Monday, April 18, 2016

Bye Bye Tanzania

For the past some years life has been taking on so many twists and turns that can’t fathom myself where I am headed to or rather where I will be living soon. Couple of years back when I left Middle East I thought I will be returning to India for good and settling down in happy family life, India did happen but to my utter dismay I discovered that life in motherland had its own share of stress along with professional challenges that forced me to look at overseas options. Now that I am abroad and that too in exotic Africa, I am again returning to India next week only to embark to a new country soon

My stint in Tanzania has been too short however every place we get to live in has its own share of memories and every time we recall that place it’s the smell, look, weather, people etc which come racing to mind. True the look and feel of many cities changes faster than the blink of an eye, especially in the fast paced urban jungles springing up across the globe. However many of these so called hot spots are also deteriorating very fast, but the soul of human settlements never fade; and it is these souls which get ingrained in the personality of the inhabitant so deeply that soon the person starts reflecting his city. However frequent flyers like me who keep changing abode soon, hardly have any city to influence them but at the same time get richer by the multiple hues experienced across multiple locations

Being a South Indian who lived most of life in Kashmir and Delhi, I have already experienced the lifestyle and tastes of far end of India and my stints abroad have given me a fair idea of how life shapes up when living as an Indian expat. However it seems my experiences have not stopped and will only increase in the coming days if my plans to move to a new continent bear fruit

As I leave Tanzania many thoughts keep rushing in, as it seems only yesterday that I landed up in Dar es Salaam and was driven from Airport to the town. My first memories of the place were of the green trees lining up the roads and the clear sky. As the days went by I realized that this city is indeed one of the better places for Indians what with many of them residing here for generations together. Add to this the scenic beauty around and the many tourist and wildlife attractions which makes this as a better option in entire Middle East and Africa

Very soon I will be boarding a flight back to Delhi and then after a series of travels back home I again plan to fly out; not sure how long I will survive at new destination but whose complaining. After all life is about enjoying the journey rather than reaching the destination

Friday, February 19, 2016

Zabardast Zanzibar

When I was living in Oman there was a tribe of locals there who were addressed as Zanzibaris; that time I knew Zanzibar was in Africa but had wrongly presumed it to be some forlorn deserted island, but It was only after coming to Tanzania that I became aware of the place and its strategic importance (I will not bore any hapless soul reading this by elaborating history, all information is available by just few clicks on Google). So when last week I had made up my mind that come what may I will visit Zanzibar for the weekend, immediately after lunch on Saturday I left office and went straight to port to catch the afternoon ferry

For first timers, my advice would be to book ferry tickets in advance to get a better deal and also to avoid the touts who abound around the ticket booth. I was not so lucky as I reached the port just sometime before departure and was immediately accosted by the local touts. Since tickets had almost sold out so I ended up paying lot more than I had planned or anticipated and ended up worrying on the ferry if the remaining funds I had would suffice for my stay; thankfully, inspite of my mind being occupied with the number of notes remaining in my wallet, I did not miss out on the beautiful sights or the splendid lush sea, thanks to my open seat on the top deck

Upon arrival in Zanzibar the first thing to hit is the old world charm of the place. Visiting this island is like visiting grandparents in some old town of India, with the same narrow dingy lanes, old wooden houses, tall walls and inhabitants enjoying their cramped existence with gaiety unknown to big city dwellers. Thankfully some good soul from my workplace who was currently posted there had offered me his place for the night so I was saved from hotel cost and also had good company for the evening

One of the most amazing things about Zanzibar, apart from the pristine beaches, is the amazing seafood as I discovered on the night of my arrival. For anyone visiting the place, missing out on seafood is a crime and almost every night there is an open street food market by the sea with almost all varieties of seafood available. And when it comes to street food, I have to admit Zanzibar Mix is the most awesome street food I have tasted. Period. When it was recommended to me the first time I thought it to be some down market variety served in plastic bowls with eggs and pakoras floating in browny liquid but it took only few bites for me to start gorging on it. The lobster sticks I ate later easily paled in comparison

The same night I also took a walk around town and must say for an island in Africa, Zanzibar is reasonably safe. Being a tourist spot there are enclaves where tourists can roam around freely and with a fresh sea breeze blowing almost all the time, a late night walk is not a bad idea at all
The next morning I was up early and after devouring maggi for breakfast, I left to see the sights of this amazing place. Since I was alone for the day, I decided to take the help of a scout who gleefully took me around town explaining the history around the crowded streets. The spice market, Indian temples, slave market, old palace did make for some splendid sightseeing after which with time available I decided upon another famous attraction, the prison island. The island is some distance away and getting a good bargain on the boat cost can be tricky but upon reaching there, the sparkling blue water by the beach instantly took my breath away. The island has some old turtles and some of them are indeed gigantic, at first I thought them to be stone replicas till I noticed some movement. The best sight I witnessed that day was turtles having sex, which made up my Valentines Day!

