Early this week a colleague from the administrative department came to me and gave me good news. I’m moving house. My current three housemates and I were being moved from our favela in Janzour to a nice compound (with pool and tennis court) where another 16 of our colleagues live.
This move is my seventh since January 2009, though this spell of seven month in the favela has been the longest I’ve spent at a house in the last year and seven months.
I was never keen on living on a company compound because of the ‘big brother’ or ‘Truman show-esque’ nature of compound-living. My view of compounds is that it becomes a little bubble of comfort and familiarity, so much so that after a while you lose the urge to leave and explore and thus it becomes the centre of your world here.
The other thing I wasn’t very keen on was the fact that I would be living with sixteen other people I work with. Living with three others can be hard enough at times (not that I didn’t like my housemates before), but seeing the same people day in, day out can be hard at times considering that you spend the whole day with them (at work and at home, not to mention weekends).
Since I’ve started working (after university), I’ve attempted to separate my work from personal life. In London this is simple as after work you go home and you don’t have see or talk to your colleagues until the next day at work and at weekend you have two days away from them.
In Abu Dhabi and here it’s a different story. I lived with people I worked with (in company provided accommodation). In Abu Dhabi I was fortunate in the sense that I wasn’t dependant on others to move around so I was able to create relationships outside of work. So it made living with colleagues a lot easier as there wasn’t a constant forced interaction that I was expecting.
Here I Libya it’s slightly different. Because you end up depending on others for mobility, you are sometimes less inclined to go out due to the amount of work involved (Getting a taxi, travelling for 30 minutes etc.). So you end up spending a lot of time at home. The previous staff house (before the move to the compound) there was only four of us, so it was less people asking about you, though it wasn’t a problem as we all got along and gave each other space when needed, but it was still difficult to be with the same people the whole time.
To be fair, the compound residents are spilt into little two bedroom houses, so you actually only live with one other person, but the flip side is that you have 18 other neighbours who are potential victims of my foul moods (due to lack of sleep mostly) and my incessant shisha smoking.
But after having moved in on Thursday I feel quite good about living here. The space is a lot more relaxing that our previous house and the people who live here are genuinely nice people. Thursday night and Friday was spent braaing playing dominos, poker, backgammon, chatting and smoking shisha (who’d of thought…).
So here’s to another house, another room, another housemate, another route home. ‘Tis a tough life this of a modern gypsy.