I’ll take a departure from complaining about this trip and write about my outing last night…
After work one of my male IBM colleagues asked if I wanted to go out for dessert at a chocolate place in one of the malls here in Jeddah. I’m never clear on what the actual plans are, so I knew there would be other people but I wasn’t sure if it was going to be a big group or what. With all my heart I wanted to say no because I envisioned myself in a big group of Arabs who would be speaking Arabic. And rightly so, it is their mother tongue. And while I do love listening to the language (it’s very easy on the ears), it wasn’t my idea of a good time. Plus I hate being at the whimsy of other people in terms of my transportation. But I had had another crappy day work-wise and the thought of sitting in my room crying was no more appealing, so I sucked it up and said yes.
I had some disgusting pizza in my hotel room for dinner, and Jallad and I headed out at about 6:30 pm. The drive was long and for 45 minutes I sat in the car wishing I hadn’t come. Actually that’s not entirely true. Jeddah has a lot of sculptures along the “corniche” and I got a great view of them. It was also nice to just sit and look out the window and not really think.
We arrived at the mall about an hour later, and found the chocolate place. We were warmly greeting by the owner, who is the brother of one of the IBM women I’m working with (she wasn’t there). For all the isolation I feel here, on both trips I’ve come on, the people that I actually meet are very friendly, and they look at you with true warmth. I don’t get this vibe from the general public, but when you actually meet someone, it’s a different story. (As a somewhat related aside, one of the women I’m training invited me to come to her gym for a workout yesterday…I was very tempted but I think that’s just a bit too much for me, plus I didn’t bring any workout clothes.)
I quickly realized we were being met by just one other person, the other male IBM-er I’m working with, and that was it. Both men are very nice, and they (whether it was intentional or not) managed to keep the conversation mostly in English. It turned out to be a very enjoyable evening, and I came back to my hotel room feeling a bit more human and a lot less alien.
And now I have to go to work so I’ll end this here. Stay tuned for more.