Few things about Zanzibar stand out remarkably. First is the gora crowd seen almost everywhere; this place seems to be a cleaner version of Goa. Second is the variety of restaurants around town, however eating out can be very expensive, so better stick to street food only. And lastly to move around, walking is not a bad option, as I found out. If time and dough are scarce, the two feet given by Almighty can work wonders although the temptation of visiting the alluring beaches located far away by taxi can be hard to resist

For me this was indeed a welcome break, as my time in this country is limited and there is so much to explore around. On the ferry back to Dar es Salaam, before dozing off, I could happily imagine ticking off a major item from my to do list

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Big salaam to Dar es Salaam

When I had mentioned to people around in Delhi that I was leaving for Dar es Salam, to my little surprise not many knew about the place and some did not even know where Tanzania was. For those who knew or had someone who had lived here, the only description I got was of a quaint little place which would be more or less good to live. Located on coast of East Africa Dar es Salaam can be mistaken for a crime ridden African city but after living here for three months, I can say this city is indeed exciting, exotic and enchanting

There are many facets of this remarkable place which make it stand out and the most noteworthy of this would be the colorful streets and markets. One can easily go around the town area and City Center and spot vendors of all hues selling their stuff on the road, let it be the open stalls with all vegetables on display, or locals selling coconut water, or vendors carrying exotic fruits in a tub on their head. And not to forget if you are in the bustling market place, vendors will themselves come up to you and offer their wares right from belts to cigarettes to pirates DVDs, all at a discounted price. Another unique aspect of Dar is the delicious chicken street food on offer with tandoori bar-be-cues spread all over town; I have to admit the most delicious chicken I have tasted would be bang on the streets of Dar

If Dar has an interesting market scene, the areas outside market and the city is even more enchanting if one goes to the extremely scenic coastline. This city has the most breathtaking sea view and beaches that one can hope to see and some of the sea side bars are simply amazing. It is not hard to figure what to do on a Sunday evening if one has a car and a group of pals to go along; to say the sea side bars and cafes are simply superb would be an understatement

Talking of bars, one can’t miss the variety of local beer available here. Although all international brands are available in abundance, it is the local variety which makes it all the more interesting. Tanzania has many local beer brands all named after one of the country’s attractions with names ranging from Kilimanjaro to Serengeti to Tusker, all having a different tinge in taste. And yes there are plenty of places to drink around town here, not surprisingly this city has a buzzing nightlife. Even in Dubai I had never seen the kind of open air discos that one gets to see and visit here, all having females ready to be picked-up for the night at half the cost they come for in Dubai

However the most unique aspect of this country for me are the Local Indians that one gets to see around here. There are countless Indian origin Tanzanian citizens who have been here for generations and have embraced the local culture in total. In fact for a newcomer to this part of the world, initial few days are very surprising as it is hard to figure if the Indian appearing person you are talking to in fluent Hindi is actually an Indian or Tanzanian; only when he starts talking to the locals around in Swahili that realization dawns of the person being a Tanzanian passport holder

And if one is talking of Dar, it would be criminal to miss out on the weather. This city has the cleanest sea breeze that one can experience, which is indeed a welcome relief from the terrible pollution from Delhi. The climate remains more or less the same all through the year; it is perhaps the first and only time in my life that I am seeing 35 degree temperature even in January! However one flip side of this weather is that its always humid and for someone who sweats buckets like me, even a short stint in sun is enough for me to start melting. Thankfully my electricity charges are included in rent for I can keep the AC on all night

Reading all this may sound that I am living in wonderland, however am not too sure how long I will last here; working in a lala company has its own pitfalls which I am now discovering, for the plug may be pulled any time. However the only mantra life has taught me in past stormy years is to enjoy it as long as it lasts

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Back for now

When I wrote my last post two years back I was not aware I would be away for so long and had infact given up on this space altogether for good. But then we never know the twists and turns of this odyssey called life and where it will land us up one day, the changes in my life have been so swift and rapid that I am now left wondering where my next chapter will unfold and what it will have in store for me

If I have to chronicle what happened in past couple of years since my last outpour here, the story goes like this. Yes I returned to India after losing my job in Muscat; waited for a long time to get a job in India though I had couple of very good international options (in hindsight a mistake to let go); got frustrated beyond limits and didn’t know where I was heading; when I had almost lost hope I found a job only to get in troubled waters soon; just when I was about to be fired, in nick of time got a lucrative international option; and here I am in Tanzania though not sure how long will continue here! And yes I got married in between though we are now based in different countries (subject of another post)

There also have been other changes within me which I have myself started to notice. I am emotionally better off and more stable now, gone are the days of binge drinking and visiting raunchy dance bars at late night, it is the call home which keeps me engaged most of the times. With carefree days of bachelor hood over, my face and body itself seem a lot different now. Few days back I had pasted a photo on Visa form which was clicked about four years back, to my astonishment no one in the office seemed to recognize my face and I was accused of pasting a photo from my college days!

