Food Safety - A new way of working

When I started my airline catering career in the 80s, I remember going around the base station flight kitchen with a piece of paper stuck to a clipboard and a pen, ticking checkboxes. Those were the days of Lockheed L1011 Tristar aircraft with catering loaded in the lower lobe galleys. Then there were B747s loaded in massive catering modules in the aircraft's belly. That was in the last quarter of the 20th century. Here we are almost towards the end of the first quarter of the 21st century with modern aircraft such as the Airbus 380 Super Jumbo, and Boeing 777 Dreamliner flying the blue skies; and yet nothing much has changed in terms of technological advancement in the flight catering industry.

The entire world has been forced to live through an extended period of 'downtime' due to the pandemic. However, some organizations have, during the past year and a half, opted to turn the situation on its head, revisiting business processes with a view to implementing improvements.

These efforts have focused on new ways of working and collaboration as well as supplier and engagement. From the customers' perspective, the demand was for greater value in the products and services they purchase but without having to incur increased costs. As such, we saw a more feverish use of corporate buzzwords such as Digital Tools and Digitization which of course have been around for a decade or so.

The pandemic, as we all know, hit the aviation and related industries especially hard, resulting in an unprecedented drop in demand. Naturally, this had a serious impact on Flight Caterers. They too have come under increased pressure from customers to create value without additional costs. Therefore, just like other industries similarly affected, they have also been looking at various ways to improve efficiencies and design new ways of generating revenue.

While health and safety are priorities for customers, as always it was vital for flight kitchens to maintain airlines’ confidence in their capacity to provide safe food. From a digital perspective, flight kitchens can pick up a few low-hanging fruits for digitization to improve business processes as well as create value that customers look for using technology.

In my experience in the airline catering industry over the past three decades which includes visiting flight kitchens in various parts of the world, a hygiene inspection of a flight kitchen would take about half a day on average. This includes a physical hygiene audit followed by a documentation audit. This posed a challenge due to the limited time we could spend within each flight kitchen during a physical audit; we could only take a ‘snapshot’ of what was happening at a particular time. Documentation audits took much longer, but as always, it has always been cumbersome to flip through mountains of paper. Very often only hand-written records were maintained; they frequently missed some information and were not easy to read. As such it has been hard to develop a ‘feel’ about the day-to-day performance and efficiency of the food safety management system of the flight kitchen.

I believe we need a new approach to enable airline customers to monitor food safety systems and carry out routine in-depth audits at flight kitchens either on-site or even remotely. Customers should be able to do the current paper audit. In other words, they should be able to view the entire Food Safety Management process in the kitchen electronically from their computers or even iDevices. For Hygiene Managers of the flight kitchen, such a mechanism would do away with spreadsheets and binders, error-prone hand-written records, enable the provision of visibility with respect to corrective actions and most of all increase employee engagement in food safety and thereby build confidence in customer's minds.

(This article was originally written for an industry publication in July 2021, but never got published)

Current Status on the Island

I’m getting somewhat fed up with the way things are going on this island lately. Today I read an article that even some hospitals have had to stop performing surgeries due to the unavailability of required medicines. This is in addition to the current shortage of fuel, gas, and other hardships such as shortage of essential foods and scheduled power outages people are going through.

I’ve been living on this island now for about 14 months since we got back after three decades of being overseas and I have to say, this is the first time that I felt it’s about time to go back overseas. My family and I’ve had to go through quite a lot of adaption to fit into the local lifestyle as well as the environment. It hasn’t been easy, but I did not have any complaints. Just went with the flow, while keeping my eyes, ears, and mouth closed in keeping away all the evil things that have been going around in the country. I never even made an effort to seek any overseas assignments during the last 14 months. I always thought, there are more luxuries than artificial ones when living on your own land than any other. Amongst others, having friends and family who genuinely care for you has been a major one. On top of that, natural beauty with loads of lush greenery, generally hospitable people are just a couple.

The situation on the island has been in utter chaos for the last couple of days with public protests in various parts of the country. There was also 36 hours curfew during this past weekend. The most recent development is the announcement of the resignation of the cabinet ministers last night. One might hope that with ministers’ resignation, people will stop their protests in the streets; I’m not sure though. The behavior that is being displayed right now in the parliament does not give one an impression that the ladies and gentlemen who represent the people of the country have any concern about the current situation on the island. They all seem to only care about their own personal and political agendas. Even though the members of the parliament have been meeting since Tuesday they still haven’t been able to agree on a meaningful solution to the current situation in the country


People protests have been continuing in various locations on the island. Most notably in Galle Face greens. The update as of April 13th, 2022 is that the PM has now invited peoples’ representatives from the Galle Face protestors to meet him for discussions. Not too sure though what is there to discuss or even on their agenda. It would be interesting to see what responses would come from people in Galle Face greens!

