.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Friday, December 15, 2006


S E Asia again

Strictly speaking, I have already gotten out, though only temporarily.

It's been observed that one of the problems with being unemployed is that you start work as soon as you wake up. Another problem is that you don't get paid vacations. I haven't been off the Island of Lost Souls in twenty hellish months. The first thing I did, when I locked in my current long-term contract, was to book a little time off.

I thought of Cape Town again. (Not Rio, much though I love it. I'll save it for when I'm based in New York, when it will be much easier to destinations in the Americas than in Asia or Africa.) Then it occurred to me that I had never seen Angkor and that, since it is literally on the other side of the world from New York, this was pretty much my last chance. So this post is coming from the city of the angels, Bangkok, from where I shall be jetting to Cambodia tomorrow.

I came in on Qatar Airways, a first-rate long-distance carrier that I thoroughly recommend, with a blink-and-you-missed-it layover in Doha. What little I saw of Doha impressed me. It seemed like an efficient and well-organized airport - granted, I had flown out of Gatwick so pretty much anything short of a prison riot would have impressed me well-organized at this point.) Doha is either dry, or the bar is well-hidden; I suspect the latter based on something al-Hamedi once said. (Sorry, can't find the reference. ISTR he described Qatar as "the end of the pier"; the place Saudis go so to women can walk around without wearing tents and people can have the occasional drink.) The other thing I noticed about Doha is that they use English style plugs, with their three huge prongs. Why, I wonder?

As for Bangkok, the new international terminal is a disappointment. They really need a separate immigration counter for people who were polite enough to fill out their immigration cards beforehand (which excludes pretty much all the tourists.) The coup does not appear to have affected life much. In fact the whole city is much as I remember it, although the shrines to the king are bigger than ever before; this is apparently his diamond jubilee.

Monday, December 11, 2006


Ma qui la morta la bloggi resurga!

Now from the dead may my blog awake again!

What a horrible year 2006 was.

For the first three months I was between jobs, as I had been since I told Sucky Job #6 to FOAD back in 2005 - more on that later; now that I am blogging again I plan to post the entire, sordid series of Sucky Jobs.

A couple weeks after my Last Post (March 10th), I ended up in Sucky Job #7; a contract gig working for the most useless and dysfunctional company I have ever encountered, an experience that nearly lost me my closest friend in the world.

Another Sucky Job followed, one that was unusually pointless even compared to the previous Sucky Jobs.

We were halfway through 2006 now, and it had become painfully obvious that my escape route from the continent of the Neanderthals was blocked. Out of the dozens of American companies I applied to, not a one would consider sponsoring me for an H1B visa. At the same time, I was working on the long distance short cut of joining a big transnational and getting moved internally. That went nowhere as well, and besides - it would involve spending another two years in la cita dolente in the hope that they would one, move me at all, and two, move me to New York and not, say, Kaakhstan.

There was one remaining possibility, and it was a desperate expedient, but hey, any means necessary, right? Become a graduate of a US school, and I could use a techicality in the visa laws to finesse my way into an H1B and hence into a green card and freedom.

The only course I could do at this point in my life would be an MBA. (Before you ask, yes, I did go to business school in London. But I didn't get an MBA; I got some kind of wack-ass MS that nobody quite recognizes. Like most of the things I end up doing, it seemed like a good idea at the time. So there was no reason why I couldn't do an MBA as well.)

There was only one problem. To get into business school one needs two professional references.

I could hardly get them from Sucky Job #6, since we had parted on acrimonious terms. (They swindled me out of my last paycheck. I'd have sued them if the Brits knew what the fuck the word litigation means. But I've little confidence that the grandson of a machinist would get very far suing the grandsons of dukes and viscounts in a British court.) Nor could I get references from Sucky Job #7, since I had resigned from the company in disgust. (I'll be writing this up later. It's quite a funny story, to people that weren't involved in the events themselves).

A reference from Sucky Job #8 was no problem. My manager there was a real mensch. (Actually, it was my friend Fergal from business school. Yes, I'm corrupt. Deal with it.)

I desperately needed another reference.

At this point I was given precisely the opportunity I needed: I was hired to do a spot of coding for a huge commercial bank. It was by far the most challenging and worthwhile thing I did in the last five years. I worked my ass off, twelve hours a day, fought off the passive resistance of their full-time-preventers-of-IT-services department and completed my task on time, and even managed to write up some documentation, which I am told none of their developers had ever done...

And in return, I asked my manager for one lousy little reference. He told me it would be no problem. It seems, however, that it was. The deadline for one school went past, then another, then another.

Right after that, my grandmother, my last remaining grandparent, died. (That is to say, her heart stopped beating; she had fallen to Alzheimer's syndrome a couple of years previously so it might not be strictly accurate to say that she herself died in October of this year.) At any rate, we cremated her in my, her, hometown of Necktie, Greater Glasgow; it was a rainy day, appropriately you may say, but then most days in Necktie are rainy, and as her simple pine casket was lowered into the fire I thought, I will write a will, and I will say if I don't make it, scatter my ashes in Manhattan, so that I will go home, if only in death.

And so I flew back to la cita dolente, to despair, to the prospect of complete and total defeat, to the distinct possibility of my own death. I am genuinely convinced that if I had had to stay in London for another two years, it would have been fatal. Whether I died of a stroke, like my grandfather, or by my own hand when the pain became too much to bear, they would undoubtedly have succeeded in killing me off.

Notice the tense I used. Past. Because something wonderful has happened.

I'm getting out.

I have been accepted by a business school. (I'll call it the Patrick Henry U). Not a famous or glamorous one; not a name you'd probably recognize, though they do quite well on at least some of the league tables. Not a great location, either; a town that I consider to be flyover. But hey, at least it's not London. I can tough it out for a short while, then I can leverage into a job in New York. I'm getting out!

(And I may not even have to go to Patrick Henry after all. It occurred to me that I might get away with using a co-worker as my second business reference, and that allowed me to make the deadline of a school in New York, one you would recognise the name of.

(I'm not posting the names because I'm a little paranoid about Patrick Henry revoking the offer if they realize I'm still applying elsewhere. There's no reason for me to worry, of course; this blog is pseudonymous and I'm reasonably confident that my True Name can't be deduced from the bad puns and veiled references I use to describe my life. For instance, "Patrick Henry University" - you thought that was George Mason U, didn't you? But it could be a literary allusion; check your premises. Or am I just bluffing and it is in fact GMU?

(And also, of course, nobody ever reads this blog. Still and all, I'm taking no chances.)

Right after that, mirabile dictu I was hired to do something worthwhile that will advance my career, working for a big transnational bank. It's as though the stars have moved into alignment.

Whatever. All I know is that, for the first time in way too long, I have hope. Hell, I have something better than that. I have certainty. God bless Patrick Henry U and their admissions director; even if I end up studying somewhere else I swear that I will never forget how they helped me when nobody else would or could.

I'm getting out!

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?