Brilliantine

I suppose a gentleman must know this product. I’ve just found it in the supermarket here when looking for hair gel. The word “brilliantine” made me immediately remember a Vietnamese traditional play (Cai luong) in which a young man begged his father some money to buy brilliantine. He wanted to shine his hair for flirting with girls. The background of the play was that Vietnam society had been under French colony. Such product was brought to Vietnam by French obviously.
Before buying this pomade, I haven’t known anything about Yardley. When I saw the product design and the brand name, I immediately like it. The smell is fantastic, just enough for yourself. It’s not strong but warm and very manly. It doesn’t hold your hair firmly like gel that makes a natural look. I feel confident and suddenly handsome. Brilliant!

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Two weeks

I didn’t have anything to do in the last two weeks. I just showed up at work and then went home.
I’ve learned colors in Arabic from a children book, nine colors and related things. Blue likes the sea, red strawberries, green likes the trees, etc.
The book’s called Sing and Learn Arabic. This is my writing from right to left: blue, green, red, pink, purple, yellow, black, brown, white. The word in the bottom means The Color.

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A day and some thoughts

I set the alarm to wake up at 6:00 in the morning. Everything has been cooked and stored in the fridge. I only have to heat what I want for breakfast and lunch with the microwave oven. I usually have rice for breakfast and bread for lunch. Sometimes, I have macaroni or noodle. I fix them into a two-storey lunchbox. It usually takes me less than 15 minutes.
After that I take shower. It’s usually quick. With the cold water, it completely wakes me up. After getting changed, I always have to wait for my manager/ housemate/ driver. I sometimes have to knock on his door to remind him that we might be late for work. Work stars at 7:30 but we always leave our house about that time or later. It doesn’t really matter because everyone’s late like that. Saudi people (including the director) come in an hour later. Everyone’s cheating by signing 7:30 on work record.
Everyone wears uniform from home but I don’t. I wear uniform at work only because it looks ridiculous like nurse’ scrubs.

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I have breakfast round 9:00 with Indian workmates. My breakfast is always heavy with rice and meat because I have lunch around 2pm and after that an hour I finish working and getting home. So my lunch is light with a slice of bread or two with some meat and veggies.
The workload at the time is low so I spend my free time for learning Arabic and teaching English to a Saudi guy. He’s still young, just graduated from university. He can use English quite okay but doesn’t have many vocabularies. He bought a book and I assign him to learn some words everyday. I give him examples based on these words. I read for him to write and ask him to read again. Then I explain some grammars included in examples. He seems to go along well. After that I ask him to teach me Arabic. So far, I remember the pronunciation of the alphabet (through a children song). Arabic is quite complicated. A letter will change its shape according to its position in the word. So a letter has four forms, free form (standing alone), initial, middle and final form. Today, I’ve learnt the initial form of these 28 letters. He writes the letter for me to pronounce. Here is his writing.

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I don’t try to push myself too much to learn Arabic because I can remember quickly but I tend to forget after that if I don’t practice regularly. I let it absorb to my mind slowly. I practice to pronounce the letters by looking at signboards along the streets from home to work.
We usually leave work at 3:15. Saudi people leave earlier after afternoon praying (around 1pm). So in total, we cheat about 45 to 60 minutes. No one seems care about that. Because I go with the manager so whenever he leaves I also go. His main meal is lunch so he always stops by the same restaurant to buy food. He only drinks milk and coffee for both breakfast and dinner. He said that he’s eaten like that for many years. He’s 59 and quite active on Facebook with more than four thousand followers. People in the company don’t like him because he always seems make troubles to everyone. In my observation, he’s quite mean and likes to show off his power. I stuck with him now so I avoid to be involved into his troubles as much as I can. I try to treat him nicely so hopefully he won’t stab me on my back.
This post seems off the title however you already know my main activity after work. I just stay at home for a nap and then go to the park for walk and yoga. My dinner is mainly salad now and I like the mix of everything in hands. I should buy some seeds and nuts next time I go to the Mall of Arabia. Talking about seeds, before yesterday I bought some cardamoms. I added some into my rice. It smells so good!

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I got salary

Yesterday, the first of May I got my first month salary. I feel neutral, not really happy even I come here to earn some money from work. I don’t know why. In recent years, I don’t feel the urge of making more money. When we feel enough is enough, isn’t it? Another reason might explain my feeling is that  I don’t have my own family so I don’t have responsibility to put food on the table. I have only me to take care of and what I need are quite basic. In my own experience, the good thing of not having many friends around me is that I don’t have to spend much money. I might buy some things when I go shopping with my friends. It’s just the feeling of doing something when I’m in a good mood. If I go alone, I usually ask myself whether I really need that item or whether I can postpone purchasing it.

Recently, after work I have an habit of walking and exercising with my workmates in a park nearby. We usually walk five rounds. I’ve counted about 450 steps each round. The temperature here in the evening is good for such activity. It’s quite windy. It’s almost the same everyday. After walking, I practice some yoga postures. People are very surprised because of my body flexibility. I instruct them some postures and encourage them to practice. They are quite excited because it’s good for their health. The park is usually quiet. Some days, there are some families bring kids here to play. I usually practice from 6:00 to 6:45pm. It’s also the salah calling for Muslims to pray. Two Indians in my group are Muslims so we always part at that moment.

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Last night, I made my dinner, a big bowl of salad with cabbage (white and violet), carrot, chili pepper, onion and orange dressed with salt, sugar, black pepper, lemon juice and olive oil. I have eaten too much for dinner lately. I need to cut back to less carb meal. My time for breakfast and lunch has been changed to the group of Indian workmates. Even now they don’t cook for me, I still follow their schedule, 9am for breakfast and 2pm for lunch. After getting home from work, I have some fruits (orange or pear) and take a nap or just lie in the couch and listen to music.

