elb's hovel of thoughts

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Paths to the Future

Every now and then, we have to make major decisions that will almost certainly influence our destinies. The earliest of these decisions are made by our parents: Why don't we have a baby? What school should we send the child to? Shall we get him a sibling?

Then as we start to grow independent and know what we would like to do, we start to have a say: I want to go to this college. I would like to attend this university. I want this person as my other half.

And on the brink of total independence from your parents, the most important question: What do I want to do?

Maybe some of you already know what exactly you want; I congratulate you on that. I really do. It is not easy to make a decision if you have so many options sitting in front of you; so many conflicting interests and different opportunities.

Let me recall two conversations which sum up my dilemma.


'Don't you want to do a PhD?' RS asked me as we were walking to the Underground station the other day. RS is the PhD I am working under. In his late 30s, he looks at least 1/3 younger.

'I don't know, I was thinking about it the other day. Maybe if I can get the funding.'

'You should try University X. They are one of the best in the world in this area of research and have a young, vibrant team. You will enjoy it there. Or you could do research, the stuff which you have been working in is a very hot area right now; and with your experience, you wouldn't have a problem getting a job in that area. Plus Dr. Y, he was very impressed with the quality of your research.'

I shot a thoughtful nod at RS.

‘Don’t you think its exciting? Sure it can be a bit of a pain in the ass sometimes, but the thrill of discovering something new that nobody has ever done before, that makes it worth it’, he grinned at me. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve suffered from repetitive strain injuries over the past few months.

‘Yes I do, but I also need to think about my long term future. There is not much future for my area back home, and the equipment and chemicals I use here would probably be too expensive. I need to think about feeding my family one day’

‘I understand. Do you want to go back home to your country?’

‘I would like to, definitely. Maybe early next year. But I’m also considering the possibility of working here for some time to gain some experience. Maybe 2 or 3 years, depending. But I know that if I stay on, I will not stay here longer than it takes for my eldest child to reach secondary school’

‘Ah, same with me! I and my family will return to Israel when my wife finishes her Masters.’ He’s working on a project that will benefit the Middle East; I think that many people have a lot to learn from this Jew.


‘Well, could you tell us a little bit about your area of interest in your degree? Why did you choose to continue pursuing your education in this field? Do you like mathematics?’

The casual ‘interrogation’ at the Mayfair hotel was well under way. Across me was one of the most powerful men in the Middle East investment industry, as he and his associate probed me.

No sweat so far, as I answered in between sips of a giant cup of coffee.

‘Would you be willing to give up your interest to devote yourself entirely to pursuing a financial career?’

‘Yes, I would’, I did my best to answer confidently after a moment of silence, hoping that it would not betray some of the thoughts swirling in my head.

‘Dubai would be a nice place for young people like you.’

Later on, I toyed briefly with the idea of living in Dubai. Expat salary, and most likely to be tax free. All those holiday advertisements I had seen before sounded so tempting. Then again, those are for the wealthy. Me? Not yet. Normal people don’t have that luxury of owning a yacht and sailing in between artificial islands, and staying in a 7 star hotel. My friend from India complains about the searing heat there. Also, services such as YouTube and Flickr are banned there. And who would I date? A lady wearing a burkha? Aiiieeee. Perhaps not Dubai.


So there you go. My options currently are (in no order of preference):
1) Staying on and work in the UK/ Europe either in my field or in finance
2) Returning home
3) Pursue a PhD
4) Work in the Middle East, most likely finance

Urgh. Just too many interests and possibilities! For now at least, I will continue to be where I am.


  • You are wrong, considering the girls in Dubai not so good!!! They are really very good, sincere, moral, religious and the best hostess I've ever seen!!! I agree with your interlocutor, who says that Dubai is a luxurious city!!! It's true! I was positively exited by this highly modern city with very beautiful sightseeing and interesting history!!! Dubai is super! I stayed in the Dubai hotel, where rooms, service, cuisine, entertainments are perfect!!! I advice you to go there too and build your own opinion about it by yourself!!! When you'll have money! :)

    By Blogger Jess, at Tuesday, September 19, 2006 2:29:00 pm  

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