Sunday, July 20, 2008

Culture

19 July 2008
21:04


My client was applying for a Schengen visa and one of the requirements is to have a travel visa. After going thru the process, I was already documenting the policy when the problem occurred. The system wouldn't accept a Family policy if one of the members do not have the same last name. I immediately called the customer service of the insurance company to resolve the issue. The CSR informed me of two options: (1) is to risk applying the policy altering the wife's last name or (2) issue the policy individually (which would cost them more).

I immediately called the client and told him the issue. He was almost enraged and asked me why. So I told him that I couldn't do anything because the system requires the members to have the same last names. He then told me that in their country, it is not required that the wife adopts the husband's last name. I told him I understand since I have dealt with concerns like this on other types of insurance. Then he said, "why are you trying to change my culture?" He was quite irate at this time. Then I said, "Doctor, I am not trying to change your culture. And this isn't about trying to change your culture. It's the system…" I said calmly.
"Then write my last name as my wife's," he interrupted.

I said, "Doctor, I couldn't take that risk because if something happens and you file a claim, things might be complicated and the worse thing that could happen is that you might be denied of the claim."
After murmuring some more things, we both fell silent and I broke, "If you want, doctor, I'll give you the direct number and contact person to the provider and ask them to resolve this issue." We both said our polite goodbyes and hanged up.

At this point, I knew I have lost the client since whatever might happen when he calls direct, he will have the chance to get the policy direct.

I went through my normal tasks and forgot all about it. I accepted the fact that it's not my sale.

Then…

A call was transferred to me after a few hours.

"Yes, doctor…"

"So, tell me what you still need to issue the policy…" was what he said first. Then he asked for the total amount.

And that afternoon, I delivered his family's policy at his clinic.

The truth is, I have high respects for people with high respect on their culture. I admire that they live their lives in these modern, globalized world and trying and keeping their cultures alive. On the other hand, we Filipinos sometimes laugh on ours and we are all guilty - you and me - at one time or the other. But which culture are we really preserving? And I know we all ask these question, too.

After about a few days after this incident, I checked on my friends' posts and found something very related to this although not entirely about it. Sadly, I agree with this post. There are a few of us who lives up to our culture. But how much do we have of our own and how much do we keep?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Here Without You

I used to love this song so much and it's been about a year (or more maybe) since I last heard this song, until last night. I heard it playing on one of those radio stations here. And I just thought I'd post it here for memories' sake.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Bus Tales

I have been going home quite irregularly for the past few days due to client calls and some more errands. In the morning as well, I sometimes go not too early but just in time for work. This meant that I haven't seen my bus mates for some time already. But I had to go early this morning since I closed the office late last night and that meant that I have to be here early to open it on time. I saw my bus mates and couldn't believe that this is the first time that they saw my new hair done.

But anyway, it was inevitable not to talk about the tragedy that happened on Sunday here in Dubai which led to the death of 3 Filipinas and one Indian. The story was told here. We all know that roads here are not that safe. Then we realize, after all those qualms about long bus waits, we feel safer riding it now. The RTA management is responsible for all the buses here in Dubai and the drivers are fined and given necessary actions for their misbehaviors.

I now cannot help but wonder... it's not new that some persons have to take the driver's license exam several times (and I think the record was 11 times) and not make it, and accidents happen here frequently.

Anyway, the Dubai Summer Surprises is now on until 22 August. hehehehehe... Sale! Sale! and Sale! everywhere! Errr... How to buy? What to do? I have been seeing a Photo Exhibit will start on 12 August. I'll definitetly check it out and might join if tides are clear! Yeah!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Looking Back

A year ago yesterday, this was how I felt.

And I still feel lonely every now and then. It was too short... I'm still wishing that next time, it should be longer, so that we could spend more time together.

H

08 July 2008
23:25
For HOSPITAL…
HOSPITAL TRIP

Our officemate, Sapan was confined at a hospital near our office about two days now. Since I didn't have time the past two days due to client calls, we figured it's best to go today for she might be discharged tomorrow.
It was somewhere we know so we just walked. It was again humid. I believe it's like 99oF again and this picture below shows it again.


It's a street called Mankhool Road in Bur Dubai, one of the busy communities here in Dubai. The hospital is Al Rafa Hospital and we heard that this is one of the very few hospitals Filipinos here trust. This was taken about 7.30 p.m. The walk was about 35 minutes but surely, we do not mind that since bus wait could be at least 30 minutes.

The rows of trees along the road got my attention but it wasn't captured in this picture and it was supposed to. But at least I have a posing stint… LOL…


Anyway, last Friday, my room mate was a little melancholic about the events that happened one after the other. She felt gloomy that it seems people she loves leave her eventually. Of course we all know that it is inevitable, but I think she's unhappy that they left one after the other in less than a year's time. I told her that it's one of the things that I have learned at my early life here. Someone bluntly told me that if I have to move to another place, do not hesitate to leave the ones you've been attached with for, eventually, you'll be left alone, too.

Then, I looked for an article published by a magazine, THE BUZZ, here about a few months ago. This supported the advise my friend gave me a year ago. But I hope in her case, I hope it made her stronger and let her realize that this is one of the facts of living in Dubai.

