Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A soft return

Perhaps I have been neglecting my first baby, this blog, for too long, as I have been only pampering my Arabia blog. The reason is that I do not find the time to write as much as I used to before. My stay in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has now crossed a year, and life has been a mixed blessing as of now. My most recent post there has an account of what I have or haven't achieved out there. 

Back in India, my family is coping with my absence with an amazing flair. Nishrin has learned to do most things on her own ... things she never used to do when I was in India with her. As for example, managing the bank work, looking after both my daughters, financial planning, etc. And, on top of that, I am happy to note that her own business has looked up like never before. Earlier, we used to run our professional work (my Pediatric clinic and her beauty salon) from the same premises. This rather strange mix had caused many of her clients to stay away because of an invasion of their privacy. Acknowledging that I am no longer at that place has made many of her clients return and added several more. 

Inas, my elder daughter, continues to work at a reputable hair salon in Mumbai. She has a big ambition of making a mark on the profession. I would love to sponsor her to go to the U.K. to take further training, but she probably wants to do it on her own, and is thinking of working in the Emirates to earn some money so that she can sponsor her own training. I am really proud of her now. She has matured into a much more self-assured woman.

Hannah is making a mark too in her own way. She has been managing, with a team, several internal and inter-collegiate cultural events, and is poised to do much more with her self-development. She has applied for "internship" at many places and is awaiting a call from someone to absorb her for a few months to two years so that she can enhance her C.V. If any of my readers is looking for an eager, fast learning fresher, she is available (only for Mumbai, of course)!

Mom is finishing her period of solitary stay in the next month, and as I am also planning to go to Mumbai around the same time, I am hoping her "coming out" will be smooth and she will relax, finally, after a long time.

Both my brothers and their families are doing well. 

That's all for now ....

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Thinking back ...

While I have no real issues to discuss in this entry, I decided to be a little introspective. So, here it is. I am now in the Kingdom for over 14 months, minus the time I spent vacationing at home or elsewhere. I am taking stock of where I am w.r.t. my aims that I had outlined at the beginning of my stint here in S.A. 

Certainly, I have met my spiritual goal in near-totality. I have completed three Umrahs for myself, one for my late father, performed Hajj and also visited and performed the pilgrimage of Medina. In addition, I am continuously striving to meet my spiritual goals of praying regularly and being a good human being and a good Muslim. I think I am about 80% there, though there is still work to be done. I am still not totally pious, I still am not able to wake up in the morning for the Fajr prayers, I still sometimes lose my temper, I still sometimes nurse feelings that a good Muslim should not have (these are a bit private, but relate to envy, lust, etc. ... I think you get the drift), and I still feel the pinch when I give of my resources to others.

As far as my goal of achieving academic honours is concerned, I am on track. I cleared the first part of MRCPCH last October, and am planning to give part II in May this year. Towards that end, I am studying, but I am not really satisfied with my pace of studies, my concentration, or my level of knowledge. I guess this will improve as time passes, but I am not yet satisfied. 

Coming to the third goal: money. I am not saving as much as I had thought I would. The reasons are manifold, not the least of them being that I am not nearly as frugal as I should have been. Time and again, I go to Ta'if, stay in a hotel, and spend money that should have ... or rather could have ... been saved. On the one hand, one may argue that it is necessary to sometimes relax and let oneself go; on the other hand, one is reminded that one's main reason for leaving India and working in this kind of place was to save as much money as possible. And one is therefore caught in the middle. I keep making these resolutions to cut back on my expenses, but my lifestyle, my disposition, my car (yes, my car ... the white elephant in anyone's life) keep demanding my return to the ATM of my bank to withdraw money. I have saved money, of course, but I guess it is less than 50% of what I have earned through the year. It is pointless blaming the family, though it is true that they are spending more too, and it is but natural now that they see more money in the bank. I guess this is the price one must pay for not being with the family ... where you might have reined them in and prevented profligacy. 

