair of twin-towers beyond the Arkadia mall…….The complex housed the offices of some of the biggest corporates of Egypt, and also included a mall in itself. In fact, yesterday while exploring along the banks of the Nile, I had seen this and had been wondering what these huge pair of buildings were about.
The facade was grand and heavily fortified……This is one thing I noticed everywhere in Egypt – the security arrangements were extremely stringent…..While entering my hotel, or the malls or the office building, I have to pass through a metal-detector and any bag I carry ( even a plastic cover ) has to go through the X-ray machine. [ …..quite in contrast to the just-for-namesake metal detectors in place at Garuda mall, back in Bangalore …that too in spite of the numerous bomb threats it had received ]
In fact, the office had the same ‘Group 4 Securitas’ team ( just as in my office back in Bangalore ) providing the security…… but what was different was that the personnel – both male and female, were extremely well-groomed and smart ! I had to pass atleast 3 reception desks upto the lobby of the office, and each of them had a pair of receptionists – a guy and a gal, dressed up in neat, formal western suits …… [ I slowly started to realise how beautiful Egyptian women were 🙂 ]
At the office, the person I was supposed to report to had not turned-in yet…..Instead, his manager came and welcomed me. I was ushered to his cubicle where we sat down and casually chatted . The office ambience was simply marvellous ! The interiors were grand, and the layouts amazing ! What was even better was that the people were all very colourful ! Everybody dressed up in tip-top formals ….even the gals in classic western business suits ! The general office crowd was young and extremely trendy …..In one look, it seemed just like some office in Europe, or even better, for Arab gals are simply the best in the world !
The Manager seemed to have some work on his cards and excused himself….As I sat there waiting for my contact person to turn up, the gal sitting in the adjacent seat [ …easily one of the prettiest ones I’d ever seen 😉 ]…. came forward and introduced herself…..
[ P.S: Names undisclosed ….not for the fear of losing my job, but more for the simple reason of not having the millions in my bank-account….in case, somebody decides to sue me 🙂 ]
She asked me if I’d like to have some tea/coffee ….I didn’t refuse ….opted for coffee. She showed me to the nearby kitchen and started out to make the coffee for me !
[ Boy, I’m starting to love Egypt already ! ]
As I stood there, watching her make my coffee, I couldn’t resist imagining ….. that had she been in India, she could have easily been a top bollywood actress or model …..call it destiny, today she’s just another employee in a Telecom firm in Egypt !!!
Wanting to keep the conversation going, I commented, “Nice office you’ve got here”.
“Oh ….thanks!”, she replied, “I especially love the sky-roof there” …pointing towards the beautiful glass ceiling just across her desk, from where bright sunlight poured in, illuminating the entire room!
I sipped my coffee slowly as we chatted and then returned back to the desks…… soon the guy arrived, and after some basic introductions we dove straight into business. I was given a place with the testing team, in the far end of the floor, and was introduced to the guys around.
There were about 5-6 guys in the room, all huge Arab guys, but quite friendly fellows.
Slowly, I settled in and set out to work !