Category Archives: ecommerce

Catch Up : Nan Chang 2 .. The Eventual Return [2017]

“How are you enjoying it?” – was the question posted on social media as my time in Nan-Chang came it end.

The question came from someone id not seen in the actual world for some time.  As a result i lacked clarity on the level of appreciation that existed.. Perhaps people thought id gone on tour?  My – you’re not in the shire any more – social updates, the ones that had instigated this question, had a back drop which had probably not been overly shared..  Random semi incoherent utterings over recant months, if people had the energy and wrong minded inclination to spend their time sifting it out.

In shorter terms than those above, i responded with something that approximates an answer and historic back fill:

“Its not been a holiday so it in terms of enjoyment… when you’re here for the incompetence of people and in job for a company you’ve so long wanted nothing to do with .. it could have been really shit and it really wasn’t”

“China is probably a 6.5/10 place reduced by at least 1 for the excessive and most unnecessary abundance of heat humidity combinations.. but the Chinese are probably an 8 or maybe more .. an untrue generalisation on any peoples but in a place as vast and people rich as this i imagine quite nonsensical indeed – yet as odd as it can seem .. all people are odd and the odd that they have here seems in so many ways preferable to the odd elsewhere – i will miss the Chinese and the way of things here when its far away i suspect – having been able to appreciate its presence .. enjoyed i don’t know, but appreciated and missed when absent i think so”

How is that you score a country or a whole people, what does that even mean? not only are there so many different parts (people / areas etc) but what are they being scored on and why … nope that all ok .. they are an 8, say no more, job done and thats out of 10 by the way – if you weren’t clear ..

This came 2 months after i’d arrived in China 2 months or slightly more than 7 weeks in Nan Chang that had included a fair bit of ritualised office going, just as it would in the UK with work but in terms of my existence to that point this is where routine ended.  This is not to suggest the trip had been in any way remarkable to this point, it had not but to say it was routine or somehow the norm, well i’d worked up in Liverpool for a while once but this wasn’t that… so no it was definitively different / not ritual or routine.

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The not full flight to Dubai and its generous stretching out opportunity and conundrum – to stretch is too sleep, too sleep is to not watch the movies and have the drinks .. Long Haul Flights are to be savoured, sleeping negates savouring, it is sleep and it doesn’t belong or owe allegiance to whichever surround  that houses it

My previous trip to china had when viewed against its purpose been a success, the project had not been put back on course, that was never likely, but we’d had an honest and considered reflection on where we were, how much remained as well as the time and other things required to achieve it.

It wasnt an answer many would have welcomed and they didnt but it was at its heart an honest and more importantly worked through view, based on a considered though still optimistic deconstruction of what remained.  I had returned to the UK with Cambodia holidays in mind and a faint wiff of disembodied hope wafting accidentally in the wind.

It did not last by the time id returned from the Thailand (the post Cambodia part of that holiday) the feedback and corresponding plan had been thrown out.  The UK team has again come back with some 5 week plan that they’d made up an we (the owner of my employer) had taken that because it sounded a whole lot better than 10-14… and we liked things that sounded a whole lot better, even if they came with no substantiation, from a source that had evidently never yet been correct and had neither the means nor inclination to be so.

One other pre-requiest for the project getting back on track was stated and then stated again on each call i had with China that i needed to go out there.  Again no action was taken.  Instead a return to the threats from us and vast distortions (i dont say lies because it was somehow not this, it was a complete disconnect with the truth to a point far beyond delusion) it was odd but mostly infuriating.

This went on with early morning calls UK time meeting evening call China time.. Their UK affiliate telling our owner there were 4 people dedicated and working on our project as a prioity, while the China team told me they had been told to work on other projects but we’d had 1 person looking at something… or similar such updates.. Either way i was going nowhere and the project, now a further 6 weeks later had not moved an inch.

