GOING ABROAD TO WORK
In Dec.’92 I moved from Mumbai to UAE / Dubai on getting job offer/work visa from a multi-national shipping company. The head of my department also an expat who took my oral phone interview was kind enough to pre-alert me. He advised me to check Company’s Job Offer carefully, especially the salary and entitlements prior to accepting it. Hinting that once Offer was accepted and signed, expect not any raise or increase recommendation from my side on the performance basis.
During my two years stay in Dubai & 7 years in Kuwait, I noticed expats from Indian subcontinent were subject to step-motherly treatment by both locals and expats from Europe & seldom got the promotion or raise in salary. Employees of small private companies owned by Shaikhs were often treated like a slave. A young Electrical Engineer hired as Showroom Sales Manager in Deira business hub was overnight shunted to the factory in far off remote place & forced to use Painting Room as his accommodation and made responsible for all the materials held in the factory. His request to resign, return his passport and allow him to return to India was outrightly rejected. He got back his Indian passport from his employer only through the intervention of Indian Consular Office.
Within one week of reporting for work at my new job in Dubai, I realized that I had landed on the hot seat vacated by another Indian expat who was subject to football kicks by two fighting heads No.1 Pakistani Captain & No.2 Egyptian Engineer. My selection for this job was done by No.1 Pakistani Captain departmental head but was not acceptable to No.2 Egyptian Engineer – my immediate reporting officer. He wanted to kick me out and bring another person of Egyptian nationality. So I was victimized by ongoing internal dirty politics, which luckily for me I was able to overcome but not without suffering and mental torture for at least next six months.
Within two years my entire department was relocated to Kuwait. Those days Kuwait was just recovering from the devastation/damages suffered during invasion & occupation of Kuwait by the Saddam Hussain. Excepting Star Hotels expensive restaurants, low-cost Eatery House for daily meals was none. Fortunately for me at age fifty and soon after landing in Dubai, I cultivated a hobby of Cooking and learned it with help of my wife and internet.
This, of course, was out of sheer need. Firstly because I was staunch Hindu Vegetarian. 2ndly food is a big issue especially for the non-muslim expats in the Middle East during the holy month of Ramdhan. Restaurants provide food packets to take away home but on condition not to open elsewhere except home.
One more issue one may perhaps face is ‘Home Sickness’. It’s more applicable to senior persons like me suddenly pulled out of a comfort zone of hustle-bustle family life in Mumbai and pushed to isolation. Every day morning 7.30 while walking past Dubai Clock Tower on way to my office, an Air India flight used to take off for Mumbai. For a couple of months that Air India flight tempted me for flying back to homeland instead of stepping into my new workplace office in Dubai.
The Home Sickness issue was resolved when I got the news of the BAPS SATSANG assembly held every Friday evening in a Villa in Al-Saab rented especially for this purpose. Here I found my new friends – aspirants on the path of Spirituality and soon they became part of my new family members. Here they celebrated all the Hindu festivals & at the end of Satsang Assembly participants were served with Maha-Prasadam (hot dinner). Here I met another senior person of my age who held a high position in the bank. He owned Car and since he lived close to my residence he offered me ride and eased my problem of to and fro transport to Villa in Al-Saab.
Based on my own experience, my recommendations are as follows:-
1. Check thoroughly the job offer, especially the salary/entitlements and if they are enough and adequate matching with your expectations. Don’t expect raise or promotion or anything more than what is stated in the Job offer especially when you are moving to any Middle East Country on a job contract.
2. Check reputation/status of your Sponsor and how he treats the staff hired by him. Even if your sponsor is a multinational company, it would be prudent to get as much info as possible about the environment prevailing in the department you are going to join and attitude of the departmental head towards the Indian expat.
3. Learn Cooking and how to manage your kitchen gadgets no matter which part of the world you are moving into Study or Job. You will save lots of money/time spent on transport to go to Eatery place & enjoy the hot tasty meal of your choice at your time and save your body from intake of Junk food. Advantages are many. When my son aged 24 flew to San Diego/USA in response to TCS job offer, one thing we were not at all bothered was about his daily meal. Because he had already learned how to Cook his favorite dishes by taking a clue of my life in the Middle East.
4. ‘Man is a Social Animal’ and even those who are not subject to Home Sickness, do feel left out alone in the countries of Europe & America especially when faced with even a minor problem. The easiest means to find a welcoming Indian people group in any part of the world is BAPS (www.baps.org). Spread across all the five continents of the world, there are about 1100 BAPS Centers. The latest addition in the year 2018 is Tokyo/Japan.
Long back in Feb or March 1993 first time I attended the Weekly BAPS Satsang Assembly one Friday evening at the rented Villa in Al-Saab for this purpose. It not only proved a turning point in my life but now it has become part of Daily Life of all the members of my family. Today myself now living a retired life with my son’s family settled in the USA, my son who works for Amazon and my wife all three are active volunteers at the Redmond BAPS Mandir + Sanskar Dhaam in Seattle.
IN THE JOY OF OTHERS, LIES OUR OWN is the slogan given to us by our Guru Shri Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
Our Pujya Swayam Prakash Swami (also known as Doctor Swami as he got the MBBS degree from Topiwala College of Mumbai) elaborates and explains – “These BAPS Mandirs across all the five continents are nothing else but the Universities of Spiritual Knowledge”. He considers and encourages the ideology of the BAPS EK PARIVAR means according to him hundreds of thousands of BAPS volunteers and devotees no matter in which part of the world they live is part of a one giant BAPS Family.
