Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Few More Hours in Budapest

Got an hour of boat tour on the Danube.  It was very cold and not much enjoyable but still I got some sun burn.  Beauty of it was that I floated on Danube for an hour which sounded very romantic.  Got to see some old buildings from afar and mark the places I would like to explore when I am here again with my family enshala.
Walked back to the hotel from the pier using the internal streets.  Two blocks eat of the river there was a promenade for a few blocks that was really charming to walk in.  I found a souvenir shop in an inner alley which was also an antic shop.  It was really interesting exploring the old china and dolls and medals from communist era.  The first thing that caught my eyes was a Hungarian doll I fell in love immediately.  It was very bizarre as I never played with dolls growing up but now expecting a baby girl I thought I wanted to buy it for 2000 Hungarian Flute, $8.  I also got to buy a hand rafted table cloth with needle works and crochet.  I found A a hand made wooden game of balance I hope he enjoys experimenting with.  Wish I could find M a decent present but alas.  But got our household a bag of paprika and a couple porcelain small dishes I hope he enjoys.
These kind of promenade is exactly what I like about Europe.  Especially in cheaper places like Budapest.  I hope to go back one day with my family.  In fact a colleague from the area recommended that I should combine visiting Prague, Vienna, and Budapest in one trip and I liked the idea.  Until then.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Me, the Baby, and Budapest

The meeting I am attending is in Sofitel hotel, Budapest.  It is a nice hotel actually and what makes it nice is the service.  People are super friendly.  The waiters at the breakfast buffet smile at you and watch for your every need.  I thought may be it was only in the hotel but even outside people are not afraid to ask if you needed direction if you were looking on the map.  People seem relax and feeling safe.  And those who serve, don't act as if you are burden.  It is refreshing.
Yesterday the ladies in the Event team asked me if I wanted anything especial in my room, being pregnant and all.  I requested fruit graciously and received and enjoyed it.  Today in the elevator I got to meet a waiter who asked if I liked my fruit!!  I must be the only pregnant lady in the whole hotel.  It is kind of neat now actually as I feel like a celebrity.  My international colleagues are also really careful and complementing which is real nice.

Exploring Budapest for 2 Hours

Got to explore the center of the city a little bit.  In fact, only the Pest side of the city.  Apparently the name Budapest is composed of the name of the two cities neighboring the Danube: Buda and Pest.My colleagues and I got a Hop On Hop Off bus tour for $25 that is valid for two days and allows you take a boat tour as well.  I thought it was quite a good deal.
We embarked after the general sessions of the Sales Meeting I am attending and presenting at during this trip. Got to visit a couple monuments and few buildings that looked old, but were only from 1800s.  One of my colleagues, K.C. and I, hop off at Heroes' Square to explore on foot.  There were some statues and then a bridge below which, on the frozen platform, people were ice skating.  It was real neat to watch. Then there was a garden with a few old buildings and a church, all old looking but only from 1800s which was interesting to me.
When we got back to the station K.C. realized that he had lost his ticket.  So we got to explore some sections of the city on foot.  It was right around noon and not too cold so it actually turned out nicely.
We had a quick lunch at a Turkish Halal buffet-like place.  At the counter the guy said marhaba to me, meaning welcome in Arabic.  So I responded back: marhaba.  And ordered a large Turkish tea as I was somewhat freezing.  He asked if I was Iranian!  I confirmed but asked how he knew and he responded from the color of my skin and my accent!!  I had hardly said anything and I was sure compared to the rest of European and Middle Easterners I had a more American accent than not.  So was puzzled until I realized the accent he was referring to was my Arabic accent in saying marhaba.  The food was real good and I got to chat a bit deeper than ever with K.C. which was real nice.
Close to the hotel there was a park with a local market we got to go through with no cash in our pockets.  Otherwise there were many interesting things and delicious looking foods we had to pass on.
I have a more appreciation for the city now.  I hope to come back with M and A and the baby enshala.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Movie: People Like Us (2012)

I remember I had read a brief review of this movie in another blog a few months ago.  So thought to give it a shot when I couldn't sleep and after a few hours of work (ah never ending work!).  It was nice.  With an unexpected turn of events in the end. Too good to be true but a nice watch in a long plane ride.

Movie: To Rome with Love (2012)

The movie was a good pass of time especially after watching Argo.  But a bit shallow for a Woody Allen movie.  Nothing to think about or contemplate on.  Except may be the challenge of temptation in the newly-wed Italian couple.  To do it, she would regret it later she thought but to not do it she would regret it later too,  So she decided to do it.

Movie: Argo (2012)

When I saw Argo on the new release list I knew I wanted to watch it.  I usually do not watch this kind of action, spy, recent history movies by myself.  M is both more knowledgeable and more interested in the events that I can review the details with him through and after the movie.  But hey.  I could not stop watching it now that it was right in front of me.  Too many American’s had asked me about the movie, whether or not it was real.  Last one was my boss’s boss’s boss.  I needed to know what they were talking about.  I was a new born when it all happened in the history.
The movie started by a brief history of the past 55 years of Iran in 5 minutes until 34 years ago, the revolution in 1979.  Then it focused on the day that the students occupied the American embassy and apparently 6 Americans fled the building before they got caught and got housed by the Canadian ambassador.  The story was about a CIA plot to bring those back to the United States.
I enjoyed the movie actually.  The suspense, the uncertainty, the montage and scenes in the movie; I thought that was actually really nice as there were many real depictions of Iran the way I remember in the early years of my life which were the early years of the revolution too.  The violence in the bazaar and then in the airport were not unfamiliar although for sure seemed pretty exaggerated.
It was an amazing plot indeed, to go a country you have no right in and pretend you are filmmakers and take out the refugees as the film crew.  I had no idea this happened in real life.  On the other hand, it was an interesting depiction of the political games.  Even the CIA mission was a game of politics the lives of people were second to the glory of the country.  The mission was not always saving Americans’ lives, not when the game, if called out, could be assumed lame in the eyes of the world.  But the CIA agent at the mission decided to go through with it and then it was a matter of minutes to reach and convince the president’s office to approve of the game.

