Monday, February 04, 2008

Reading between the lines

As a child, when I first heard of the term 'read between the lines', I stopped to think, Which lines? I'm looking at the lines and I don't see anything. It's a difficult concept to explain to a child, a concept that is only made clear once a certain level of maturity is reached, where irony reveals itself and where innocence is slowly lost. Basically, when you're older!

While there are so many things I'd like to convey about what life is like on this island for an expat, I have to adopt a more conservative attitude so as not to rock 'de' boat. I may never be able to voice them, because they always say 'Never Burn your Bridges'. Which reminds me: for many expats, their first experience with working with an offshore company may not necessarily be pleasant. Long working hours and unprofessional management are two of the biggest complaints. However upset you may be at your employer and no matter what you may want to say truthfully in your Exit Interview, one has to be diplomatic. This is a route that all are advised to take, because you never know...And so in being diplomatic and professional, you move on. It might not feel good not having to give your previous employer 'the finger', so to speak, but it does feel good knowing where you're going next, whether it be on island or off. If it's on island, you know that your time already spent here with your first employer has given you an insight as to which companies to avoid the next time around, which ones may make you work like a dog, evening & weekends and of course which of the many are Grade A choice. While it always helps to know someone here to garner some information about companies and their work ethic, not everyone is in the position of having this information at hand before they've stepped foot on the island. The reason why this is such a big deal? An expat is only allowed to have two employers in the first five years on the island, with a change to a third in the sixth year. With the current term limit for expats set at six years (unless you're a key employee), decisions with regards to the next job offer cannot be made lightly. And so the second and third time around is much easier and
it all boils down to exercising diplomacy (with your previous employer) and smarts (in choosing your future employer).

There are many Bermudian bloggers out here that have been blogging about the political ongoings of this their island but in recent months quite a few of them have given up and some have stopped altogether (perhaps some threats have been made). So, if a dangerous realm is what they've stepped in by voicing their opinions about their own land in what would seem to be an era of freedom of speech, I have to stop and think about how much hot water I may be in if I were to delve deeper into the throes of expat life, however accurate and objective it might be. Some are just not inclined to want to hear it.

With a housing crisis, rising cost of living, over population abound and not to mention a fair share of resentment directed towards expats, where while International Business is welcomed although not acknowledged as the main pillar of the economy (which it so truthfully is), where words like 'expats are treated like second class citizens' are thrown around, one has to read between the lines here. It's tricky bringing to light some of the issues without having to actually be blatant about it. One also has to bear in mind that much of the hoopla that has been taking place the past few months has been a result of the Elections that took place in December. In a bid to gain a majority vote, a lot of huffing and puffing was done by both parties, regardless at who's expense it was at. But now that the elections are over and done with, calm has been restored. Policies and measures that threatened to change lives (both expat and local) last year, no longer hang in the balance. They have disappeared, so to speak. The air has been cleared. But while all of this was going on, other offshore jurisdictions (like the Cayman Islands, Bahamas et al.) watched with bated breath, read the ongoings zealously, perhaps sometimes shaking their heads wondering what we expats in Bermuda thought and felt about all this. Well, unless you've read between the lines and have come to your own conclusion, you're not going to hear it from me.

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