Sunday, October 23, 2011

Musical Optimism

When all else fails, roll out the old show tunes for a pick me up. If we had no performance management training today, I would have stayed home. The weather has gotten to me.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Manhattan, in a pond at Windows to the World Park in Shenzhen.
Listening to: "Oceans" by Pearl Jam

The end of a workweek brings with it a certain kind of sadness.  The finality of the day summons all the ghosts of Things Left Undone, with the prospect of Things To Do still peeking at the horizon.

For a lifer like me, the end of work for the day is a sudden deflation of my self. My raison d'etre, so to speak, has ceased and the Case of the Big Man can now conveniently go into the closet.  Without a life to which I can look forward, the end of the work week can be maddening.  This is amusing and a bit of a pain in the ass at the same time - there was a time when I was the acme of indolence, existing on the point of letting things be - and even then, the remarkable thing that defined me was my own indifference.

What am I without this job?

The romantic in me would go jump up and down and say gardemit, give the old F**k you to the Man and get back, yeeeaaahhhhh.... get back to where you once belong!   Find the spaces within and nurture the bridges to fill those gaps.  Find love.  Find fulfillment in writing the fantasy novel to end all fantasy novels.  Do something.  (Cue in Dick Dastardly, snapping at his canine sidekick, "Muttley, do something!"  "Muttley, HELP!)  Be involved.  Wallow in weltschmerz.

Smack myself in the head and find joy that work this week ends! (It doesn't really, I'm administering a training tomorrow).

Friday, October 14, 2011

Food Sampler

Last night was my first "cultural" experience in Riyadh, in the sense there was something different other than just strolling through the mall and finding some architectural feature (which, over here, is probably a sail and a boat, and then, a sail and a boat).

Hamming it up with staffers of the Japanese Embassy at the ASEAN Festival.
I was invited to a food festival by one of my former colleagues and his new friends here in the city at the Royal Embassy of Thailand.  My role was a food sampler (a small joke at my expense.)  Well, it wasn't really a food festival but actually the cultural festival for the entire ASEAN, in cooperation with the Japanese embassy.

We arrived a little bit late for the start of the festivities.  Riyadh's Diplomatic Quarter is a whole new community in itself, so being there is like being separated from the rest of the city.  After some twists and turns we found our way to the embassy and mingled with the rest of the crowd.  It was well represented by staffers from all the participating countries, plus some guests from other embassies.  I'm sure somebody looking for a different kind of fun wouldn't want to be there.  As we stepped in, three statuesque blondes in high heels, one wearing a sequined gown to boot, were walking away from the embassy.  Automatic minus points.  Still, quick thanks for that unique sight.  Haven't gotten that kind of view since my last visit in Dubai.

Anyhow, almost all of the ten ASEAN countries had food booths set up in the front yard of the Thai ambassador's residence.  Noticeably absent was Myanmar, which was only selling novelties and other gift items, and Vietnam, which had its big flag left all alone in an empty booth.  (Edit:  of course I forgot about Cambodia and Laos, both of which did not participate in any way.  Maybe they don't have embassies here.  I don't know.)

Monday, October 10, 2011


One of the few times I felt harassed while living in Saudi Arabia happened earlier tonight.  While it may be par for the course for some other people, this is not the way I envision living in Saudi Arabia would be.

My colleague and I were bothered by a gathering of pre-adolescent Saudis outside my home.  Normally I ignore these groups of youngsters and stay away a good distance to avoid any unpleasantness.  Today, (well, tonight, actually), however, they gathered in front of my building on some kind of bonding thing.  They could do that all they want, but I as sure wouldn't want to be around when they are there.

It just so happens there is an abandoned work site almost facing our building on the other side of the street.  These kids gather there and look for something to do - because life otherwise for them offers nothing new.  In the land of so much wealth, many of these kids end up poor.

When we first made the turn we saw almost a dozen kids gathered in front of the house, and my instinct for self-preservation - the same which makes me want to avoid crowded places - rang out a strong alarm.  Incidentally, we have no street lights on our corner and our house has a very small fluorescent lamp on our front stoop.  My colleague, who was driving, asked if we should stop and I said, keep on going.   We turned a corner and saw another car in our rear-view mirror make a stop at the house.

After we made another turn (less than two minutes) it was put-up-or-shut-up.  My colleague had to pick up his daughter from the sitter and then his wife from her place of work, and I had no more excuses to prolong the wait since it was almost Isha prayer and soon every one will either run toward the mosque or away from it.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Plain Inspiration

Happy birthday John Lennon!  You would have been 71 years old - you were in the same generation as my father so I guess he would never have made you one of his musical idols.  That man is strictly in the Frank Sinatra-Bing Crosby-Nat King Cole mode.  I'm glad to say I followed your music even before the Internet made the musical landscape a virtual gobbledygook or a wonderful kaleidoscope of invention, depending on your place in the spectrum.

I would have wanted to post "Imagine," your most popular post-Beatles song, but that piece of cream puff has been suborned by the overly-romantic who look upon the ideal but do not think about the details in getting there.  (Parenthetical thought: such cynicism! and coming back with a timely vengeance, I should say!)  "God," however, is downright self-indulgent and thus almost offensive to those with narrow minds, while "Mother" is even more treacly and sentimental (and since my parents gave me a different upbringing, good for me!).  So I choose this song, which is fitting since we're all slaves to the grindwheel called Necessity.

Someday they will call us salt of the earth.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Another Year

So it's the fifth of October again and another year of my life has passed.

Every year continues to be a blessing. As the years pass, I am filled with happiness that in the midst of all the difficulties in the world and in my life there are still reasons for me to go on. For friends, family, loved ones, and even strangers who greeted me on my birthday, thanks. Your kind words and intentions are always a bonus.

All around, the world is in flux.  Revolutions rage, economies rise and fall, the world weather has gone haywire, technology is moving leaps and bounds.  Loved ones gather round and support one another as people fight off the inevitability of death.  Or as they welcome the coming of new life.

On the other hand, life has become a steady drone for me.  I welcome the regularity of the desert in Saudi Arabia.  Work is now a familiar face, a worry that is rather welcome than feared.  I like the constant pressure that each day brings.  Though at times my mind is sapped, as it is now, to look for something new, I thank the silence that comes from having my mind go blank.