Sunday, March 15, 2015

Reflection - looking back

I completed 3 years and 5 months in the kingdom a few days ago. Looking back, I feel I have come a long way from where I was when I first arrived here on the night of 16th of November 2011. Hajj had just got over, and I was able to visit Makkah and perform an Umrah before going to start my duties at Al Muwayh. My enthusiasm was great when I boarded my flight in New Delhi, but a lot of it had ebbed by the time I landed at Riyadh International Airport. Immigration in Saudi Arabia is a painfully long process, and it did not help that there were literally hundreds of workers entering the Kingdom at the same time, in addition to those who were re-entering after finishing their vacations, or whatever. 

There were just a few immigration officers, and I stood at the same place in a large, never-moving queue for over 2.5 hours before I could muster enough courage to approach an airport worker with the request to start a new counter for those who had connecting flights inside the country. My flight to Taif was due to take off in under a few hours when I finally moved up to an immigration counter and registered myself as an expatriate. The mug-shot taken by the camera there would later haunt me for the next 3+ years, as it would be THAT tired, harassed and beaten face which would adorn my residence permit (Iqama), driving license and every other official document.

Over the next several days, I experienced so many problems that I cannot even begin to narrate them here. Readers are invited to explore my blog and go back to my entries in November and December 2011. During those days, I was completely financially broke, and it was the small and large generous packets of money given by people whom I did not even know before that pulled me out of the deep troubles I was in. Among these benefactors was one Mr. Ravi Menon, who sent me money from Qatar; there was also my hospital director who advanced me money, and a few Pakistani and Egyptian doctors as well. I received my Iqama after 2 months, and with that, also my first salary. Life became a bit easy as I was invited by my Indian surgical colleague Dr. Shahid to share his accommodation. I still occupy that house at the same rent which I used to give 3+ years ago. Dr. Shahid's house was well-furnished, and also, his larder well stocked, so that I never had worries as month after month elapsed. Soon, I was busy studying for the Basic Life Support course and the  Saudi License Exam. 

My life set into a groove only after 3-4 months, and thereafter, the last three years have been productive to the extent that I am able to save money for the unforseeable future, and also meet the expectations of my family. In the interim, I lost my father to diabetes, and I feel the pain even more because I was unable to reach home to even attend to his burial ceremony. 

During these interim years, I performed the Hajj pilgrimage in 2012, and also gave my MRCPCH exams - in three parts, one after the other, so that I am, today, a UK qualified Paediatric Registrar!

The years have been kind to me otherwise; my own diabetic process is slowly advancing, as it must; however, I try to avoid the things that increase the chaos in my body. I am older, considerably wiser, and more generous in spirit than I was when in India. I have adopted three children for the purpose of looking after their upkeep, and plan to reach a total of 10 over the next few years. My wife and daughters continue to live a full life in Mumbai. My mother lives with a companion, even as she fights her own illnesses. 

And life goes on.

1 comment:

Ravi Pandit said...

Wow, time does fly. I recall mentioning, KSA is like a bad habit, easy to get in to, hard to get out of. Prophetic or what?