Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Eid Mubarak Everyone

Ramadan is behind us. And I am now 3 months pregnant. Plus a few days.

I had a scan on Sunday which was a bit of a disappointment really. The doctor tells me the scan confirms that everything is ok and this is a relief of course. Every extra bit of reassurance helps.

But I guess I was expecting the baby to look more like a baby. What I saw looked like a grainy, black and white modern art drawing that could have been a surreal representation of the profile of a baby's upper body - or anything really. And I couldn't make out movement which scared me a bit.

But the doctor kept saying the baby WAS moving and I just couldn't see it. That was frustrating.

I mean yeah, the whole picture was sort of floating back and forth but I was looking for a hand or head movement or something more distinctly human.

I was expecting to feel a sense of recognition, to see a little boy. And there was nothing like that.

The doctor kept up a running commentary all about how perfect everything was. I think she was expecting me to be more excited. I felt bad because I wasn't. I guess it was a just a case of expectations having been set too high.

Anyhow, at least you could clearly tell there IS something in my uterus - even if you couldn't tell exactly what. And the doctor says everything is as it should be at this stage. I must be satisfied with that for now.

I can't wait for my next scan though. Anything more that I see then will be an improvement!

K was on the phone with me in the car all the way to my appointment. I had to give up my cell when I was taken in for the scan and I kind of missed him. I got back on the line with him immediately after though. And my doctor spoke with him. They're getting to be good friends now. She is Egyptian. She didn't realize my husband was Egyptian until he got worried about my not-so-great blood test results and decided to give her a call about 2 weeks ago. Now she keeps talking about how she has to take extra care of me because I am carrying an Egyptian baby etc....but she is only joking really. She is a great doctor who comes highly recommended by my mother and she's been taking care of me physically and emotionally since the day I met her. She was really concerned for me when she realized I was on my own here with no family and no husband.

I mean, I have a doctor I speak to on the phone everyday, who drops by to see me and then refuses to let me pay for the house visit. When she wanted me to stop fasting, she actually came over on Friday morning and brought me a homecooked meal and sat there watching me while I ate it. And she was fasting!

Plus she puts up with all the anxious calls she has to take from my parents and my husband and is always really nice to them.

My only gripe is that she has a really dirty sense of humor which makes me feel uncomfortable sometimes. But other than that, I mean how lucky can I get? I am really going to miss her when I leave. I would have loved to have stayed with her until the baby is born.

K says he wants me to send him my scan pics but I know him too well. He only asked that because he thinks I want him to ask and because I give him such a hard time when he fails to show an interest in these things. Or when he shows more interest in nude photos of me.

Anyway, I'm not sure I want him to see this scan. I want his first sight of the baby to be more exciting than this. He still acts like I am going through some sort of health crisis that he needs to support me through as part of the the Husband of The Year role he finds himself cast in.

So I haven't sent them and he hasn't asked again. If I had promised to send him a new nude photo, I would have been getting 2 or 3 emails a day, asking where it is. He's so intensely curious about the fact that my body is changing. Finds it a huge turn-on. It was amusing at first but really, when is he going to grow up and stop treating our future off-spring as nothing more than (depending on his mood):

a) His new favorite pin-up
b) A drain on my good health

But I should stop being mean. Eid is really tough on him and his family with his father incapacitated and unable to take part in it - especially because my FIL is the kind of person who used to enjoy making really big events of occasions like Ramadan and Eid. I spoke with my MIL last night and it was heartbreaking to hear her. Unlike her son, she is really excited about my pregnancy and I am happy it's cheering her up a little. Me and her have actually had the baby names conversation I haven't so far managed to interest my husband in. For her sake, I am considering naming the baby after my FIL. Surprisingly enough for an Arab family, none of the grandkids are named after FIL.

Why am I so sure it will be a boy? That can't be healthy. At this rate, I might actually feel disappointed if the baby is a girl. It will definitely feel weird. Ever since the miscarriage, I've been visualizing little boys with dark eyes, tanned skin and K's smile. I just can't see myself with a daughter. Or even a little boy with my coloring. Yuck.



Friday, September 26, 2008


Ramadan has been tough without you.
Eid will be tough without you.
Being pregnant is tough without you.
Life is tough without you.

And I'm not feeling so tough without you.

This is me feeling weak. More so than ever before.