BEST FRIENDS FOR NOW
By Claire Davis

Most Dubai friendships have an expiration date (based on the fact that one or both of you is here to save money and head home), that means you can take them for what they are: friendship flings. Like a romantic fling, it’s best not to get too emotionally involved.

What does this environment of ephemeral friendships do to the “friendship monogamist” who has kept the same friends since high school? What happens, then, when we move to a place where our circle of friends ebbs and flows along with the economy?

While it’s not necessarily a bad thing, Dubai encourages a certain amount of superficiality: hair extensions, fake tans and the like are as ubiquitous as the SUV’s we drive. This attitude can seep into our personal lives and many of us discover that instead of our meaningful friendships from home, we are actually experiencing “friendship light.”

This should not be confused with shallowness, however, Justin, a long-term English expat in Dubai, sees it more as self-preservation. “When you see so many people come and go over the years, you just become less interested in making deep connections with people. It’s a bit like being dumped over and over again. Of course, you keep in touch for a while, but it’s not the same.”

Certainly, we can’t blame people for wanting to come here and move on. According to Justin, “Here, you can be someone you can’t be at home. You can afford a flashy car and you can get caught up in it. Eventually, you either go with the flow and become a snob, or get fed up with the snobs and leave because the money just isn’t worth it to you anymore.”

Friendship in Dubai is also a question of the type of people who come here. it seems that most friendships in Dubai are actually made at work, which makes fostering deep connections, unlikely at best. By blurring the lines of professional and personal relationships, we unwittingly set ourselves up for shallow friendships that revolve around light, social occasions. Clearly, the rules in Dubai are quite different than they are in the UK, and the US and elsewhere – while going clubbing with colleagues and certainly your boss is almost unheard of in many places, it seems like the natural order of the day there.

While Justin may seem like a bit of a downer – and it should be mentioned that he, too, is moving on after 10 years here – he does have a point. It seems that the very atmosphere in Dubai is conducive to a “light-hearted” environment. Even when the laws contribute to creating a more substantial sense of permanency – with the real estate market opening up to expatriates – one feels a disconnect and transiency in connection with an almost nomadic existence here. it is hard to set down roots when the sands are constantly shifting and the characters in your life keep walking off the stage; only to be replaced with someone new.

Change is as inevitable as the summer’s torturous heat but similarly, the breadth and depth of the differing cultures we are exposed to in this global melting pot are unique and resplendent. If only for little while, our paths cross with the world’s multitudes and, like passing ships in the night, we touch each other’s lives for that brief moment, opening us up to yet another change on tomorrow’s horizon – and the whole cycle begins again.

Such are the vibrant colors of Dubai’s fabric, one wonders if growing up on the same block and socializing with friends you’ve known since kindergarten can offer that same value and once-in-a-lifetime feeling.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Sales Call II

07 July 2008
22:58
The POC asked me to meet him… but he can only meet me from 7pm to 9pm. Thinking that it's still early and not that dark (especially during summers), I agreed since I have an instinct that this is a closer. This is the same client I met yesterday so, same route. Well, it's also probably instinct that told me this would happen because last night before I went to sleep, I made sure that I bring my digicam for a better shot… and I believe it is…



Yes, it was humid. The highest temperature was 102oF as per Yahoo! Reports. This shot was around 6.30 p.m. If you're from another place, you would think it's foggy, but I believe this isn't fog, nor smog. Well, I just don't know what it is.



I wanted to get as close to the Clock Tower as possible without sacrificing the height, so I stayed at the same footbridge yesterday and took what my camera could.


The meeting was done after about an hour. But the bus wait was terrible. I waited for almost two hours. And this is funny, but I can't help but write it.

At some point in your life, have you ever felt that sometimes you can stand the pain but not the itch? You figure out the details because I won't tell. :D And I am sure that one time or another, this happened to some.
Anyway, as usual (for the third or fourth day I think), I dropped by to the caf√© near our house and bought my favorite dinner, shawarma and a can of coke… hehehehe…

I'll have a good night sleep because I am, again, dead tired from work.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Sales Call I

06 July 2008
22:39

It was mid-day when I finally went for a sales call. As per instructions, I made it earlier than I thought I would to the place. The landmark is this footbridge and I was to cross to reach their office.


While I was at the top of the footbridge, I couldn't resist not to capture this view even if it was 99oF. That triangle thing at the far end of the street is one of the famous landmarks of Dubai - the Clock Tower. I passed by it everyday to and from work, only on the other end of this street called Maktoum Street, one of Dubai’s major thoroughfares.

There are a lot of things that happened today, I guess I just feel too tired to even try to gather my thoughts, much more to write it down. But one thing I tell you, every negative thing that happened today is charged to experience. My boss even told me so. She told me that this is still part of my training; on the job. She believes that I can't learn things in a day, especially in the industry that we are in. More to this, she also believes that you don't learn everything inside books.

There is such thing as immersion. And I believe that we have to do this to be able to learn the people and its culture - no matter where.
Everyday has been fruitful recently. In all aspects I should say. The rewards don't only come in monetary compensation. For every little thing is a reward in its small ways.
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