Thursday, March 11, 2010

Tick Tock Tick Tock...

I am currently sitting in my Mom's basement as I write this post, thinking about the chaos that has overtaken me during the last couple of months.

The sea container arrived on our doorstep this Friday past and as the movers carted away the last of our belongings it finally hit me, we are really doing this!

As I stood in my newly empty house (Our home has been packed, and assembled into a jigsaw puzzle, for transport across the ocean.) I was struck by how dirty it was, OK yes, but more importantly, I was struck by how a random web search to "see what was out there" had turned into our newly emerging reality.

It feels like we have been preparing for this move for months. Well, in truth we have.

I remember back in August when Peter first mentioned the possibility of moving overseas. Initially the thought of moving to a Muslim country didn't strike me as even a remote option.

"What about Oman?" Peter asked one evening over dinner. I had heard of it but images of women in oppressive burkas, stifling heat and camels on endless sand dunes didn't seem like a reality for myself and our young family. My first response was "You must be joking."

It turns out that he wasn't joking. There was a job posted on the Shell web site that looked interesting so we decided, what the heck, go ahead and apply.

Peter interviewed with PDO (Shell's joint venture partner in Oman) one evening while the kids and I went for dinner in Sicamus, BC. The interview went well but Peter didn't think that the job was a good fit for his skills and long term career goals with Shell. I figured well, that was that.

Little did I know that behind the scenes, one of Shell's vice president's (on loan from PDO) had Peter in mind for a new project that was right up his alley, or sour gas well as the case may be.

Oman was not only swiftly becoming a potential transfer option for us, it was quickly becoming a likely transfer option. (More about Oman in another post, I promise.)

After conducting interviews, Peter was ready to accept the promised hand-shake offer. Only the hand-shake didn't seem to be in a hurry to arrive. In fact, between employee new-hire approval meetings, Ramadan and Shell's huge corporate shake up in October we didn't formally receive notification that Peter had a job with PDO until November.

The most frustrating part for me about this entire process was the endless waiting. Peter was unable to apply for any other jobs during the the downsizing period and yet we were unsure of his hire status with PDO.

We developed new understanding and familiarity with the term inshallah (if God wills) during this time frame. It was a good lesson in patience although I'm not sure how much I learned. I have many virtues but unfortunatley patience is not one of them! Anyway, on with the story.

In November we began the transfer process with Shell. Since this was our first overseas posting, we really had no idea what to expect in terms of approval processes and timelines. The entire process was made more uncertain as we were dealing with 12+ hour time changes (our HR representative is in Kuala Lumpur) and middle-eastern weekends (these fall on Thursday and Friday instead of our traditional North American, Saturday and Sunday).

Finally, things started moving for us in the latter part of January. Our transfer snow ball started moving gradually but as 2010 progressed, the ball got larger and began careening faster and faster until coming to a halt at the beginnning of this post. Which is where you find me this evening, contemplating how we got here.

We have managed to survive; Robins myringotomy surgery, all of our immunizations (although the kids would debate whether we got through these without long-term trauma), Peter personally spending my annual West Jet salary on camping gear and new clothes for the move (this makes me giggle as Peter isn't cheap per say, OK he's cheap), signing not one, but two property management companies and cleaning the house.

We have our plane tickets and we are, well I am anyway, ready to leave the comforts of Calgary, family and friends and all that is familiar to get on a plane (I'm still pretty freaked out by the thought of taking all 3 of the kids overseas by myself!) and join Peter on our new home continent.

A demain...

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