Friday, December 5, 2008

Hot Pot in China

We had lunch with the project team outside the factory in a nearby restaurant. We took 2 taxis to get to the place which had private rooms with circular windows in the 2nd floor. We paid for lunch which was hot pot but with a difference. We each had a small boiling pot in front of us unlike in most restaurants of this type which had only one central hot pot where everybody would cook food. We cooked meats, noodles, mushrooms, vegetables, shrimp and tofu in a boiling mixture of water and chili peppers. We also had soy sauce and chili to dip the cooked food. It was spicy but refreshing for the cold weather.

I felt a bit sick last night after our dinner. We went back to the food center where I finally had the dumplings. But the climate was bitter cold. There was a very hard cold wind biting into our skin. My colleague from Europe agreed that the bitter, harsh and cold wind in this Chinese city was the harshest he has experienced. Usually the winters in Europe did not have a biting cold wind. So we returned to the hotel after walking for about 15-20 minutes in the merciless weather. Winter in this city may probably be one of most difficult anywhere. Luckily I recovered through the night and only have a slight weakness and cough the next day

The local people seem to enjoy the weather. I saw some people skating in a small man-made lake which was frozen over. During the training, I had calls from India and Singapore. There are issues that needed to be resolved and important emails to respond to. I forced myself to think through and answer or at least try to resolve the issues. I wanted to ignore this problems as I was inclined to but I had to force myself to focus on them. So I did not have time to help out in the training. But really I do not have the full expertise in this field as compared to my European colleague. In fact, it is only now that I get to understand some of the features.

I wonder if I am too old for this type of jobs. Walking up the office steps after coming in from the bitter cold made me feel old. My friend laughed when I said that this job is for young people. In fact all the people in the room are younger than me. I used to be one of the youngest during projects but I now find myself the oldest person around. But I guess I am not that old compared to the other people in the company. I am in between youth and experience and I am still glad that I get to do projects like these. Learning new things, meeting new (and younger people) and travelling to far places.

At the end of the day, there are few people who can still do this type of work. But this experiences will be less and less. There will be more localization and fewer travels. I am glad that I can keep up though by a slight thread. I am sort of the middle man between East and West, between business and technical, between young and old, between new and experienced. I guess my profile fits this kind of project where they need an old and seasoned 'veteran' who can shepherd the young into the new process. I still do have problems getting up to speed in the new process. Especially this application which is quite technical and specialized.

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