In middle of all this the biggest setback for me has been professionally; it seems I am going down with each passing year and my career for now seems to be as good as over. Maybe it is because I am in the wrong profession and not cut-out for the shrewdness and assertiveness that this line of work demands. Also job avenues are so limited, let it be India or abroad, that I am now seriously contemplating doing something else altogether in life. As of now I do not have any ideas apart from few fantasies to think about and I am not even sure which country I will be living in in the coming few years

However one thing I have learnt is that no matter what comes up in life its always good to make friends with Optimism and Hope. Many times in the past couple of years, I have stared down the barrel with no light in sight however both the O & H kept me alive and kicking. And even now it is the same H which keeps my fire lit, present day insurmountable problems notwithstanding

As another challenging year draws to a close, I am aware that coming days will not be rosy for me which only implies that I have to steel up further. I also hope that I can give sometime to this space as I have now discovered that blogging actually keeps me going and there is no better place to vent out. If I have to look back and make a count of my good and not so good times, the time I was gung-ho on this blog would be undoubtedly the better time of my life when I had loads of O&H, and as I left this space or decreased my outpours here, turbulence also started manifesting in my life

I look forward to 2016 with a mix of caution and restraint; I only hope as the year goes by atleast someone recognizes that the photo on Visa form was from my recent joyful past and not that of any unrecognizable boy from his college days!!

Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 – year which left me battered and bruised

There are years and times in one’s life when all that one has stood for, all that one has believed in and all that one always wanted to do come to a naught and stand reversed; there are times when the entire belief of one’s life stand shaken; when all that has been accomplished over years starts going away slowly; when all that one believed is firm starts shaking first mildly and then wildly. There are years which shake you to the core which at times force you to take some unwanted decisions; for me 2013 has been such a year.

If you have been reading me for sometime (or even if you browse through posts of 2009) you will understand how dearly I wanted an international assignment and how glad I was to have finally got one in 2010; my elation continued in 2011 with a good time at workplace but then when things started going wrong in 2012 I as a fool did not understand that it was best to head home; but never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine I will lose my job that too with such humiliation and disgrace. My tumultuous relationship with my boss and his unprovoked verbal assaults in office wounded me no end and with me being located abroad avenues of escape or job change got severely limited. I never wanted to return to India which I am now being forced to, thanks to all the tribulations at office and my unfruitful and desperate job hunt in this country. What this entire ordeal has also taught me is that my profession has limited job openings and the vast corporate expanse of India provides larger scope for employment and job changes, moreso with increasing years of experience which also implies lesser matching jobs. Infact with all that I have gone through this year I doubt if I will ever work abroad again

Apart from all the acrimony at workplace there was nothing much else to write home about in 2013. Sadly I seem to have lost out on life a bit in last couple of years; pursuits like Toastmasters and Art of Living which I so actively pursued in India have come to a halt here, I hardly have anyone left in this city whom I can call a friend, my drinking has become much frequent and has become more of a habit now which has resulted in a bloated belly which shows no sign of reducing and life has become so listless that almost on all weekends I find myself confined to my bed with a book and drink for company. 2013 has also been a year where I almost abandoned this space with less than half dozen posts to show for the full year. If all this shittiness in life was not enough, for much of the year I was paranoid of having contracted some virus after I took the Russian blonde to my hotel room in Dubai earlier in the year

Perhaps the only thing positive about the year was my growing bonds with my family; first it was my mother then my brother and lastly it has been someone with whom I plan to start a family! Yes there has been a bright prospect in the offing for long and if things turn out well, which actually means that I find another suitable job soon, then may go ahead here. (For the time being let this be subject of another post and not this piece, sorry to keep you curious for now)

As every year draws to a close, it gives an opportunity to look back upon the 12 months that have gone by and the sweet and sour memories they have left behind; and when I look back at 2013 I can only say that I am glad its over. I dearly hope 2014, with all the trials and tribulations of life in India notwithstanding, turns out to be a better year for me; with all that I have gone through in 2013 I am surely due for some relief. I sincerely hope the New Year brings a new dawn which will help do away with the gloom and helplessness of 2013

As a number 13 has always been unlucky for me and in my heart of hearts I was dreading that atleast this time number 13 will not be as harmful for me but guess that’s not how it turned out. If life ever gave me a rewind option; I would never like to go through 2013 again

