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Thursday, October 10, 2013

My Life in Saudi Arabia
I left my home in Trivandrum, Kerala, India on the 28 of September 2013 early in the morning with my brother Jose Varghese to join Jazan University in Jazan, Saudi Arabia. Both of us had attended interviews in March 2012 in Delhi, India through Good Fellow Foreign Services, an accredited agency. We both got selected and got postings as Language Instructors in Jazan University. I availed leave without allowance for 2 years from IHRD, where I have been working since 1995. I was relieved of my duties from College of Applied Sciences, Dhanuvachapuram on 27 September 2013. Our flight to Delhi was at 6 am and we reached on time by 10. 25 am. We flew by Jetconnect, and as in my foolishness and inexperience asked about the weight of the luggage we were asked to pay an extra 6000 for our luggage which was just two boxes weighing only 29 and 23 kgs. We could bring  46+7 kilos each if we were booked from Trivandrum. We took a taxi from the air port to the hotel, arranged for us by our friend Abdullah using his contacts in his bank. We reached the hotel which was really a luxurious place and began our stay there. We ate in the restaurant downstairs all the time as we were reluctant to go out and find a good and safe place to eat. The breakfasts were included in the tariff and we enjoyed the food there.
We went out in the afternoon by a taxi arranged by Abdulla. He did it using his contact with a long term acquaintance. We were given an Innova which made the trip very comfortable. Later we realized that Abdulla had asked for an Indica but the taxi services sent an Innova as there were no other car at their disposal at that time. Fearing fraud of some sort we contacted the service provider and came to know the truth and we were happy that we could travel so luxuriously for the cost of travelling by a small car.
We finished our work with the agency in no time. All the papers were ready there and they offered us tea and water. Baisakhi Nanda talked to us in a very nice way. We had no problems there at all. They sent one of the employees to help us out with the money exchange too. The money exchange was tedious but the man at the counter did his best to ensure safety and helped us as best as he could under the circumstances.
We went to Abdullah's house which was in Dwaraka,  a huge house where we met Tarannum Parveen and the two wonderful girls, Sana and Ayana. I did not realize until dinner time that Tanu had cooked rice and chicken and also a payasam like sweet dish and had planned to give us a dinner.
The dinner was a surprise and a wonderful experience. All of us ate together with relish. I marvelled at the cooking expertise of Tanu and wished I could eat more. We returned to our hotel late at night and had a good night's sleep. I had trouble with a sebaceous cyst I had on my head. This is the third time the cyst is giving me trouble. I had consulted my doctor in Trivandrum and she had asked me to consult the surgeon and get it opened and drained before I left for Delhi. But the senior doctor in the clinic, Dr. Mathew Cherian advised me to apply T- bact and go without undergoing any procedure because he felt it would give me trouble with the dressing of the wound and so on. Anyway the cyst ruptured and I kept applying heat and cleaned it regularly and put on T- bact and some how got it subsided.
On 29th we stayed in the hotel resting. In the evening Santhulan and Juhi came to visit us driving 20 kilometers just for spending a little time with us. It was really touching. I called Baby Aunty and we had a long talk. We talked to Mathew too. Sadly we could not meet.
We left for Jazan in the morning of 30th, leaving the hotel by 9. 15 am by a taxi arranged by the hotel. We had no trouble in the airport. The immigration procedure was fast. We boarded the flight by 12. 45. Saudi Arabian Airlines was a huge flight and we were seated in the middle row. It was my first travel abroad and I was taken by surprise at the size of the aircraft. I slept through the journey to Riyadh wrapping myself in a blanket I procured from the crew. They gave us rice and fish and some juice.
The rest rooms in the flight were dirty by the time I managed to reach them. Finally I got one loo which was clean and I could enjoy the rest of the flight. At Riyadh, we moved to the left side of the aircraft as lots of passengers got down and practically none boarded from there.
The air port at Riyadh gave us a dismal view of the desert but the sight of cars passing under the runway was a marvel for me. We left for Jeddah soon. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Friends and Mirrors

A friend, it is said, is a mirror in which one sees oneself.:
external, internal and the projected images.
This mirror is an unobtrusive wall 
between the two in the beginning. 

If the friends are meant to be bonded for life,
the wall breaks away noiselessly, leaving
no trace; sort of melts away; two souls
get inseparable, the I and the you just cease to be.

Your parents and my parents become
our parents, your house and my house
our house, your pleasures and my pleasures 
our pleasures, your pains and my pains our pains,
your life and my life merge into our lives.

Between others, in course of time, the mirror 
gets smeared on either side with impressions 
each forms of the other, acting like the silver coating 
on reflective mirrors, the quality of the smearing  
determining the quality of the reflection. 

Empathy, coupled with a cool acceptance
of each others' flaws, coated on the mirror yields a happy,
confidence-enhancing  reflection, fostering easy bonding. 

When the mirror is smeared with 
misunderstanding, or rivalry,
it yields  a horrid, scary reflection;
revolting,  imperiling bonding.

Better not let the mirror become a reflective one,
best allow it to melt away, bringing in real gelling:
where friends grow unaware and unmindful of differences
complement and empower each other.

