Thursday, March 15, 2012

Completing 4 months in Saudi Arabia

I am pleasantly shocked to note this as I write this nearly at midnight after the completion of Wednesday, 14th March 2012: I have crossed 4 months of stay in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia! Whoopee, did I say? Well, no, and yes. No, because it certainly hasn't been a cakewalk; yes, because the money is flowing in regularly ... I am only 4 days away from the receipt of the salary for the month Rabi-ul-Awwal. Here, one gets salary according to the Hijri (Muslim) calendar - which, as most of you are aware - is based on the Lunar count; so that we get paid for 12 months in 354 days, and 11 days extra salary is paid by the Saudi Government in each Gregorian year.

My daughter Inas is officially 21 years old as I write this; she celebrates her birthday on the 15th March every year. I called her up at midnight India time and congratulated her. My family plans to cut a cake early in the morning, and I plan to join them by video chat and sing the song for my beloved daughter, Inshallah.

The other big news is that soon after the cake-cutting, I am going with a certain person on a Nature trip to a regional Wildlife Reserve. More about this later. 

The past two days, viz. Tuesday and Wednesday, have been uneventful. I did not cook anything, though, as I had balance food in the refrigerator; also, I ate outside for both the evenings - Tuesday, at the Kerala restaurant, and today, at the local Pakistani restaurant. The food I ate at the latter place won hands down. It consisted of a dry channa dal masala and a very delicious mixed vegetable, eaten with the local roti - the tameez. Moayyed, my friend from Pakistan sponsored the dinner, and Dr. Niyaz was also with us. Moayyed works for the National Wildlife Research Center of the Government of Saudi Arabia and is, in fact, the person who will take me to the trip within the next eight hours or so. He is also pursuing the M. Sc. degree in Environmental Science from a University in South Africa.

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