Tuesday, September 20, 2005

From one extreme to the other...

...I spent most of 1982 in Saudi Arabia, working for Nortel as a "Consultant" on Contract to Aramco in Dhahran on the Eastern province. It was a year of frustration as the job wasn't quite what it was meant to be, I was effectively on 1st line maintenance with another American who didn't actually need any assistace most of the time. He was called Barry Hensley and he was a good egg. He came from Nashville Tennessee, he had even fixed Tammy Wynette's phone system when he worked for the Telco there. He had his family over living on-site and I had a pleasant three weeks house-sitting for him later in the year.

I lived in the Aramco Construction Camp, known as A.C.C. Dhahran North. I had my own room (with sink) and shared a toilet and shower with another room, never actually seeing the resident during the 12 months. The block was built from portacabin-style buildings and had 24 rooms. These were the luxury ones- the next type down had 36 rooms with communual showers/toilets sinks. Then there were the 72 bed twins and the 144 bed blocks where they were bunked four to a room. The higher density blocks were the same size as the 36ers, just more bodies.

I probably wasn't entitled to a 24 room type room but some strings were pulled as there was a phone in the room (which my predecessor had occupied).

The camp had several dining halls, two of which served western food. The smaller one had American fayre which included a lot of Mexican specials. The larger one was more Brit-based and did a lot more curries!

There was also an indoor cinema, an outdoor one, a couple of recreation halls & a ball park. It was rather bleak, however, and had 10,000 residents.

Saudi seemed a bit crazy back in 1982. I recently stumbled on a Blogger from Saudi with a robust view of the Kingdom, I'm surprised how little has changed over the last couple of decades...

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