Tuesday, October 11, 2005

A Miserable Bunny

Fully Lost in KSAFully Lost in KSA
Time for a little assessment of my situation.

After about two months, my wonderful boss had not given me the car that I was contractually entitled to. The ‘temporary’ accommodation was looking very much like it was going to be permanent. My iqama (residence visa) had still not been processed, and as far as I knew my visit visa had expired.

I had no friends, no neighbours, and no telephone. The only way I could speak to my family in the UK was to use public phone boxes, and these only took old-style coins that you had to buy from an old guy who sometimes hung around near the international call-boxes, and sometimes didn’t.

I had tried as hard as I could to meet people and to socialise with them. This basically meant being matey with the guys in the office, but this was by no means an easy thing to do. I can say that, without exception, they were all extremely jealous of me. I was the only one who got paid on anything like a regular basis. One of the guys had warned me during my first week that Bongo operated a policy of always keeping everybody a couple of months behind with their salary. I made it very clear to Bongo that I had commitments in the UK and that I had to be paid on time, and hinted that I might not be very productive if my pay was late.

The guys were also envious of my ‘fabulous’ accommodation. I had visited the homes of one or two of them by this time, and the contrast was astonishing.

I did get quite friendly with one chap who ran a curtain and fabrics business. He was a Brit who had been in Saudi forever, and he was as gay as a nine-bob note. So I didn’t get too close to him, nudge nudge, wink, wink.

Outside of work there was zero opportunity for meeting people. Usually in a new town you can meet people by joining a club of some sort, amateur dramatics or gardening or something, but if such things existed, they were kept very very secret.

I was a deeply unhappy bunny.