Continuing from where I had stopped earlier, people did not accept the invitation for discussion from the PM. Protests in the Galleface and elsewhere is being continued for the 15th day!

More than an year

I was scrolling through my 10C blog last night to realized that I haven’t post here for over an year. I can understand not being able to write most part of the last year due to quite unexpected redundancy that both Mrs & I had to go through and consequent preparations for repatriation - flight tickets, freight, medical tests whatnot. But, there shouldn’t be any excuses for not writing a single blog post, since we moved in here. At least not after we had settled in to a decent level.

It has been quite an experience over last eleven months, though they haven’t mostly been pleasant. In a way, I knew that before and I did not have much expectations. In fact, it has been well below my expectations, unfortunately. On top of poorly managed C19 pandemic; political, economical and social situation in the island has been worst for over an year or so. There doesn’t appear to be any signs of improvement in the foreseeable future either. Most of the times I had felt that I must keep my eyes, ears & mouth closed and just move on with life looking after the family and myself without having to worry about what’s happening around in the island. But every now and then, I get too frustrated and disgusted about hearing all the nonsense!

May be I am looking at everything too negatively. There have been a few times that Mrs has told me so. Perhaps, she’s got a point. I must try to look at positive things going well here as well and be grateful. That could be another blog post for some other time…

Last Three Months

Since my employment with the organization became redundant, I’ve been going through ups and downs in my mental state over last couple of months. There have been times, I’ve been super productive - doing online courses to up skill my self in continuous development, writing in the paper journal, taking walks in the evenings and so on. More about that later. There have also been days I felt totally anxious, even depressed. I noticed these have mostly been triggered by thinking about all the good as well as not so good memories in the day job from the past. I realized these triggers mostly occurred whenever I had not been keep myself busy with either physical and mental activities and needed to address this; I started to make slight changes in my daily routines. My friend Sabrina, who is a life coach, very kindly helped me with initiating some of these changes. I enjoyed the coaching sessions we had in the local coffee shop. I’m very grateful to her.

Getting to a Routine
On most days, I continued to wake up early, at least much earlier than the rest at home. Have my coffee sitting under the neem tree in the front yard; in the early days I used to take my mobile phone along with me and most recently I stopped that, because I wanted just to sip my coffee admiring the neem tree branches and leaves. I started to write in my paper journal, much regularly than before. I started to read more or listen to audio books often. In particular I had more time to read & listen to Dr. Jordan Peterson and reflect on his teachings. I made efforts to connect with a few people outside the world both online and offline, though I preferred online interactions more. I enjoyed more online conversations with Jason,I started going out for dining with a couple of good friends, whom I always had a high regard. It gave me the opportunity to experience middle eastern cuisine, more than I’ve ever done for last two decades. I enjoyed meaningful conversations we have had and learned lots about the middle eastern cuisine and region in general.

Closer to what matters
In the home front, I got more involved in helping Mrs in household chaos more than ever before - washing dishes mainly. Most importantly, I grew in spirtuality - being with family for evening prayers consistently has been a big win for me. I got more closer to the god. I had the opportunity to spend more time with the daughter, specially during our evening walks and daddy’s taxi service duties to drop/pick at the driving lessons.

Feeling God and good
I now have freedom to do what I like, to be doing & when I want to do things, I connect with people with my choice, I have more time to spend with family & friends, I don’t have to associate with incompassionate people, I don’t have to play office politics to get around, I’m not compel to agree with anything which aren’t meeting my principles & values. I mostly have peace of mind. Gradually my anxiety levels started to reduce and state of mind has started to improve. Even writing this post here brings me positive thoughts. I know, I am unemployed. That’s okay for now. When the time is right; I will get around with something meaningful. It is going to be even better ! I feel I’m more closer to the god more than ever before

Twenty Nine Years

Today mark 29 years since I first arrived in Dubai. That means today also mark as my date of joining to Emirates. It has also been customary that for expatriates recruited from overseas, the date of joining is the date people board their flight into the country.
Over last 29 years I’ve been fortunate for being part of world’s one of the most rapidly grown airlines and being able to contribute to its success. I had the opportunity to meet some of the most wonderful people both inside & outside the organization and build long lasting relationships. I had travelled most parts of the world for business and pleasure. I learned, experienced and appreciated working with people from all various cultural backgrounds. I enjoyed having had the privilege of experience of tasting wide variety of local cuisine in the various parts of the world. I had worked under extremely challenging circumstances, in setting up new stations, during industrial actions, under extreme weather conditions and even natural disasters like ash clouds.
Unfortunately the C19 pandemics and resultant impact to the industry has not been favorable to people in the industry and resizing of the organizations had to be done. I don’t think there were any other options to control expenditure, but to let some people go. I’m one of them. Though it’s sad to leave a career which I had put my heart and soul for many years, I don’t take it personally. In hindsight, I feel, I needed that nudge after having been in the same industry for almost 35 years, to pursue new ventures. I don’t know which that new venture would be just yet. But I believe it’s going to be a good one. Onwards & upwards!

