Friday, January 30, 2009

When the "taken for granted" does not happen... and what to do.

My week in Melbourne has been interesting. Not only has it been a fabulously successful week business wise (, a stimulating week fitness wise (three 1.33 - 1.5 hour brisk walks), but most importantly, was the stark realisation of when the "taken for granted" just does not happen, and how to overcome the hurdles which invariably transpires.

Three major "givens" occurred in Melbourne this week: the heat wave (the hottest since 1939), widespread power losses, and of course the train service (or rather lack of service).

The heat wave:

From the viewpoint of a Queenslander staying in Melbourne for the week, it was I guess, curious to see how people weren't coping. Yes, it was very hot (within 0.5 degrees celsius of the hottest day on record in Melbourne).

It was a really significantly dry heat, and one that almost took your breath away (not used to the dryness, as I haven't lived in Western Queensland for ages). For me, I liken it to being in an oven (where as in Queensland, it is more like being in a pressure cooker).

This weather system took everyone by surprise, and really slowed the place down. Who could blame the Melbournians... not me for one.

How to overcome this type of weather? Quite simply; stay out of the heat where ever possible, drink lots of fluid (and I mean water), don't do anything strenuous, and be patient (everyone is in the same boat remember).

But there is a cooler change a coming, so let's try to remember this for next time.

Power losses:

Due to the heat wave, properties all over the Melbourne power grid had their power switched off, even if it was for an hour (in blocks of 20,000).

Now this happened without notification. The basic commodity of power, and the "given" of its continuity, was shattered in one swoop. No power... no refrigerator, no air conditioning, no fans, and none of life's little luxuries (recharging of mobile, computer, lights, PS3, music etc).

What to do: keep the fridge closed to maintain the coolness, get the candles out, have spare batteries, get a small appliance charger (for laptop, mobile etc), and load some songs onto your mobile (I have 420+ songs on my BlackBerry Bold). Most of all, patience is required.

And hey, the perfect opportunity to meet and get to know your neighbours... you never know when you may just need them.

Train services:

Melbourne is where I have truly embraced public transport, over the car I would normally use. In Brisbane, the opposite stands true... I consider Brisbane's public transport system a bit of a hotch potch affair, and one to be avoided at all costs.

But in Melbourne, I happily use trains, trams and the Skylink service. But all that changed today... courtesy of Connex (train services) and their simple lack of being able to contend with the heat.

Train lines buckled (why doesn't this happen in the more tropical climate of Queensland, or if it does, is it handled more efficiently?), and train services cancelled (300 services alone today).

So when the service from Glenferrie Station to Southern Cross Station kept being delayed, after half an hour of delays, I knew I needed an alternate plan. And seeing everyone else must have had the same idea.... a taxi was out of the question (booking line 131008 was engaged, so can only imagine how overwhelmed it must have been), and so I had to rely on, yes indeed, a colleague and his car. Made it to the airport with minutes to spare...

What to do: give yourself more time (plan for the situation occurring (you can always enjoy a coffee or similar at your destination if you arrive early), pay attention to the local news service, twitter your concerns (so others can, and do, tweat back assistance), have a back up plan, and be patient.

Overall, I must say, I did embrace the week, I did pay it forward, and was returned the compliment by someone I had never met (thanks @iDarryl), and I did enjoy my Melbourne week.

Stay safe, stay cool, and may patience for your situation and others be rewarded.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

The simple things in life: time to enjoy them

The Managing Director of the company I work for (Priority Management: took me out for dinner last night, as we were both in Melbourne (Brisbane is home for both him and I) for the week, working from the Hawthorn office. So we caught the train into Flinders Street (from Glenferrie) and walked across the bridge to SouthBank.

We selected a restaurant close to the water and boulevard, and were able to simply watch the world go by. Now, I don't know about you, but I am fascinated by watching people go about their daily lives (and no, those reality type TV programs just don't do it for me), and it was a simple pleasure to do this... it really didn't cost anything, you can learn a lot about a city from the people you see, and you get to see people really from all walks of life, race, colour and creed. From a mulitcultural level, I believe Melbourne does it better than any other Australian city.

I watched in amazement when Richard (our Managing Director) burst into French, when he discovered a french gentleman waiting nearby... amazing (reminds me, I must get back into my Hindi learning).

We caught the train back to Hawthorn, but this time, disembarked at Hawthorn station and walked to the Glenferrie Hotel (where the company normally puts it's people), but before we went our separate ways, we decided (well Richard insisted) to have a couple of ales at a little bar near the Glenferrie Hotel (the Glenferrie Hotel is currently undergoing some massive renovations in the bar area).

Again, the act of having a beer (or two) and actually talking casually is really a simple thing to do, but ultimately a very rewarding past time.

We forget that some of the simple things in life, normally the ones we actually don't think about, or overlook, are some of the most rewarding occurences in our lives, and are usually the things which balance out the busy, over crowded lives we lead.

So the next time you are feeling perhaps a little overwhelmed, or frazzled, find a nice spot, sit down and let the world pass you right on by.... allow yourself to stop.

Enjoy the simple things in your life, make a mental note of them, and see how they give you some badly needed balance.

My thoughts and twitters for now,