Tuesday, January 17, 2012


I remember that when I was much younger and used to go to see plays at the Birla Matushree Sabhagruha in Mumbai, there would come, after a certain rendering of the play, a pause when the curtain would come down (or, if horizontal, the curtains would close) and the lights would come on. A look at the play's brochure would announce this interval as interlude. I fell in love with this unusual word, and am using it here to create a pause in my diary.

About two months ago, I left India to travel to Saudi Arabia to make more money, and perchance, to perform Umrah/Haj, and also to try and clear the MRCPCH exams (the British qualification for Membership of the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health). I have experienced many lows and some highs, and in the last two months, I have learned much. I am not just a little older, but also a little wiser; I have made many new friends, Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Egyptians, Sudanese, and, of course, Saudis. Although I haven't done anything heroic or saved any lives, I have administered healing to many sick children, picked up a little of spoken Arabic, learned new customs and behaviour of several different kinds of people, discovered that, under our political differences and ritual posturing, Indians and Pakistanis are alike, and that the latter can be great friends, have had my mobile lost, have had some financial setbacks, have used up several thousand Riyals (after borrowing them from other doctors, of course), made different dishes to eat, taken in a Pakistani as a room-mate, a male Gynecologist, discovered that petrol is about 20-25 times cheaper than bottled drinking water, found out that one cannot expect to see a huge variety of birds or animals in this desert country and am constantly looking for more information on how to spend the next three years in this nation.

Two months gone, and I am still without my residence permit (Iqama), my pay, my indemnity insurance, my driving licence, my sanity and my slimmer tummy (a resolve I made when looked at myself in the mirror and saw an ugly middle-aged man with a protruding belly). 

In the balance, it does appear that I have gained much more than what I have lost in life.

And, the third month beckons ... Good night, my friends, and keep returning to this site to get updates more often on how a solitary Indian is gradually learning to thrive on this land.

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