Thursday, September 21, 2006

Back to the Dunes

Hello all once again, I shall skip over my obligatory apology for not updating my blog more frequently...or at all.

As many of you know, I have moved to Libya to begin working for an international strategy consultancy firm called The Monitor group. I arrived yesterday and immediately faced a mini-disaster. A driver was supposed to come pick me up from the airport, however, unbeknownst to myself and the driver, there was another Monitor team member on the flight, whom the driver thought was the only person he needed to pick up. And so I emerged into the Tripoli International Airport arrivals hall, with 2 bohemoth suitcases (another story, see below), my backpacking back-pack and my handluggage (containing two laptops), bewildered, exhausted, and with no one to meet me. To add insult to injury, I didn't have the address of the office nor its phone number in Libya. And so I wandered around the airport, wondering what I should do for, oh, I don't know...about 45 minutes. Finally I managed to get through to the London office and get the address/phone number for the Libya office. I hopped into a cab and headed over to the office, and finally made it here.

I should pause at this point and point something out. Because, while the above-mentioned story seems pretty straightforward, one must bear something in mind. Imagine a man of my physique attempting to lug 90 kilos worth of luggage around a city that he has never seen before in his life in 32 degree temperature. I had two giant suitcases of 30 kilos each, my big back-pack which was 20 kilos, and my hand-luggage which, owing to two laptpops, my SLR camera, and Naguib Mahfouz's book "Palace Walk"was another 10 kilos. In fact, BA was supposed to charge me 466 quid in excess baggage fees, but the lady behind the counter took mercy upon me and only charged me 160, which is actually cheaper than what it would have cost to ship it. Should the need have arisen, my luggage very easily could have been used to anchor the Queen Mary II.

I arrived at the office a hot sweaty mess. I can't even begin to imagine what my co-workers thought upon meeting me for the first time in such a state. Shock and horror come to mind. In any case, a few of them helped me carry my belongings to the flat which is accross the street from the office. Across the busiest street in Tripoli from the office. What should be a quick stroll from work and back therefore turns into an Indiana Jones-esque adventure as one bobs and dives in order to avoid becoming a hood ornament. I think it's one of those things that one gets better at with practise.

Finally, the flat is actually quite nice. Very large, several balconies, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and well-appointed (though not incredibly tateful) furnishings. I'm quite happy with it, but then again, after moving out of student halls, anything short of a cardboard box will be a step up. My room has an ocean view, which is nice, but it also faces an outdoor market, which isn't quite as romantic as it sounds as it deals mostly in knock-off and imitation merchandise and tends to get incredibly noisy. It makes King's Cross look like a pastoral country-side. But still, this is part and parcel of living in a Middle Eastern capital, and I think one learns to find these things endearing.

No overall impressions of the city as a whole nor of work yet on account of the fact that I've seen negligible amounts of both. These will likely be the topics of my next post, unless something more pressing comes up in the interim.

One more note before I leave, and I realize that I'm romanticizing and, dare I say, even orientalizing the Middle East, but as soon as I stepped off the plane, that first breath of desert air was so refreshing. In the evening I took a stroll down to the shoreline that's just near my flat and breathed in the Mediterranean breeze. It was too late to catch the sunset, but the sky was still dimly lit by the sun over the horizon, I can tell that I'm in for some amazing sunsets soon. It's good to be back in the Middle East. There's just something about it that I can niether explain, nor find anywhere else.

Salaam to all from the dunes of Libya and the Bedouin Project


At 7:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

libya...holy shit. awesome. bet you five bucks you wont be finding too many "zionists down to their dna" on the 7th floor.

if you need to make any friends at work, i'm sure a few shots of you getti' jiggy with it @ elvis night will take care of that problem.


At 4:47 PM, Blogger Balcancan said...

It lives! It lives! Hooorrray! No more withdrawal symptoms! Oh i must go celebrate this momentous occasion with a nice glass of...bourbon! Mwahahahahahahaha!

At 5:06 PM, Anonymous omar c said...

Sounds like an interesting time.

At 11:19 AM, Blogger Industriage said...

you goddamn orientalist. racist. disgusting. nastiness.

on a lighter note, my little bro and i have bonded, he of the "I just bought a handle of jim beam and jameson" to which I replied, "they're okay, but I prefer maker's mark" to which he replied, "motherfucking maker's mark! I had a handle of that too"

I haven't told him about the joys of "I only drink straight from the bottle when I'm sober" acquaintance of mine, but I'm sure you're familiar with him, if only in the Biblical sense =P

Hope your blog likes my salty and salacious language. Pimpin' ain't easy.

At 8:04 PM, Blogger Janice said...

I'm quite glad you are alive. Thanks for the email regarding my complete ineptitude (sp?)concerning all things Middle Eastern. What can I say - I'm a big dumb Caucasian.

You sound really happy Joe - and you deserve it.

And I wasnt being sarcastic (for once!)

At 3:30 AM, Blogger The Bedouin Project said...

Silly Janice, you're Asian, not Caucasian, you should know that by now

At 10:23 AM, Blogger Janice said...

Funny, really funny.

I'm putting Asian racism as the reason for special consideration on my law school apps.


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