Friday, April 01, 2005

Insecurities of a middle aged Indian Expatriate

Mr. Appan, 46, Contol Room Superintendent of Al Riffaa power station 'was' a happily married man blessed with a son and a daughter. Well he is still married and he still likes his kids but calling them 'a blessing' is stretching it a little too far especially when you do not know where the phone is and still pay 4 figure phone bills every month. So, you may ask, why the emphasis on the 'was' ? Appan, is now a tired middle aged Indian expatriate who always has to think about saving his job, buying a flat in India, getting his daughter married and sending his son to an Engineering college (especially after he heard that Mr. Chpparwal's son was studying in IIT by paying 5000 dollars every year).So Appan needed a lot of money and thanks to the oil rich gulf states he has been getting enough 'tax free' money to take care of himself and his family for the last 15 years. Any expatriate would vouch the fact that 15 years in a gulf country is a life time and Appan has endured a lot in these years like for example he bravely(greedily) stood his ground during the testy times of the gulf war when half the expatriate population fled the country fearing for their lives.
But what he was faced with now is even more brutal than the wars that he had witnessed. The government wants every skilled expatriate(read engineers) to train an Arab so that he could replace the expatriate once he is fully trained. This was called the Arabization process and was launched to appease the local population as the unemployment rate among the locals grew to 6 percent thanks to all the Indians, Pakistanis, Filipinos and Bangladeshi's flooding the country.According to the recent census report the population for the whole city was estimated to be 150,000 of which 73,000 people were expatriates. If things carried on in the same vein, the expatriates would probably out number the locals in another 2 years. Appan was initially pretty confident that the new measures wont hurt him as he held a very important/responsible position in the power station which frankly could not be entrusted to a 23 year old local with a diploma. This position called for a lot of experience and Appan was sure that there were no 46 year old unemployed locals who could fit his job profile. Appan was in part right as none of the senior engineers in the station got a local assigned to them. Just when life looked peaceful came the shattering news that Mr. Chapparwal got fired because he failed his health test and was promptly replaced by a 30 year old local who had just completed his Engineering degree from Leeds,England (getting you bachelors degree when you are that is what I call persistence). The incident sent out shock waves to all the expat Engineer's in the power station. This was a first to them as no one got fired for failing fitness tests.
That night Appan put himself in Chapparwal's shoes, what would happen to Mr. C's son who needed another 10000 dollars to see him through IIT, what would happen to the house he was building in Rajasthan and his daughter is already 21 with 'marriageable' written all over her face The term 'marrigeable' was a much better way of putting things in perspective, definitely better than the phrase "she is fast approaching her sell by date" which Appan's wife often uses. Appan was having panic attacks because it looked like he fit chapparwal to a T and his health test was due in another week. Probably he should have listened to his wife and excercised. He should have joined those yoga classes. He should have cut down on all those Heineken's.
Appan had a nightmarish week and was for the first time in his life was gravely concerned about his health. The 'D' day had arrived and Appan was nervously fidgeting in his chair at the lobby of the Al Rabia International Hospital waiting for the nurse to give him the name of the doctor that he was supposed to meet. He knew that there was a Dr. Shetty in the hospital and he was praying God and seeking his divine intervention to get himself into the warm and cozy confines of a fellow Indian Expatriate who understands what it means to lose one's job. The nurse called out Appan's name and asked him to go to Dr. Adnan Hassan's office. Hassan....Hassan ...Hassan.....the name echoed in Appans ears ...(to be continued)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

still waiting for the update

12:20 PM  
Blogger pagala'k' said...

Was a little held up. You can call it unemployment blues. Will post an update soon. Anon...this is the first comment I have got in the past few months so make sure you leave another comment and this time non-anonymously (is that a word?)

11:48 AM  

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