I resigned – I resigned while on holiday in Spain or Portugal… while using up some more of my stock piled holiday.  Two ego-fantasists arguing but bot arguing in a joint fantasy world was pointless.  I contacted China and asked if they would accept my assistance if i came as me and not an employee.  There were two issues at stake, this was 1.5 years worth of work, my work that was being flushed .. second it was a piece of work on which 4 peoples jobs were dependant.  .. Either it was up by July or the project was to be cancelled and peoples jobs.. it had been strongly intimated to me, they were at risk- it was already early May at that time and many of those 10-12 weeks has already been wasted.  Third – doing this meant a level of cost but would be far easier to explain if it came up in looking at other jobs, which it almost certainly would.

This act of resigning and seeking to make my own way to china had the unforeseen consequence of forcing the issue – rather than resigning and heading to China as a free agent, an agreement was reached that i would go under the companies flag.. Cheaper for me, flights and accommodation .. on the flip side i would not yet escape my shackle to their collective world, a dystopian feeling mash up somewhere between ‘cool world’ and the drunk dumbo dream sequence , id never much cared for.

the fact this version is in a language that is only passingly familiar inadvertently makes it more apt to the time.

With the plan from March suggesting an August delivery and with it now being the beginning of June i set out to China, with no real belief in anything other than my desire to negate the regret of not at least trying.  I may have been at the end of my role but others still wanted their jobs … id hired them, put them in this position..  You can fail, i thought i would probably be okay with failing given how hampered we’d been, but only if there was the knowledge of having properly tried.  If they lost their jobs, having shrugged and walked off, i think i have left future me with some things to think on he’d rather then present me hadn’t.

While this is my Flat –  some small part of this on one of the almost top but not quite floors. Many buttons in the lift, it was pretty tall but not notably so, pretty standard sort of height in China.  I was on the 20 somethingest floor.

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It came with a gate door to protect its actual door.. Most flats didnt have this, mine did – i wouldnt say it would be one of those install this to add value to your property things they tell you about on Channel 4 .. First impressions pass quickly enough but it makes one.

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Life in the flat had one memorable challenge which stand up to memory erosion.  It was sleep and achieving it.  The bed was entirely solid, there as a mattress but someone it was formed of a substances that was harder than the floor itself.  If this seems like an improbable exaggeration, well then …maybe..  seems like one .. but i did end up opting to move myself and my sleeping bad to facilitate an attempt at sleeping on the kitchen floor through the pursuit of greater comfort.  Whats more it worked.   I was not unfamiliar with the concept of the unnaturally solid mattress having been first introduced to it during 3 months in Nepal.  As then, i grew accustomed to it, at least most of me did, my back maintained reservations and expressed them to me at the beginning of each day as i tried to get up.  I found a rolling technique helped overcome this.  Legs drooping over the edge,toes seeking to fish out some floor.

The other issue that stood between me was the air con.. It brought the cold or rather the sort of temperature that didnt torment a person to perpetual consciousness.  It made noise in its efforts, not persistently but in disruptive fits and starts.  It had a night mode  id been introduced to on moving in, a button on the remote id subsequently all but immediately lost track off and rediscovered only by after some mass button pushing.  A mass pushing that id failed to conduct in an orderly fashion and so again lost track of which button id struck upon to achieve this.  Eventually however the secret of the night mode became known to me.  Oddly thought the night mode did nothing about the temperature display, its neon blue light shining so much brighter than ever seemed possible during the day.  At least no ships would inadvertently breach the river banks travel a few miles across land and strike the block of flats in the night time.

I tried sleeping with shades .. it was not an run away success

I tried the hood on my sleeping bag, turning the sleeping bag upside down to covert the hood into a face cover.. it was a little more successful ..

