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Kali-Puja In The Middle East

Call it inquisitiveness, or mere curiosity, we all love listening real-life stories set in an alien land. The cultural shocks, situational comedy, creeping fear, and like many emotional crescendos is what that makes the story lively and interesting. Here is a story from a Bishnupriya Manipuri, name not original, about his international sojourn. Read…

From my early days in school, I used to read a lot about the erstwhile USSR as SOVIET DESH magazine was being delivered to my home regularly. And I used to dream about flying to that dream land called MOSCOW whenever an aeroplane buzzed over our city’s sky.

By the time, my father went to Prague in formerly Czechoslovakia, now Czech Republic for one month. But unfortunately, we didn’t get the chance to see the pictures taken there as my father forgot to take the album back from his comrade from Bangladesh. So my father could only share the sweet as well as odd experiences he had there. The odd experience (embarrassment) was when he stumped the feet of the Czech lady with whom he was dancing in the farewell night. It was a great hilarious time listening to that episode from baba.

In 1991, that dream bubble burst when the USSR collapsed and I came to know the truth, I should say the inside story of the then USSR. The “Soviet Desh” magazine was used like a weapon of propaganda for the communist. But that did not deter my dream to see the outside world beyond India.

In 1997, I joined the petrochemical unit of an OIL and Gas PSU. After a few years, some of my south Indian friends left the company to pursue higher studies in Germany and the US; and a few joined oil companies in the Middle East. But I was not able to congregate the courage to do the same as I was enjoying a comfortable and secure job in GAIL (India) Ltd, which is one of the best employers in India.

In late 2007, I also left my country and the company for even better prospects and to fulfil my childhood dream of exploring the outside world. Moreover, ten years in a PSU is a very long time and that too in a single location ( a petrochemical unit ) in west UP.

In today’s world, people are constantly leaving - either at the end of their term or in between for better prospects.

Before leaving India, I had read and heard a lot of good things about the U.A.E and Abu Dhabi in particular. Still I was very nervous and sceptical about the company, its management and work culture.

My nervousness was greatly eased by the warm welcome at the Abu Dhabi airport by the sweet young lady who was wearing a broad COLGATE smile around her CREST whitened teeth. She helped me do the formalities at the immigration counter and then got me boarded into a meticulously polished TAXI which took me to my hotel near the picturesque Corniche. The taxi driver was a Pakistani who never seemed tired of giving me tips after tips about the Do's and Don'ts about the Emirates. I think he was impressed with my little bit of knowledge in Urdu.

The next day, when I entered the Corporate Office, I was equally overwhelmed by the welcome and helps extended by the Integration Co-ordinators. During the ten days stay in Abu Dhabi waiting for our Security Pass, I got to know more about the city life and its road network as I used to walk for two to three hours daily before retiring to my hotel room at night.


On 13th Dec'07, I also took the opportunity to witness the aerobatic show with my Phillipino friend. The spectacular and breathtaking aerobatic show was performed by the RED ARROWS of the UK which buzzed the skyline over the Marina Mall with their impressive display of formation flying. The team has already performed more than 4000 shows over the world. The most beautiful formation was the LOVE HEART with the ARROW with the participation of three member planes.

But I wish I had witnessed the 36th National Day which was celebrated a few days before my arrival in Abu Dhabi. They decorated all the towering buildings of the capital city with rows of tiny light bulbs. It was a great site to watch. It seemed they were celebrating Kali-puja or Diwali in the Middle-East. Only difference was the absence of deafening sound of crackers/bombs.

But all these excitement evaporated when all of us were literally dumped in a hostel without all the comforts of the luxurious hotel of Abu Dhabi and that too in the middle of the desert.

The next day, we were shown the Housing Complex and the upcoming buildings meant for new recruits. We were very much impressed with the lush green atmosphere created in the desert and the quality of civil works on display.

The real excitement came when I joined my scheduled team. When a new bride enters, the old brides have to make room for the new one. Organisations are no different from household. And the same happened to me and I am profoundly grateful to my team leader from FINLAND and senior colleagues who made me feel comfortable though I am working with eight different and vibrant nationalities within my group. In fact there are 32 nationalities working in my company. It's like a mini GLOBAL VILLAGE.

And this is the story of my amalgamation to this esteemed company.

Writer- Pocha Heedol

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