Jason the 10C

Mostly I’m sad, sometimes I’m feeling too guilty for not using 10C often - Jason is working too hard to improve what we have here on 10C. And he has been for many years since we got to know him and the service. He has always been quick in responding if we face any problems with the service with a solution or even when we ask for new features. Just one single soul running his server in his own home, investing most of his own funds. So passionate about his own creation 10C. Look no more. He’s more than enough for me(us) to be inspired, not only for here, but also for any other creation whatsoever. So, what’s stopping me(even us) ?
In the end I’m not sure whether the title of this post is appropriate. That doesn’t matter too much though. This is my space. I and we can write anything as long as we don’t offend any other human being, I believe!

First time in about two weeks, I finally had something that motivated me to write in paper journal for yesterday.

Back to Bullet Journal

I am thinking of going back to pen & paper Bullet Journal again. Last time I used the system was about year & half ago for a couple of months, but did not continue when I started to maintain a Hobonichi Planner. This year I did not get a Hobonichi daily planner, instead got a 5-year journal. So, it makes sense to use a Bullet Journal for planning activities. That’s said, I want to keep my Bullet Journal simple and functional. With that in mind, I decided to use Frankenlog method - a simplified version of Bullet Journal creator, Ryder Carroll’s original Bullet Journal System

I spent a few hours this morning setting up my Bullet Journal using Leuchtturm 1917 Bullet Journal Notebook I had purchased about a couple of years ago, when we were visiting the UK. I have to I quite enjoyed setting the thing up, which also give me the opportunity to keep away from my iDevices and completely focus on real pen & paper. I know, it’s not perfect and good looking. It doesn’t have to be! All what I need is to be functional for me. And time will tell….



I don’t know...

There has been this thought in my mind for last couple of days, whether I’m too lite hearted & humous in my business interactions with internal and external business colleagues & associates. This thought has been echoing in my head since I had to facilitate a session to a bunch of people who were visiting the HQ for training workshop from overseas. My session was about an important operational subject, although it wasn’t related to neither regulatory nor safety. I wanted the audience to feel comfortable and be participative rather than me just talking. I wanted them to have a bit of laughter. I haven’t seen their end of training feedback though. But I think I did well in covering the subject matter.
Beside the above, in this past week, I also had to facilitate a bunch of meetings with business partners in the external company that I deal with and on reflection in one of those meetings as I observed the people attending looked a bit nervous about an important upcoming event, which I’m driving for smooth launch. I wanted them to believe we can do it and there isn’t anything to be fear of and I wanted them to feel comfortable to throw any of their doubts, questions, clarifications needed at me. So, I was a bit humorous to crack a few jokes - decent ones though.
I’m now thinking whether these people would take these things lite heartedly as I’m or will they think my behavior isn’t acceptable in a business settings. Should I change my approach the way in which I handle these things, but still try to maintain my true self !

Working on a Friday

It is not often I go to work during the weekend, though I'm catching up with work emails & whatnot from home. Whilst, I don't have to be personally present in the office to get work done, my physical presence is necessary when it comes to meetings, 1 one on one meetings with my team members and of course kitchen shop floor walk arounds. Though I spend considerable time in the kitchen during the working week, I'm mostly engaged with meetings or people coming to see me to discuss matters of importance to keep our day to day operations running & alive. It is rather very difficult me to focus on just one thing at a time. It doesn't matter whether I'm in the kitchen or even in the HQ 2 I've noticed switching gears often from meetings to shop-floor to one on one meetings to emails has mostly burnt out me. Nevertheless, I have to achieve my work related goals & ever demanding expectations from my superiors consistently. I guess it comes with part of the package. Unfortunately I don't have army of people whom I can delegate as I work with an absent work force who work on shifts 24/7, except two, who also have their plates full.

After being to the kitchen this morning and spending almost six hours on the shop floor, uninterrupted I managed to achieve hell of a lots of stuff on the shop floor. I managed to get deep into some of the challenges we have been facing, though solutions still need to be further discussed and agreed with people in the kitchen. More importantly though, it was clear that at the end of good six hours or so, I was still relaxed and calm. Is this a sign that I should be better organized, structured and scehduled my week for various important projects and activities, so that I can focus my efforts even better….? I don't know, time will tell.

  1. We are still in it's infancy in on-line meetings

  2. I've scheduled to be present in the HQ at least one day in the working week - mostly on Thursdays