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Shopping presented challenges on any packed items where ambiguity over the contents became a possibility.. My first pensive effort to secure milk for the purposes of tea was testament to that. This was not that effort, the milk that wasn’t came in a carton that very much resembled what used to come around on trolleys at school .. what was in it was white but it was gluepy in a border line yogurt way but it wasn’t yogurt, im pretty confident it wasn’t a for m of off milk as it was sort of sweet. least the very small amount i placed on the tip of my tongue as an effort at hesitant effort at investigating seemed like it probably was. This looked like a garlic and chilli sauce. it even came with English words “No 1 Hot Sauce” – it was not lying .. i dont know what the number 1 was scored on but it was hot – if not mixed and used in district moderation, it was an inedible stomach infuriating concoction.. still I bought it again when it was used up.. it had that key benefit of knowing what it was

The 10 minute walk to work exited in two forms.. the June form which was grey, overcast and occasionally torrentially wet.  It made for some muddy pathways across this short cut.  The july form of the trip existed in burning heat that meant any freshness of person and clothing that had been attempted in the flat was a thing of distant history by the time of arriving at the office.  Walking to work involved a wonder through the flats in the background of the shot below.  The local inhabitants were mostly about, sat around outside, in the morning some among them would look to greet with their preferred turn of English phrase – How are you? – or just hello .. it nice to find yourself so greeted into the day.  In the evenings as the weather grew dryer and warmer, groups of women clustered around what wasn’t really a ghetto blaster, but another form of portable music box, and they danced.

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Work Offices

The Injoy Shopping Centre – NanChang, a very local convenience.


By The Nan Chang River:

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The river bank at Nanchang turns into a giant display at night. Sky scrappers as far as you can see along both banks act as giant screen with animations and other context free things shine out.  Id live amongst this the first time i was here (for the 5 day initial visit in March) and came back once this second time.

One of the developers had taken it upon himself to invite other out for some games of pool.  This is not my game but being terrible at pool in a public arena is something life has taught me to be accustomed to, the invite was very welcome as thing to fill part of a none working weekend.  As evening came we headed toward the river to watch the show in the form of the music and fountains, water display.

There were also funfair rides – they were not Alton Towers – but the sense of readily appreciated fun that imbued my hosts, it was a little infectious.


Back at the flat:

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and a good few weeks in – the discovery by inadvertent button pushing that one of those buttons switched off the air con illuminations …and so it was that sleep gradually became that more readily achieved thing that would be there to greet me at the end of the days.


Wondering About:

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A more premium priced store existed by the river – it had European products..  Cereal and Milk came from here .. Milk meant Tea and the ability to make use of that big old pack of Tetley that had travelled with me.

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Football

Another developer invited me to football..I had no football boots here, they were not among the things id packed, just the plimsolls i wondered about in, no shin pads and no socks… given the position i play shin pads do rather matter.  Not about to decline mind, love football, hadn’t played for over a year and not done much in the way of surrogate exercise.   I was offered some shoes but then i realise they weren’t spares they were actually someone eles game shoes -so generous and not okay – also i realised this while trying to get my foot into them, they didn’t want to, the size was not a UK size.

Still so warm.  It was an 8 o’clock kick off, the night 8 o’clock and it was dark but the temperature didn’t rely on the sun to sustain itself.

The lack of sock was a problem – the astro removing a fair chunk of skin, just an outer layer .. this despite barley moving past a wonder, shuffle to a jog ..  It was as well that time had already seen me move gradually to playing centre back, if id actually had to play in the midfield i might not have made it. .. i was regularly dizzy as it was .. still im not sure id enjoyed myself as much in good long time.  3 weeks of football in China. i even bought socks and astro shoes

The skin wound that would normally have healed in 2 days or so – at least forming a crust and being done.. did not do this in China. Instead it somewhat unpleasantly seeped oozed for weeks.

The local players seemed politely unfamiliar with the European .. actually more UK defending … a lot movement (even more impressive give nature was doing all it surely could to put an end to any idea of mobility) and short passing.  A collection of central midfielders with a reasonably solid sense of team play, certainly  far more that you would see among men in the UK, though less so with womens football which tends to exhibit more of this, in my experience.  The agricultural clearance when under pressure has now been firmly introduced, whether it will become a popular move and spread though out the land, we shall have to wait to see.


