Looking Ahead!

I have never gone hungry for a day in 2013. I have great friends and family that invest their time in maintaining a friendship with me, even when I fail to reciprocate. I have full-time employment, and through my work I get to see places and people I never would have travelled to otherwise. Our work helps billions of people to stay connected with their loved ones.

Still, I believe the best days are ahead. That I have yet to eat my favourite food, read my favourite book, or watch my favourite film. That I have yet to acquire more knowledge and meet new best friends.

Hong Kong

Thank you and goodbye 2013. The best is yet to come.

 

Marathon Planning

After a break last year, I will in September do my favourite half marathon – the Great North Run – for the sixth time. As my Skechers running shoes from 2011 just gave up, I acquired a pair of Skechers GoRun Ride. I have not run particularly far with them yet, no more than 2.5 kilometres to be precise. This is mainly because running around a compound is incredibly dull.

I am hoping to step up my running when I get to Stockholm. Running freely has not exactly been possible in Libya. I am sure I would have had to run for the wrong reasons should I have ventured out in the Tripoli suburbs in the evening!

Since I did the first Great North Run in 2007, I have promised myself to do a full marathon before I turn 30. This means I need to sign up for one before September next year. I went online earlier today to see what is available. After having surfed the web for inspiration, I settled for the Vancouver Marathon. It is a point to point race, and I have always wanted to visit Vancouver.

So, May 2014 it is.

Leaving Libya

It is not long until I leave Libya. Tripoli is a decent looking city that definitely has the potential to look truly beautiful.

The Libyans that I have interacted with have been wonderful people. I hope that they can build a prosperous future benefitting the region.

Will I come back? Probably. Perhaps not in the very near future, but I do truly believe that Libya will become a country that can take advantage of its oil. The structure here is better than, say Nigeria (where I lived half of last year). Once a majority of all variables fall into their place – I am certain this economy will go through a tremendous transformation.

I feel privileged to have experienced living in a country so close to a historical event like the revolution. My next destination will be Stockholm, and I am looking forward to living there for a few weeks. If only to experience the changes since 2006…

Getting Compounded

It feels like I am adding the ‘pound’ in compound! Living in Libya means that I cannot go out running, as I normally like to do. Subtract running from not so healthy eating habits and – voilà – added weight!

Now the trick is to start using the gym more. The lighter dumbbells weigh 3kgs each, which is a little too light for me. Next step up is 10kgs each. Which is a little too heavy!

Just have to keep going I suppose.

Not that I want this to become a food blog or anything, but invented this yesterday:

Bulghur wheat
Tomato puree
Date syrup
Harissa

Boil the bulghur and drain, add a few spoons of tomato puree, one or two teaspoons of date syrup and one teaspoon of harissa. Eat with meat.

Dublining it…

Like 2012, I have started off 2013 with a few days in the Dublin office. This is the office that employs me. Although I prefer being on the road, it has been good to get to know Dublin a bit. It is a city with an interesting history (founded by the vikings), and the hotel where I stay (The Burlington) allows for nice walks both to the office and the city centre.

The Datalicious Future

I am on a fascinating journey with my employer at the moment. Since a couple of months back,  Nigeria  is where I am. The mobile phone plays a central part in almost every Nigerian’s life. Particularly the Lagosians.

Based on my observations to date in Lagos, I think this city is on the verge of a data explosion. However, monetising data traffic is a huge challenge for operators. In any country.

In simple terms, a mobile network consists of two parts. The Radio Access Network (RAN) and the Core Network.

It is the RAN that carries your phone calls and text messages (SMS). The RAN is hooked up to a billing system, ensuring that you get charged appropriately (that’s the theory!) for your texts and calls.

With both voice traffic (Skype) and SMS (iMessage/WhatsApp?) through the Core, instead of over the RAN, operators risk losing significant streams of revenue. To prevent revenue loss, these seem to be the moves currently on offer.

UAE: Block Skype downloads. For the ones that have Skype from other sources, block the SkypeOut (Skype to landline) feature.

Sweden: Only higher priced price plans include usage of Skype.

UK: Just have slow data networks, which inevitably limits Skype, so that using it over 3G does not work particularly well. (certainly my experience as an end-user).

It is talking that the next generation’s networks LTE/LTE Advanced (aka 4G) completely lack a radio side. It is all core. It also makes sense; core networks can now be built reliable enough to hold voice.

Should operators charge based on megabytes, or should they charge based on what you download through their network? What will acquire/retain/scare customers?

A business that can provide what customers want, will surely be in a better position than a business that is making it hard for its customers to get what they want. Customers who are not getting what they want will look elsewhere.

For me and my employer, it is no secret that higher usage is good news for us. Successful and growing telecom operators require more equipment. We sell equipment.

Los Angelagos

May 2012 will go down as personal high in terms of countries I have been in within a single month. Qatar, UAE, UK, Sweden, USA and Nigeria to name them all.

Right now I am in Lagos, which is Nigeria’s commercial capital. Very little happens quickly in Nigeria, but the people are warm and friendly. With my appearance, I do confuse people a lot. A Nigerian lady that sat next to me on the plane from Dubai thought I was Ethiopian. I may look Ethiopian, but I am a Sri Lankan-born Swedish business consultant from Ireland…!

I have no idea how long I will be in Nigeria. Ideally, I will be here until September, but project circumstance could mean that I leave after a couple of weeks, to then return later in the year.

No matter how long my stay here will be, I am looking forward to support our client and learn more about the country and its people. My Nigerian friend Lois from university has been generous and a great local guide. Together with her family and friends she has made it easy for me to feel at home after just three days here.

And yes, the May vacation in California was amazingly good! Driving along the Pacific Coast Highway was a dream come true.

Where is your wife?

Had breakfast in the Dubai Marina with a Turkish colleague. I took a taxi back to the area where my hotel is. The taxi driver was a man in his mid 40s from Bangladesh.

After 30 seconds, the conversations went something like this:

Taxi driver: Where is your wife?

Me: Ehrm, I’m not married.

Taxi driver: Ooh, marriage is great. You should get married!

Me: Maybe in five years’ time or something like that.

Taxi driver: Where are you from?

Me: Sweden.

Taxi driver: You don’t look Swedish?

Me: No, I was born in Sri Lanka, but adopted etc. Are you married?

Taxi driver: Yes, I’m married. My wife is in Bangladesh. But I hope to go to Britain. Marry a British woman. One wife in Bangladesh, one in the UK. I meet women here that say come with me, but I want to choose one myself.

Then uses language that is quite ‘colourful’ and not too flattering about British women. It ends with him buying me a cup of tea, and then driving away to find a new customer to entertain.

Welcome to my online home

Welcome!

This is my first post on this new blog, so I thought a ‘welcome’ with an exclamation mark would be most appropriate. I do like writing, but seem to never take the time.

At the moment I am based in the UAE. I have been here since the middle of January, and it is a country I am enjoying so far. After a month in Abu Dhabi, I am now based in Dubai for while.

I am a strong believer in short and frequent updates, but I am not confident I will be able to practise what I preach!

Again, welcome!