Looking at the sweets on my table made my gastronomic pangs drool over those small slices of sweets. But I can't just open it and voraciously nibble the halawa. I should know where it came from as it could have been mistakenly placed on my table.
Having a tight schedule that day because of all the SGS audits we're having at the Processing Plant - ISO 9001:2000(QMS), HACCP and ISO 14001:2004 (EMS), I wasted no time dialing my Nanay's number in the Philippines. I was losing my patience because my call cannot get through. The mountains in the hinterlands of Upi (Cotabato) could have contributed to the poor phone signal.
Well, that wishful thinking made me realize that I finally got to talk to her past lunchtime already. I was the last of the 4 siblings to greet her. My youngest sister who's with her was of course the first one followed by my sister in Wales and my brother in LA.
I may be the last one to greet her but of course it was not the least greeting from her children. She was so emotional and sentimental when I called her... Her soft voice bespeaks of the frailty of her physical body but I could sense the strong will and spirit when she talked to me. While I listened to her, emotions just welled up my heart knowing that even at my 'young' age, her motherly concern over me here at the desert is still so intense.
Because of my Nanay's birthday, I wouldn't forget that it's one of my best-friends' birthday as well. From our UP Diliman dorm days till today, now a famous and well-known pulmonologist, Dr. Vinci L Urgel's birthday is always remembered!
Aside from Vinci, two better-halves of our college friends (both are sisters... what a coincidence) celebrated theirs birthdays on the same day. Julius Gacutan, hubby of Dally Diamante (Toyota-Australia Executive) and Dennis Leoncio, the husband of Daisy Diamante (United Nations - New York Executive).
Happy happy birthday to Vinci, Julius and Dennis. May God continue to bless you and prosper your ways!
Muhammad Saeed Mubarak Kinedri's Wedding
One of my favorite Saudi staff gave me this wedding invitation several weeks ago. He has become one of my favorite Saudi staffs because he's harworking, industrious and a very conscientious and committed supervisor. How does one become my favorite? Well all my 150 staffs and workers know how one can earn his way to become my favorite.
Very often, when my other Saudi staff gets married, they apply for vacation several weeks and days in advance but not this groom, Kinedri. He still worked three days before his wedding day and would probably have made it only a day or two if we did not succeed in convincing him to rest so he can muster all the strength and energy needed by a groom. How I wish I had all my 50 Saudi staff as committed to work as Kinedri.
I need not look at the unblocked spaces in my calendar to be able to attend Kinedri's wedding because I was sure that all have been blocked for the night. Nevertheless, I had to forego some of my appointments to be able to attend his wedding. It was my obligation as a mudir (boss) of this fine young man to be there to support him during this momentous day in his life. So right after the Al Isha prayer that night, Ahmed, my Logistics Support Manager and I traveled around 50 km to reach the grand banquet hall in Al Wasgah. We arrived there at almost 10pm but as we learned later, it was too early because dinner was served past midnight.
We were welcomed by the groom and the male members of his family upon our entrance at the banquet hall and were led to the reception hall where we had our tsai (tea), qawa (Arabic coffee) and tamur (dates). It was non-stop serving of drinks that I had to finally beg off or else I'll be crossing the hall many times to go to the hammam (toilet) to relieve myself of too much liquid intake.
My presence at the banquet hall was very conspicuous because I was the only one who was not wearing a thob (Saudi men's robe) and crossing the hall very often to go to the toilet will draw the other guests's attention. Earlier that night, I called several times Sani, my Malaysian friend to come along but my calls were left unattended. Had he come along, there would have been two of us not in thob and he would come handy as he's a good cameraman as well. In fact, I didn't use my Nikon cam which I brought with me because the flashes will draw the attention of the crowd even if the two Ahmeds with me, Ahmed Shogeifi and Ahmed Kinedri assured me to just go ahead with my photo ops but since there were a lot of old people around who are not used to being photographed, I decided to just take the shots from the camera of my mobile phone.
While the night was growing deeper and my stomach started to growl and protest the late serving of dinner. Because of my hungry stomach, I frequently yawned. I made sure that I had my hand over my gaping mouth because yawning in public is unacceptable to Saudi culture especially if you don't cover your mouth. I whispered to Ahmed that we better go back to NPC and eat at one of the restaurants along the highway . But later we decided to hold on a little to our hunger by just shutting our eyes and by imagining that we were already feasting the food. Ahhh… If it was not Kinedri's wedding, I would have walked out of the place...The food wasn't served until after 1am. But it was a feast well worth the wait! There was the timeless mandee (lamb, goat or camel especially cooked in charcoal- I like it much better than our lechon) served in several big carpets laid out in a large dining room.
While my mouth was gaping with the more frequent yawning and my stomach protesting, I remembered the halawa at my office table that day. I learned that afternoon that it was from one of my Saudi staff who wanted my approval for a free day off. Well, he did not get a free day off as he applied for a leave the next day.
(From left to right)Ahmed Shogeifi seated with the groom and his friend; Ahmed Shogeifi upon our arrival at the banquet hall; Ahmed Kinedri, groom's cousin.