Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Time It Takes

Two months into our stay here, and I'm just now starting to get used to the pace of life in Ramallah. My initial frustrations at the slow pace of business and the inevitable delays we run into at every turn (which I was perceiving as lost time) has been replaced with the relief from the never-ending pressure of the daily grind that characterizes the rat race in the US, and the joy of spending more time with my family. I'm re-learning how to enjoy the cup of arabic coffee or mint-infused, sweet black tea served at the beginning of every meeting, the expectation that you start the meeting with discussions about anything except the business at hand, and the many other cultural norms (or "isms" as my brother would say) in the Palestinian society.

This is just how long things take here, for better or for worse, depending on how you want to look at it. I admit that I'm getting anxious to start construction, because we've had the site excavated and contractor-ready for at least 4 weeks now. But things happen for a reason, and today we find ourselves:
  • At the conclusion of partnership negotiations with a builder to to set up a contracting company and perform the development work on the project ourselves, improving the proposed Return On Investment for the overall project. This after coming within hours of signing a contract with a different, more expensive General Contractor who would not have provided the same synergies to the group.
  • Under contract with a graphic design artist to create a design for our new website, newspaper ad(s), project sign and (possibly) a billboard ad.
  • At the end of electric wiring, insulation and sheetrock, and window installation at the mobile office. Painting, fixtures and furniture remain to be coordinated over the next few days.
  • Having a much better understanding of our ability to finance this and future projects with the banks' assistance, and with the framework for a strategic plan for our operations for the next 5 years.
The plan as of today is to start work at the site next Monday, after the crews we hired wrap up work on another project, then the clock starts ticking. We budgeted 45 days for the first level, and 30 days for each floor after that to complete the 'Adem (frame) phase, around 8 months total for the 7 stories. the Tashteeb (finish-out) will dove-tail into it and the final two or three floors will wrap up 3 to 4 months after the framing of the roof floor.

Meanwhile, here are a few photos of the only physical activity going on at the site ... improvements to the shipping container / site office:

(frames added to attach sheetrock onto)

(work in progress)

(how many Palestinians does it take to put up a panel of sheetrock?)

(the new view from inside the - now smaller - office room,
after partitioning an area for a guard's quarters / tool storage)

Hopefully, next time I post it will be with pictures of the set up for foundation pouring. Or as we say here in Ramallah: Insha' Allah.

(With thanks for my brother for inspiring the title to this post from a song off his new album).

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