Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Surviving Saudi Arabia - A Funny Scene in Souk

Today I’ve got to go beyond distance from my safe zone with me are my newly 2 found kababayan friends. They are going to souk (a arabic term for market) to buy fish and other cooking ingredients. I’m so excited that I’ve got to prepare early. The experience is nice! got to see a lot of stores that sells cheap stuff just don’t convert it to pesos hehehehe but here that is below the belt price. Got to buy fish, shrimps and vegies for the first time, oh boy I’ve get myself a magic sarap! that I haven’t seen for a month now hehehehe and got to get my favorite pancit canton. I’ve bought a lot like cheeze pemiento, sinigang mix, bulalo cup noodles, vitsen, knorr cubes, kangkong, squash (there squash looks funny actually it looks like a fruit with a funny fruit shape thing). The funny thing about the kabayan fish market is that the vendor’s are not Filipino but instead Indian nationals and make no mistake man they speak Filipino! ahahaha they will call you first "pare!" ahahahah I’ve got hit in the head what in the world they speak Filipino! ahahahaha I can’t hide to laugh and I’ve just stop myself after a brief second in burst of laughing. Indian ask me "magkano pare?" ahahaha I still can’t hide a grin in my face and I’ve just pointed in a bangus fish, They sell per kilo nor per piece and one piece is around 12 Riyals that will be 120+ in pesos. Indian ask again "Ilang peraso? slice pare?" I answer anim sadiq... I’ve got to buy also shrimps and they don’t sell 1/4 ok they only sell per kilo and 1/2 only no 1/4... sorry guys I’m the only one living here and I can’t eat a lot of shrimps so I thought that 1/4 is enough and the indian said no 1/4 while laughing at me tsk tsk tsk look at how karma turns back around and said "Kuripot ka pare" ahahahahahahahaha WTF!!! my god ahahahahahahahahah up to this point I can’t  stop laughing..  and get this a kilo of shrimps cost around 24 Riyals and half will be 12 Riyals tsk tsk tsk I will not convert it to pesos again or ill die in starvation in this place... good thing about them is that they are kind enough to add a small amount of shrimps in short dinagdagan ng kunti ^_^ sabay sabi ng kaibigan kong si Kuya Amir na mababait yan sila... Binibiro pa nga ng kaibigan ko ang mga indian sabay turo sa kahoy na isda at sabay tanong magkano kilo nyan? ahahahaha at saka tinuro nya rin ang aquarium na may mga isdang maliliit na magkano ang kilo rin ahahahahaha napatawa lang ang mga indian XD ... after that we just left behind the seafoods and tell the indian that we will be getting it afterwards, we will still buy some Filipino products.. in the baka,l there I see the filipino products that I never thought that I’ll be seeing again, magic sarap, knorr cubes, sinigang mix, cheese pimiento, noodles, cup noodles, pancit kanton, vitsen, daing, dried squid, sardines and other usual Filipino stuff. I’m so amaze that i can’t help my self-getting them hehehehe don’t laugh at me about this but as a typical first timer OFW you’ll just do the same as me hmmfff!!.. ahahahah.. then we get to the vegies stores there i saw some weird shape eggplant its either a short very round one or a thin small one hahaha wew, my kabayan friend told me that “in here I’m sure you’ll get fat same as we do... I look the same when I got here also thin as you do but now look at me”.. I’ve got to shop a lot of food and thank god I’ve got some helpful information about sending money way back in my homeland Philippines but still I need to wait for my iqama card in order to get myself sending some money to my family.

On our way back even though its 3 of us a Toyota Camry stops at our side and a local arab asking where are we going tsk tsk tsk namimick-up tong lokong to ah! namamakla ika ng kasama ko hahahahaha my friend told me if that happens to me when I’m alone just ignore it and put an angry face while staring at them...  Walking alone during night time at this place gives you creeps it happens usually in this place.. so for those newly one’s going here and you’re an adventurous person will i think you need to lessen those ranging hormones of yours and try to feel the surrounding’s first... don’t walk alone that’s the good thing to reconsider always.

But as of today Im happy to get my self some kababayan to talk to and somehow help you in giving bits and pieces of information. Sa uulitin ulit malapit ng matapos ang ramadan saan kaya ako mag eid nito wew....

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Surviving Saudi Arabia - Turning Point

It’s been almost 2 months that I haven’t been able write again; it’s been a whirlwind of events in my life that even my own sane self can't handle.
Today I can't still believe that I’m in the land of sand and strange people, food, climate, culture, events, gestures and everything is strange.
As I recall my past month, I was in my homeland thinking of problem arises in my toil, debt and family. I am starting to lose one by one my online job even I anticipated it, it is still hard to get on that exact point of thinking that I’m about to lose the things that keeps me alive, then a call that changes my future, a work abroad, as of the moment who am I to refuse? I need a job to keep me going and as myself who likes challenges, I’m about to experience way beyond my expectation. I thought it will be a breeze to work abroad but damn! I am totally wrong way to wrong to expect things such as easy go lucky stuff.

