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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. 

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