Friday, November 28, 2008

MMK... the movie in my mind, my dubai (part 4)

the succeeding days, weeks, months of my dealings with SAL saw a steady decline in my demeanor, his presence sending me through a whirlwind of emotions playing between terror and panic, not really the best for someone who handles stress poorly. his project severely delayed, i almost received regular calls from him as well as emails, being reprimanded (in broken english, but harsh nonetheless) about how much all this is costing him. he barraged me with question after question, none of which i could answer for i had absolutely no information. following-through was not this company's strongest traits unfortunately. despite all my efforts to sort out the problems that plagued this project, it was too much for one person to handle. it was too much for even three people (i had my indian senior and a junior designer in my team already). my only hope now was to seek the advice of the higher ups, in the case, my GM.

GM sat in his spacious office in our company's mezzanine, occupying practically an entire wing. he sat on a leather bound, high back executive chair, behind a large mahogany stained table, surrounded by articles that said that you are in the presence of one who has authority, and he did. he warmly accommodated me despite his busy schedule to hear my concerns. he listened carefully and pondered on the issues i laid out. he then gave me his opinions on the matter as well as tips on handling SAL (SAL was initially his client which was later on handed down to me) during that meeting, i felt safe. i was in the presence of the man who gave birth to this company and here he was imparting his wise words to me. he encouraged me and reiterated that he and the entire company will back up any decision i make. i practically could do no wrong. empowered and armed with new found wisdom, i left his office ready to face SAL again. the next few meetings with SAL proved to be less stressful for true enough, GM's words were effective in pacifying him. i was slowly gaining back my credibility, i thought. despite the snail paced progress at site, his calls were becoming less frequent, his emails, less charged. i only realized much later on that SAL was just loosing interest already with my words, for the GM was already taking matters to his own hands for SAL had raised the issue already to the gods... my arab bosses, his cousins. my GM now was changing his colors...

my dealings with SAL had to take the backseat for a while for something more pressing was at hand, not to be homeless. despite promises to help, our company decided not to renew our lease for our flat in mankhool. for the past 3 months, we have been using the weekends to desperately seek new shelter but to no avail. inquiring on pages upon pages of ads for leased flats or rooms proved to be futile for we, apparently, were not good "possible" tenants. we were single, filipino, non-arabic speaking, non-executives of mixed gender... traits considered very undesirable. the pressures from work, mouths to feed back home and the looming possibility of homelessness eventually took its toll on the relationships me and my flatmates had. we had to split up. five of them sought to take up bed spaces near our workplace, in a townhouse situated in a rather congested part of deira, hor al anz. it was a settlement populated mostly by indian and pakistani bachelors who jam themselves in compounds of almost concentration camp density. the roads were narrow and mostly lined up with cars (for those who could afford them but not parking space), and the buildings old and dusty. calls for prayer blare out from loudspeakers on minarets at every corner, the same corners where lustful men would park themselves on, eyeing on every passing individual who could be serve their pleasure. rent was cheap surely, but it was still too high of a price for me to keep my sanity.

my two other flatmates and i decided to stay put in bur dubai. it was quiet, convenient and for the most part, home already. the strain of the past few months had left my will weak and having to push myself to flat-hunt and relocate was almost overwhelming. thankfully so, the day before our lease expired, after months of searching, after fights and breakdowns, after being conned by a rogue agent, we struck a deal with a kind south african and managed to secure a studio not far from where we resided. it was a 3 meter by 3 meter room, with a detached kitchen and bath. it was ridiculously small (and expensive) but was better than having no place to go. this small space would be my home and my two other girl-friends home for the next year.


having sense that his clout had no lasting effect, SAL stepped up his "assault" once again. he was more agitated than ever. countless reassurances from me were feel on deaf ears as i was accused of being unprofessional, of being unethical and ultimately, a liar. to be honest, i bear no grudge against him for he truly has been very patient from the start. in fairness to SAL, he was simply pushed beyond his limits. he snapped and since i was the lone person stupid enough to receive his calls (the GM was "constantly" in a meeting), i was the only one to shoulder the full intensity of his rage. i sought the advice of my indian senior, whom i will lovingly call DIDI (love you didi, with all my heart) and she too, dumbfounded with my dilemma suggested to bring matters again to the GM. a meeting was set and with all relevant documents in tow, didi and i had (she decided to accompany me, being my senior), what was to be, the last meeting with GM.

no one can keep false facades up too long. unless founded on something solid, even the thickest walls can come crashing down like those of biblical jericho. my fateful meeting saw the unraveling of two people, of GM and myself. i was reprimanded without just cause and sent out of the office, i then overheard him screaming at my senior that he was tired of handling my "shit" and other accusations i have no memory off anymore. review of my past blog entries showed no documentation as well, i guess this was one memory i chose never to remember. all i could recall though was trembling in pure rage and frustration as i went down the stairs back to my desk. i was out of breath and a surge of emotion welling up inside me. my senior came down not long after, cussing under her breath about what an positively assholic piece of shit GM was. i could not be bothered, i was blank, broken and bewildered. she tried to comfort me but all i could muster was fake a smile and walk away. as i reached my desk, a post-it note from the reception was on my PC saying "please call back SAL immediately."


dabo said...

inspite of it all you choose your words carefully in writng this revelation..admirable. the tone you set is very calm, (just the way you want it to sound like, i think : )

and what makes your experience in dubai tormenting was the fact that you were faraway.

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why do i keep reading/following this:

i have lots of friends in dubai. good for them, at least they know they were not alone.

my favorite girl friend is in abu dhabi, a few days ago, she emailed me and confessed around 2 or 3 in the mornings, she will just found herself lying awake thinking of the work ahead and of her mother here.

jamie da vinci! said...

thank you dabo for your continuing patronage (para akong service provider! hehehehe). i sincerely appreciate it.

dubai was tormenting to a degree for me, but in fairness to it, it served as a setting for something positive as well.

i'm sure your friend is feeling pangs of homesickness and doubt now. but tell her to take it a day at a time, for that really is all she can do, take it a day at a time. i don't really want to say things will eventually work out, for based on experience, she alone can decide that.

Mugen said...

I can still feel the rage welling up inside you. Actually your entry made me realize how hard it is to work in another country.

I will wait for your next installment.

wanderingcommuter said...

i second dabo... he just said everything, he left me with nothing to say anymore... jamie... sowi.

sa sususnod uunahan ko na lang siya.