Snippets from last night's dinner conversation:


IT Professional: I can't be seen to pay for downloading songs or movies. It would be a betrayal of my principles. It would be professional moral suicide if I got caught paying for stuff online. I have a reputation to uphold! I am an IT professional.


Half remembered deal negotiation stories from Pakistan. The first conversation took place in Islamabad the day AFTER the Red Mosque was stormed! The negotiations were scheduled two days earlier, as the officials knew the trouble would be over by then. (Everyone in Pakistan knew what was going to happen it seemed. Only the people in the Mosque were surprised.)

Senior Government Department Official #1 in Pakistan: You are the only company that makes ******s products?
Salesman: Of course.
Senior Government Department Official #1 in Pakistan: So, you have a monopoly on ******s products!
Salesman: Monopoly?
Senior Government Department Official #1 in Pakistan: If you are the only company that makes ******s product, then have a monopoly, right? We don't wan to be approving of the deal to a monopoly company.
Salesman: [Thinks: This guy is insane!] What do you mean? Of course only ******s makes ******s products. Just like a car. Mercedes Benz make the Mercedes car, right? There might be cars very similar, very good, but they are not Mercedes. They are just other cars. There is no monopoly.
Senior Government Department Official #1 in Pakistan [Pauses. Ruffles sheets of paper. Phone rings. Answers, nodding. Hangs up phone.] We like your company's proposal.
Salesman: [Shakes hand of Senior Government Department Official #1 in Pakistan, leaves] ...

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Senior Government Department Official #2 in Pakistan: [Sitting behind large desk with a vast array of telephones, including two mobiles.] What company are you from?
Salesman: ******s.
Senior Government Department Official #2 in Pakistan: [Nods. Phone rings, he answers, talks on phone.]
Salesman: [Waits] ...
Senior Government Department Official #2 in Pakistan: [Another phone rings. Places current handset down and picks up second. First conversation can be heard to continue on the desk as he listens to second. Third phone rings. Holds up hand to salesman, mouths that he will be only a minute. Puts down second handset, picks up third, first and second conversations continue as previously.]
Salesman: [Waits] ...
Senior Government Department Official #2 in Pakistan: [Hangs up on all phones.] I have been to The Netherlands, but it was many years ago. I am wondering if it has changed much. [Looks pointedly at Salesman. Handphone rings. He answers. Nodding.]
Salesman: [Waits] ...
Senior Government Department Official #2 in Pakistan: [hangs up on handphone.] We like your company's offer. It is agreed.
Salesman: [Shakes hand of Senior Government Department Official #2 in Pakistan, leaves] ...


Off to Jakarta this afternoon despite severe recriminations after I read the advice from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Indonesia, including Bali, at this time due to the very high threat of terrorist attack. We continue to receive reports indicating that terrorists are planning attacks against Western interests against a range of targets, including places frequented by foreigners. If you are in Indonesia, including Bali, and are concerned for your safety you should consider departing. If you do decide to travel to Indonesia, including Bali, you should exercise extreme caution.
There have been recent arrests of high level terrorist operatives in Indonesia, but we assess terrorists are continuing active planning of attacks. These attacks could take place at any time and could be imminent. Australians should consider this information carefully when considering travel to Indonesia. Particular care should be taken at this time to avoid known terrorist targets (see Terrorism section below).


What is it with these countries? If - only - someone - would - explain - it - to - me.

From that last link, to someone who said to me that the Northern Ireland Troubles were not about religion:
In open wars and civil conflicts in many parts of the world, armies and insurgents on all sides fight with the conviction that God is with them. In lower-level conflicts, itís still sometimes one of the most powerful labels going. Northern Ireland has been one of those places. I was a Protestant on the Ards Peninsula, and I recently spoke to someone I know who grew up, a few years younger than me, as a Catholic in Belfast. He grew up having heard that Protestants ate their babies. All too easily, we make demons of the people on the other side of the wall. Or, rather, there are people in our communities who make our demons for us and pass them on to us. And you canít know better than that if youíre too young to know anything. You take on those views and believe them, if theyíre part of your world and largely uncontested. If we donít know this, we donít know fundamentalism. If we donít know it, we donít know where terrorists come from. And if we donít know where terrorists come from, any war against terrorism risks being a lumbering blunt instrument that terrorists will believe confirms the basis of their rage and that they will find ways around. Nick Earls, "Songs Of Childhood"


However, weighing it all up, there is a golf course attached to the hotel and I generally will finish work at 2pm, giving me time for 9 holes most afternoons, rain forfending.

I have decided to continue my trip to this seething third-world cauldron of political and religious foment, anti-Australianism and personal danger with its cheap DVDs and its lush fairways, but only after I performed a serious Risk/Birdie Anaysis.



Posted by: expat@large on Jul 15, 07 | 1:21 pm | Profile


What a reassuring piece of advice from the Dept. of Foreign Affairs. I hope they don't forget to remind you if and when the threat level is low. Perhaps you should just exercise extreme caution indefinitely.

Posted by: Dick on Jul 16, 07 | 12:32 am

Ah, but I have my rituals to protect me as arrive in a new hotel: I unpack, left to right, a man coming out of his suitcase. My clothes unfolded front to back, hung pants left, shirts right. My toiletries unbagged, arranged thusly. My phone recharged, my time reset - but not my time-zone, oho, the outlookian complications of such! My dearest blogs visited, browsed, commented on cryptically. And I rest, confident in the protection gained by this routine, my rituals; the spirits appeased, swirling out there by the window and refused entry, the exorcisms exercised, the succubus sucked, the incubuses inked, extremely, yes, truly I rest, cautiously, indefinitely.

Only the words break it, for it is the end that gives meaning... *Beckett*

Posted by: expat@large on Jul 16, 07 | 12:50 am

i travel just enough to know that nothing matters, nothing will protect you and the best way to go is asleep.

Posted by: savannah on Jul 16, 07 | 8:05 am

Nick Earls is a child of African immigrants and if he grew up in the Ards I think the least of his problems were religious.

Ohhh and for the record he usually writes the type of literature that see's you chucking a fit and throwing a Guy Montag so I am surprised you are quoting him.

Posted by: Indiana on Jul 16, 07 | 3:10 pm

Ah the thrills of Google... Nick Earls was born in Northern Ireland... Of white protestant parents, African or otherwise I couldn't discover.) And he writes Nick Hornby type humorous novels for adults and young readers. Why would I burn his stuff? I only flame pseudo-tough guy lit and bad pompous pretentious crap - because it's easy...

Further to your SMS - hah, dragging it into the limelight - to say money and not religion was the major divide in the Troubles is really too simplistic. Did the poor micks and poor proddies play together? No. Did the rich micks and rich proddies socialize at the same clubs? No. There was certainly power issues, and power stems from politics supremacy and control over the means of production and of business, i.e MONEY and jobs for the boys... and guess who controlled that in Northern Ireland - not the bog-dwelling Catholics. But the rich will tend to side with the status quo no matter their religion, so maybe rich Catholics were not so so radical (except those Bostonians etc who funded the IRA and Sinn Fein). But that doesn't mean money was anywhere near to being the primary division - definitely it was by religion that the Northern Irish (and those of us who grew up in parts of East Geelong too) defined themselves.

Posted by: expat@large on Jul 16, 07 | 7:56 pm


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