Coming To It End:

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Regular Dinner Offering From Local Restaurant

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Bottling The Water – They Need To Do Something About This .. Plastic Problem – It mounts up

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Potentially Related Links:

About Nan Chang

Star of Nanchang, Ferris Wheel

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Catch Up : China A Flying Visit To Nan Chang [2017]

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In early 2017 i was dispatched to China – the owner of the company i worked for having become most displeased with the apparent lack of progress made by our development agency.  To be fair it was a moment of clarity, a accurate view, of an agency that had spent around nine month of our engagement without even mentioning the fact they wouldnt be doing the development themselves.

Their China office was, it would go on to transpire, a closely affiliated agency and they were beyond struggling.   The UK agency we’d been dealing with were not a poor development agency – it wasn’t a development agency at all, , that was  whoever these people were out in China.  They were not selling us on an idea, they were actively deceiving, how had the china agency remained unmentioned for the first fourth month, it seemed an implausible inadvertent oversight ..  After around six month the project had delivery nothing and so here we were, a trip to China.

My role was to speak directly with those charged with delivering the project and ascertain exactly what had gone on and where we really were.

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I flew out via Paris to Beijing and onto Nan Chag.

With a substantial gap between flights in Beijing that needed to be filled by some purposeless meandering about.  It was a sizeable terminal, the largest ive ever seen and quite new

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Breakfast – There Was Also A Perished Egg, That Didn’t Seem Appealing – But This Was Really Nice and Not As Odd As At Home Me Might Have Found This Toast Replacement

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I flew back via Beijing and onto Paris.

There was an even more substantial gap between flights in Beijing and this time it was pretty familiar.  Amazing what a few too many hours in an airport and about 5 days can do.  This time i’d had time to think on my stay in Beijing and though on landing at Beijing had formed no conclusion, there was at least the thoughts.

So i handed over my luggage to a storage desk and headed to the airport connecting train that went somewhere in the direction of some part of central Beijing, i place i imagined was probably quite an expansive city with a potentially elusive or numerous actual centre(s).

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The flight landed at charles de gaulle airport – the flight on to London didn’t leave from there  Id not noticed this during the rushed booking and visa acquiring efforts but had discussed it with the Air France ground staff in China.  The bus they had told me would transfer me from one airport to another it now turned out didnt run in the very wee small hours of the morning that it now was in Paris… Not something that was immediately clear and there was pretty much no one and nothing open in arrivals to ask about the busses whereabouts .. a detour here and there, produced no signs of anyone.. so off to Arrivals  and hope for more luck.  The luck was the people that while scarce, existed up there, the less lucky was the news of there being no such bus at these times.

Taxi – premium, Airport Taxi and a connection to Orly Airport .. it was the only apparent option, it reflected poorly on Air France in so many ways (the lack of a connection, the incorrect information about the connection and the lack of any staff ) but the focus at the time was not really on these shortcomings but on London and the Cambodia Trip that was just days away.

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Work: 2018 – The End Of A Contract

Work wise this had only been a short engagement, 6 months and it was weird..from doing back to work discussions with those so angered by there experience that they’d left some months prior and not returned, to ongoing displeasure of those team members who remained … looking to get the documentation on business projects i was hired to oversee and then finding out there was actually no such projects – there were things that were not even sketched on drawing boards that remained in their packaging..  It was the weirdest and most inexplicable of situations.

Now with a mixture of relief and disappointment its over .. it was for the most part a nice team, the one that got assembled upon the scorched earth .. and i found myself with the one reservation of leaving them.

Leaving them to the all the inexplicable things that had scorched the earth before, devastating the teams numbers and moral .. and its looming return ..   I was trying not to think about it too much.. I’d asked them to put their despondence and disbelief to one side those few months ago, to give it a chance and in so doing made it worse.  For the doubt filled reservation that lined up behind those words were only doubts for a further couple of weeks.  Id asked them to have some faith and within what could still be legitimately counted in days i knew there was no faith, only blinkered folly that could believe in change.

I pulled and pushed them, asked them for just enough belief to give it ago, then left. I’d thought, incorrectly, that i would take up the fight, normally i do at least for a time vigorously pursing change against the prevailing established mindset.. but not this time – from the first moment i had doubt, then grave doubt and within only weeks really acceptance.  So i think this was not like before – never really managing to become invested in any way, it was a short term contract and it was all just so very mad, why invest yourself in it, the inadvertent thought.