En Route To Budapest

Going to the East Europe for the first time.  Budapest.  In the middle of February. Have been in the plane for hours already.  I have a headache, feel completely dry, and can't sleep.
The baby is moving.  Oh it is the sweetest thing.  I have started feeling her move since early January.  It was then two weeks ago that her movement got strong enough one morning to be felt from outside; her first strong move was felt by her dad actually as it was a Sat morning; Sat, Jan 26th to be exact.  In this flight she has moved strongly a few times.  I think my sitting down idle has made her want to be active. I cherish her company.  Absolutely love it.  Thank You God!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Reaching the Unreachable

Last night, I got to attend one of my spiritual circles I had not been able to attend since October and  I learned something really valuable from my companions on The Path.

I was struggling how to "live" The Path of servant-hood, worship, and total surrender living in the 20th century era in the silicon valley of all places with all the egos flying around.  I felt that it could be easy To Be and To Serve, and To Pray while living in a secluded garden and meeting only people of The Path, eating from fresh fruit of the garden, and witnessing the beauty of God in everything and everyone around me.  I had not chosen that life.  But rather this.

In the midst of this battle, I got reminded last night that The Path is not to reach a state of perfection but rather a movement toward it.  That every effort matters, even just to recognize one's nafs, one's ego, in a situation.  There are beauties in the ego; this life is to be lived and to live, ego is needed.  When among people, it matters to try to recognize the Face of God. When among egos, may be it matters to let the heart decide even if the ego acts.

"The star shows the way across desert sands and at sea
fix your eyes on the Star, for he is the one to be followed

Keep your eye on his face
don't stir up dust with discussions and arguments

you'll just veil the Star with that dust
The witnessing eye is better than the stumbling tongue

Be silent so he may speak who calms the dust--
he whose garment is Divine inspiration."

                         Mathnwi VI: 2641-2647
                          Translated by Kabir Helminski

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Feedback and All That is Around It

I believe in the empowering aspect of feedback.  I think feedback allows any individual, particularly the leaders, to assess their performance against their perception of themselves.

I believe it is an ability to possess or develop to seek feedback, not everyone is capable of doing it, now either out of fear of being criticized or contempt.

I have always sought colleagues' and management's feedback and even though most of the time positive, I focus on the not so positive ones in order to shape my path more effectively.  I know that is th perfectionist achiever in me in effect, preventing me to enjoy the positives and reprimanding me for the shortcomings.

Today I got a very interesting feedback from one of the perceived women leaders in the organization; that to seek input into your performance, especially as a woman, was a sign of insecurity and signaled the need for hand holding in the decision making process.

Even though I completely disagree with this comment, this was a contemplative input.  That some leaders equate seeking advice to needing guidance rather than an opportunity to improve, gauge,  and empower self to develop.  I am going to pause on this for a while and revisit an old book in the mean time:
What Management Is by Joan Magretta

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Iran and America Through a Different Lense

A photographer from New York embarked a journey to Iran in December.  I admire his vision and his fact-finding nature in not limiting himself to political media to learn about Iran, especially at this time out of all times.

Enjoy his blog as I absolutely enjoyed every word and every picture!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Take This Waltz (2011)

Hated it so much I loved it.

"Life has a gap in it it just does.  You don't go crazy trying to fill it."
" - New things are shiny
- New things get old"

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Super Bowl, First Time I Watched

Since I have emigrated to US, this was the first time I watched the Super Bowl.  What enticed me was the fact that the San Francisco 49ers were playing after many years.  At the beginning of the game M reviewed the rules for me and this time I actually could follow it as I paid attention.  We watched the first quarter with friends who had a new baby boy and then joined our relatives in Walnut Creek for the rest if the game.  It was almost unbelievable that there was a power outage in the middle of rhe game.  But seems that was the time needed by 49ers to gather their focus as they made up very nicely with a couple scored fumbles and touch downs.  I found the 49ers quarterback very humble looking and that seemed a huge contrast to the Ravens erogant looking quaterback. In the end 49ers lost with only 3 point difference and more than feeling sorry for their loss I felt bad for the Ravens win. At least though I enjoyed the game for the first time ... more and more infused in the American life ...

A Saturday Hike

It was a foggy day yesterday, so is today so far.  A was watching TV since 6:10AM, which is his weekend routine but not necessarily has M's or my approval for any duration more than 2 hours.  M suggested a hike outing and I got on line to find a non-shaded path for up to 3 hours of hike, given our situation.  Stile Ranch Train in Santa Tresa Park got selected and toward the southern hills we head. It was a very pleasant hike, green hills and ranches around.  We shared the path with mountain bikers and horse back riders.  Got to see many hawks and still not blooming wild flowers.  These hills are famous for their wild flowers in Spring.  The fact that it was not shaded made the foggy day more pleasant with some warmth from the hiding sun. We finished a 2.6 mile hike in 2 hours and 50 minutes which was a nice contrast to the two hours A had spent in front of the TV.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Pregnancy The Beautiful

Grateful for this baby inside me, with me when I sleep, with me when I raise, with me when I prat, with me when I eat.  People can see the evidence of a baby growing inside me but I know the baby is growing inside me; I can feel her.  And it is utmost beautiful.  Thank God!