Affording Vanity


Jamie looked in the mirror for the tenth time – checked her necktie, her belt, turned around and checked her shirt, she wanted it to be neatly tucked, with just a small pleat falling over her belt. Then she turned back and practiced her smile as she wanted it to be just perfect, neither too forth coming nor too reserved. Finally, satisfied with her appearance, she went to work.

Day by day, the same routine followed. Jamie would get up and meticulously get dressed. She’d take great pains to look perfect, with a neatly ironed dress, elegantly coiffured hair, radiant make-up and of course, the perfectly practiced smile.

For a career receptionist with no other means to support herself, Jamie needed to check her necktie to see if she was modest and presentable. She needed to check her belt regularly to see if the scuffs were covered and she needed to tuck her shirt in perfectly so that the hole in the back wasn’t visible.

You see, vanity is only for those who can afford it.


Getting Accustomed to Shiekhdom

Doha Corniche

This post is the result of a friend’s “farmaish”.  I’m usually a zero-unagi, living-in-my-own world kind of person.  But recently a friend’s email asking me about life in Gulf, made me sit up and notice things, habits, and people around me.

Its like there are two worlds in this country – one for local nationals and the Westerners (who, I feel, enjoy a demi-god status here) and another for immigrants from other Asian countries.  From my observations and limited number of experiences so far I’ll try to paint the two worlds:

Apart from the obvious heat issues which affect both the worlds, there is very little common between them.  First is the obvious problem of being disrespected because I’m an Indian.  In India, while Indians don’t pay heed to other Indians, here it is taken one step further. If you are an Indian, you will be put down at every point – residency permits take time to process for Indians and you will be failed in your first attempt at driving test just because you’re an Indian (doesn’t matter if you drive as good as or better than Michael Schumacher 😉 ).

Next is the general all-round struggle and the job divide (which is more a result of the way the rules in this country are structured) but its a vast difference anyway. For any company to operate here, they have to have a tie-up with a local firm, and hence the local nationals are ultra-rich irrespective of their education and capabilities. I’ve only seen Indians, Sri Lankans and Filipinos in blue collar jobs. White collar jobs go to Indians, Sri Lankans and Filipinos but I feel that well-paying, top level jobs would most likely be reserved for the “oh-so-great” Westerners or local nationals.

On the other hand, in the Sheikhs and Westerners-infested world, there is general merriment and a cake-walk through all the procedures. The local nationals are ill-mannered and seem not very well-educated but by the virtue of the country’s rule, they are very rich and hence in an untouchable bubble of their own.

However, what I’ve described above is an irreversible condition that sounds sad but isn’t so bad on an everyday basis. I am very happy here because I am getting more time for myself and my family, work-life balance is excellent here, I’m doing things I love, and obviously because of more money :).  Of course, there is room to be happier if I can make some friends from the other end of the spectrum. While the opportunity and effort for something like this is low, I feel I shouldn’t pass a judgement on the other world, till I get a chance to interact with them and know them.