Sunday, July 29, 2007

Lofty Dreams

The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

Elevated Purpose

There's a knock at my door, Chamber One of the hotel's business center, where I spend hours each weekend, transferring my notes of the week to my online journal that I'm sharing with my management.

"Come in."

"When are you leaving, Ma'am?"

"When do you need me to leave?"

"No, I mean, when are you leaving the hotel?"

"Oh, we're trying to leave on the 1st, but maybe not till the weekend. We can't move until then."

"You're staying in Bangalore?"

"Yes, for six months. I'm on assignment for work." Her face brightens, I suppose because I'm staying in the country for some time, rather than jetting in and out like most of the guests here.

"I'll miss you, though."

"Yes, Ma'am."

"Do you have an e-mail address? Would you like to keep in touch?"

"Yes, Ma'am."

We exchange addresses and I shake her hand.

"Are you doing some research?" she asks.

"Sort of. Yes. I'm living during the week and then re-living my experiences by writing about them, and sharing them with my management, so they can understand the reality here better."

"Like a diary?"

"Yes, exactly, but one that I'm sharing."

"I worked for HP while I was in Aviation School, since the classes were only a few hours a day, and I earned much more than I earn here, but I needed hospitality industry experience to get a job as a flight attendant."

"Well, this is the best hotel to get it in."

"Yes, ma'am."

"Which airline do you want to fly with?"

"British Airways or Qatar."


"Yes, Saudi Arabia is the cheapest place to live, and you can make the most money there, and they respect women there."

"I didn't know that it was cheap to live there."

"Yes, my first choice is British Airways, but they focus on color, and even Kingfisher does." Is she talking about her complexion?

"Do you mean your complexion?"

She nods.

"You're kidding. You're gorgeous -- I first noticed when you talked with me about the diamond earrings -- and you're gracious, and those should be the criteria."

She smiles and her dimple shows. She is standing up straight, maintaining her dignity while I stare at her trying to sustain my incredulous expression, even as I reason in my head that I'm not surprised, given all of the skin-whitening face-cream commercials I hear on the radio and see on TV...."With Pond''ll never need to find your love on the Internet anymore!"

"Then I think about how," she says, "Oprah Winfrey is the highest-paid woman in the world, and I keep thinking about that."

"You've inspired me." I want to tell her that I'm a lesbian and I understand prejudice, but I remember that we're not telling anyone in the hotel explicitly, and so I say instead, "I'm Jewish and some people don't say good things about Jews....I have to find the Jewish version of Oprah Winfrey."

She graces me with an extra-deep-dimpled smile as both of us are trying to imagine a Jewish Oprah Winfrey and says, "You have to know a person before you can judge the person....Fame and Name, I say. It's not enough to have one or the other."

"I like that -- Fame and Name." I wonder where she picked up the phrase. I feel like I should have heard it before, but maybe it's her own slogan after all. "Please do send me a note when you get the flight attendant job you're dreaming of."

"I will, Ma'am."

As she shuts the door, I write her e-mail, thanking her for the conversation and letting her know that when she becomes the next Oprah Winfrey, I'll be able to say I knew her when....


David & Gerard said...

Hi Sarah, interesting about Qatar and Saudi Arabia, we have a friend who teaches English as a second language who is there for much the same reason, it is inexpensive to live and he can make a decent living. He feels kind of trapped though, he dislikes it there a lot, but can't get a job paying enough for him to retire his school loans anywhere else.

I was really surprised by one thing she said in particular. My white, male, American experience would not have lead me to use the word "respect" when describing the way women are treated in Saudi Arabia. But hearing about new ways of thinking is part of this whole experience, right?

Sarah Siegel said...

Everything is relative, I keep being reminded.

bro-in-law G said...

Sarah, what's your take on whether this woman might be flirting with you, either intentionally or instinctively? Tough for me to tell, since your orientation probably colors the stories a bit. But reading them through, it sure seems to me like this girl might be working very hard to make a pass at you, whether she knows it or not.

Maybe it's just my suspicious nature coming through, or my lack of understanding of Indian culture. She's probably just being friendly, or trying her best to make sure you and other hotel guests have the best experience.

Love, love, love your Blog.

>> G

Sarah Siegel said...

Definitely not consciously flirting, and probably not unconsciously either. She was just lovely. Period. You're reminding me that my colleague said I looked beautiful at work today and, "Probably, all the guys are noticing."

"Like I care," I said, very surprised to have anyone comment on my potential appeal to men.

We laughed.

I just need to live with my Chelm-like sexuality....Remember the stories of the Wise Men of Chelm? Where everything happened oppositely to what was expected?