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Life hits a trough

I have been away for such a long time that it may seem that I have abandoned this space all together. In a way yes I have almost given up not only on this space but I guess on this upstart life itself for 2013 has been a major trough in my life marked by endless despair and frustration. Before you hazard any guesses let me first assure that I am safe and have not suffered any personal loss; its my workplace and more specifically my boss who has bestowed upon all possible agony on me that I have now lost my job here in Muscat and am forced to return back to India

Trouble had been brewing for sometime with signs of turbulence evident in 2012 itself which I as a fool missed to read; my failure to comprehend the office politics and dynamics hit me in the face earlier this year with one of the worst appraisals accompanied by termination recommendation to head office. Since March I have been engaged in a constant battle with my boss which resulted in me being subjected to endless bullying, torture and harassment; the reckless shouting and intimidating behavior ultimately had an impact on my health too resulting in chest pain and throbbing body ache. I am yet to undergo any major check-up but all through the ordeal I was paranoid that I have surely contracted some major illness

My fortunes at workplace have swung so drastically that I am myself stunned and amazed how swiftly the world can change. When I first arrived in this country in 2010 I was looking forward to life with optimism and hope; it had been a long wait before I landed up an international assignment and I was determined to make the most of it. I did try to give my best at what I thought was my dream job but slowly the dream started turning sour; in hindsight I should have looked at jobs in India when it was evident that I will not be moved to head office in Dubai. However I now realize that a major drawback of any international assignment is that is very hard to switch jobs; not only are the openings very less but then other factors like Visa, nationality etc make it all the more harder. Since March I have been applying all around but have got only a couple of calls; it was only when end was imminent that I looked upon the Indian market in July which I now realize was a major folly

During this trouble some period one constant support has been my family in India; first it was my mother who consoled me during her visit here earlier this year and then my brother acted as a support helping me with all his corporate contacts in India. If anything I have come to realize during this hard phase it’s the relevance of family and relationships; no one else, and I really mean here no one else, will stand by and support during lean times as much as own family. For someone coming off an uneasy past this realization has hit the hard way but thankfully not too late

As I wind up my stuff many thoughts come rushing to mind, returning back to India now was surely not desired but then perhaps may not be too bad for me also, my plans of settling down in life hit a block for now (though there is a bright prospect in sight, more on that later), how will life in India be now after having pledged never to return in 2010 and lastly my boss, he will surely pay for what he has done to me, mails to chairman and directors have already been drafted (any more thoughts guys, I am open for all false accusations )

In another fortnight I will be back in India for good , hunting for a new job which will be another challenge in this economy. I am not sure if my troubles have just started or is this another phase which will be over soon, what I know for sure now is that life has nothing constant, the only constant is change and to lead better lives its better we be always prepared for this change

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Life comes full circle

It is often said that life throws lemons at you and that too when you least expect it; it is also said that life takes unforeseen turns when least anticipated. With unexpected changes taking place on both professional and personal fronts, my life seems to have taken some unexpected twists what with me now yearning to return to where I was previously glad to leave and also now wanting to run away from where I currently am

My last post was about how my previously tormented relationships seem to be on mend and thankfully in the past month relationship has not only got better but also strengthened. Three years back when I first came to this city and country, I was sure that I have got away for good and this is where I will build my Eden but life here has taught me few valuable lessons which will hold good for coming time too. Relationships are to be valued not only in Karan Johar movies but in real life too and even if things go wrong at times, as they sure will, to forgive and forget is for own good as I have now come to realise. Gone are the days where I used to recall my caged days of past with anger and disgust pledging never to return to the shores I left behind; my present is all about valuing what I have.

A major factor in my change of thought has been the change of fortune at my workplace; things seem to be going from bad to worse and it is now clear that I have to hunt for another job on war footing. I was in Dubai last week and my interaction with HR bosses had more negative strings attached than I had anticipated; with appraisals due next week my fatwa will be out anytime now and the sooner I get out of this place the better it will be for my own mental peace and stability. I have come to such a sorry state that I don’t want to wake up from my sleep in morning and every day I kind of despise coming to office. However what is real frightening is the lack of opportunities in this city; I have not got a single interview call the last three years I have been here which makes it amply clear that I need to run away at the first opportunity. Even earlier many well wishers had advised that India will be having more opportunities which made it better suited to build a future at my stage of life but I did not foresee that reality will hit me the hard way. All the work chaos has resulted in such mental disorder that it makes me take decisions which I am sure to regret; the Russian in my hotel room in Dubai last week was only one such instance

With work and office going downhill and the previous tormented relationships getting better and better; life seems to have come a full circle. My present mental disequilibrium badly needs a shoulder to cry upon and rest, which I am happily discovering these days at home after many many years; the city I was glad to live in few summers back now makes me wonder when I will get to run away from here. Life does have its own store of unexpected twists and turns, own cycles of ups and downs; in my life I seem to have lived my circle, atleast for now