On the Road to Dubai

I’m a little late with this but better late than never…
So, Friday night the 15th I headed off to the airport to start the long trip to Dubai.  Met up with Jim McBee who is one of the other speakers on this trip and we boarded our Delta flight for Atlanta — with a stopover in San Francisco.  The stopover in San Francisco would prove to be a little more exciting than expected…
…the day before I was on the phone with my friend Maria, who lives in the San Francsco area.  We haven’t seen each other in about 18 years and we recently caught up with each other via e-mail.  I wasn’t sure how long my layover was and I knew she had a busy weekend so I didn’t really expect her to come all the way to the airport to see me, but much to my very pleasant surprise she decided to come up to the airport just to spend an hour hanging out with me in person.  So we had a great visit and when it was finally time to go catch my plane I very reluctantly said goodbye to her at the security checkpoint and headed in.   Apparently I look pretty suspicious because they decided to pull me out for additional screening – which meant all manners of tests on me and my carry-on bags.  Knowing I was cutting it very close to catch my plane I asked if we could be quite swift and to their credit they did seem to make an effort to get me through as quickly as they could.
It wasn’t quick enough.
I arrived at my gate to see the tail of my plane disappearing down the tarmac.  I’d missed it.  I quickly turned and headed back to the Delta ticket counter to find out what they could do for me and I sent Maria a text message to let her know I’d missed the flight — hopefully she was still in the airport and perhaps we could extend our visit a bit.  The Delta folks were understanding but apparently this sort of thing had never happened before (hard to believe) and it took them the better part of two hours to get it straightened out.  The end result, however, worked out wonderfully — I got changed onto an Air France flight non-stop to Paris (where we were going to be in a couple of stops anyhow) in time to catch my connecting flight to Dubai with Jim.  The Air France flight didn’t leave for 4 more hours so Maria and I left the airport and went for lunch.
Finally it was time to get back to the airport, I bade Maria goodbye and headed to my plane (in plenty of time this time).  Much to my chagrin after passing through security (for the 3rd time in 12 hours) my cell phone screen was dead.  This meant no text messages, no checking e-mail, no calls.  But more importantly to me…no pictures.  The only camera I brought was my camera phone, now deceased!
The Air France flight was uneventful; I slept through much of it, and I arrived in Paris in time for my flight to Dubai.  Reunited with Jim at the Paris airport (he discovered in Atlanta that I wasn’t on-board) we waded through Paris security and got on the plane.  Once again I slept through much of the flight and we arrived in Dubai on schedule.  Unfortunately my luggage did not.  Filed a report with the luggage folks, after a bit of difficulty found our ride to the hotel, and made our way to the Al Murooj Hotel in Dubai.  A beautiful place, top of the line resort.  Lovely rooms, great infrastructure.  The folks in Dubai were all very polite if not exactly warm.  Jim and I looked forward to a good night’s sleep and a day off the next day to polish our presentations and maybe look around Dubai.
The next morning I had just emerged from the shower around 0815 (still no sign of my bags) when my phone rings.  It’s Jim.  "We’re presenting today." he says.  "WHAT?!?!"  "It’s all set up down here, we’re on at 0900."  <gulp>  Scrambling I finish getting dressed (in the same clothes I travelled in, except for a t-shirt Air France had provided), grabbed my tablet PC and ran downstairs.  Sure enough, the attendees were starting to arrive.
Jim had to give the keynote at 0900 and I sat quietly nearby hurridly trying to make sense of my slide decks (I didn’t create them, they were given to me).  At 1000 the break-out sessions were ready and I was on.  The first two presentations of the day went much better than I expected…the crowd was interested and asked a lot of good questions.  The slides went well and I was more or less on time.  After lunch I launched into the 3rd session – SharePoint 2007.  Hmmm.  59 slides in 65 minutes?  Plus we’re a tad behind.  The screen shot slides are hard to see and some of the bullet points are irrelevent.  I awkwardly work through it as quickly as I can, but it doesn’t go that well.  The Q&A segment manages to save it a little, but I’m disappointed overall.  10 minute break, then the fourth session which goes o.k.
Presentations concluded Jim and I, and Mark Arnold (our third presenter) met up with Irene (our sponsor) and went to dinner.  Our travel plans had changed — we were going to depart Dubai the next day to get to Istanbul (our next stop) a day earlier.  As it turns out that was a mixed blessing…more on that in my next post.
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