Only you can do that. Only you can make me feel so weak, so helpless, so forgotten, so insignificant that I want to crawl into a corner and hide.

This voice on the phone. Is that really you?

It's not what you promised me.

It's not what I signed up for when I married you. This disembodied voice coming out of my handset.

Sometimes it hurts so much to have to listen to it.

Sometimes I can't take it because the voice on the phone is you actively engaged in the act of not being here, the act of being distant, out of reach, out of touch, out of sight, out of every sense except one.

Talk about sensory deprivation. That's how it feels sometimes.

It's not fair.

This is so unfair.

And because it is so unfair sometimes I don't want to be tough.

Being tough means accepting that this is happening.

Being tough means accepting that this is allowed.

Being tough is what I do every second of the day now.

Except every now and then, I stop and think wait, why am I doing this?

Why am I working so hard to make it ok for you not be with me?

Why am I working so hard for something I don't want, for something I hate so much?

Last night I hated you.

For making me do this.

I hated you so much that hearing you laugh on the line made me see red.

I didn't want you to laugh. I didn't want you to be happy.

You know, I've never felt that before. I've never been this angry just because someone sounded happy. I've never wanted with so much passion for another human being to be unhappy. I've never been this selfish, this hateful, this vindictive, this EVIL. I never knew I had all this buried somewhere in me.

And so I hung up.

I'd had enough of your voice, distracted, amused, responsive to those around you, impatient with me.

I had nothing to say to you.

I missed you. Then I hated you. Then I called you. And I hated you even more. And I missed you even more.

Does that make sense? To hate someone more than you've ever hated another human being - knowing all the time that you want them more than you've ever wanted another human being, knowing all the time that they matter more than everyone else in the world put together?

Sometimes you make me want to not feel, not think, not be.

Sometimes you make me want to fade into nothing.

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كنت باشتاقلك وانت هنا وانا هنا
بيني وبينك خطوتين
شوف بقينا إزاي يا حبيبي
انا فين وإنت فين

والعمل إيه العمل
ما تقول لي أعمل إيه
والأمل إنت الأمل
تحرمني منك ليه

عيون كانت بتحسدني على حبي
ودلوقتي بتبكي عليا من غلبي

وفين إنت يا نور عيني
يا روح قلبي فين
فين أشكيلك فين
عندي كلام وحاجات
فين دمعتي يا عين
بيريحني بكايا ساعات
بيريحني بكايا ساعات

باخاف عليك
وباخاف تنساني
والشوق إليك
على طول صحاني
غلبني الشوق
وليل البعد

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Today in a conversation with a new colleague, he tells me that my manager once complained to him that I walk into his office and interrupt when he's in the middle of something else too often.

I am so angry and embarrassed. I can't think of any justification for why if this was true, my manager couldn't just have told me, why he would go and talk about me to someone else behind my back this way.

And it's not like I ever walk in on him because I'm bored and want to have a chat. It's only when something urgent needs his input. When I'm given a job, it's my nature to follow up and push it along every step of the way until it gets done. I thought that was supposed to be a good thing.

And now, unless he calls or invites me to, I am never going to feel comfortable going into his office again.


Sunday, September 21, 2008

I Hate My I-Phone!

Actually no I don't. I love it but am the only one who has noticed the following:

1) If your i-phone hangs - like mine just did - there's nothing you can do except sit and wait for the battery to run out on its own. Unlike Nokia, you can't just remove the battery to switch it off. Does anyone know what to do about this?

2) You can't forward SMS on the i-phone.

3) You can't dial numbers that you receive by SMS. People can't send you business cards.

The i-phone is really lovely and my Blackberry is so ugly. But the i-phone is so unreliable that I find myself carrying my Blackberry with me most of the time and I so don't want to be a Blackberry person.:(


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Blogging Symptoms

1) I don't know if it counts as morning sickness but for a week now, I've been getting up in the morning feeling very nauseous. Haven't actually been sick or anything - and it seems to go away as soon as I get up and start moving around a bit.

Have also noticed that it seems to return if I lie on my stomach or bend forward too fast.

