I have been living and working in Malaysia all my life. Then one day I ask myself, hey CT you have been working for more that 25 years and in a few years time will be retiring from work. Wouldn't it be nice to have your last lap of your career working overseas? The employment market in Malaysia is not particularly rosy, so I though I may as well try my luck overseas. So I applied for a number of positions in various countries and received a number of invitations for interview. One of these was from a company in Saudi Arabia. I went for the interview and sometime later they offered me a job as a financial analyst.
Sure, I have traveled to other countries for meetings, conferences and occasional work, but most of the travel do not last more than 2 weeks. Then again even those countries are in the South East and Far East Asia but working in Saudia Arabia is totally a different ball game. I have heard so much horror stories that it would be almost impossible for me to accept the offer. Still I though to myself, well at least someone wants you and this is my last chance to work in a foreign environment for a few years and then I can come back home a early retire because the amount of money that I made during my three years stay in Saudi Arabia would be equivalent to having to work to retirement age in Malaysia. Furthermore, the job offers free food and accommodation and once in 8 months, they give you a 30 days paid vacation back home. Basically, it's personal expenses only and how much money can one use in a country that has no entertainment and liquor? The more I thought about it the better the job prospects sounds.
Hmm, looks good but now I have to break the news to my wife. How do I tell her? Will she support my decision and how will the kids take it? Still I had to do it. So when I went back and told my wife about the job offer, the terms and conditions. She had understood my intentions and immediately gave me the go ahead telling me that she is able to handle and look after the kids back home. The kids was simple as they are two young to know the consequences. My eldest 15 year old daughter's reaction was to remind me to bring back more money as she would like to further her studies in Japan! One hurdle crossed. Now I have to tell my parents. Once evening after work I told my parents and their immediate reaction was "hey that place is having a war going on!". I told them Saudi Arabia is quite far from the war zone and Saudi is a safe place. Then my mother pleaded, "please don't go!" A further round of explanation ensued on the whys and finally my mother realised that her son has decided to go there to work.
Having convinced the whole world why I had to go and take up this job, my biggest challenge was actually myself. As the days passed and the time to depart drew near, I began to have some socio-psychological issues, the fear of working away from home, family and familiar environment. I said to myself things are not so bad in Saudi Arabia, perhaps I am still in a stage of denial. As the days drew near, my soon to be ex-colleagues began to give me farewell lunches and dinners. Many of my friends also bade me farewell. I must admit as the days drew nearer, I was excited and at the same time having cold feet. Perhaps I should not go and my mind was playing games with itself every now and then. Luckily my wife was always there to encourage me.
How time files and September 14, 2006 was my second last day in Malaysia and tomorrow I will be flying off to Saudi Arabia via Bahrain. I did my packing last minute and managed to pack two suite cases of personal effects that I will be taking to Saudi Arabia. That night, I did not sleep well, still the night did not wait for me and soon morning came. Did some last minute things like exchanging some Riyals and visiting my mother and having breakfast with my wife. I did not want my mother to come for I fear that she would cry. Her eyes were red. My father was very quite and my wife kept a very jovial look. My two sisters took the opportunity to visit the airport and finally the check-in time came, after a two hours delay. I only thought AirAsia delays but apparently Gulf Air also has the same habit too. I said goodbye to my parents and hug my wife and feeling very sad (but a jovial look outside), I made my way into the departure lounge, went immediately to toilet and wipe my tears. I keep calling my wife until the very last minute while waiting to board the plane and sensing my strong attachment would make matters worst, my wife gave me some words of comfort. My heart was very heavy as the plane flew off KLIA.