Also i may have accidentally adapted, in unhelpful way, taking an approach now based on the belief that things cant be changed, this can only change themselves.  You (or in this case I) can hold up the mirror and if they ask you (in this case me) to make suggestions .. then yes, and watch to see their actions for the effort doesnt come in daring to ask the question ..

But recast a thing, change it, no – it can not be done to something … this was the equivalent to a clinically obese person that invested for their health, buying in a shiny new exercise bike and then gazing at it, as it poked out knowingly, from behind a very fine and infinitely closer form of cake.

So having made all to easy but not entirely successful efforts at not thinking overly on it, i left …  in part a leaving and not thinking on it that remains occasionally hindered by ongoing calls and messages that leaving has failed to put pay too.. In every way this is the oddest (not worst) but oddest situation – i definitely felt more like a psychologist/therapist or a new kind of care worker, im not one of these, im not sure i mind the idea of being one of those… they sound like interesting jobs, helping people..  only i wasn’t really helping merely postponing ..   There ongoing communications will peter out shortly and then, im going to miss some them i suspect.

On the flip side

  1. World Cup
  2. Free Time And No Hassles
  3. Travel Plans For The Summer

All beckon – though not in that order ..

In the meantime news came in from a past employer, the last of my old team was leaving them … they’d taken to introducing lunch rotas to stop people lunching together.. For a business that bought things that remarkably few people wanted or were financially able to buy, over worked staff members eating at the same time doesn’t seem like it ought to be the key issue needing to be addressed.

I really need to like at my job choices … contract or none contract – im not doing my due diligence – if nothing else is clear and it isnt then that need be in no doubt.

Ecommerce – the way

Ecommerce is not in many ways a thing – it’s certainly not a profession, not like accountants, doctors or scientist. It’s frequented by a myriad of strays from assorted backgrounds, pulled close by its economic gravity.
The golden chicken that can be invested in as an all but certain means that isn’t, to a more profitable future.. placed into the hands of a working nation of chancers, buffoons and self congratulatory discoverers of notions long since realised but now offered up in a shiny new form.

The latter of these seeming to be the better of this accidental potentially lost selection.

The technical ones have a definable skillset probably even credentials – they are the closest thing to the legitimately qualified though far less able than many mechanics they are far better remunerated.
They did not mean to take this path they merely got tired of operating the milkshake dispensers, fancied a change .. Some are actually very good and this is a most ill founded slight upon their person.

Then you have the worst of them – the marketeers … Who because, presumably, a site consists largely of words and pictures, they feel a most ill advised justification in flocking across to an industry in which they are about as well suited as a tuna fish, set to the task of uncovering the next great efficiencies in arable farming.

This is not to say there are no good people in ecommerce, or to profess some great dislike ..  this would not be true.  It is the home to many, not necessarily well suited or well advised to be there, just sort of bumbling through… Not the view you would take if you were to observe the energetic term utterings of their enthusiastic linkedin sermons, with their regular news and updates.  On average within a solid stint, in terms of progress, there are perhaps 2 or 3 significant changes that might occur in a fast moving 5 year stint .. and yet the ticker of ecom news never runs cold

I like to hope that this is not the level of uncertain blind mans buff self assurance that purveys all aspects of human life – medicine, rocket construction and general engineering – carlsburg – if ecom teams built shard like skyscrapers, they’d probably be the most hazardous ‘giant metallic dandelion blown in the wind’ skyscrapers in the world..

I like to hope this as I walk to work in the morning and watch the men in hard hats as vast building work objects swing from cranes and new structures are erected, as I sit on the train chuntering along, during those more operational moments .. Such things are not in question when encountering the almost unnatural science that is the uniformity of the PRET sandwich, though I’m tempted go believe the chicken classic of yesteryear came perhaps with greater amounts of Parmesan flourished upon it.. This may be incorrect .. There are so many times to hope and go be grateful for a certain level and standard to things