I’ll go with a good part of traveling and unrevealing places that only I can heard of and see thru pictures. Given a chance to just stay for 4 hours at least in Hong Kong (just inside the airport) but inside the airport everything seems so wide and also expensive everything is in a luxurious manner. Many races are within the point of my vision enjoying their sightseeing, talking to their own respective colors, eating expensive food and sitting there enjoying their life by sipping a quarter whisky poured in a clear white glass with ice and came back to my sense, hows that for a life ey?.. On the way to the land of sands I’ve meet my fellow kababayan’s who are also seeking for greener pastures and all of them are been to the land I’m about to challenge. I envy them at first for they are already my seniors who know the dos and don’ts in that country, they speak the language and know how to survive in place where harsh climate exist. As they talk about
their experiences I’ve just listened, gathering information is a good way, I feel like a wallpaper somehow, and also before I forgot going to Hong Kong I feel asleep and that means I didn’t have a chance to eat food serving in Cathy Pacific to the passengers like me, therefor arriving in Hong Kong even do I am amaze by the structural majestic of their airport I can’t hide the reality that I do am hungry. With me and my fellow kababayan also felt hungry so we try to look for a place to eat.
Boom!! each store we check was a hell of an expensive one, well no wonder its inside the airport and take this a single burger yum cost around 17 USD! How’s that for a price? Even I can’t take it but due to the fact that I am hungry I’ll take it but the problem is with me the fellow kababayan can’t afford daw and I am too shy to get one also! It’s like patriotism takes along so I’ll just tag along with them to where they can get to stored there stomachs out. They all agreed to get a coffee instead, costing around 5 USD and decided to wait for our connecting flight and eat there instead.
Time flew so fast that 1 hour left before departure to Dubia and in the waiting area a lot more of kababayans been waiting also, sitting at ease talking with their experiences, most of them are bad ones actually so as a beginner I felt nervous as I still keep on listening to them. In there I meet Mr. Eduardo Basalo Lara a foreman in Dammam, I ask for guidance when we get there and replied to me positively that we will call my employer when we get there because Philippine cellphone simcard doesn’t work there and I feel somehow relieve, as what I’ve read in some forums our fellow kababayan’s will do help you and extend some kind of help in that land of uncertainty. As we board Cathy Pacific again I’ve seek my set and waited there for the plane to take off and travel another 7 hours from Hong Kong to Dubai and also the good part is services crew serves food!. I’m sure for others the taste of that food was great but for a newbie like me that was first time.. There will always be a first time so I’ve just eaten it without complain. As the plane started to take off I said this is it! this is the time for me to see for myself how it feels like to work abroad as a newly OFW. 7 hours of flight and all I can see is nothingness within this oval shape window of the plane so I’ve just listen to music and then somehow take a nap...
I’ve woke up before the plane landed in the land of Dubai to refuel and taking on other passengers. Some of my kababayan from the waiting area in Hong Kong slowly moves out on the plane and the number of my fellow OFW reduces to lesser number, I’m started to feel restless but I’m fighting it and be positive.