2) I feel dizzy a lot - especially in the mornings. So much that a couple of times I've opted for a cab instead of driving my car to work. And I have really bad memories with cabs. Didn't appreciate the reminder of what happened last time I had to take a cab.:(

3) The nausea might have something to do with it but I've lost the appetite I had after I first found out. I can't seem to make myself eat much. I break my fast on water, a couple of dates, followed by soup and then coffee. Later in the evening I force myself to have salads or fruits and drink juice. Can't drink water anymore. It makes me sick.

If I order food, I only seem to manage a couple of bites.

My doctor wants me to stop fasting. She says I am a bit anaemic and dehydrated. I haven't done it yet because am not sure not fasting will help my appetite and it would feel too weird to miss 2 whole weeks of Ramadan. Have never done that in my life before.

So I've been faithfully taking my vitamins after Iftar and trying to force feed myself lots of fruits and veggies and drink lots of fresh fruit juice to compensate for water.

I am waiting for my next appointment. If the doctor is still of the same opinion then I guess I will stop fasting. Really hope I don't have to, though.:(

4) The sleeping sickness is gone. Am back on a maximum of 4 hrs a night - usually interrupted by frequent nightmares. The Return of The Insomniac. Which is sad because I've been so grateful for the effect all that extra sleep was having on my skin. No facial or regime of skincare has ever given me the skin I've had for the last month or so. Now the dark circles and puffy eyes that have been my trademark for so long are back with a vengeance.

5) My chest is definitely bigger now.

6) Have been experiencing pain in my calves if I stand for too long. And I noticed it makes the veins in my legs and feet stand out. Not very attractive when your skin is as pale as mine. It really shows. I just hope that permanent varicose veins is not a symptom of pregnancy.

7) No moodiness yet. Still riding that initial high.

My mother's been telling me that she never had symptoms either until 6 months or so into her pregnancies. Neither have her sisters. So it looks like no symptoms kind of runs in my mother's family. And by their standards I am in week 11 and I do have symptoms of sorts so I guess I am doing ok.:)


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Brain Drain

I can't help linking two things I came to notice lately:

1) Following the US elections in some detail over the last few days, I couldn't help but notice the venom against those who do well academically. Words like 'elitist', 'egghead' etc....with meanings that would have positive connotations in the rest of the world appear to have become profanities in American discourse. I don't know how representative political blogs are of American public opinion in general.

Compare and contrast with the culture in other up-and-coming economic powers like India and China.

2) The influx of American 'brains' here. Most Western expats used to be European - particularly British. But now Americans are really making their presence felt. They're everywhere.

Of course, this could simply be because of the economic boom in the Gulf caused by rising fuel prices among other things.

But maybe it is also linked to the first factor? More American eggheads are leaving because they don't feel appreciated at home? That is certainly the reason why educated Arabs leave the Middle East. So is the brain drain now beginning to reverse?


Monday, September 08, 2008


Have you ever had a dream come true - except it wasn't your dream? In the sense that you never actually dreamt it, never thought of it?

Over the last few weeks, we've been pursuing a couple of bids for really huge infrastructure projects. Mega projects. Bigger than anything we've done here before. So big that if won, they would have a huge impact on the scale of our local presence and our value as a business.

Because they're so important to the company, we've all been asked to contribute to technical support. Not something I've done much before. Which I thought was good because I could never see myself feeling motivated to put a lot of time and effort into a contract we may never actually win. Especially when winning contracts is rarely just a question of how hard you've worked or how qualified you are. So many other factors come into play. Connections, politics, PR, prices etc...

Me, am a technician. The kind of person who can only get excited AFTER we win the project and have a job in hand. Have always seen writing proposals, business development etc...as not real work, to be honest.

But like I said, over the last few weeks, the powers that be in the company decided we're going to put every available resource into winning at least one of these two projects, even if it impacts our existing contracts in the short term. So I had to do my part.

In so doing, I found myself developing a really good relationship with one of the clients, driven mainly by the fact that I seem to have hit it off with the guy in charge. It wasn't done on purpose or with any real plan to turn into the newest PR star in the company or anything. Like I said before, I saw PR as someone else's job. What happened simply was that I hit it off with the guy. I like him. I like the way he does business. He has real passion for what he is trying to do and it rubbed off on me I guess. I felt I really, really wanted to help him make a success of it, even more than I wanted to win the contract for my company. Rather than sell him on our vision for the project, he sold me on his. I became a convert to his cause.

