Thursday, December 10, 2009


(The following story was published in 2008 2nd Quarter issue of JAL Focus,a company newsletter).

Palindrome is a phrase or sentence that can be read the same forward and backward. (e.g. “So many dynamos” and “Lee has a race car as a heel”). Like palindrome, the expatriates will go back to their own country to reap the fruit of their hard labor. It’s literally hard labor particularly here in Middle East wherein the life they are undergoing amidst of the arid land is an acid test to pass. It’s surviving the extreme homesickness. To overcome the boredom is threading the eye of the needle, which is growing in the long stretched of empty hours during weekend. There are lots of times to kill. Working each day is not enough in salving the tortured mind. There should be some ways of recreation to overcome the feeling of uncertainty, fear and misgiving. You have to find your ways to occupy the rest of the day.

Sports are ex-pat’s favorite recreation as relieve of boredom. JAL International Co., Ltd. embarked sport program to support the physical fitness needs of its employees. JAL Sports encourages employees to be pro-active and get involved into sports to get the benefits of good health. Basketball, football, cricket, tennis, valley ball, and indoors activities such as Darts and Chess are among most favorite recreations to enjoy.

Like sports, Martial Arts is a popular recreation to pass the time fast and worthy. It installs values, discipline and teaches self defense. Taekwondo, Aikido, Karate, Judo and Combat are some forms of Martial Arts to get into. Various competitions participated by expatriates are being organized Kingdom wide. However, winning the prize is not the very reason in participating in these tourneys. More than that, hanging out to win friendship with compatriots is enough to complete their experience.

On the other hand, the non-athletic would rather spend their times in the sea to catch fishes. Sea is a versatile place for various activities. Aside from the anglers and swimmers, some are spending the family day in the peaceful place of the sea, while others are taking the scenic view thru sentimental walk under the breathtaking sight of the golden sunset.

Loafing around the malls and busy downtown is common pastime against solitude. Those more artistic express themselves in paintings, photography and creative writings. To pour their heart and passion in every piece of work emerges their rare personalities. There are different ways to pass the idle hours but there is only one common purpose: to fight the inevitable homesickness.

The life of working expatriates in Middle East is unique and most often challenging. It will test your strength to develop your self restrain. If you are open minded, flexible to your environment and love to live the simple life then your stay can be very interesting and rewarding.

This is my first destination as a guest worker of any foreign country. I should have known working and living abroad are going to be rather rough but I eventually learned to turn lemon into lemonade by taking the good I have and find the best of now and here.

I have learned an important lesson with Saudi Arabia’s “desert ship”. Camel is a classic example of successful adaptation to environment. Their rare abilities to be flexible in situation in the desert through the rest of their lives make them special. Like camels, man can evolve various mechanisms to adopt his short and temporary migration in this beautiful, serene and poetic part of the Middle East.

By Alex V. Villamayor
Al-Khobar, KSA
April 2008

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