And lastly, the final goal of making my family independent and free from my overbearing presence as well as my constant "help" in their day-to-day work. I think I have succeeded in making them "free". This is a double-edged sword, though, as privately, I do not wish them to become so free that they don't need me at all, or that they treat my visit back home as a disturbance rather than a welcome sight! I am sure many people who went away from home and their family must have thought in much the same way and are smirking as they read this. Taher, they seem to be telling me, it shouldn't be that they get so used to your absence that they no longer miss you.

Well, what can I say to this except to pray to Allah to not make me see that horrible circumstance. 

On the flip side, what about me? Have I adjusted well to their absence? In the matter of most things like sleeping, getting up to the alarm, keeping my house reasonably clean, cooking my own food, cleaning up after cooking/eating, washing my clothes, etc. I think I have managed pretty well. However, in my heart, I am lonely, and I try to cover this up with gregarious behaviour at the hospital, reading stuff, playing games, watching TV, watching movies or serials on the laptop, sleeping, going out on walks, etc. etc. but the thing that I look forward to are the pre-decided Skype sessions with my family, the calls to Nishrin, Inas, Hannah, my mother, and so on, and the eagerness with which I await messages from my loved ones on Whatsapp or Google Talk. And that, basically, tells me that I HAVE NOT been able to adjust so well, and that I CANNOT stay without my family and my near and dear ones.

And, if you see this against the background that about a decade back, people could NOT communicate so easily with their families from overseas, and still managed to preserve their sanity, it is a real surprise that I am still so restless.

There, you have it. I have just told you the results of my last fourteen months' stay in the Kingdom, and how far I have come since that forlorn day, viz. 16th November, 2011.

That's it for now.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Three and a half weeks later, Friday, 18th January, 2013

Well, please don't crucify or hang me because I am no longer writing regularly. The reason is that I have been busy studying now. Actually, not just studying but also doing other stuff. My co-Pediatrician Dr. Yasser was called away to Zalm for a 14-day substitution duty since the last Saturday. Hence, I have been on call all these past six days. Earlier, an Indian anaesthetist joined us from Khurma. His name, Dr. Paresh Shah. He is working for the past six months at Khurma. He hails from Ahmedabad. I have thoroughly enjoyed his company, and he has been my guest a couple of times. He is a master at vegetarian cooking. together, we made baingan-ka-shaak (aubergines), and also a pav bhaji (mixed vegetables) in my home during his past visits. Here are pictures of him cooking the pav bhaji and the final outcome.

 In other news, I managed to complete all the formalities towards getting a car-driving licence (from Afeef), getting the car transferred to my name, and getting a new vehicle insurance in my name. This makes me an official car owner and driver in the Kingdom, but more, the licence allows me to drive a car in many other Gulf countries like the Emirates etc. 

The third thing of any consequence to happen was that I began to study a little more seriously for my upcoming exam for Part 2 of MRCPCH. After my purchase of the study package from the online site, I was being pretty sangfroid about it, but now, the pace has picked up. Our study group on FB is also now becoming more and more active and interactive. Hence, there is a positive cycle that is feeding my thirst for knowledge. We are ten members, of whom three are from India, one or two from Sudan, one from Azerbaijan and the rest from Egypt. Of the ten, at least nine are active and are contributing questions as well as answering the queries put up by the other members. In this kind of exam, the best way to study is to keep reading and trying to answer questions. 

The last thing I want to share is that I have once again begun to write on my writing.com website. This is a poem set to the image that is located inside the poem. It has been submitted to my writing team from India, and if selected, it will represent India at an international writing contest that is currently on at Writing,com.

I am so looking forward to visiting India next month ... will be there from mid-February for about 25-30 days. This time, Allah willing, my family will travel back with me to Saudi Arabia to perform the Umrah and to do a visit to Medina.

I have been driving my car down the highway of late. The first time, I drove about 18 km towards Ta'if and then returned to my home. This visit was with my ENT colleague Dr. Alaa Ashweh. The second time was yesterday in the company of Dr. Paresh, and we drove about 42 km, to the Um-Adoom bridge and back.

Nothing else of note to report. I will end here, and I promise I will blog again soon.

Thanks for reading..