All passengers are aboard and the plane is at it tip top shape again to take on the last destination Bahrain.. so I visited Hong Kong, Dubai and Bahrain in just 1 day! ^_^ ... I’ve read somewhere that as a born Sagittarius loves to travel and experience challenges, well I think I’ll agree on that and it also stated that a Sagittarian’s doesn’t stay long in one places it moves out in short laagan! hahahah ... so after an hour we arrive at Bahrain International Airport and its already morning as the sun greeted me with more than a warm embrace but a sizzling hot one and I mean literally hot! The wind that is.. back in the NAIA international airport in the check in counter the lady staff said that from Bahrain we will take on a train going to Dammam.. so I taught that it is really a train but instead we take on a small medium bus. In the waiting area one of the staff there is a Filipina and said that we will pay a 20 Riyals for baggage fee something, good thing I’ve got 100 riyals in my wallet in case of emergency.. there were 6 of us left going to Dammam. One of them doesn’t have any money with him due to the fact that he already give it all as a placement fee back in the Philippines and thought that he will not be spending any amount going to his workplace. 20 Riyals to Philippine pesos that will be 240 pesos and good thing our kababayan staff said that she will take Pesos also but that doesn’t relieve one of a troubled kababayan of mine, he only have 140 pesos in his wallet so I extend a helping hand and give him 100 pesos out from my packet and said kabayan baka maka tulong wag mo ng bayaran kong saka sakali with a warm smile on my face... he’s face turns bright from a gloomy state and stated a lot of thanks to me... I feel somehow helpful and maybe that is a good sign that god will be with me always... from Bahrain to Dammam we will travel by land I mean by a long bridge... as we stop over for validating our passports and checking our papers I feel nervous that I might get some trouble in here if the staff didn’t like what I look like hahahah but I said who am I to be afraid off that all my papers are legal and I come clean also... so good thing nothing went wrong and goes smoothly, one of our kababayan got into trouble that his passport don’t have a Saudi ministry sticker and when he check it again it is in his other passport actually he got 5 Philippine old passport way back from 1982! how’s that as a veteran OFW?... so all of us went out good.. as we continue our travel to Dammam, all I can see is a blue waters and some Arabic writings besides the road... we arrive at Dammam in gulf hotel, the numbers of waiting kababayan arises again, they are waiting for their respective sundo for them to fetch them up.. as what Mr. Lara told me way back in Hong Kong that we will call our employer we really did call sir Manuel that I’ve arrive in Dammam in gulf hotel and said he is on his way there, it takes 2 1/2 hour travel from Hufof to Dammam... as the time pass by the number of my fellow kababayan reduces until up to the point that I am the only one left behind the 2 1/2 hour of waiting goes on for 4 hours and lastly sir Manuel arrive and saying that he is lost looking for gulf hotel and also said that the gulf hotel he went on is a different one... but good thing he arrives that’s what important at the moment... we talk a lot and asking question from sir Manuel and answered me also..
From the window all I can see is sands and mountain carved by the wind and time.. We arrive at my working place and meet Mr. Ashraf Sauqi the head manager and interior designer there we exchanges pleasantry and talk. They give me a nice place to stay in a room that I myself will be living for the next 2 years.. I unpack my things and rested from a long tiring travel and I’ll start working the other day.. as I went to bed i prayed sincerely to god...
As the day have passed from a mindset of easy going and I thought that work will be at ease went out an ecstatic turnover! and I was shock by the workload I’m about to face off.. Culture shock by the interior designs and from my experiences I didnt reach even a quarter from it and damn this is really hard... I got into work related problem that Mr Ashraf decided to teach me the technique and in exchange he will lower my salary due to the fact that I haven’t meet there expectation and I’ve decided to agree and I do need to study there ways and this doesn’t feels me down well somehow it really did but as a challenger as myself I take on this as a positive way to learn everything. Mr Asraf said that he will return my original salary when he thinks that I’m already capable enough to take on by myself and be an asset to this company which is Areeka Furniture and Paris Decoration.. Each day past by that it exhaust me from all this workload shock.. All things hits me really hard interior royalty like designs, culture, gesture, language!, food, climate, a broken work time, religious disadvantages, and almost everything.. Each day is a overload for my thoughts that all I can dream of is time off from work...
It’s almost a month now and I thank god that prayers do helps a lot and god really help me in due process and learning stages but still way to long to go and learn all of this .... I’ve also went to the capital city of Saudi Arabia the city of Riyadh! it was way to huge for me, we stay there for 3 days.. I think my thoughts reaches to its peak and I keep on praying, if I’m not mistaken I prayed a lot with in a day that I haven’t done when I was still in my comfort zone and this makes me closer to god... and at the moment I keep on praying and praying that everything will fall into place and ill do great! where I really want to.. I know someday this will turn out fine.. I’m still learning there language I’m having a way big problem with language instruction! it’s really hard, Mr. Ashraf talks broken English and the rest is Arabic... this are the things he keeps on saying .. i need original copy (it means he wants to print it.)

I say to you now (im talking to you)
My refuge is only the internet to connect me to my friends way back in the Philippines and also downloading movies.. but as the days goes by the internet connectivity fades away and I don’t know when will my neighbor will connect so I can connect also thru Wi-Fi.. my room which I see as comfort zone becomes my only prison cell that I’ve been joking to myself that I’m imprisoned for 2 years hahaha but this place becomes my sanctuary my room that separates me from my intellectual thoughts outside...
As of today I’m looking for an alternative to release this burden inside me my other part of my mind saying that I want to go back home and I’m already at the state of homesick ness I keep on counting how many months do I still needs to suffer but my other mind tells the other part to shut up! and just accept things god given to me.. every day I woke up I keep on praying for god will never abandon me in this forsaken land and no mischievous, unpleasant and all negative things shall fall upon my presence and so far I’m at ease ^_^... Now I feel how an OFW feels like and I can feel how those dad and mom working here feels like to be away from his, her son and daughter and working at least 2 years not seeing there mere presence.. How lucky I am that I came with myself only and nothing to think of major things as like those OFW .. One of my fellow worker a filipino said that they are working there asses off in this land and their children gone weary in the Philippines due to the fact of lesser presence from them and no one can discipline them ... and it hurts when their children said "saan ka ng mga panahong kaylangan kita" that shots you dead in a point blank range.. how’s that for mental and emotional baggage? It hurts like hell ey?
Writing these reliefs me from this load of emotions stored within this thin melded body of mine... and also I’m the only filipino that is here in our showroom and the rest of the filipinos are in our factory 30 minutes away from our showroom and I’ve been living in a floor that I’m also the only filipino living... how hard is that? ... so here ill stop for now and as I recall ... 1 year and 11 months left before I’ll be set free again ^_^….