Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Day two at you know whooooo

To get my 8 hours of sleep in, I now need to retire at around 9.20pm. I feel like a 10-year-old. A 10-year-old who has been banished to his room without TV for 11 weeks...

Still, the accommodation is better than what I had for the first month or so in Libya. That was a shocker. The biggest shock here is one of culture. Getting up at 5.20am just isn't natural for me, and I can't see how it's natural for anyone, to be honest. Breakfast is served from 5.30am, and it's pretty much the same kind of food they offered for dinner last night. The cook made me 2 fried eggs, which was nice.

Then it was off to work at 6am. Another surprise awaited me, as my erstwhile colleague revealed on the way. Everyone does exercises before starting work. You've probably seen these morning exercises that Japanese and Korean companies get their staff to do...lots of star jumps and stretching. That's exactly what I had to do, feeling slightly absurd as I stretched my arms and legs in a group of people arranged in neat rows. The Koreans knew it off by heart, having been taught this stuff from school age. It did wake me up a bit, I'll admit that much.

I was put through a 2-hour-3-language H&S induction later that morning, featuring some rather gory pictures of men with broken grinding discs through their heads and so on, then was shuttled off by the helpful Indian admin man to get a local SIM card from a nearby newly-opened mall. As we set off over the bumpy site roads, a familiar rumbling feeling came to my stomach. It shouldn't have surprised me, really. I always get a dicky tum after a day or two in a new place, and I don't think the new diet has done much to help either. I informed my Indian friend that I needed a bathroom post haste, and he stopped at the same service station where I'd grabbed a bite to eat yesterday. A nice touch, I'm sure you'll agree. He pointed to the back of the station, saying the facilities were there. Again, I shouldn't have been surprised at what I found. I opened the door to find a squat-only-hole-in-the-floor bog. I wasn't going to even try it, not with guts like these, so I dashed back to the car and said I'd wait for the mall toilets. If they didn't have proper sit-down ones, I was screwed.

Luckily they did, and all was well. The primary reason for the visit to the mall didn't actually bear any fruit, because the supermarket phone counter was all out of SIM cards. We ended up driving to some back street phone shop where they had loads of them.

By lunchtime I was back at my desk, feeling very, very tired and hoping my stomach would settle. I went along to the canteen with a plan to eat some plain food, and was delighted to find the cook from the villa dishing up food for everyone onto delightfully prison-like metal food trays. I opted for some rice and some eggy stuff and a couple of pieces of fried fish. They didn't cause too much bother.

I managed to catch half an hour of sleep in the meeting room for the rest of the lunch hour-and-a-half, and resumed my work. The afternoon wasn't too bad, although I did have to pay a visit to the site clinic to get some immodium...just to be sure. My Indian friend plied me with Bombay Mix just before home time (although he quote forcefully insisted it was called KERALA MIX), pouring some very tasty mixed snacks into my hands. Before I knew it I was on the way back to the villa on a mini-bus, wondering what the cook had in store for dinner.

To my surprise she served up some steak...not really fancy, just some rump with some Chinese style veg and more spaghetti. Everyone got some, and I was left wondering if it was all on my account. There was still strange soup on offer and little dishes filled with a variety of tiny fish, noodles and a spicy dish called Kimshi or something. There are different types, and I tried a bit of a green one that had horseradish root in it. It was actually quite nice, and would have gone down well with the steak if I hadn't eaten it in one mouthful....recognisable foodstuffs will get that these days.

So now, I'm here in my room, with no TV, just Bejewelled Blitz and broken conversations on Facebook. I'll be turning in in less than an hour. All told, once I get back from work and have had dinner, I get less than 3 hours of spare time. Can I last the full 11 weeks in this environment? At the moment, there seems little choice.

I have lived and lamented this Life of Goodbyes enough (I'm a moaner and I know it) and just feel like my life is passing me by. I may be offered some relief tomorrow night if I can find a way into town for a beer and some recognisable the moment I feel like I could be in Seoul. Why is it never as bloody advertised?


Anonymous said...

You know you have to think of another way. I’m not sure you are going to want to hear this, but I’ll tell you anyway…

My dad was a QS, worked abroad like you do. I was the little kid who only saw her father intermittently, like your daughter. Anyway, he was in HK and keeled over from heart failure when he was 60. He survived but the doctors told him he’d be dead in a month or two if he didn’t change his lifestyle drastically. He listened, quit his job and came home. Retired to a sleepy little village outside Cardiff (with no money behind him - my parents had a spend-as-you-earn policy - they led a great life but with no thought for the future).

The doctors here said his heart was knackered but he was too old to go on the list for a new one. They gave him millions of pills to keep him alive. As it happens, my dad took to retirement like a duck to water. He loved pottering about, walking his dogs by the river twice a day, falling asleep in the afternoons watching the racing on tv etc.

We threw a surprise 70th birthday party for him and he acknowledged that every single day for the previous ten years had been a bonus as he knows he very nearly kicked it in HK. He is coming up 73 now and still doing ok.

From what you have written here, it sounds like you have had more than your fair share of health problems already. The stress and the grief will give you more. No amount of money is worth that. There has to be another way for you. I hope you figure it out. Take care.


Anonymous said...

Keep your chin up mate , you know the score , it's the way of life for blokes like us , a few beers on thusday night and you'll be right as rain