If friendships pose threats to 
well being and stability,
 frequently flashing  ruinous reflections
tarnishing self esteem,suspect distortion,
Validate  promptly, like a sensible being.

Gracefully retreat, seek refuge 
till true friends find their way to you.
No point saving any tie at the cost of the self.

Picture courtesy: http://creativewriting.ie/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Liberation-by-visionart.jpg

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Walk Away

Alone, gradually disappearing into the foggy future,
you evoke fathomless pain in my mortally wounded soul.
Tongue-tied and completely helpless,
I watch from behind the bars of my cage.

Why did you bring this on yourself and involve me in it?
Why did you choose to walk away alone?
I envision dark alleys where you will fumble and fall
but you leave me chained in my cage and walk away,
discarding the keys you perchance got possession of.

I do not  break the chains and run after you.
I would have grown wings and flown out 
through the bars of my cage
if I knew you would stop, turn around, and 
take me in your arms.

Watching you staggering away 
I stay back in induced silence, smothering anguish,
hoping you would come back
when memories help you recognize
my fidelity and steadfast devotion.

I wonder why with you memories do not work
the way it works with me: revitalizing and sustaining.
Sometimes I wonder if you have memories at all.
The concept of selective memory baffles me.

Curious how people seem to suppress memory
and live, creating a reality of their own, 
disjointed with the past.
Amazing how memory succumbs and stays recessive,
playing a game of chess with conscience 
while their deceptive hosts play farces.

You cast your eyes off when you know 
a sign could give me hope you would fail to fulfill.
At unguarded moments I see the tender longing 
you try the best not to let me notice.
I rely on my impression of you and await a reunion.

Picture courtesy:  http://creativewriting.ie/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/lightwalk-in-october_thumb1.jpg

Sunday, April 21, 2013

"If words are to enter men's minds and bear fruit, they must be the right words shaped cunningly to pass men's defenses and explode silently and effectually within their minds."
-J.B. Phillips, writer and clergyman (1906-1982)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Village and I

Life in the village is what sustains me still
But moving out was a necessity
Hard in the beginning
Soon questions of settling down arose
Village is ruled out for many practical reasons
Fondness and attachment give way to
Questions of existence
Village is now part of a beautiful nostalgic
Dream, no chance to regain
The charming aspects have all gone
Long since the well has been used and cleaned
It is a dangerous pit rather than a well with its
Inexhaustible cold, sweet water
Weeds grow from the sides hiding the view
Of the watery circle below
Reflecting the sky in its scary but enthralling manner
No water is so refreshing and trustworthy as the water
We brought up from that dear well
Now a relic evoking pain and memories indelible
The pond in the fields where green frogs
Sat on the grassy banks camouflaged ,
Basking in the sun, their protruding eyes closed partially
Is not there anymore, nor are those plantain trees and
Pepper vines, it is sort of wilderness
Life has drained off the fields
The master is not there to tend
And marvel at the flourish
Plants refuse to grow, weeds cover the land
Life is changed for good or for the worse
Time will reveal but essence is gone
If only the goodness of the past could
Mix up with the present and make it
Fuller, more satisfying
Thus wiping away nostalgic longings
Making survival more like living

Sunday, January 13, 2013


Freeing her tiny fingers with amazing deftness,
she scampers forward in all her swiftness.
Sparse vehicular traffic, level road
and cool dusk but stress escalates.

We struggle to catch up with her.
She slows down, turns full circle
studies a passerby, an oncoming bike.
Danger is unknown to her.

We pick her up by turns.
Restless and fluttering, she works
relentlessly at all grips and clasps,
wriggles her way down and dashes.

Mounted up on my hip,
she puts a hand round my neck
and nestles close, her free hand still busy
working at mine, first the soft soothing style,
then the harsh, insisting mode;
silent demand for liberation.

Aching arms succumb to pressure and temptation.
On her feet, she prances forward gleefully
to a bunch of blossoms on the grassy side walk.
Outstretched hands closing down on the slender stems,
she stops and gives me the glance of mischief.

I crouch beside her and point at the fluttering wings
among the flowers, not daring to hope much.
Amazing she stops short, glances at the dull grey
spotted wings held close, intent relishing of nectar.
The patient steady stare yields her the prized reward;
the wings open to a marvellous orange hue.

The wordless sounds of unspeakable surprise,
 the claps of  toddler joy, the bubbling laughter
She too could be stilled and stirred.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Luck is a Problematic Word

Grappling with situations
that is what life is all about.
Full of surprises, struggles, and trials
Life amazes.
Perseverance, diligence,
strain, and toil
all go into it.

Rewards come entwined
in complications at times.
Luck is a problematic word.
The divide between the
lucky and the unlucky
results in unjustifiable torment.

Not realizing that luck keeps changing
its abodes, one feels instant stinging pain,
while the other gloats.
A terrible failure, a great disappointment
one unbearable tragedy, once branded
an instance of bad luck
sure makes one a bitter enemy of the word.

Hard work and perseverance
should win in the end.
Life is fair when justice rules.