Posted by Abdel Kadz on Wednesday, February 10, 2010 with 4 comments
This was never a hard decision to make.

A year ago when I was the embodiment of an OFW-to-be, plying the streets of Mabini, Malate, and Ermita in Metro Manila to frequent agencies looking for employment abroad, I already made up my mind that when I get that Mideast PT job I was looking for the least three years that I would only stay for a year. I had it so engrained in my mind that I carefully planned my succeeding steps now that I am here working for the past 11 months. Two more and inshaallah (God willing), I will be heading home.

Let's face it, being in the Middle East is a culture shock for some, especially for those who are not the homebody types; you know, after work you go to malls, watch a movie, gyrate your way to the clubs, down some booze, listen to gigs and stuff. It was hard for me to adjust, and the routine was homework, home-work, home-work, eight hours a day, six times a week. Of course, there are malls, but the bigger ones are situated one hour from where I'm currently staying and, add to that, it's hard to move around if you don't have your car (thank God for the ingenuity of Filipinos in inventing the cost-effective jeepneys!). Men and women also are not allowed to be together in public places unless they are married, or a relative and this, together with the ones earlier enumerated, just compounds to the sort of lack of "life" here. It's elementary, my dear reader, that most young Saudis (even some expats) have raging testosterone levels.

My friends from the PT department and the hospital made my otherwise ennui-filled OFW experience livable. We've shared stories and anecdotes about work, life before coming to the Middle East, hospital gossip, and the resourcefulness of some expats in hurdling taboos (faking marriage contracts, getting illegal booze, how gays abound and make a living prostituting themselves). It was unadulterated information to my virgin ears that took some time getting accustomed to. Overhearing somebody talks publicly of "booking" oneself was something I did not know to be that common knowledge.

Well, I have achieved one of my goals of coming here, doing the minor pilgrimage, the Umrah, with the other disgustingly disapproved by the administration over hospital policy: performing the Holy Pilgrimage, the Hajj. When this happened sometime in September last year, I was so disgruntled that I wanted to resign right then and there. It was very un-Islamic for an employer, a Saudi at that, to not allow a Moslem do this once-in-a-lifetime spiritual and religious undertaking, one that was all-expense paid. The admin probably felt that this was one of the reasons why I'm severing ties with them. I never intended it to be that way, but when they did it, they stepped on all of my ten toes.

I'm not sure yet if I get to go home two months from now as the hospital has this notorious practice of extending resigning and exiting employees for months. I have to work myself through red tape to get my passport back and procure plane tickets bound for home (I hope I need not resort to calling Labor on them). I can extend if I want to now that an opportunity came for me to be "somewhere else" as early as October of this year (which is too early to tell yet one I'm keeping my fingers crossed). But inshaallah, everything will work out according to plan.