Due to the relocation of my department, when I moved to Kuwait in 1995 such Weekly Satsang Assembly activity had not yet started. It started in 1997 soon after Swasmishri’s first Dharm Yaatra of Middle East countries of UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman. It started in Kuwait with a group of hardly six small families. Every Friday evening, we used to assemble for Satsang at the residence of one of the preselected member & would disperse after taking Maha-Prasad (dinner prepared for the devotees by the volunteers of the ladies core.)
Today Dubai BAPS center has moved from a small villa in Al-Saab to larger premises in Al-Satwa. And now talk of the town is about UAE prince donating land for building a grand BAPS Shikhar Bandh Mandir (University of the Spiritual Knowledge) in Abudhabi. Construction work has already started under the guidance of Sadhu Pujya Brahm Vihari Das and expected to complete in 2020.
Kuwait Satsang Activity started in 1997 with hardly small six families has now expanded to more than 200 devotees attending every Friday evening assembly at a big hall now hired specially for this purpose. Recently a team of 12 BAPS Sadhus under the leadership of Pujya Doctor Swami during Dharm Yaatra of the Middle East Countries spent five days in Kuwait to encourage the devotees/aspirants in their spiritual pursuits.
A team of 12 BAPS Sadhus on Dharm Yaatra of four Middle East Countries (UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Oman) at the Arrival Hall of Kuwait Airport with Volunteers of the BAPS Sanskar Kendra – Kuwait.
Pujya Doctor Swami (Sadhu Swayam Prakash Dasji) addressing the gathering at the Kuwait residence of Shri Sureshbhai Choksi.
Kids at an early age taking interest in the importance of SPIRITUALITY in our daily life are inspired and encouraged with love & affection by the BAPS Sadhus. (One-day Shibir held in a large tent.
This blog post writer talks to Pu.Brahm Vihari Swami about;
- how Pramukh Swami’s April 1997 Kuwait visit became a turning point in my life.
- how much I was impressed by Pu.Brahm Vihari Swami’s instant English translated delivery of Pramukh Swami’s Gujarati speech in April 1997 at the welcome gathering held at the Indian Embassy in Kuwait.
- how my life was transformed and the family prospered both financially and spiritually ever since my first one to one April 1997 meeting with Pramukh Swami Maharaj in Kuwait.
GOING ABROAD TO STUDY
After completing his graduation in Mechanical Engineering from the Bombay’s reputed Victoria Jubilee Technical Institute of Matunga in the year 1998-99, my son did a thorough homework. Here follows his own opinion/views he brought to my attention.
- Usually, engineering students look at the American Universities mainly due to the prospects of settlement abroad after completion of the study.
2. Cost of study in America is almost ten times as compared to study cost in India.
3. You can put all the American Universities in 3 groups.
Group I – highly reputed colleges like MIT, Yale, Harward, Stanford etc. located generally in around the Boston on East Coast. Admission to such Universities is as difficult similar to an entry to the IIT of India & college fees are prohibitive.
Group II – State-run Universities. Most of them are worth trying and tuition fees though high as compared to Indian Universities but reasonable when compared to the US living standard.
Group III – most of the private Universities, tuition fees vary from place to place. Basically, they are Commercial institutes, their only aim is to earn income from fees paid by the needy students from foreign countries eager to easily get US Student visa.
My son’s aim/vision was very clear. He wished to legally migrate to the USA and fulfill his American Dream like most of the youngsters of his age group. He skipped Group-I and Group-III Universities for the obvious reasons stated above & tried for admission to only Group II University that too only those falling into the reasonable level of tuition fees.
He got a moderate response from some of those Universities. He examined pros and cons of spending 2 years and tuition fees for higher study in US v/s joining a multi-national company and acquiring practical job experience. He concluded it was waste of time and money for getting an additional degree certificate from US University for a VJTI student like him. He easily got TCS job in Mumbai and within two years on his own merit landed in one of the TCS group company in San Diego/USA. This company was engaged in some research work done under the leadership of Professor Venkat Rao of the University of California. Here he could file with the US Govt. couple of patents for the research work he did under the guidance of Professor Venkat Rao.
Bottom line is, I recommend all youngsters planning to go abroad to study to have their aim/vision very clear. Examine thoroughly what your aim is, what you want to achieve in your life & for their goal of yours, please check thoroughly if time/money you are going to spend is worth. Many youngsters waste lots of time and money just to put their feet on the American land but not aware of how slippery that land is.
Once I flew with my wife on Air-India non-stop flight from Mumbai to Los Angels. We had purchased another ticket of Delta airlines for our onward journey from Los Angels to Seattle. This was the biggest blunder we had made in booking our air-passage with two different airlines. We arrived Los Angels safely and at the time as per schedule. But it took a couple of hours for us to pick up our baggage from the conveyor belt, put them on a trolly and move to the another far off gate for catching Delta flight from LA to Seattle. Unfortunately for us, there was but only one Delta Check-in Counter for all destinations and queue of the passengers was too long. I made several attempts to contact the duty officer but in vain. By the time I reached to the Counter, I was informed by the lady that boarding for our Delta flight to Seattle had already closed. I was asked to see the officer on Help Desk, who informed me about non-availability of the seat on next Delta flights after two hours and one more flight past midnight. As per Help Desk, we were left with no option but wait indefinitely at the LA airport till the availability of seat on Delta flight from LA to Seattle.
Luckily for me, I had US$ cash in my pocket enough to buy two new tickets of Alaska Airlines departing LA for Seattle within two hours. So we managed to reach our destination Seattle by Alaska Airlines but suffered a loss of money we spent on Delta Air tickets.
So the lesson I learned is never ever book your passage with two different airlines in the temptation of saving money. Ensure automatic transfer of luggage from one aircraft to another if the flight involves the change of aircraft.