Monday, June 27, 2011

Sudden Death

A man died in front of our factory as a result of major road accident. Another one may yet die from his injuries.

The highway that fronts us is a major road traveling northward and eastward - it is well-paved but does not have the features that makes other highways safer.

Death is like a thunderbolt - or in this case, like an accident that happens in a split second.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

After Hours

my background music: Bamboo

I am staring at the screen and no words come to mind.
Blank, devoid of anything original.
My only wish is that I had exchanged this lack of spark for endorphins from exercise rather than a long day of discussions.
But I am getting used to this.
If only I can settle my moving in to a new flat the soonest.
Yeah, maybe that will turn the trick.
Finally, payday is coming round the block.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

From the Heights

This is the sunset view from a hilltop overlooking the city of Cairo. I took this with my cellphone camera during my last trip to Egypt Dec 2009/Jan 2010. Not a great shot, given the limitations of my lens and the overall lighting. I just like to think what the view means - a) I actually got to travel to Egypt, even though it was mostly for work, and b) The view from any height has a sense of majesty.

It was Father's Day last Sunday and I found little time to think about my own father. It was almost half a lifetime ago when he passed away, and yet pausing to think about him on some basis is like looking at myself at the mirror for ten straight minutes. I don't have that kind of vanity. I just fall into the habit of acting and speaking the way I remember him doing. To honor him is to do right by what I was given. I may not have had the privileges of some, but I was privileged with the desire to learn.

So what's the connection with Egypt? Nothing really, except that I am happy to cross it off from the places I want to visit. One takeaway from being an expatriate worker is to enrich one's life and perspective from the viewpoints of one's hosts. Egypt takes pride in its ancient traditions. This is all well and good if that legacy is still active in this current generation.

Monday, June 20, 2011

On the Rails

I arrived in Riyadh in the full eye of a sandstorm. I traveled on Saturday afternoon from Dammam and was due in Riyadh in the early evening.

It was my first real ride on an independently-powered train (as opposed to the light rail systems used in mass transportation) and I would say IT WAS A BLAST.

Not an earthshaking thing by any means of course, but it satisfied my initial curiosity about trains. It also helps that some of my most enjoyable moments in movies are about trains or had trains as settings: Silver Streak, Murder on the Orient Express, Narrow Margin, Manchurian Horror Express (outside the Philippines, it was known simply as "Horror Express"), Before Sunrise, and Unstoppable, among others.

Of course it isn't as cool as the movies make them out to be, but Saudi trains are fine by me. Even better than cramped airplane seats. One can complain about the speed but trains are really safe and the best mode of transport overland. I can only deplore why trains are not better utilized in the Philippines but that is a story for another day.

My recent posting is more operational and conceptual - a fact that dawned upon me the first day I came to work. After several years of being in this line of work, deciding what to do becomes less of a chore than proceeding on how to do it, and how soon. Which is the fun part - my brain will take a little backseat while I stick my nose into all the goings-on.

Yes, things could go so wrong. Life has a way of righting the ship, or to use my railway metaphor, derailing is a normal part of life. Getting on the skids may be really tough, but it is important to stay on track and keep on chugging.

If you ask me the homesick question, I have found a wonderful answer: I always yearn to be beside the people I love most. For now I am taking a break from them. They are not encompassed in my immediate space, but they are still there, just the same. The countdown has started.

As for the Philippines? Never mind.

Postscript: I am aiming for a sort of travelogue but then I realize I'm not yet sufficiently mobile to comment. They say Riyadh has its own unique wonders. Let's see.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Mr. Potatohead

I have lain back several times on my hotel bed in this short week. Being in control of the TV has been a bit of a new thing again, really. Mind you, I have been sort of a couch potato in Manila, though mostly not in front of the TV, but the PC. Watching the tube means I only get to watch what the others get to watch. That means anything my nephew was watching - Playhouse Disney (Disney Junior) Nickolodeon, Animal Planet, Disney Channel, or whatever educational DVD that is playing.

Watching TV here can get to be cloying, since local content is something I don't understand and international content is limited to movie re-runs or watching CNN, the latter of which isn't so bad but one can get heartburn from watching all the depressing news in the world. The hotel does not carry Filipino channels except some public announcement channel - either based in Kuwait or Dubai. Watching that kind of stuff felt quaint, like seeing the plays I produced (haha, even I would say that my work is less than satisfying, at least for me).

Getting back control of the TV? I was expecting to be wowed, as all couch potatoes would, even though secretly in the back of their minds they know they would be disappointed.

Yup, you guessed it. TV has officially become boring.

Now, if only the hotel could hook up wi-fi access in our rooms instead of just the lobby cafe...

In Search of Models

I'm reading on the La Salle Centennial and I feel proud to be part of that heritage. It isn't just about basketball, of course. My road led me to almost becoming a La Salle Brother, once upon a time.

I am almost tempted to criticize something, as is my normal thing. It is no longer as droll to dwell on something one wants to change when the viewscope needs some cleanng. Yes, some inventory required in my life now.

For now, I will be content with what I have been given. Woody Allen puts it simply - eighty percent of success is showing up. All I have to do is be here, right now, present in body and in mind.

Can't worry too much about the state of the world. The world has gone on millions, billions of years without our intervention as a species. It will unvariably find a way to balance the equation even while we try our best to despoil it.

Can't worry about the state of the land in the Philippines. One day, if I ever get possessed by some need to validate my values, I will run for public office. Everybody's a critic now you can hardly find anyone who wishes to perform. Am in no rush to join that queue, so many others think privilege should come first.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Happy Returns

I shut down writing on this blog while I was in Manila. For those waiting on me to update on this space detailing my life in the Philippines, well, so sorry, this is supposed to be my expatriate blog, not a life journal (though of course it has been, like so, for a long time).

Facebook is the culprit. It has managed to make a mess of the long form of writing. It gives everybody a chance to express an opinion without thinking that stuff through. Fortunately for many, that is just enough for the kind of expression that they need.

I arrived in Saudi Arabia on Sunday morning around 3:00am local time, made my way out of the airport with six others who would join our company at 4:30am, and arrived at my temporary accommodation at around 5:00am. After a short nap and a shower, I immediately reported for work that same morning.

There is enough excitement in me to get started on my job, but I am realist enough to admit that this initial enthusiasm is not the best tool for me now. It should, naturally, fuel my drive while I am adjusting again to life in the Middle East. As with all things, excellence cannot be guaranteed by wishes and words, but must always be validated by action, day in and day out. I can occasionally let off the throttle to give me some rest, but I am ready to blaze some trails.

I won't be defined by my job. Perhaps my reluctance to do exactly so put in me a position to squander a lot of opportunities. I have put myself and others to grief for that - be that as it may, I have squeezed as much comfort and lessons to ensure that I will not be a cautionary tale. Some of the good I put into my life had made that possible, for which I am grateful.

For the next months, while I regain my bearings, I will aim for the job to define me.

There are no red shoes to wear, but in case I am lonely, I will close my eyes and tap my heels together three times, and think to myself, "There's no place like home..."

Keeping my fingers crossed.