My first mission to the South Caucasus started the evening of 5 January, 2008 when I caught the overnight flight to Frankfurt with Lufthansa. In Frankfurt I met up with Olivier Le Ber, Jacques Bure, Satoshi Ishihara and Gibet Camos-Daurella. Olivier and Jacques had spent Christmas and New Years in France while Gibet was in Barcelona. Satoshi had caught a different flight from D.C. We flew to Azerbaijan and arrived late in the evening to start my first mission in Europe and Central Asia.
Before we started on our mission Olivier suggested that we bring warm clothes in case we were able to slip away for a day from Tbilisi Georgia and go skiing at Gudauri, a resort which was some 120 km from the city. This was an opportunity not to be missed and so I was quite pleased when early Sunday morning Olivier, Jacques Gibet and I joined a colleague from the local roads agency for the drive to the resort.
2008 was to be a year of change, with my transfer from the World Bank’s ‘East Asia and Pacific’ (EAP) region to ‘Europe and Central Asia’ (ECA). The Bank generally has a 3-5-7 transfer ‘policy’: after 3 years you can transfer regions; after 5 years you should transfer; after 7 years they will transfer you. With it being 5 years in April since I joined the Bank as a consultant, and 5 years in October since I became full-time staff, I had been considering moving on.
There was a song by the group ‘The Who’ which goes “I’ve got a feeling 21 is going to be a good year”. I often reflect upon it at the start of a new year, as I look optimistically on the year to come, and reflect on the year that was past. 2007 was a good year … As in most years it saw lots of travel, many demands of work, but also many good moments with triathlons, cycling, friends and family.