We became friends. And I know that some of the technical information I shared with him was not necessarily what my management would have wanted me to share because it gave credit to some of our competitors in a way that we would normally avoid doing in such a competitive situation. Our personal working relationship reached a point where I just couldn't hold back on him or tell him anything other than the truth.

At one point I did ask myself if I was crazy, why on earth I was more or less putting my job on the line for someone I met only a few weeks ago? And I did get nervous and wonder what if he wasn't as sincere and trustworthy as he appeared? But without any real conviction because the fact of the matter was, I did trust him. Simple fact. And a novel experience for someone like me who really has trouble trusting people.

Today, two of our senior corporate managers were called into a meeting with the client. And I was invited by name. So I found myself in the unusual situation of going to a meeting with these two people I would normally have very little contact with. I am simply not senior enough to rub shoulders with people at their level. I was so nervous! It was 10 times worse than a job interview.

At the meeting, we were informed that the contract was ours if we were ready to reduce our prices by a certain percentage. We were. So in the space of an hour, we had a deal. And then, my new friend, proceeded to thank me for my help infront of his senior management and mine. He said that I was a really good salesperson for my company.

It was a strange feeling. I had grown accustomed to thinking of him as a friend and all of a sudden, there he was, every inch the client. The formality of the situation felt alien somehow.

In the car, on the way back to the office, there was more praise. My managers were very pleased to win the contract and made it clear how impressed they were with the work I had done to win the client's trust, especially given that ours was apparently not the most competitive bid commercially and it was unusual - some might even say improper - for us to even be given the opportunity to reduce our rates.

Back at the office, the company decided to host an iftar for everyone next Thursday to celebrate. Everyone was really happy and I was congratulated and patted on the back like nothing I ever experienced in my entire working life.

At the end of the day, after a long manager's meeting, my immediate supervisor called me into his office and asked me if I had ever considered working in corporate business development. And he started expounding on all the advantages. Bonuses, stock options, a future in senior management etc...

I felt shell-shocked. Me? But I always saw my future in project management, never had an interest in going corporate, saw them all as glorified salesmen and never considered myself a good enough politician to be one of them.

I also felt like a fraud. I knew the reason for this success. It wasn't my brilliant salespitch. I hadn't metamorphed into the ultimate saleswoman overnight or anything. I just met someone I liked who liked me in return. If that hadn't happened, I would have simply given my technical input in writing when required and maintained minimal direct contact with prospective clients, which is my usual modus operandi. I went the extra mile here because I felt like it and I lack the discipline to do it when I don't feel like it. This was a fluke and I knew it.

More to the point, despite the nagging disappointment of the latest delay in my visa (the end of Nov. this time), my remaining time here is still measured in months and not years. I have no future here. I knew that too.

But still, how could I not be flattered? How could I not enjoy my moment of glory? I couldn't deny the fact that it was an opportunity some people work all their lives for and it was being offered to me overnight. There was that weird feeling that I was living somebody else's dream.

I do believe in my company and feel identified with it. Despite all the initial grief they put me through when I first joined, this is the place where I built my career from scratch. More than 10 years of my life. I am happy for them. And of course I'm pleased I had a part in it.

In the end, out of confusion, and because I couldn't say what I was thinking, I told the boss I needed time to think, that it was happening too quickly. The look on his face clearly said he thought I was nuts not to jump at the opportunity but he said of course he understood and to take my time.

I felt even more like a fraud, knowing that I would only take the time to wait for my visa confirmation, that the second we get it, I will give notice. I may even leave without notice if I find that I can't afford to wait a month before I'm too pregnant to fly. I cannot and will not risk the baby being born here because that would mean delaying my immigration proceedings indefinitely. There are no children in my application. I don't know - and don't want to know - what the processing time would be to include a child at this late stage.

But for the first time, in all the months when I couldn't wait to join my husband overseas, I am feeling real sadness for what I will be leaving behind. I do have a life here. It's all I've ever known.

My husband was really understanding. He has had to give up some career opportunities too, career opportunities that were really his dream and not just an accident. And now I really know how he must have felt.

It wasn't said explicitly - very few things between me and him are - but we both believe that when career and family clash, family has to come first. He did it for his parents. And hypocritical as it may sound, given the grief I gave him for leaving, I would have done it for mine. And now I will do it for him and for the baby. So no conflict there.


Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Ramadan Kareem All