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It’s been a month

Since I left Vietnam for the job. I finally got the residence permit today. The company keeps my passport (it’s the law) because I have the ID card now. Here it’s call Iqama. Every thing will link to this card. I’m gonna open a bank account this Sunday (Friday and Saturday are my days off). I plan to do many things when I get my first month wage. I want a new MacBook. It might cost a third of my salary. I want faster internet connection. I recently use internet with my housemate. You already knew that he’s my QA Manager. Even now we have a new QA Manager who’s from Malaysia, he’s gonna stay here for some months more. It turns out that I have to share the house with him. It’s good for me though because now I only have to pay a half for renting, gas and electric bills. The house is also unnecessary large for one.
I want to learn driving car. It’s so my fault that I didn’t learn before coming here. If I can drive and have a car, I can get an amount of transportation subsidy from the company. It’s funny to think that now my manager is also my driver. Today, I found out that he like selfie. He doesn’t have a smart phone. He saw me take my selfie so he asked me to take his photos too. It’s fun!
I want to learn Arabic. I now can learn it from my colleagues. They’re willing to teach me. It’s nice and practical. I now can greet, count, name seven days and say some things like eating, drinking, working, busy, hungry, thirsty, etc. However, it’s just imitation like a baby. Except numbers, I don’t know any Arabic word. I have my name written in Arabic now. It’s only just the sound without meaning. I want to go to a school to learn from ABC. However, it’s very difficult because it seems there is no class after working hour. I have so much free time now so I have to self study and just wait.
Here is my Iqama. The photo was taken at the passport checkpoint a month ago at the airport. I was really tired after 14 hour flight and three hour waiting in line. The photo is not too bad, no?

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New house

I’ve just moved out the dormitory this afternoon. My new house is just some blocks away from the dom. It has two rooms and a kitchen. It’s in a building of four units for families. I still have to share the house with my QA Manager. He’s going to move to another city in one or two weeks. The new manager is coming.
He bought everything for the house so all I have to do is to pay him back because he leaves all behind. That’s good. The only things I need to purchase are kitchen wares because he doesn’t cook. I sleep in the living room on the sofa. After he’s leaving, I’m going two have my bed room with a king size bed.
It’s not a nice house looking inside and the exterior of the building seems unfinished. I don’t know why it was put on for renting. It’s in a quiet area.

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Now, this is how the walls in the living room look like. It’s so weird! Ah well, I have to accept it because right now I don’t have another choice. It’s still larger and well equipped than my room in Vietnam.

The ugly face of my building
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The opposite building for Arabians which I need to double my recent salary if I wanna get in there.
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New old job

Right after I landed in Jeddah in Wednesday afternoon, I was brought to the Fisheries Research Center. I started the job on Thursday as a lab specialist in histopathological lab. So after exactly one week I left the old job in Vietnam, I started to work again. It’s a new old job because my duty here is just similar to that in my former company. It’s nice to do the old job in a completely new environment with new colleagues. Not to mention that the workload in new company is much lower and the salary is much higher.
There are no shops or restaurants or such things around 15-minute-drive radius from the work location. Where I stay is also a small town, it’s about one hour drive from Jeddah city center. It’s in the middle of a desert in which construction sites are everywhere. Only my videos can explain the landscape. I will upload them on YouTube and insert them here when I can or you can watch them on my Facebook timeline. I don’t have a car neither a driving license. There is no motorbike here either. Such an inconvenient situation! I have to bring breakfast and lunch with me. As I mention before, my new assistant is a man from India and I’m staying with a group of Indian expats. So he helped me at a shop near the dormitory to buy two small sandwiches (one with eggs and the other with chicken) for my meals. At 7:15 am, I joined the expat group in a minivan provided by the company to get to the workplace. The driver had to stop here and there to pick up some others. We got there at 7:30. In the former company, I didn’t have to sign and check the time for starting and ending a work day. I have to do it in the new company and do it manually.
It’s an old new job so I’m familiar with everything in the lab. The condition in the new lab is not as good as in the former one. They still use instruments in old generation. They are not well organized. As a lab specialist, I have to suggest the renovation and new investment for the lab. What I need to do now is “wait and wait”. As my assistant explained, nothing happens immediately here. When we need something, we have to wait for about 6 months or so to get what we requested. Therefore we have to think ahead everything if we want the lab function properly. It’s crazy! In Vietnam, we just make a phone call and suppliers bring all things we need immediately. It’s fine by me because he told me that there were not many samples here every month (less than one percent in comparison to my former workload). In the mean time, we can manage to do our job with what we have in hands.
It’s an eight hour work day, exactly from 7:30 to 3:30. In that amount of time, we manage ourself to do our job, having meals, coffee break and praising (for Muslims only). They have to praise five time a day from the dawn to midnight. The one in the working time is at 1pm for about 10 minutes. They gather in a mosque, just in front of the lab. It was built for Muslims who work there.
The fisheries center locates by the Red Sea. Near the end of our work day, I asked my assistant to show me the sea shore. We got there just by walking past some fish and shrimp ponds. It’s a sunny day (as always) but it’s not too hot because of the wind and fresh air from the sea. It’s a nice place.
Instead of saying TGIF, here we say Thank God It’s Thursday because Friday is the day off work, it’s weekend. So after 3:30, in the minivan, we went to the city center for our night after a hard week. So that brought me to the first time in the city. I will have an entry about it :)
Here are some photos of my first day at work.

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