How to sum up the last twenty days into a post? Shall I choose a theme and just write solely about it? Should I embark on a novel that has been the last three weeks of my life?
We’ll compromise. My apologies for the scattered to non existent flow of this post. More focused posts to come.
In one year working in the Gulf of Mexico, I made 22 jobs. In one month in Qatar, I have made 10 jobs. I’ve gone weeks sleeping a handful of hours. Yet, I’m full of energy. No task is too great that I can’t accomplish. I’ve been stressed. I’ve been tired. I’ve been pushed to my limits for the first time in a while.
I’m out of touch. Often, people will ask me about current events in Egypt or back home in the USA. Often, I will shrug and claim ignorance. I know only the task at hand and what it may take to ask my crew to keep working. It’s a strange feeling to be the dictator, demanding more work from subordinates. They keep working, and I wonder why. Then I realize, sh!t roll downhill. I ask of them what my managers ask of me, and everyone only does what they are told. When you are the first to arrive and the last to leave, your employees respect you a lot more. I see this first hand in their efforts of manual labor. They are always in good spirits, and when the work gets really tough, we look at each other and laugh, questioning our life choices together. When I first arrived in Qatar, I had a very hard time communicating to my crews, the support staff, trailer drivers…. seemingly everyone. Now, I realize there is a common thread to communication: patience. I don’t become frustrated anymore. I just become persistent and patient. This method is paying off.
We are more than halfway through the Holy Month of Ramadan. This has been the most surreal of experiences. I was excited to be a part of this holy time in a place where it is widely practiced by all. I have been in the desert most days, working on rigs and breaking fast in the small galley trailer with all the rig hands who also fast. This is magical thing. Fasting has always meant a lot to me, but because it was so personal and private. I fasted by myself, broke fast by myself and went about business as usual. Fasting was a challenge for me. In Qatar, everyone fasts as part of the culture. It is illegal to eat or drink in public during Ramadan. Restaurants close down. Work hours are reduced. The country is fasting. While it is amazing to see how important this tradition is to masses of people, it feels different. Fasting is now a celebration and something uniting all the people. It is no longer a testament to my self discipline or control, as much of the challenge and temptation is eliminated.
However, I feel now for the first time in my life that Ramadan is a holiday. It really is a holy month. There are lights everywhere, special foods served at restaurants after sunset, and parties to celebrate. Hotels often host an “Iftar”, which is the breakfast meal at sunset, and then a “Suhoor”, which is the late night meal from 9pm-2am. I went to one of these with a group of new friends.
This meal includes a world class buffet, shisha, special juices, live music, and tea. It was a fantastic time.
My new friends are teachers in a summer program at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar. My sister’s friend from the USA was coming to teach, and I was able to meet her and her colleagues.
I have been a mentor. We have had three summer interns working with us the past several weeks. I have had the opportunity to take them with me on jobs and share with them the oilfield. Last night, I took them out for dinner. I was surprised to see one of the interns wearing a traditional Qatari thobe. He’s Qatari and I had no idea! In the oilfield, we’re all the same. It was very rewarding to talk to my interns about their opinions and observations over the last few weeks.
I’ve been busy. I’ve been stressed. I’ve been hungry in every sense of the word. I’ve been living life to the fullest.